fredag 22. januar 2021

Beijing insists 2022 Winter Olympics will be ‘howling success’

On Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited a number of venues built for the February 2022 extravaganza scattered across Beijing and its snow-capped suburban highlands. Xi touted progress in preparations and said he was more convinced than ever that the Beijing 2022 Winter Games would be a “howling success.”

Xinhua noted in a feature about Xi’s “personal guidance” for the Winter Games that Covid-19 must not be allowed to upset plans for the biggest international sporting event in the country since Xi came into power in 2012.

“The pandemic struck when preparations of the Winter Games headed into the final-stage home stretch in early 2020, yet under the strong leadership and auspices of President Xi, construction of all sites was completed in time by the end of last year and other work is progressing well without any delay,” the report gushed in propaganda fashion.

China DC embassy account locked over Uighur tweet

Twitter said Thursday it has locked the account of the Chinese embassy in the US, over a tweet claiming Uighur women had stopped being “baby-making machines” after their minds had been “emancipated.” A Twitter spokesperson told AFP it took action against the tweet for “violating our policy against dehumanization.”

More than one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are believed to be held in re-education camps in the country’s northwestern Xinjiang region, where China is also accused of forcibly sterilizing women.  China denies the accusations and says the facilities in the region are not camps but job training centers, to steer people away from terrorism.

On January 7, the Chinese embassy in the US tweeted that “in the process of eradicating extremism,” the minds of Uighur women “were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making machines.”

China falling short of US trade deal targets

China is falling short of its commitment to buy an extra $200bn (£146bn) worth of US goods over 2020 and 2021. China agreed to buy the goods in a trade deal with the US agreed last January in exchange for reduced tariffs on $120bn worth of goods. The agreement was seen as phase one of a deal aimed at resolving the trade war between the world's biggest economies.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic the US trade deficit with China has surged. Medical goods and equipment used for the work from home boom helped drive US imports of Chinese goods in 2020. During this time, China exported nearly three times as much as it imported from the US in December, according to Chinese customs figures.

Wuhan anniversary: How China tackled its Covid pandemic

A year ago on 23 January 2020 the world saw its first coronavirus lockdown come into force in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the pandemic is believed to have started. At the time, the wider world was shocked by the harsh restrictions and rigid enforcement. From late January until June, the city was effectively sealed off from the rest of the country.

But even though it came at a significant cost, it proved to be a highly successful method of tackling the virus. One year on, China is often held up as one of the virus success stories - not least by Beijing itself. So how exactly did China get from lockdown to here - and how has Beijing controlled its own story?

Covid: What we know about India's coronavirus vaccines

Less than a week after launching the world's largest inoculation drive, India has shipped tens of thousands of free doses of Covid-19 vaccines to neighbouring countries in what is being widely described as "vaccine diplomacy".

India's drug regulator has given the green light to Covishield (the local name for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine developed in the UK) and Covaxin, locally-made by pharma company Bharat Biotech. India is a vaccine powerhouse: it makes 60% of the world's vaccines and is home to half a dozen major manufacturers. So what do we know about India's vaccines?

torsdag 21. januar 2021

China debuts train prototype that can hit speeds of 620 kilometers per hour

China has revealed a prototype for a new high-speed Maglev train that is capable of reaching speeds of 620 kilometers (385 miles) per hour. The train runs on high-temperature superconducting (HTS) power that makes it look as if the train is floating along the magnetized tracks.

The sleek 21-meter-long (69 feet) prototype was unveiled to media in the city of Chengdu, Sichuan Province, on January 13. In addition, university researchers constructed 165 meters (541 feet) of track to demonstrate how the train would look and feel in transit, according to state-run Xinhua News.

Professor He Chuan (vice president of Southwest Jiaotong University, which worked on the prototype) told reporters that the train could be "operational" within 3-10 years. He added: "Sichuan has rich rare earth resources, which is very beneficial to our construction of permanent magnet tracks, thus promoting the faster development of experiments."

The China trade war is one thing Joe Biden won't be rushing to fix

US President Joe Biden is inheriting a tense and messy relationship with China from his predecessor. From a grueling trade war to a slew of sanctions on the country's most prominent tech companies, the Trump administration spent the bulk of the last four years piling pressure on the United States' biggest economic rival. Things only became more heated in recent weeks as Washington slapped additional restrictions on Chinese business and investment.

Biden will strike a more predictable and diplomatic tone than former PresidentDonald Trump. But analysts say that the new administration isn't likely to ease up on Beijing too much when it comes to tech and trade.

China tightens strategic control of rare earths

China moved to tighten control over the rare-earth metals industry in what some experts see as its latest response to the ongoing trade war with the US. The proposed regulations, which include everything from mining to exports, was announced by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) last week, The Global Times reported.

An industry watchdog released a draft rare-earth management rule on Friday, which covers quota management of domestic rare-earth production, investment management and supervision. Analysts said it is likely a sign that China is determined to standardize management of the rare-earth industry, promote high-quality development and tighten control over strategic resources.

Biden inherits qualified North Korea policy failure

The recently-departed Trump Administration has touted the achievements of its North Korea policy.  These purported accomplishments include Trump’s claim that “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea” and his insistence that a US war against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) would have occurred had anyone other than Trump been US president.

A more accurate assessment, however, is that Trump was as unsuccessful as his predecessor presidents in imposing America’s will on Pyongyang, although Trump’s lack of success was singularly spectacular. Trump set the world on edge when he threatened to use military force to stop North Korea’s nuclear ICBM development, but then had the dubious distinction of being in office when the DPRK apparently attained the critical capabilities.

Biden’s team heralds new American era in Asia

US President-elect Joseph Biden has promised a fast and furious agenda in his first 100 days in office in a bid to show the world “America is back” after four erratic and divisive years under the outgoing Donald Trump.

His administration is promising to couple swift and decisive domestic reforms with a reassertion of American leadership overseas, including vis-à-vis China in Asia. “America’s going to reassert its role in the world and be a coalition builder,” Biden declared following his electionvictory last November.

Key to the Biden administration’s success will be the rapid confirmation of his top appointees by a Democratic-led Congress, as well as rapid replacement of Trump-era holdovers, from Deputy Secretary and Assistant Secretary level onwards, in the national security bureaucracy.

‘Journey to the West’: The Buddhist Reimagination of China

In Sanskrit, the term Nirvanaliterally means transcendence. A Buddhist concept, it is also closely related to the Hindu idea of Moksa, meaning liberation or salvation. But just as the Silk Road is not about silk – many other goods were traded through it and China was not always the provider of these goods – the Nirvana Route, the concept I discuss here, is not just about Nirvana.

The Nirvana Route captures the story of the spread of Buddhism from India to China (and then to Korea and Japan), and that of Hinduism and Buddhism to Southeast Asia. It also harks back to the encounters in literature, arts, trade and politics, for a millennium and a half, from the first century to the 16th century AD – encounters that laid the cultural foundations of modern Asia.

Biden must not let the Indian Ocean slip away like the South China Sea

Joe Biden's list of inauguration pledges on Jan. 20 will be long and largely domestic. But as he grapples over the coming months with his new administration's many conflicting priorities in Asia, the United States President must focus attention on one lesser-heralded area: the pressing need for a new approach to the Indian Ocean.

Biden ought to be well aware of the risks of poorly formed maritime policies, given the many mistakes made over the South China Sea during his time as Vice President. Back in 2012, the Obama administration faced a tense standoff between China and the Philippines, as vessels from both nations massed around a disputed reef called Scarborough Shoal, not far off the Filipino coast.

China's telecom giants ask for Wall Street relisting

Three Chinese telecom giants have asked the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to review its decision to delist them. The NYSE initially said it would delist China Unicom, China Mobile and China Telecom on 7 January based on a Donald Trump executive order.

After a surprising U-turn in which the US stock exchange changed its mind it eventually settled on delisting them. Following Mr Trump's departure from the White House, the three companies have now requested a review from the NYSE. In near-identical statements the telecoms firms, which are state-backed in China, said they "had complied strictly with the laws and regulations, market rules as well as regulatory requirements".

China builds massive Covid-19 quarantine camp for 4,000 people as outbreak continues

China is rushing to build a massive quarantine camp that can house more than 4,000 people, after an outbreak of Covid-19 this month that has left tens of millions of people under strict lockdown. The quarantine camp is located on the outskirts of Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital of Hebei province, which surrounds the country's capital, Beijing.

China has largely contained the spread of the virus, with much of the country returning to normal. However, a sudden rise in cases has alarmed officials and raised concerns ahead of the Lunar New Year, the county's most important annual festival, during which hundreds of millions of people are expected to travel to visit family members. Officials in Shijiazhuang, where the outbreak is centered, have initiated mass testing and strict lockdowns, moving entire villages into centralized quarantine facilities in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

Beijing sanctions outgoing US officials as Chinese state media bids 'good riddance' to Trump

The Chinese government has announced sanctions against outgoing secretary of state Mike Pompeo and 27 other high-ranking officials under former United States President Donald Trump, accusing them of "prejudice and hatred against China."

In a strongly-worded statement published after US President Joe Biden was sworn into office in the early hours of Thursday morning, Beijing time, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the former Trump administration officials were "anti-China politicians" who had undermined the relationship between the US and China.

"(They) have planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves which have gravely interfered in China's internal affairs, undermined China's interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-US relations," the statement said.

China's move underscores the fractious and oftentimes hostile relationship between Washington and Beijing during Trump's time in office, and comes as China's state news agency posted a message on social media proclaiming, "Good riddance, Donald Trump!"

Indian hesitancy sets back world's biggest Covid vaccination drive

India’s Covid-19 vaccine drive has been hampered by turnout as low as 22% in some states, as fears over the safety of the vaccine and the spread of misinformation has fuelled widespread hesitancy.

On Saturday, India launched the world’s largest vaccination programme as it began the massive task of vaccinating its 1.3 billion citizens against coronavirus.

On the first day of India’s vaccine drive on Saturday, more than 200,000 vaccinations were given – the highest one-day total of any country – but nonetheless fell short of the nationwide government targets by over 100,000. By Tuesday evening, the government said 631,417 people had been vaccinated, far below the expected figure.

China deal damages EU's human rights credibility, MEPs to say

Transatlantic tensions over how to handle China will come into the open next week when MEPs condemn the European commission for rushing to sign a controversial investment agreement with China that they say undermines the EU’s credibility on human rights.

The criticism, echoing views held inside the Biden administration in the US, will confirm the view of those including the UK that believe the determination of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to secure the China deal, and assert European autonomy from Washington on China, was a geopolitical blunder. The EU had set a deadline of the end of 2020 to reach the agreement.

The most complete analysis of the agreement yet published by the Institut Montaigne finds the agreement could not have been negotiated at a worse time, provides minimal additional market access and contains currently “next to no means” to enforce Chinese assurances over the eradication of forced labour. The commission oversold the deal, largely due to pressure from Merkel, the report’s author, François Godement, told the Guardian.

tirsdag 19. januar 2021

Min nye bok: «Kina på 200 sider»

Min nye bok, «Kina på 200 sider» er akkurat så lang - eller kort - som tittelen lover. Kagge forlag ba meg videreføre suksessbøkene til avdøde professor Frank Aarebrot. Jeg takket ja, men som alle vet: Det er ikke lett å hoppe etter Wirkola.

Målet med bokserien er å gjøre vanskelige temaer forståelige for folk flest. I høst bidrar også Odd Karsten Tveit med sin bok om Midtøsten. Å skrive kort kan være like vanskelig som å skrive langt. Det har også jeg erfart. Som jeg påpeker i forordet: Mange av Kinas keisere ville nok ha blitt dypt fornærmet om de visste at de ikke er nevnt i boken min. I verste fall ville de ha gjort meg et hode kortere eller sendt meg i «indre eksil». Men de viktigste er omtalt, likeså mange andre som bidro til å forme det store landet i øst.

Noen elsker Kina, andre hater det. Uansett må vi forholde oss til landet i årene som kommer. Derfor er det så viktig å følge med. God lesning - eller god lytting! «Kina på 200 sider» er også tilgjengelig som lydbok.