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China

Coronavirus

In Shanghai, A Brewing Expat Exodus As COVID Crackdown Shows "Real" China

Not only strict rules of freedom of movement as part of Zero-COVID policy but also an increase in censorship has raised many questions for the expat population in the megacity of 26 million that had long enjoyed a kind of special status in China as a place of freedom and openness. A recent survey of foreigners in the Chinese megacity found that 48% of respondents said they would leave Shanghai within the next year.

SHANGHAI — On the seventh day of the lockdown, Félix, a French expat who has worked in Shanghai for four years, texted his boss: I want to "run,' mais je sais pas quand (but I don’t know when). A minute later, he received a reply: moi aussi (me too).

Félix had recently learned the new Mandarin word 润 (run) from social network postings of his local friends. Because its pinyin “rùn” is the same as the English word “run,” Chinese youth had begun to use it to express their wish to escape reality, either to “be freed from mundane life”, or to “run toward your future.”

For foreigners like Félix, by associating the expression “run” with the feeling of the current lockdown in Shanghai, “everything makes sense.” Félix recalled how at the end of March, the government denied rumors of an impending lockdown: “My Chinese colleagues all said, Shanghai is China’s top city, there would be no lockdown no matter what.”

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Shein IRL? China's Online Fashion Giant Has A Major Worker Exploitation Problem

In the fast fashion race, Shein, a Chinese retailer, has rapidly risen to compete with the likes of H&M and Zara — and even Amazon. But a deep look inside the company reveals questionable working and sourcing practices.

GUANGZHOU — The wall clock says 1:30 p.m. when the neon lights switch on again above the sewing machines and ironing boards. Between the boxes and the mountain-high piles of clothes, workers emerge from their nap. Small camp beds are hastily put away, phones slide back to the bottom of pockets. It's time to get back to work for the approximately 250 employees of this workshop in Nancun, a village that's been absorbed into the megacity of Guangzhou, in the very south of China.

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The War In Ukraine Should Force China To Rethink Its Taiwan Narrative

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has put China's stance on Taiwan back in the spotlight. But despite shared narratives of national unity, there are key differences in how Beijing and Moscow approach territories they consider their own.

–Analysis–

Ever since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there have been comparisons between the Russian-Ukrainian war and China's standoff with Taiwan, with divergent views on whether the same scene would be repeated.

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The situations have similarities: Both Moscow and Beijing use the notion of “national unity” and Putin's war narrative also reflects China's theoretical dilemma on the issue of "anti-secession".

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Kyiv Hit During UN Visit, Biden’s “Not Cheap” Aid, Boris Becker Sentence

👋 Chào!*

Welcome to Friday, where a journalist is killed as strike hits Kyiv during UN chief visit, China pledges more help to support its locked-down economy, and a tennis legend may end up in jail. Meanwhile in French daily Les Echos, Anna Lippert looks at how open-source intelligence has turned into a weapon in the fight against disinformation.

[*Vietnamese]

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In The News
Lisa Berdet & Anna Akage

Russia Strikes Mariupol to Lviv, Truck Ban Traffic Jam, China-Japan Tensions

👋 Bună dimineața!*

Welcome to Monday, where Russia is expanding its assault across Ukraine, with strikes reported from the Western city of Lviv to targets across the south and east, including the besieged city of Mariupol. Shanghai reports its first COVID-related death and the Invictus Games open with a shout-out to Ukraine. We also look at the hidden toll of the Russian invasion on the elderly of Ukraine, many of whom were too weak or ill to flee.

[*Romanian]

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Coronavirus
Dan Wu

Shanghai Stakes: Why COVID In China's "Bourgeois" Capital Is A High-Risk Affair

The port city is China's most international and cosmopolitan, which helps explain the ongoing culture clash between its residents and Chinese authorities aiming to enforce a strict Zero-Covid policy of restrictions on movement and freedom.

Shanghai, a metropolis of 25 million inhabitants with a rich and colorful history, stands apart in China.

The southern port boasts the most international and cosmopolitan population on mainland China, where commercial wealth and relative personal freedom meet. The natives of Shanghai are often chided by other Chinese as the nation's "bourgeois" class.

Through the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had first spread around the world from Wuhan — another Chinese mega-city some 500 miles to the west — Shanghai had largely been spared from its effects, with local administrations being praised for “precise epidemic prevention.”

All that has changed over the past month. Both its special status and previous success in keeping the virus at bay help explain the crisis engulfing the city over the past month. With the sudden spread of the Omicron variant, a strict lockdown has been in force since March 28. And locals are pushing the limits in what is, despite local attitudes, an authoritarian regime in China.

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Ideas
William Ospina

What's Happening In Ukraine Is Madness — And Should Surprise Nobody

There are instructive, and dismally repetitive, precedents for the war in Ukraine in the histories of imperial Russia and the Soviet Union, but also U.S. aggression from Vietnam to Iraq.

-OpEd-

In 1935, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger predicted that time would be reduced to speed, immediacy and simultaneity — and that time as history would gradually disappear from the life of nations.

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But, as often happens at the outbreak of a war, we urgently look to the past for answers. We need an explanation today, not for the nuclear threat per se but to clarify why nuclear arsenals have increased to suicidal proportions across the past 77 years.

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Geopolitics
Dominique Moïsi

Why Beijing Isn't Happy About The Crimes Of Bucha

The revelations of the alleged war crimes in Bucha are making Russia's war more complicated for the leaders of China, who could have supported a victorious Moscow without hesitation, but a humiliated Moscow is a different matter. Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin's shared ambitions of a new world order is at stake.

-Analysis-

PARIS — Some images change the course of history. In 1968, the Tet Offensive, a coordinated series of North Vietnamese attacks, was a military failure for the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam and the People’s Army of Vietnam. But it also marked a major political turning point. War had invaded American dining rooms through the images shown on television news broadcasts.

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For a majority of Americans, this military adventure had to be stopped. In 1975, the Fall of Saigon brought about the reunification of Vietnam under communism.

In 2022, will the images of the civilian massacres in Bucha (and elsewhere) by Russian soldiers mark a historical turning point? And this time in a polar opposite way, pushing the Western world to provide more military support to Ukrainians?

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In The News
Lorraine Olaya, Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet and Emma Albright

Mariupol Hangs In Balance, Biden Accuses Putin Of Genocide

👋 Manahuu!*

Welcome to Wednesday, as conflicting reports circulating over the fate of Mariupol, Biden accuses Putin of genocide, while the Russian president says peace talks with Ukraine are at a “dead end.” We also zoom in on Donbas, where Putin has shifted his forces in what could be a key moment in the Russia-Ukraine war. Meanwhile, an ugly Hollywood trial has begun in Virginia.

[*Mah-nah-hoo - Northern Paiute]

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Geopolitics

How Putin's Arctic Dreams May Crack Under The Weight Of Ukraine War

With its vast untapped resources up for grabs, the Arctic region is where the climate crisis is now inextricably linked to a new global arms race. Now Moscow finds itself shut out in the cold after invading Ukraine.

The worldwide impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine extends from everything from food and energy supply to a massive refugee crisis to the revival of nuclear arms tension. Yet thousands of miles to the north, Vladimir Putin has his eye on another region with its own hefty weight on the future of the planet: the Arctic.

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The reason? The glaciers and icebergs covering parts of the Arctic Ocean are melting away. In the last 40 years, the multi-year ice (the thicker part that stays throughout the summer) has decreased by roughly half, and estimates predict that the Arctic Ocean is heading for ice-free conditions by mid-century.

While that is bad news for the planet, as sea ice acts as a huge white sun reflector keeping our planet cool, it also means that lucrative resources such as oil, gas and minerals become increasingly accessible to the countries with territorial access to the Arctic.

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LGBTQ Plus
The Initium

Wuhan Restroom Murder Sparks Debate Over Transgender Rights In China

China has no specific laws on transgender groups, and even the word "transgender" does not appear in any legal provisions. But the real-life issues of public bathrooms is forcing Chinese to confront the issue, especially after the murder in the city of Wuhan of a trans woman earlier this month.

On March 9, the news of the murder quickly began to circulate on Chinese social media Weibo: A transgender woman had reportedly been killed in a men’s public bathroom in a Wuhan shopping mall, in central China. After debate escalated, the trending topic banner on Weibo was quickly removed — and further discussion, banned.

The user who first posted the report claimed to have been contacted by the police, and was told that the suspect of the crime was being pursued, but no official report on the murder has thus far been released.

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Coronavirus

In Rare Challenge, Chinese Youth Defy Government On COVID Lockdowns

On social media and at universities, with sarcastic videos and graffiti, young people are showing they are sick and tired of Zero COVID policies. People are still waiting to see how the Xi Jinping regime might react.

BEIJING — Since March, mainland China has experienced the largest local outbreak of COVID-19 cases since the early days of the pandemic in Wuhan, in January 2020. According to the National Health Commission of China, between March 1 and 18, more than 29,000 infections have been reported in mainland China, affecting 28 provinces. Restrictions and lockdown measures were introduced in various provinces, but the “Zero COVID” policies are facing rising dissent among the population.

The concerns have largely been economic-related: A post on Weibo (China’s equivalent to Twitter) summarizes people’s complaint, “the landlord is telling me to pay the rent, the banks are telling me to repay loans, the state is telling me not to go to work, the government is telling me not to go out, the whole country is telling me to carry on, but no one is telling me where the money is supposed to come from.”

Demands for lifting measures spread across the nation via TikTok videos and social media posts, countering the tight regulations and the state’s endeavor to secure the “Zero COVID” campaign.

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Russia
Andrej Mrevlje

What If Putin's Invasion Of Ukraine Was Really A China-U.S. Proxy War

Putin may seem an irrational actor, but he is clearly staging a wider war against the West and the U.S. Even if Russia couldn't survive an urban guerrilla battle in Ukraine, it has China's silent support.

-Analysis-

WASHINGTON — While discussing the new nuclear age with Christopher Lydon on the Open Source podcast, Joseph Cirincione, a distinguished fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, said something obvious but very accurate: “All our deterrence theory is based on the idea of rational actors. That is why we see so much reference to the game theory in these things. What is the logical thing someone would do when confronting this situation? … Do we know if Putin is logical, is he stable?”

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We may not know the answer until Putin goes completely overboard, but it may be too late by then. The Russian president had no apparent reason to start the murderous war in Ukraine, and I see nothing that could stop him from turning the war into a nuclear disaster.

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Future
Laura-Maï Gaveriaux

The Mirage Of Egypt’s New Capital City

In an area the size of Singapore, Egypt is building its new capital. Constructed under the close control of the military and the head of state, the city embodies the grand ambitions of an increasingly autocratic president. But will it turn out to be a ghost city?

CAIRO — The concrete structure rises to a height of 1,263 feet (385 meters) on the edge of an expressway, where asphalt, as soon as it is laid down, lets out acrid fumes. With its double collar that licks the sky, the Iconic Tower is already the tallest building in Africa. It is also the flagship of this vast assembly of open-air construction sites over 450 square miles, an area the size of Singapore, which will be the location of the new Egyptian capital.

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In The News
Bertrand Hauger and Laure Gautherin

Kyiv Under Assault, Anti-War Protest On Russian TV, 3 Million Refugees

👋 Cześć!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where deadly attacks are multiplying in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, a Russian journalist interrupts a live TV program to protest the war and 51 million Chinese people are back in COVID lockdown. Meanwhile, America Economia finds the transportation future has already arrived in Latin America: flying cars.

[*Polish]

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Julián López de Mesa Samudio

Taiwan, Past And Future: Two Lessons For China From The Russia-Ukraine War

China is already profiting from the West's economic divorce from Russia. But its biggest interest may be to learn from Russia's experience of invading a land it claims for itself.

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — On Dec. 7, 1949, the Chinese nationalist leader fighting the communists, Chiang Kai-shek, decided to move his operations provisionally from mainland China to the island of Formosa, or Taiwan. For 50 years, until the end of the Second World War, the island had been part of the Japanese empire.

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More than two million sympathizers of his cause, the Kuomintang, also moved to Formosa, hoping to bide their time there before they could reverse the communist conquest of mainland China.

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