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Woman eating with chopsticks in Songpan county, China
Woman eating with chopsticks in Songpan county, China
Wei Zhou

BEIJING — In his book on Confucianism, Taiwanese academic Kung Peng-Cheng explored how Chinese people have historically had among the fewest cultural restraints related to the food and drink they consume. "They eat almost anything," Kung remarked.

Even alcohol, strictly prohibited in many societies for religious reasons, has only occasionally been banned in Chinese history, usually a provisional restriction based on practical reasons without serious enforcement. Never in Chinese history has temperance on religious grounds become any kind of national policy.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Inside Russia’s Revival Of Stalinist “Filtration Camps”

Though different than concentration camps constructed by Nazis, the “filtration” facilities nevertheless are a return to another brutal history, reopened under Putin, and ramped up since the invasion of Ukraine.

Civilians leaving Mariupol on foot

Anna Akage

"It was like a true concentration camp."

This is how Oleksandr, a 49-year-old man from Mariupol, described where he and his wife Olena were taken in by Russian security officers. Speaking to a reporter for the BBC, the couple was fingerprinted, photographed and interrogated for hours, and their phones searched for material that could somehow identify them as “Nazis.”

But there is another name given to that these locations, and the process, that have been set up to handle Ukrainians taken into custody in areas occupied by pro-Russian separatists: They’re called: “filtration camps.”

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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