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TOPIC: china

In The News

China Rolls Back Zero-COVID, Democrats Win In Georgia, Morocco Celebrates

👋 Kamusta!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where China abandons key parts of its Zero-COVID strategy, U.S. Democrats secure a 51-49 majority of the Senate with a runoff victory in Georgia and Morocco makes history at the World Cup in Qatar. Meanwhile, French daily Les Echos looks at the unlikely methods Paris’ authorities are applying to detect and neutralize drones that could potentially be used as weapons by terrorists.

[*Tagalog, Philippines]

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North Korea And Nukes: Why The World Is Obliged To Try To Negotiate

How to handle a nuclear armed pariah state is not a simple question.

The recent claim by Kim Jong Un that North Korea plans to develop the world’s most powerful nuclear force may well have been more bravado than credible threat. But that doesn’t mean it can be ignored.

The best guess is that North Korea now has sufficient fissile material to build 45 to 55 nuclear weapons, three decades after beginning its program. The warheads would mostly have yields of around 10 to 20 kilotons, similar to the 15 kiloton bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

But North Korea has the capacity to make devices ten times bigger. Its missile delivery systems are also advancing in leaps and bounds. The technological advance is matched in rhetoric and increasingly reckless acts, including test-firing missiles over Japan in violation of all international norms, provoking terror and risking accidental war.

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Russia Pounds Ukraine, Mongolia Coal Protests, AI Chatbot Record

👋 བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས།*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Russia has launched its eighth large-scale wave of airstrikes on Ukraine, anti-government protesters try to storm Mongolia's State Palace and an AI-powered chatbot wins over a million humans in record time. Meanwhile, Francesca Mannochi for Italian daily La Stampa reports on the dramatic situation in Somalia, hit by unprecedented drought.

[*Tashi delek - Tibetan]

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Russia Defies Oil Price Cap, Iran’s Morality Police In Limbo, Tasmanian Tiger Mystery

👋 Aniin!*

Welcome to Monday, where a new Western price cap on Russia kicks in, conflicting reports are swirling about the fate of Iran’s “morality police,” and a thylacine mystery gets solved. Meanwhile, Beate Strobel in German daily Die Welt introduces us to the working world’s new ailment that is like burnout with a dose of denial: burn-on.

[*Ojibwe, Canada]

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Geopolitics
Santiago Villa

Watching China, And The Western Trap Of Wishful Thinking

While many Chinese citizens are indeed fed up with the government’s Zero-COVID policy, predicting that a mass revolt is ready to overturn Communist rule is the latest sign of our deep misunderstanding of the Asian superpower. A view from Bogotá of a former Beijing correspondent.

-Analysis-

BOGOTÁ — It isn’t easy to gauge the scope of the protests in China on the basis of Western media reports. Beyond the correspondents present on the ground, those running news operations in Europe and especially the United States have tended to overestimate the public discontent, exaggerate economic problems and project a greater desire for freedoms and democracy than really exists in China.

Meanwhile here in Latin America, the editorial tendency has instead been to highlight the 'eccentric' aspects of modern Chinese culture, which has strengthened some existing myths and misperceptions. Coverage of politics was always cautious and reporting on the regional characteristics of China's economic progression hardly a top item on our weekend news bulletins. When I was a freelance journalist in China, it was always easier for me to sell articles on, say, types of firearms you could buy there on Taobao, a Chinese equivalent of Amazon.

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In The News
Cameron Manley, Bertrand Hauger and Emma Albright

Top European Leader Pushes Xi Jinping To Use His Influence On Putin

European Council Chief Charles Michel used much of his face-to-face meeting Thursday in Beijing with Xi Jinping to urge the Chinese President to use his sway over Russian President Vladimir Putin “to end the war and to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine.”

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Michel’s visit was the first official trip to Beijing by a top EU leader since the pandemic. The three-hour sit down (considered quite long for Xi) also included discussion of human rights, Taiwan, trade relations and climate change.

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In The News
Emma Albright, Bertrand Hauger, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Laure Gautherin

China Eases COVID Restrictions, Ramaphosa In Turmoil, RIP Christine McVie

👋 Halito!*

Welcome to Thursday, where China eases COVID restrictions in several major cities, South Africa’s president faces impeachment, and Fleetwood Mac bids adieu to its songbird Christine McVie. Meanwhile, in Denmark, we look at a controversy surrounding a blackface scene featured in a beloved Christmas TV special.

[*Choctaw, Native American]

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In The News
Emma Albright, Bertrand Hauger, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Laure Gautherin

Jiang Zemin Dies, New COVID Clashes In China, World Heritage Baguette

👋 Mari mari!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where former Chinese President Jiang Zemin dies at age 96, Oath Keepers leaders are found guilty of sedition in the U.S. Capitol riots, and a French staple food earns its spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list. And just as fresh anti-lockdown clashes erupt in southern China, an article from The Initium traces the origins of the protests and asks where they will go from here.

[*Mapuche, Chile and Argentina]

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China
Changren Zheng

How China's Mass Protest Took The World By Surprise — And Where It Will End

China is facing its biggest political protests in decades as frustration grows with its harsh Zero-COVID strategy. However, the real reasons for the protests run much deeper. Could it be the starting point for a new civic movement?

In just one weekend, protests spread across China. A fire in an apartment block in Urumqi in China’s western Xinjiang region killed 10, with many blaming lockdown rules for the deaths. Anti-lockdown demonstrations spread to Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Chengdu and other cities. University students from more than half of China's provinces organized various protests against COVID restrictions.

Why and how did the movement spread so rapidly?

At the core, protesters are unhappy with President Xi Jinping's three-year-long Zero-COVID strategy that has meant mass testing, harsh lockdowns, and digital tracking. Yet, the general belief about the Chinese people was that they lacked the awareness and experience for mass political action. Even though discontent had been growing about the Zero-COVID strategy, no one expected these protests.

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Coronavirus
Shuyue Chen

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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In The News
Emma Albright, Renate Mattar, and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Kyiv In The Dark, China’s COVID Record, Stuttgart Christmas Market

👋 Goedemorgen!*

Welcome to Thursday, where 25% of Kyiv remains without power after heavy Russian air strikes on energy infrastructure, China sees record COVID cases, and sorry Thanksgiving, t’is the season for German Christmas markets. Meanwhile, Portuguese news website Mensagem reports from the city of Sintra, in western Portugal, where single parents have banded together to create a new model of joint child care.

[*Flemish]

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Economy
Joe Chialo

Why It's Time To Abolish Aid To Africa

Aid in its current form is expensive and inefficient. And it isn't needed — Africa is now a dynamic and confident continent. Europe needs a change of perspective to understand that it needs Africa as much as Africa needs Europe.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — We have a responsibility to help those in need. That is undeniable. From the earliest days of foreign aid, it was given with the best of intentions — to alleviate poverty in Africa. But since then, it has grown into an entire industry. There are so many organizations, all seeking to do good, but inefficiency and misguided assumptions mean they often fail to achieve what they set out to do.

In my opinion, the aid industry has always shown a hint of disdain towards this emerging, vibrant continent. Yes, it is a complex continent – as they all are. It is marked by poverty and war, but that is not the full picture. That is why we need a new approach. Instead of aid, Germany and the rest of the West should focus on increasing economic cooperation with Africa – as an equal partner.

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