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NHK, ASAHI SHIMBUN (Japan), XINHUA (China)

Worldcrunch

The Japanese government accused China of violating its airspace Thursday morning, after Chinese maritime surveillance planes flew near the islands disputed by the two powers.

China's Xinhua news agency confirms that Chinese planes were sent to patrol the territorial waters surrounding the disputed Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku in Japanese) at around 10:00 A.M. Thursday.

Xinhua cites China's State Oceanic Administration as saying the B-3837 plane joined a fleet of four surveillance ships that are stationed near Japanese territorial waters.

Japanese broadcaster NHK reports that Japan deployed eight F-15 fighter jets and an early warning aircraft in response to the sighting off Uotsuri Island.

Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea (Screenshot from GoogleMaps)

"Despite our repeated warnings, Chinese government ships have entered out territorial waters for three days in a row," Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osama Fujimura told Japanese daily the Asahi Shimbun Thursday.

"It is extremely regrettable that, on top of that, an intrusion into our airspace has been committed in this way," he said.

Relations between the two countries have become ever more strained since the Japanese government bought the islands in the East China Sea from a private Japanese owner in September. Both China and Taiwan also claim the islands as part of their own respective territories.

"The Diaoyu islands and affiliated islands are part of China's inherent territory. China's flight over the islands is completely normal," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters in Beijing.

"The Chinese side calls on Japan to halt all entries into water and airspace around the islands."

China's air incursion in Japanese air space over Senkaku islands, further pushes Japan's election discourse towards right.

— Pawan Khera (@Pawankhera) December 13, 2012

The incident also comes just days before a general election in Japan, when the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is expected to return to power, headed by former prime minister Shinzo Abe, who is noted for his staunch nationalism.

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Coronavirus

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.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

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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