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Eleven gold miners in Qixia, China were rescued yesterday after being trapped underground for two weeks following an explosion.
Eleven gold miners in Qixia, China were rescued yesterday after being trapped underground for two weeks following an explosion.

Welcome to Monday, where AMLO gets COVID, Chinese miners are rescued, and King Kong finds a worthy opponent. Les Echos also takes us to Syria, where coronavirus and a crumbling economy are wreaking havoc in a country already devastated by 10 years of civil war.

Viktor Orban, Xi Jinping and a simple question for the West

The basic precepts of democracy, recently on the line in Washington, have long been discarded by Europe Union member country Hungary. But, columnist Mattia Feltri asks in Italian daily La Stampa: Is anyone pure on such questions these days?

As the world watches Joe Biden's first days in the White House, Viktor Orbán is going strong in Hungary. You may remember he forced the liberal Central European University, founded by his favorite super-villain, George Soros, to leave Budapest between 2017 and 2018, in his quest to create an "illiberal democracy." Now Orbán has recently welcomed a new university to its capital: the Chinese University of Fudan.

It's a prestigious university, as international rankings attest. It will finally have a seat in Europe: a beautiful campus that is expected to house some 6,000 students in economics, international relations, medicine — all trained according to academic criteria that exclude freedom of thought, expunged from the statute and replaced with loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party led by Xi Jinping. Orbán may be a right-wing populist, but when given the chance, he sure knows how to open borders. Orbán had also borrowed money from Beijing to renovate the Budapest-Belgrade railway line.

Now, he is negotiating the purchase of a million doses of the vaccine produced by the state-owned giant Sinopharm, too — because, apparently, Europe is not fast enough. The European Medicines Agency has not approved the Chinese vaccine, but these are trivial details: Orbán told the Hungarian drug agency to speed up with it, and to hell with everyone.

No, it's not just a matter of money: It is that delightful dictatorial approach to life of the Chinese that fascinates him. In fact, Orbán suspended the labor code and canceled collective agreements in his country. Every worker will now be required to observe the hours that the company assigns him or her — without discussion, without going through the fuss of involving a union.

But the real irony of it all is that the West seems confused. Take Italy, for example. Our center-left government led by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has very solid ties with China, while our right-wing opposition has excellent relations with Orbán. They're always arguing, but who knew they actually have so much in common.

Mattia Feltri

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In The News

War in Ukraine, Day 92: Is Severodonetsk The Next Mariupol?

Russian troops are attempting to encircle Severodonetsk, the last key city remaining under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk region, as Vladimir Putin looks to claim victory in a war that is not going Moscow's way. But will the toll be for civilians?

Inside a shelter in Severodonetsk.

Meike Eijsberg, Shaun Lavelle and Cameron Manley

Severodonetsk, the last key city remaining under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk area, is now the focal point of Russia’s war. In 2014, it had been recaptured from the pro-Russian separatists in a hard-fought battle by Ukrainian forces. Now, eight years later, Moscow is launching an all-out attack to try to take it back again.

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

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Alex Crawford, a Sky News correspondent in the region, says Russian forces have the means to conquer the city that in normal times has a population of circa 100,000 — and Moscow will be eager to cite it as the “victory”. But, Crawford wrote, “the path to victory comes – like the capture of the port city of Mariupol – strewn with the broken and battered bodies of the city's citizens.”

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