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Non-binding motion in Dutch parliament says that China commits genocide of Uyghurs
Non-binding motion in Dutch parliament says that China commits genocide of Uyghurs
Credit: © Hubertl / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

As the first European country, the Dutch parliament has passed a non-binding motion declaring the treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority by China genocide.

The Dutch motion said that actions by the Chinese government such as "measures intended to prevent births" and "having punishment camps" fell under United Nations Resolution 260, generally known as the genocide convention.

Regional News • Asia • Japan
Japan appoints a "Minister for Loneliness" to tackle increase in suicides

Tetsushi Sakamoto was appointed "Minister for Loneliness" by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga earlier in February after Japan saw the first rise in suicides in 11 years in 2020. 20,919 people committed suicide in Japan in 2020, 750 more than in 2019. A department will further investigate the impact of the "many kinds of loneliness".

Regional News • Asia
Hong Kong district councilors will be required to swear allegiance to government or face election ban
Hong Kong district councilors will be required to swear allegiance to government or face election ban
Credit: 立場新聞, Copyrighted free use, via Wikimedia Commons

The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang announced on Tuesday that Hong Kong will introduce new requirements for district councilors to take an oath swearing to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the government. Behaviours that would be deemed incompliant include committing acts that endanger national security, as well as any refusal to recognise China's sovereignty over Hong Kong.

Regional News • Asia
Myanmar: European Union threatens sanctions against military junta
Protest in Myanmar against Military Coup
Protest in Myanmar against Military Coup Credit: MgHla (aka) Htin Linn Aye (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

According to a joint statement released after EU foreign ministers met in Brussels on Monday, the bloc is poised to impose sanctions against the military leaders in Myanmar.

The Council called again on the military authorities to "immediately and unconditionally release President U Win Myint, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all those who have been detained or arrested in connection with the coup."

In a press release, the Council stated, "the EU stands ready to adopt restrictive measures targeting those directly responsible for the military coup and their economic interests."

Regional News • Asia • India
Fridays for Future climate activist arrested in India
Fridays for Future climate activist arrested in India
Credit: unsplash.com/Markus Spiske

In India, "Fridays for Future" activist Disha Ravi has been arrested for supporting farmers' protests. She is accused of spreading calls for protests that are part of a "conspiracy".

The arrest of Indian climate activist Disha Ravi has triggered a wave of outraged reactions. Well-known politicians and celebrities from different parts of society spoke of an attack on democracy and demanded the immediate release of the 22-year-old. Even the head of the government of the Indian capital, Arvind Kejriwal, wrote on Twitter that supporting the farmers was not a crime after all.

Regional News • Asia
India and China agree to withdraw troops from Himalayan lake

After months of tension, China and India have agreed to withdraw troops from their border dispute in the Himalayas. After several talks, an agreement had been reached, Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh told parliament. He said an agreement had been reached to withdraw troops from the disputed border on the northern and southern shores of Lake Pangong Tso.

China had already said Wednesday that both sides had begun withdrawing their border troops there. Clashes had last occurred near the lake in May.

Regional News • Asia • China
China bans BBC World News over alleged "illegal content"
China bans BBC World News over alleged "illegal content"
Credit: unsplash.com / K. Mitch Hodge

Diplomatic tensions between China and the United Kingdom continue to rise. After the expulsion of three Chinese diplomats and the revocation of the broadcasting license for the news station CGTN, China is now reacting in turn by banning the international service of the British BBC, the station BBC World News.

The station was banned for "illegal content" because it violated reporting guidelines in the country, the China Broadcasting Regulatory Commission announced. BBC World News will no longer be allowed to broadcast in mainland China, according to the statement. It said it "does not accept the new annual broadcasting application."

Regional News • Asia
Myanmar's military blocks Facebook claiming it destabilizes the country
Myanmar's military blocks Facebook claiming it destabilizes the country
Credit: unsplash.com / Leya Lakwatsera

The new military leadership in Myanmar has ordered a temporary block on the online network Facebook, through which its opponents called for civil disobedience after Monday's coup. Local telecommunications providers were ordered Wednesday by the Ministry of Transport to block access to Facebook until the end of the week. The platform was contributing to the destabilization of the country, it said in justification

Regional News • Asia
Coup in Myanmar: Military arrests Aung San Suu Kyi
Coup in Myanmar: Military arrests Aung San Suu Kyi
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Following continued criticism of the election results in Myanmar, the military is seeking to overthrow the government. Myanmar's de facto head of government Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other high-ranking members of the ruling party were arrested by the army early this morning, a spokesman for the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) said.

The military confirmed the arrests and declared a state of emergency. Control had been taken over for a year, military television said. Power had been handed over to Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The army justified the action with alleged election fraud.

Regional News • Asia • India
Indian farmers go on hunger strike in protest against new agricultural laws

In protest against new agricultural laws, farmers in India have begun a hunger strike. The action, scheduled for one day, coincided on Saturday with the death anniversary of independence fighter Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948). The hunger strike is meant to underscore the peaceful element of the protests, farmer leaders said.

Regional News • Asia • India
Indian court rules that groping minors without "skin to skin contact" doesn't qualify as sexual assault

The Bombay High Court ruled that groping without "skin to skin" contact does not qualify as sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act. The court stated that touching a minor's breast without removing the child's clothes is not considered sexual assault.

Regional News • Asia • China
11 of 22 Chinese miners trapped in gold mine rescued after two weeks
11 of 22 Chinese miners trapped in gold mine rescued after two weeks
Credit: Xinhua/Chen Hao

Efforts have been underway to reach the workers since the blast occurred about 240 meters from the mine's entrance, but Chinese officials had said Thursday it could take 15 days to drill through 70 tons of debris trapping many of the miners. Xinhua quoted the note as saying: "We are heavily exhausted and in urgent need of stomach medicine, painkillers, medical tape, external anti-inflammatory drugs, and three people have high blood pressure."

The miners became trapped on Jan. 10 following an unexplained explosion at the Hushan gold mine located in the city of Qixia in China's eastern province of Shandong. It was not until 30 hours later that the accident was reported, leading to at least two local officials' firings.

In September, at least 16 workers in southwestern China died after they became trapped underground in a coal mine and exposed to unsafe carbon monoxide levels, state media reported.

Regional News • Asia
Gallery in Nepal to display art made of rubbish left on Mount Everest
Trash on an Everest trail
Trash on an Everest trail Credit: Rick McCharles (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Trash collected from Mount Everest is set to be transformed into art and displayed in a nearby gallery, to highlight the need to save the world's tallest mountain from turning into a dumping site.

Everest has long struggled with its status as the "world's highest garbage dump", but now at least some of the huge amount of rubbish left behind by visitors each year will be put to good use. More than 600 people attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest each year, and each climber discards, on average, 8kg of rubbish consisting of oxygen canisters, tents, food containers and even human waste.

Regional News • Asia • China
Twitter locks account of Chinese US embassy
Twitter locks account of Chinese US embassy
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Twitter has blocked the user account of the Chinese embassy in the US because of a tweet about the treatment of the Uyghur minority. The account @ChineseEmbinUS had published a tweet saying that Uyghur women were no longer "baby-making machines". The original English-language tweet referred to "baby making machines." The statement referred to a study reported by China Daily, a pro-government newspaper.

Regional News • Asia
South Korea to buy enough Covid-19 vaccine to supply North Korea
South Korea to buy enough Covid-19 vaccine to supply North Korea
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

South Korean President Moon Jae said Wednesday that the country is preparing to secure more Covid-19 vaccines via technology transfer from U.S. manufacturers Novavax Inc. and Moderna, allowing the country to produce local doses and enough potential vaccines for North and South Korea.

Regional News • Asia • China
Billionaire Alibaba founder Jack Ma makes first public appearance in three months
Jack Ma
Jack Ma Credit: JD Lasica (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire internet entrepreneur suspected missing, has made his first public appearance in three months. The short speech is Ma’s first public appearance since October 24 when he made a speech at the Shanghai finance forum. In the speech, Ma criticised Chinese financial regulation and called for reform.

Ma's low profile since, which included pulling out of his own show African Business Heroes, led to speculation that he was "missing."

Regional News • Asia • Japan
Tokyo: State of emergency declared issued amid Coronavirus surge

Japan has issued a month-long state of emergency for Tokyo and three surrounding areas - Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba. Schools, gyms, cinemas and theatres will be allowed to remain open under certain restrictions. Restaurants will have to shorten their opening hours or be "named and shamed" by the government. The state of emergency will end of February 7th.

Regional News • Asia
Hong Kong police has arrested 53 pro-democracy activists
Hong Kong police has arrested 53 pro-democracy activists
Credit: Studio Incendo / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Hong Kong media reported that 53 pro-democracy activists have been arrested in connection with the unofficial primaries held last year by opposition forces ahead of the election to the Legislative Council, Hong Kong's parliament, which was later canceled due to the Corona pandemic. According to the report, those arrested were accused of endangering the state by participating in the primaries and the goals pursued there, and thus of violating the security law introduced at the end of June.

Regional News • Asia • Japan
Japan considers 1-month long state of emergency for Tokyo area

Japan is considering declaring a state of emergency as numbers of Coronavirus cases rise. It would apply to Tokyo and the three neighboring prefectures of Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa. In his new year's speech, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga already hinted at measures to keep the virus from spreading. Japan reported 4520 new cases on December 31st and 3158 on January 3rd.

Regional News • Asia • India
India approves Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use

An expert panel of India's Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for emergency use on Friday, making it the third country to approve the vaccine. The CDSCO may also approve a locally developed vaccine by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) soon.

Regional News • Asia • China
Sinopharm Coronavirus vaccine approved in China

The Coronavirus vaccine from state-owned Sinopharm was approved by China’s health authorities, s promising to provide the general public with free vaccination. China plans to vaccinate 50 million people with the Sinopharm vaccine before February's Lunar New Year celebrations.

"Vaccine is a public good by its nature, and the price may vary based on the scale of use, but an important premise is that it will be provided to the public for free," Zeng Yixin, vice-minister of China's National Health Commission said.

Regional News • Asia
Taiwan records first locally transmitted Covid-19 case in 255 days
Southern District Specialty Training Center completes epidemic prevention and preparation
Southern District Specialty Training Center completes epidemic prevention and preparation Credit: 軍事新聞通訊社, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons

Taiwan has recorded its first locally transmitted Covid-19 case since April 12. The infected person is a woman in her 30s who was infected after having contact with a foreign pilot, so the country's health ministry on Tuesday. The island has recorded a total of 770 cases.

Regional News • Asia • China
China to vaccinate 50m people in high-priority group by Lunar New Year
China to vaccinate 50m people in high-priority group by Lunar New Year
Credit: Illustration by Ashley Winkler for Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Reuters is reporting that China plans to vaccinate 50 million people by the Lunar New Year in mid-February, with the Sichuan province starting the vaccination roll-out by early January. High-priority groups will receive the Covid-19 vaccination by Chinese firms Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech Ltd first, these include health workers, police officers, firefighters, customs officers, cargo handlers, transport and logistics workers.

Regional News • Asia • Japan
Takahiro Shiraishi, Japan's 'Twitter killer', has been sentenced to death for the murder of 9
Murder scene of Zama Suicide Pact Slayings in 2017 (Zama, Japan)
Murder scene of Zama Suicide Pact Slayings in 2017 (Zama, Japan) Credit: Asanagi, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Takahiro Shiraishi, who admitted to the murder of nine people he had befriended on Twitter, has been sentenced to death in Japan. Shiraishi strangled and dismembered eight women and one man over the course of three months. All of his victims had expressed suicidal thoughts prior to their death on Twitter, but "none of the nine victims consented to be killed, including by silent consent" so the the judge, Naokuni Yano, found.

Regional News • Asia • China
Report: Hundreds of Thousands of Uyghurs Forcibly Used in Cotton Harvesting
Report: Hundreds of Thousands of Uyghurs Forcibly Used in Cotton Harvesting
Credit: unsplash.com / Trisha Downing

Hundreds of thousands of members of ethnic minorities are being forced to work in cotton fields in China's Xinjiang province, according to a report. In 2018, at least 570,000 people were reportedly forced to harvest cotton in three Uyghur-majority regions in Xinjiang as part of a government forced labor program, the Center For Global Policy report said Monday, citing government documents.

Regional News • Asia
South Korea bans sending of leaflets to North Korea

South Korea has banned the sending of leaflets critical of the regime to neighboring North Korea. The parliament in Seoul passed a law to that effect on Monday, which also makes it a punishable offense to pass on money or USB data carriers containing entertainment or information. Earlier, Pyongyang had sharply increased pressure on its neighbors to the south.

Regional News • Asia
Indonesia receives 1.2m Covid-19 vaccine doses from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
Indonesia receives 1.2m Covid-19 vaccine doses from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
Credit: Illustration by Ashley Winkler for Pendect

Indonesia has received its first shipment of China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd.'s Covid-19 vaccine on Sunday, so Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, while the country's food and drug agency have yet to evaluate the vaccine. Indonesia received 1.2 million doses in a first shipment but is set to receive another 1.8 million doses by January.

Regional News • Asia
Hong Kong democracy movement media entrepreneur Lai detained until trial

Shortly after the verdict against Joshua Wong and two of his comrades-in-arms the media entrepreneur Jimmy Lai, another prominent supporter of the Hong Kong democracy movement has been sent to prison. He is accused of fraud and is now expected to remain in detention pending a planned court hearing in April.

Regional News • Asia
Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong sentenced to prison
Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong sentenced to prison
Credit: Honcques Laus / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

Joshua Wong has been sentenced to thirteen and a half months in prison, and the co-defendants Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam have been sentenced to ten and seven months in prison, respectively. This was decided by a court in Hong Kong's Kowloon district. The prosecution had accused the three of having participated in an unauthorized demonstration last year against the growing influence of the Chinese leadership in Hong Kong.

Regional News • Asia
Cannabis removed from Thailand's narcotics list
Cannabis removed from Thailand's narcotics list
Credit: unsplash.com / Next Green Wave

In order to allow wider use of marijuana for medical purposes, Thailand's Narcotics Control Board has voted to remove cannabis plants from the list of Category 5 narcotics.

However, growing marijuana is only allowed if a permit is granted by the FDA to ensure alignment with government agencies.