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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.

Regional News • Asia • China
Four Chinese doctors sentenced to prison for organ harvesting

Four doctors have been sentenced to prison for illegally harvesting organs from deceased patients. According to the court documents, the doctors and two additional accomplices made the families of the donors sign fake organ donation consent forms and then extracted the organs of the deceased person.

Under Chinese law, organ donation is only permitted under the supervision of the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC). The medical professionals have been jailed for between 10 and 28 months.

Regional News • Asia • China
More mass testing in China amid Covid-19 flare-ups in 3 cities
More mass testing in China amid Covid-19 flare-ups in 3 cities
Credit: unsplash.com / Macau Photo Agency

Chinese authorities have ordered mass testing of millions of people in three different cities across the country after multiple locally transmitted Covid-19 cases were discovered. New waves of infections are currently happening in Tianjin, Shanghai and Manzhouli.

Regional News • Asia
Joshua Wong faces jail after guilty plea over pro-democracy activism in Hong Kong
Joshua Wong faces jail after guilty plea over pro-democracy activism in Hong Kong
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

During a trial facing charges relating to pro-democracy protests outside Hong Kong police stations the three activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, and Ivan Lam have pleaded guilty to the charges.

According to local media reports, Joshua Wong pleaded guilty to organizing and inciting the unauthorized assemble but not participation due to missing evidence by the prosecution. He could face up to five years in prison if convicted under the charges he pleaded guilty for.

Sentencing is expected for next week.

Regional News • Asia • China
China has given almost a million people experimental Covid-19 vaccine, Sinopharm claims

In an interview with posted on WeChat, Sinopharm chairman Liu Jingzhen claimed an emergency Covid-19 vaccine has been given to almost a million people as part of an emergency-use program authorized by Beijing.

"In emergency use, we now have used it on nearly a million people. We have not received any reports of serious adverse reaction, and only a few have some mild symptoms," Liu said, who added that the vaccine was given to Chinese construction workers, diplomats, and students who have gone to more than 150 countries around the world during the pandemic – none of them have reported a Covid-19 infection so far.

Regional News • Asia
United Kingdom announces that China has breached Hong Kong treaty
United Kingdom announces that China has breached Hong Kong treaty
Credit: Foreign and Commwealth Office / via Wikimedia Commons (Open Government Licence v3.0)

By imposing new rules to disqualify elected legislators Hong Kong, China has broken the biliteral treaty according to the United Kingdom.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has stated that "Beijing’s imposition of new rules to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong constitutes a clear breach of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration". The United Kingdom is now considering sanctions against officials.

Regional News • Asia • China
Shenzhen becomes first city in China to introduce mandatory paid leave time for workers
Shenzhen becomes first city in China to introduce mandatory paid leave time for workers
Credit: unsplash.com / Robert Bye

Shenzhen, the Chinese technology hub in the south of the country, will be the first city in China to introduce mandatory paid leave time so that employees "with a heavy mental and physical workload can avoid excessive burnout," following the announcement by Shenzhen's work committee.

Regional News • Asia • Japan
Japanese government announces that taxis in Tokyo can refuse passengers without masks
Japanese government announces that taxis in Tokyo can refuse passengers without masks
Credit: unsplash.com / Josh Wilburne

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has approved a new regulation for taxi operators, which states that they can refuse passengers who are not wearing masks. Drivers are required to ask customers why they do not wear masks when they board and check to see if there are any unavoidable circumstances, such as illness. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism explains the reason for the approval, saying, "This is not only for the driver but also to prevent the next passenger from becoming infected".

Regional News • Asia
200 days without domestic Covid-19 cases in Taiwan
Taipei
Taipei Credit: Chris (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Taiwan has not reported a domestically transmitted Covid-19 infection since April 12, marking 200 days without any new cases. The country has only recorded 553 Covid-19 cases and seven deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Regional News • Asia • India
India surpasses 8 million Coronavirus cases
Healthcare workers wearing personal protective equipment while caring for patients with coronavirus infection in the Indian state of Kerala.
Healthcare workers wearing personal protective equipment while caring for patients with coronavirus infection in the Indian state of Kerala. Credit: Javed Anees (Public Domain)

Over 8,040,000 Coronavirus cases have been recorded in India, making it the second-worst hit country. 120,527 people have died due to the Coronavirus.

Regional News • Asia
Thailand brands protests as "illegal" and wants to take action
Dispersal of protests in Bangkok, 16 October 2020
Dispersal of protests in Bangkok, 16 October 2020 Credit: Prachatai / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

Before the start of new protests by the Thai democracy movement, head of government Prayut Chan-o-cha has branded the demonstrations as "illegal" and announced determined action against the activists. The authorities must bring the protests under control, Prayut said in parliament on Monday.

Pro-democracy students wanted to march in front of the German embassy in Bangkok on Monday afternoon in protest against King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Regional News • Asia • China
China warns UK not to offer citizenship to Hong Kong residents
Hong Kong
Hong Kong Credit: eGuide Travel

China has told Britain to "immediately correct its mistakes" after the UK reaffirmed its plan to offer a route to British citizenship to almost three million people living there.