‘Like a war zone’: Congress hears of China’s abuses in Xinjiang ‘re-education camps’

Two women tell of witnessing or experiencing torture and brainwashing, as Republicans and Democrats vow to document ‘genocide’

Two women who say they experienced and escaped Chinese “re-education camps” have provided first-hand testimony to members of the US Congress, giving harrowing detail while imploring Americans not to look away from what the US has declared a continuing genocide of Muslim ethnic minorities.

Testifying before a special House committee at the beginning of Ramadan, Gulbahar Haitiwaji, a Uyghur woman, said that during her nearly three years in internment camps and police stations, prisoners were subjected to 11 hours of “brainwashing education” each day. It included singing patriotic songs and praising the Chinese government before and after meals.

Continue reading...
Hong Kong department store removes artwork with hidden ‘political content’

Patrick Amadon, whose work flashed up names from pro-democracy protests, says it had to be taken down ‘to be a completed piece’

A Hong Kong department store took down a digital artwork that contained hidden references to jailed free-speech defenders, in an incident the artist says is evidence the of erosion of free speech by Chinese authorities.

Patrick Amadon’s No Rioters was put on display on a billboard at the huge Sogo Causeway Bay store as the city was promoting itself as a cultural hub following years of pandemic travel restrictions. Art Basel Hong Kong, a prominent art fair in Asia, began this week, alongside other art events.

Continue reading...
Zebra captured after three hours on the run in Seoul

Animal, which is thought to have broken out of its zoo enclosure, was tranquillised after being on the loose in South Korean capital

A young zebra walked, trotted and galloped for hours through the busy streets of Seoul before emergency workers tranquillised the animal and brought it back to a zoo.

The zebra – a male named Sero who was born in the zoo in 2021 – was in a stable condition and being examined by veterinarians on Thursday evening, said Choi Ye-ra, an official at the Children’s Grand Park in South Korea’s capital.

Continue reading...
Spanish PM to discuss Ukraine with Xi Jinping on visit to China

Pedro Sánchez says he will tell Chinese leader it must be Ukrainians who ‘lay down conditions’ for any peace agreement

Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, will visit China next week to meet President Xi Jinping, where he is expected to stress that it will be up to Ukraine to decide on the foundations of any peace agreement with Russia.

News of Sánchez’s visit emerged on Wednesday evening, as Xi – who is trying to position himself as a mediator in the war between Russia and Ukraine – wrapped up a symbolic, two-day trip to Moscow.

Continue reading...
New Zealand child poverty rate remains static despite Ardern-era push

The then leader had made improving the lives of the poorest children a key plank of her agenda

New Zealand’s child poverty rates have plateaued, despite government efforts and former leader Jacinda Ardern making it a central priority of her prime ministership.

Reducing the country’s stubborn child poverty rates has been a central commitment of the Labour government since Ardern ran on the issue in 2017, creating a new minister for child poverty, introducing legislation to ensure child poverty data was measured and published yearly, and bringing in a series of additional financial support packages for low-income families.

Continue reading...
US Navy rejects China claim that warship ‘illegally’ entered part of South China Sea

China’s military said guided-missile destroyer USS Milius intruded into China’s territorial waters near the contested Paracel Islands

The United States has denied Chinese claims that a US destroyer was driven out from waters around the contested Paracel Islands after it “illegally” entered the area in the South China Sea.

In a statement on Thursday, the Chinese military said the guided-missile destroyer USS Milius illegally intruded into China’s territorial waters, without the approval of the government, undermining peace and stability in the busy waterway.

Continue reading...
Former New Zealand soldier killed fighting Russian forces in Ukraine

Kane Te Tai fought with the International Legion and was known for documenting battles and daily life in Ukraine on social media

A former New Zealand soldier who drew an online following with his dispatches from the frontline of the Ukraine war has been killed in fighting there.

The death of Kane Te Tai, 38, was confirmed by New Zealand’s foreign ministry Thursday, citing Ukrainian government sources.

Continue reading...
Chinese startup invents long-distance kissing machine

The device, which transmits users’ kiss data collected through motion sensors hidden in silicon lips, makes sounds and warms up slightly when kissed

A Chinese start-up has invented a long-distance kissing machine that transmits users’ kiss data collected through motion sensors hidden in silicon lips, which simultaneously move when replaying kisses received.

MUA – named after the sound people commonly make when blowing a kiss – also captures and replays sound and warms up slightly during kissing, making the experience more authentic, said Beijing-based Siweifushe.

Continue reading...
Xi’s trip to Moscow didn’t impress the west – but his most important audience is at home

The official narrative in China is that the US responds to problems militarily, while China uses dialogue, and there are signs this narrative is catching on

As Xi Jinping returns to Beijing after his first trip to Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine, the contradictory forces that dominate the Chinese leader’s relationship with Moscow are no closer to being resolved. Xi wants to be a strong ally to Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, and a global peacemaker. Both cannot be true.

The red carpet and more – a brass band, Siberian salmon – was rolled out for Xi’s two-day visit to Moscow. Xi and Putin raised a glass to the “deepening of the Russian-Chinese partnership”. As well as shared political and economic interests, the relationship is also characterised to an unusual degree by the personal bond between Xi and Putin. Xi has described the Russian president as his “best friend” and has said that their characters are alike.

Continue reading...
Chinese state company wins contract to redevelop Solomon Islands port, prompting cautious response

Samoa’s prime minister says port ‘might morph into something else’ and suggests Pacific countries may have to monitor situation

A Chinese state company has won a major contract to redevelop the port in Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands, prompting a cautious response from Pacific neighbours.

The prime minister of Samoa, Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa, raised concerns that the commercial port “might morph into something else” and suggested that Pacific countries may have to monitor the situation.

Continue reading...
Beijing’s population falls for first time since 2003 as China battles low birthrate

Chinese capital saw more deaths than births in 2022 as high cost of living and education as well as legacy of one-child policy take their toll

Beijing’s population has declined for the first time in almost two decades, new population figures have revealed.

In 2022 there were more deaths than births in the Chinese capital, home to more than 21 million people, resulting in a natural population growth of minus 0.05 per 1,000 people. It is the first time the population has gone backwards since 2003.

Continue reading...
‘I’m happy to have this slow day’: Bali marks new year with day of silence

To mark Nyepi, everything from the airport to local supermarkets and ATMs are closed, while residents and tourists remain inside for quiet self-reflection

Bali’s typical soundtrack of construction sites and car horns has been replaced for 24 hours with birdsong and the lapping of waves as the island celebrates its annual day of silence.

To celebrate the Balinese New Year, known as Nyepi, the island’s usually busy streets have fallen quiet with residents and tourists expected to remain indoors for a day of quiet self-reflection.

Continue reading...
A tale of two visits: Kishida and Xi tread starkly different paths on Ukraine

One voiced his anger as he saw first firsthand the destruction caused by Russia’s invasion. The other toasted a close friendship with Moscow

On Tuesday, Japan’s prime minister laid a wreath for the dead outside a church in the blasted Ukrainian town of Bucha, while 800km away in Moscow Xi Jinping was treated to an opulent state dinner by Vladimir Putin, underscoring the division in Asia over Russia’s invasion.

The first Japanese leader to visit a country in conflict since the second world war, Kishida toured Bucha, a town that has become synonymous with Russian brutality, and where the mayor has said more than 400 civilians were killed.

Continue reading...
‘Own the feels’: New Zealand government tries to help teens recover from break-ups

Love Better campaign includes a video that encourages teenagers to delete their exes on social media

“OK, I’m doing it. I’m officially deleting my ex from all my socials,” a young woman says, looking determinedly into her phone screen. She leans closer and whispers: “I’m moving on.”

The footage appears in a New Zealand government video which affirms the universal truth that “break-ups suck”, as part of an unusual new campaign to support young people through their experience of being dumped and suggest healthy ways to process their feelings.

Continue reading...
Taiwan says it has ‘contingency plans’ for any moves by China during president Tsai’s trip abroad

Tsai Ing-wen will visit allies Guatemala and Belize next week, and stopover in the US, after Honduras said it would establish ‘official relations’ with China

Taiwan’s defence ministry has contingency plans for any moves by China during Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the US and Central America, deputy defence minister Po Horng-huei has said ahead of Tsai’s departure next week.

China, which claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, carried out large-scale, live-fire war games around the island last August after a visit to Taipei by then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Continue reading...