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Top Asian News 4:54 a.m. GMT

November 29, 2022 GMT

China lockdown protests pause as police flood city streets

HONG KONG (AP) — With police out in force, there was no word of additional protests against strict government anti-pandemic measures Tuesday in Beijing, as temperatures fell well below freezing. Shanghai, Nanjing and other cities where online calls to gather had been issued were also reportedly quiet. Rallies against China’s unusually strict anti-virus measures spread to several cities over the weekend in the biggest show of opposition to the ruling Communist Party in decades. Authorities eased some regulations, apparently to try to quell public anger, but the government showed no sign of backing down on its larger coronavirus strategy, and analysts expect authorities to quickly silence the dissent.

China’s ‘zero-COVID’ limits saved lives but no clear exit

China’s strategy of controlling the coronavirus with lockdowns, mass testing and quarantines has provoked the greatest show of public dissent against the ruling Communist Party in decades. Most protesters on the mainland and in Hong Kong have focused their anger on restrictions that confine families to their homes for months. Global health experts have criticized China’s methods as unsustainable. A look at China’s “zero-COVID” approach: CHINA’S POLICY President Xi Jinping’s government has pursued a policy of lockdowns, repeated testing of millions of people and lengthy quarantines for overseas arrivals in an attempt to tamp down spread. At the beginning of the pandemic, other countries also had lockdowns and other restrictions that were eventually eased.

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China’s Xi faces threat from public anger over ‘zero COVID’

SHANGHAI (AP) — Barely a month after granting himself new powers as China’s potential leader for life, Xi Jinping is facing a wave of public anger of the kind not seen for decades, sparked by his “zero COVID” strategy that will soon enter its fourth year. Demonstrators poured into the streets over the weekend in cities including Shanghai and Beijing, criticizing the policy, confronting police — and even calling for Xi to step down. On Monday, demonstrators gathered in the semi-autonomous southern city of Hong Kong, where the pro-democracy movement was all but snuffed out by a harsh crackdown following monthslong demonstrations that began in 2019.

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Bodies in suitcases suspect extradited to New Zealand

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea extradited a 42-year-old woman to New Zealand, two months after she was arrested following the discovery of the bodies of two long-dead children in abandoned suitcases. New Zealand police said the woman arrived at Auckland Airport on Tuesday after they sent three officers to South Korea to bring her back. They said she will be held in jail overnight and is to appear Wednesday at Manukau District Court, where she will face two murder charges. The case horrified many people in New Zealand after the children’s bodies were discovered in August when an Auckland family bought abandoned goods, including two suitcases, from a storage unit in an online auction.

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Australia argues against ‘endangered’ Barrier Reef status

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s environment minister said Tuesday her government will lobby against UNESCO adding the Great Barrier Reef to a list of endangered World Heritage sites, arguing that criticisms of government inaction on climate change were outdated. Officials from the U.N. cultural agency and the International Union for Conservation of Nature released a report on Monday warning that without “ambitious, rapid and sustained” climate action, the world’s largest coral reef is in peril. The report, which recommended shifting the Great Barrier Reef to endangered status, followed a 10-day mission in March to the famed reef system off Australia’s northeast coast that was added to the World Heritage list in 1981.

South Korea orders striking cement truckers back to work

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s government issued an order Tuesday for some of the thousands of truck drivers who have been on strike to return to work, insisting that their nationwide walkout over freight fare issues is hurting an already weak economy. Despite facing the threat of delicensing or even prison terms, the strike’s organizers said they would defy the order and accused President Yoon Suk Yeol’s conservative government of suppressing their labor rights and ignoring what they described as worsening work conditions and financial strain caused by rising fuel costs and interest rates. The order was approved in a Cabinet meeting called by Yoon and targeted about 2,500 drivers of cement trucks among a broader group of truckers participating in the walkout.

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Polio is back in Indonesia, sparking vaccination campaign

PIDIE, Indonesia (AP) — Children in school uniforms and toddlers with their parents lined up Monday for polio vaccinations in the Sigli town square on the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, after four children were found infected with the highly contagious disease that was declared eliminated in the country less than a decade ago. The virus was first detected in October in a 7-year-old boy suffering from partial paralysis in the province of Aceh near Sigli, and since then three other cases have been detected, prompting the mass immunization and information drive. Official say that polio immunization rates in the conservative province are well behind the rest of the country, with efforts hampered by widespread disinformation the vaccine is incompatible with religious beliefs, among other things.

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Pakistan launches new anti-polio drive amid spike in cases

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani authorities launched a new nationwide anti-polio drive on Monday amid a spike in new cases among children, health officials said. It is the sixth such campaign this year and will last for five days, aiming to inoculate children under the age of 5 in high-risk areas. The newest drive was aimed at Islamabad and in the high-risk districts in eastern Punjab and southwestern Baluchistan province. A similar campaign will be launched in the northwest in the first week of December. Pakistan regularly launches polio campaigns despite attacks on workers and police assigned to inoculation drives. Militants falsely claim the vaccination campaigns are a Western conspiracy to sterilize children.

UK’s Rishi Sunak says ‘golden era’ with China over

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declared Monday that the U.K.’s “golden era” of ties with China was over in his first major speech on foreign policy, describing China’s growing authoritarianism as a “systemic challenge to our values and interests.” But Sunak stopped short of calling China a threat, disappointing China hawks in his Conservative Party who had until recently expected him to class China as a “threat” to U.K. security as part of an update of the government’s foreign and defense policies. In his speech to the annual Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London, Sunak said the U.K. would stand up to global competitors like China — “not with grand rhetoric but with robust pragmatism” and by boosting its ties with like-minded global allies including the U.S., Canada, Australia and Japan.

Pakistan Taliban ends cease-fire with govt, vows new attacks

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Pakistani Taliban on Monday ended a monthslong cease-fire with the government in Islamabad, ordering its fighters to resume attacks across the country, where scores of deadly attacks have been blamed on the insurgent group. In a statement, the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan said it decided to end the 5-month-old cease-fire after Pakistan’s army stepped up operations against them in former northwestern tribal areas and elsewhere in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan. Pakistan and the TTP had agreed to an indefinite cease-fire in May after talks in Afghanistan’s capital. There was no immediate comment from the government or the military.