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China Closes Border With Myanmar Amid Fighting

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China has closed its border with Myanmar after an armed conflict occurred in Mu Si, a border town in northern Myanmar, spilling over into Chinese territory.

Some Chinese buildings were damaged according to reports.

The Chinese People’s Daily said on twitter on Friday morning that, “A gas station was attacked, and artillery fire spread to the Chinese border town.”

It is reported that witnesses saw three shells and several bullets that fell into the Chinese town of Jiegao. Buildings and vehicles were hit by bullets, but there was no news of casualties.

State broadcaster CCTV said vehicles, a school and other buildings in Yunnan province were damaged by bullets, artillery fire and flames from an exploding gas station in Myanmar.

The Chinese government has thus temporarily closed the border due to this incident.

The Myanmar’s military has been battling various ethnic rebel groups based along the countries’ border.

 

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Asia

Chinese Ambassador Shares Seven Buzzwords To Showcase Fast-changing China

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Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang on Wednesday shared with Americans seven buzzwords that are currently popular in China to illustrate what is going on in his country.

“The buzzwords I shared with you today reflect the changing and unchanging elements in our values when China experiences rapid economic growth and profound social transformation,” said Qin in his keynote speech at the online Forum on Tourism, Hospitality and Cultural Exchange co-hosted by the U.S.-Asia Institute and Las Vegas Sands Corp.

The first buzzword Qin mentioned was “People First, Life First,” which was widespread during China’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and reflects a deep concern for humanity.

Likewise, “Heroes in Harm’s Way” has also gone viral in China, which refers to the everyday heroes who put their mission before their lives and made fearless sacrifices to fight the pandemic, Qin said.

To “Lie Flat” is a term to describe the youngsters who give up ambitions and do the bare minimum to get by, Qin said, adding “lie-flatters” are either people from well-off families or those who believe in whatever comes their way.

“Versailles,” originally from the “Palace of Versailles” in French, was borrowed to describe the self-claimed aristocratic spirit. On social media, it is used to label humble-braggers, he said.

“Involution,” one of the latest buzzwords in China, indicates irrational or involuntary competitions, while “Double Reduction” is a recent policy formulated by the government to address involution in education, which aims to restore the original purpose of education by restricting capital in the sector, Qin said.

The last buzzword, “Celebrity Fan Clubs,” refers to the phenomenon that some celebrities use internet to hype up themselves and cause their fans to admire them in an irrational manner, while such abnormalities stem from a chain of interests dominated by online platforms and the capital that supports them, he said.

In his speech, Qin said that socialism with Chinese characteristics requires material progress and cultural-ethical advancement, adding, “We need to keep fine traditional values, uphold fairness and justice, and not get lost in a market economy.”

“(Being) rooted in traditional Chinese values is a concern for the common good of humanity,” he added.

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Asia

Singapore Parliament Approves Law To Tackle Foreign Interference

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Singapore’s parliament has approved a law that gives broad powers to the government to deal with foreign interference that has sparked concern from the opposition and experts about its wide scope and limits on judicial review.

The small and open city-state, which says it is vulnerable to foreign meddling, targeted fake news with a far-reaching law in 2019, and joins nations such as Australia and Russia that have passed laws in recent years to deter foreign interference.

The bill, formally known as the Foreign Interference Countermeasures Act (FICA), was passed late on Monday with 75 members voting in favour, 11 opposition members objecting and two abstaining, local media reported.

Among the measures, FICA allows authorities to compel internet, social media service providers and website operators to provide user information, block content and remove applications.

Those deemed or designated as “politically significant persons” under the law will have to comply with strict rules relating to donations and declare their links to foreign entities.

Instead of court, an independent tribunal, chaired by a judge, will hear appeals against the minister’s decisions, a move the government says is necessary to protect national security.

The tribunal’s decisions will be final.

The government said FICA does not cover the building of overseas partnerships, soliciting overseas businesses, networking with foreigners, sourcing for donations or those discussing policies or political matters that affect their businesses with foreign colleagues or business partners, or supporting charities.

“As long as they are done in an open and transparent manner, and not part of an attempt to manipulate our political discourse or undermine public interest such as security,” K Shanmugam, minister for home affairs, said in parliament.

It will also not affect Singaporeans expressing their own views or engaging in advocacy.

The home affairs ministry has also previously said it would not apply to foreign individuals or publications “reporting or commenting on Singapore politics, in an open, transparent and attributable way.”

But some critics say its broad language risks capturing even legitimate activities, while rights group Reporters Without Borders said the law could ensnare independent media outlets.

Experts and Singapore’s opposition parties have called for narrowing the scope of executive powers and more oversight through the judiciary.

The bill was passed without strengthening “the circumscribed checks and balances, particularly judicial review,” said Eugene Tan, a law professor at Singapore Management University.

“While assurances were given, they could have been given unequivocal expression through legislative codification.”

However, Shanmugam said the bill represented the “best balance…between dealing with the risks and providing checks against abuse.”

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Afghanistan: Stay Home, Female Kabul Government Workers Told

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The new Taliban mayor of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul has told female municipal employees to stay home unless their jobs cannot be filled by a man.

Hamdullah Nomany said the Taliban “found it necessary to stop women from working for a while”.

It is the latest restriction imposed on Afghanistan’s women by the country’s hard-line new Islamist government.

During their previous rule in the 1990s women were barred from education and the workplace.

After seizing the country last month following the withdrawal of US forces, the Taliban said women’s rights would be respected “within the framework of Islamic law”.

But the Taliban favour a strict interpretation of Islam’s legal system, Sharia law.

Since taking power working women have been told to stay at home until the security situation improves, and Taliban fighters have beaten women protesting against the all-male interim government.

The Islamist group appears to have shut down the women’s affairs ministry and replaced it with a department that once enforced strict religious doctrines.

And this weekend secondary schools reopened, but with only boys and male teachers allowed back into classrooms. The Taliban said it was working on reopening schools for girls.

According to the Kabul mayor about a third of the municipality’s 3,000 employees are women. He said some would carry on working.

“For example, women work in the women’s toilets in the city where men cannot go,” he said.

“But for the positions that others [men] can fill, we have told them [women] to stay at home until the situation is normalised. Their salaries will be paid,” he added.

On Sunday, there were small protests outside the women’s affairs ministry while another group of women held a press conference to demand their rights.

One of those protesting at the ministry said “we do not want this ministry to be removed. The removal of women [means] the removal of human beings.”

In a separate development, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said it had been unable to fulfil its duties since the Taliban’s takeover.

The organisation said in a statement that its buildings, vehicles and computers had all been taken over by the Taliban.

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