Lifestyle, News

China: 2,641 new coronavirus cases and the death toll rose to 1,523

Reuters – More than 2,600 new cases were confirmed from a coronavirus outbreak in mainland China, health officials said on Saturday, a day after people returning to the capital from holidays were ordered to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

The total of confirmed infections across mainland China was now 66,492 after 2,641 new cases were confirmed, as of Friday, the National Health Commission said.

The death toll rose by 143 to 1,523, it said, with most of the new deaths in central Hubei province and in particular the provincial capital of Wuhan, the city of 11 million people where the outbreak began in December.

Outside mainland China, there have been nearly 450 cases in some 24 countries and territories, and three deaths.

Egypt confirmed its first coronavirus case on Friday, saying the affected person was a foreigner who had been put into isolation in hospital.

Three people have died outside mainland China – one in Japan, one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.

The virus is killing about 2% of those infected, but has spread faster than other respiratory viruses that emerged this century.

China sees 2,641 new coronavirus cases, 143 deaths, as it struggles to slow spread

SHANGHAI/BEIJING, Feb 15 (Reuters) – More than 2,600 new cases were confirmed from a coronavirus outbreak in mainland China, health officials said on Saturday, a day after people returning to the capital from holidays were ordered to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

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News, Politics

China is cooperating on coronavirus, WHO expert says

A World Health Organization official said Friday that the group had no evidence to support a claim by a White House economic adviser of lack of transparency by China over the coronavirus outbreak and called on countries to “avoid politicizing this issue right now.”

Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO health emergencies program, was responding to comments by Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, who said the U.S. feels let down by China’s response to the virus.

“We are a little disappointed that we haven’t been invited in and we’re a little disappointed in the lack of transparency coming from the Chinese,” Kudlow told reporters Thursday.

Ryan called the remarks “opinion” and noted that he expects U.S. experts to be part of the WHO team in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus. He added that there has long been “deep scientific collaboration” between the U.S., international organizations and China, including extensive publishing by China in international medical journals about the virus.

China is cooperating on coronavirus, WHO expert says, disputing White House official’s claims

A World Health Organization official said Friday that the group had no evidence to support a claim by a White House economic adviser of lack of transparency by China over the coronavirus outbreak and called on countries to “avoid politicizing this issue right now.”

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Finance, News, Politics, Tech

Apple hits an all-time high as China and the US reach trade deal

With the agreement between the US and China, Apple has narrowly avoided a 15% tariff that would’ve been applied to some of its most popular products had a scheduled round of tariffs gone into effect on December 15.

That would’ve hiked the prices of some of Apple’s flagship products. The price of the iPhone could’ve gone up as much as $150, according to Daniel Ives of Wedbush, which would’ve lowered demand for the product by as much as 8%. The iPad and MacBook would also have been subject to price increases.

Apple had been pushing back against the potential tariffs. In November, the company filed requests to be excluded from the December 15 round of tariffs, according to Bloomberg. Even President Trump said that he was looking into whether or not Apple should be exempt from the tax during a November visit to Apple’s Texas facility.

The company has a majority of its supply chain in China, including a main iPhone assembly plant in Zhengzhou that is responsible for producing half of the iPhones in the world.

If the increase in Apple’s stock price holds through the end of trading Friday, it will mark a four-day streak of gains for the company. Earlier in the week, Apple was unseated as the world’s most valuable company when its roughly $1.2 trillion market valuation was beaten by Saudi Aramco, which now has a market capitalization of more than $2 trillion.

Apple hits an all-time high as China and the US reach a phase one trade deal

Shares of Apple rose as much as 1.3% Friday to a fresh all-time record as China and the US reach a phase one trade deal that includes some tariff relief. With the agreement between the US and China, Apple has narrowly avoided a 15% tariff that would’ve been applied to some of its most popular products had a scheduled round of tariffs gone into effect on December 15.

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Featured, News, Politics

Russia and China’s ominous new friendship

Russia and China’s ominous new friendship

David Andelman writes that natural gas has begun flowing this week along the new “Power of Siberia” pipeline linking Russia and China, a testimony to the increasingly close and, for the United States, quite dangerous ties between the two countries.

The gas pipeline project itself brings together America’s two leading adversaries, who at one time were utterly at odds with each other, but who have been driven closer than at any time in their history by domestic and international circumstances. In a joint teleconference inaugurating the project, Russian President Vladimir Putin characterized it as a “genuinely historical event….for us, for Russia and China.” The pipeline, he continued, “takes Russia-China energy cooperation to a whole new level and brings us closer to achieving the goal set together with Chinese President Xi Jinping of extending bilateral trade turnover to $200 billion in 2024.”

*David A. Andelman, executive director of The RedLines Project, is a contributor to CNN, where his columns won the Deadline Club Award for Best Opinion Writing. Author of “A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today,” he was formerly a foreign correspondent for The New York Times and CBS News.

News, Travel

The most Beautiful Places to Visit

Humans are one of the greatest creations of God. They have been living close to nature since their creation. They always trying to discover nature. In this try, they have discovered many wonderful places across the world. Some of these places are a miracle of God on the Earth and some are manmade. Following are the places that almost every man wants to see in their life.

Santorini, Greece

1. Santorini, Greece

It is one of the most amazing places of the world in Greece. It is actually an island of Cyclades. It is said to be devastated in the 16th century and since then it is rebuilding and its beauties are increasing with every passing day. The most ideal period of the year to go to this miracle is from April to September. There are a lot of islands in this city and sunbathing around any of these would be an unforgettable experience. There is a natural pool which attracts the tourists from the world.

Rome, Italy

2. Rome

Another beautiful place to visit in the world is the ancient city of Rome in Italy. It is also called the center of Western civilization. This city was discovered in 753 BC. The Colosseum which is the world’s most iconic monument is also in Rome. There is no one who wishes to return from Rome without seeing this monument. Moreover, The Pantheon and Piazza Navona are also worth visiting places in Rome.

Taj Mahal,India

3. Taj Mahal

Another very fascinating and beautiful place in the world is Taj Mahal in the city of Agra in India. It is also called the monument of love. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan in love of his wife Mumtaz Mahal in 1932. It is located at the South bank of Yamuna River. Its ivory white color attracts the tourists from a distance. It is one of the miracles of Mughalia art of building.

Lake Saif-ul-Malook,Pakistan

4. Lake Saif-ul-Malook

One of the most beautiful and worth seeing lakes is the lake Saif-ul-Malook in the Northern areas of Pakistan. It is located in the north of Kaghan Valley near the town of Naran. It is at the height of 10,578 feet above the sea level and its water is drained into Kunhar river. It is the lake which is located near Malika Parbat, the highest peak in the valley.

5. Great Wall of China

Great Wall, China

Another among the Seven Wonders of the World and beautiful place to see is the Great Wall of China. It was built of different material and the purpose was to protect China from invasions of Europe. It is about 21196 meters long and there come many worth seeing sights while travelling along it.

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News

Hong Kong protests: Cathay Pacific staff speak of climate of fear

Cathay Pacific employees say they fear losing their jobs if they express support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Employees of the airline told the BBC that staff feared working routes to mainland China. Some are considering bringing decoy mobiles with them in case their phones are checked on arrival in the mainland.

It comes weeks after China demanded the airline suspend staff involved in the protest movement. Protesters have been taking to the streets of Hong Kong for the past 11 weeks. The demonstrations were originally against an extradition bill but have now evolved into a wider pro-democracy movement.

Earlier this month, Cathay Pacific fired two pilots over protest-related incidents. One cabin crew member who wished to remain anonymous told BBC News night’s Gabriel Gatehouse: “We try not to talk about politics during a flight because you don’t know which colleagues are at your side. The company says that we should not support the ‘illegal’ protests.

“So if somebody who is pro-China finds out you went to the protest, they find some way to report you to the company. Maybe not for a political issue but for some safety issue that might mean you lose your job. So we are not able to talk in the flights.” Some fear being detained while working routes to mainland China.

Media caption Aerial footage shows extent of Hong Kong protest

Former Cathay Pacific pilot Jeremy Tam, a member of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, quit the airline last week, as did CEO Rupert Hogg. A member of the Civic Party, Mr Tam said his resignation was aimed to stopping any additional political pressure placed on the company due to his political beliefs.

“You can tell, this climate of fear is all over Cathay Pacific. There is a lot of fear, they worry about their Facebook accounts, they worry about anyone capturing their messages, people who could spy on them and give their name to management. That kind of fear is still happening and spreading rapidly,” Mr Tam told the BBC. He added that some members of staff have changed their social media accounts so they are not at risk.

Analysis box by Karishma Vaswani, Asia business correspondent

Cathay’s story is a cautionary tale of what happens to businesses in Hong Kong when you don’t factor in what China wants. In a sense, it’s a distorted reflection of what’s happened in Hong Kong. From unrest to protests to an embattled leader – but this one, Rupert Hogg, stepped down.

Its predicament highlights the precarious position that big business in Hong Kong now finds itself. Some staff members who don’t want to be named have described the atmosphere there as working ‘in a climate of fear’. Whatever the truth is, it’s clear that businesses are playing it safe.

Today, some of the biggest banks in the world are putting out front page ads in Hong Kong’s papers condemning the violence in Hong Kong. But they are also pledging their support to China’s growth and development.

The reality is that China is a massive market for these companies – one they cannot afford to ignore. These are the sorts of difficult calculations that international companies are now making about operating in Hong Kong.

It is, as one risk consultancy firm told me, a binary choice. Either stay in Hong Kong and toe the Chinese Communist Party’s line – or leave. Augustus Tang, the new CEO of the airline, told staff on Monday that there was “zero tolerance for illegal activities” or policy breaches.

In a memo to staff, he said: “The way every single one of us acts, not only at work serving our customers but also outside work – on social media and in everyday life – impacts how we are perceived as a company.” Mr Tam said: “How can you control people who are doing this in their own time? This is not Hong Kong at all. We have freedom of speech here. We have our own jurisdictions and our own common law.

“We stand together through the good times and bad times. During the Second World War and Japanese occupation and during the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997.” The BBC has contacted Cathay Pacific for comment. The company earlier told Reuters that it would not comment on internal staff matters.

A guide to the Hong Kong protests

Protesters with a makeshift street sign barricade
News, Politics

Hong Kong protests: Huge crowds rally peacefully

Organisers say 1.7 million people turned out at Sunday’s pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong, amid increasingly severe warnings by Beijing. Police put the figure much lower at 128,000, counting only those at an officially sanctioned rally.

Activists and police have clashed over the past 11 weeks, but this weekend’s protest remained peaceful. The protests were sparked by a controversial extradition bill, which has since been suspended.

They have now morphed into a broader movement demanding democratic reform and an investigation into alleged police brutality. The protest’s organisers, the Civil Human Rights Front, were denied authorisation for a march through the city, but police allowed a pre-approved demonstration in the city’s Victoria Park.

Protesters march to demand democracy and political reform, in Hong Kong, August 18, 2019

One of the marchers, named as Mr Wong, told the BBC’s Lam Cho Wai at the scene: “We have been fighting for more than two months, but our government has no response at all. We could just come out again and again.” Large crowds also marched in the nearby areas of Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Wan Chai in defiance of the police ban.

Media captionHow Hong Kong got trapped in a cycle of violence

A spokesman for the Hong Kong government said that although the demonstrations were generally peaceful, they had seriously affected traffic and caused much inconvenience. He added that it was “most important to restore social order as soon as possible”.

Reinvigorated faith in the cause

Stephen McDonell, BBC News, Hong Kong

The push to drive Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement in a more peaceful direction this weekend seems to have worked. From toddlers to the elderly, protesters turned out to join a massive rally. Entire families were seen dressed in black getting soaked together when the heavens opened and driving rain struck the city.

These demonstrations wanted to draw again on a wide pool of public support after shocking images of escalating violence here caused many to rethink the direction of the pro-democracy push. When it was announced inside an already full Victoria Park that underground train stations had been closed because too many people were flooding in trying to reach the rally, there was a huge cheer from the crowd.

Today has reinvigorated people’s faith in this cause and, at the moment, made it feel like a decent proportion of this city’s population are preparing to keep fighting right up to 2047, when Hong Kong is due to lose its special status and become a Chinese city like all others.

How have recent protests unfolded?

The violence has intensified in the past few weeks, and police have frequently fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Last weekend activists occupied the airport, leading to hundreds of flights being cancelled. There were further clashes with police on Tuesday.

Media caption The BBC’s Stephen McDonell observed the new quick-moving tactics of police against protesters on Saturday

The turmoil has plunged one of Asia’s leading financial centres into crisis. Many businesses remained closed on Sunday amid fears of further violence.

What is Beijing saying?

The Chinese government hardened its rhetoric following the airport unrest, condemning it as “behaviour that is close to terrorism”. It was the second time in a week that Chinese officials had publicly likened the protests to terrorist activity.

Some observers believe that the repeated use of such language suggests that China is losing patience with the protesters and signals that an intervention by Beijing is increasingly likely.

Thousands of armed police have been stationed across the border in Shenzhen. “If Hong Kong’s situation deteriorates to a point uncontrollable by the Hong Kong government, the central government will not sit by and watch,” Chen Wen of the Chinese embassy in London told BBC Radio 4.

“We have enough powers and enough solutions to quell any unrest within the limit of basic law.” US President Donald Trump warned on Sunday that if China were to carry out a Tiananmen Square-style crackdown on the protesters, it would make a trade deal between Washington and Beijing “a very hard thing to do”.

What is the movement about?

It was sparked by a bill that would allow extradition from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland. Critics argue that the proposal would undermine the territory’s judicial independence and could be used to target those who speak out against the Chinese government.

Victoria park protest
Image captionSunday’s protest began in Victoria park

The former British colony has a special status, with its own legal system and judiciary, and rights and freedoms not seen in mainland China. The bill – announced by the government in February – was suspended following mass rallies in June. But the protesters want it withdrawn altogether.

Their current demands are:

  • Complete withdrawal of the extradition bill
  • The withdrawal of the “riot” description used about the 12 June protests
  • An amnesty for all arrested protesters
  • An independent inquiry into alleged police brutality
  • Universal suffrage in elections for Hong Kong’s chief executive (the city’s leader), and Legislative Council.

Some also want the resignation of Carrie Lam, the current chief executive, whom they view as a puppet of Beijing.

News, Sports

Judd Trump to play Mark Selby in International Championship semi-finals in China

New world number one Judd Trump reached the last four of the International Championship with a 6-3 win over Tom Ford in Daqing, China. Trump replaced Ronnie O’Sullivan by beating Joe Perry in the last-16 and he showed no let up against Ford.

The world champion only had three half-century breaks, including a highest of 94, but it was enough to earn a semi-final with Mark Selby on Friday. Selby came through a final-frame decider to beat Gary Wilson 6-5.

This is a first tournament of the season for Trump and his first since beating John Higgins 18-9 to win his maiden World Championship. But this is the third occasion he has been at the top of the rankings, albeit the first time since March 2013.

“It is nice to be number one,” said the 29-year-old. “Anyone that says they don’t want to be world number one is lying. It is always good to be on top of your sport. But the main thing is you really want to win tournaments.”

In the other half of the draw, Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen, the defending champion, plays home favourite Ding Jinhui in his quarter-final with the winner to play either Graeme Dott or Shaun Murphy.

News

At least 30 killed and 15 missing after China landslide

At least 36 people are now known to have died in a landslide that struck a village in southern China on Tuesday.

State-run local media also report that 15 people have been missing since a wave of mud buried more than 20 houses in the province of Guizhou.

Chinese authorities told Xinhua news agency that another 40 people had been rescued from the landslide in Shuicheng county.

It comes as heavy rains continue to batter parts of the country.

Two children and a mother with a baby are reportedly among the dead, but details are still unclear.

Footage from state broadcaster CCTV show rescue workers using diggers to unearth survivors from a huge mound in the village.

Rescuers search for survivors at the site of a landslide in Liupanshui in China"s southwestern Guizhou province
Image captionThe government has reportedly earmarked 30 million yuan ($4.4m; £3.5m) for rescue efforts

A local school has also been commandeered as a emergency medical and rescue centre for victims. According to Xinhua, the government has reportedly set aside 30 million yuan ($4.4m; £3.5m) for rescue efforts and the relocation of victims.

Landslides are common in rural and mountainous areas of China, especially after heavy rain. Last month, footage emerged of a landslide in Fujian province in the country’s southeast.

Several other people have also been killed and thousands have been evacuated from their homes this year as a result of rain and flooding.