Tag: China

Olympic test event in China called off amid travel concerns

Another test event for the 2022 Beijing Olympics was called off Saturday, when bobsled and skeleton officials canceled plans to have a training week and World Cup race on a newly built track to end this year’s sliding season.

The decision comes just days after luge officials also canceled that sport’s season-ending World Cup and training week on the track built in Yanqing.

The reason, in both cases, was the same: ongoing concerns about international travel during the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China about a year ago.

In a letter sent to national federations Saturday, International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation secretary general Heike Groesswang said several weeks of conversations were held about how to move forward with the training week and World Cup “under the challenging circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic causes to all of us.”

The new schedule calls for a bobsled training week in early October and a skeleton training week later in October. That means many nations will likely have to choose some semblance of their 2021-22 national teams by the end of this season, since most of the world’s tracks won’t be iced and operating before those training weeks in China are held.

“A replacement for the World Cup in March 2021 will be announced next week,” Groesswang said.

USA Bobsled and Skeleton and USA Luge are sitting out the pre-Christmas portions of the World Cup schedules in those sports, as are several other nations, because of concerns about international travel and other pandemic-related issues.

In a women’s World Cup bobsled race in Latvia on Saturday, only six sleds finished the two runs. That was believed to be the smallest World Cup field since women began competing on the circuit.

It’s been tradition for at least the last five Olympic cycles for a World Cup event to be held on that track that will host the games the following winter, and those races have been critical in terms of teams collecting data and formulating an Olympic strategy.

But not having the training weeks and World Cups in China could raise the possibility of some nations, the U.S. included, not competing internationally at all this season.

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China and Japan to resume coronavirus-hit business travel

China and Japan have agreed to resume coronavirus-hit business travel by the end of next month and to forge ahead with multilateral trade deals, as they seek to strengthen ties ahead of the incoming Biden administration.

The announcement came as Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister wrapped up a visit to Japan on Wednesday, the first high-level delegation from Beijing since Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga took office in September.

Before the pandemic, Chinese president Xi Jinping had been expected to make a state visit to Japan this year to cement a 2018 reset in bilateral relations, as Beijing moved to strengthen regional ties amid a spiralling spat with the US over trade, technology and security.

During the two-day visit, Mr Wang held meetings with Japan’s top leadership, including Mr Suga, foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi and chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato.

The Japanese ministers all raised concerns about incursions by Chinese vessels around the disputed Senkaku or Diaoyu islands — which both countries claim — while nonetheless signalling that Tokyo is keen to improve its relationship with Beijing.

According to a statement by the Japanese government, Mr Suga told Mr Yang he was pleased about the resumption of business travel and wanted a “stable bilateral relationship”, but he raised the Senkaku issue, China’s ban on Japanese beef and the security crackdown in Hong Kong.

But Japan’s new prime minister is likely to want a strong economic relationship with China in order to help his country to recover from the Covid-19 shock, and he may therefore seek to play down the more contentious security relationship.

Earlier this month, US president-elect Joe Biden said Washington’s security guarantees extended to the disputed islands, in a sign that he would be willing to challenge China’s territorial claims in the region.

Zhou Yongsheng, an academic at the Institute of International Relations in China, said Mr Suga’s government would be smart to downplay the territorial dispute in the name of advancing the broader bilateral relationship. “This is an unsolvable problem and [raising it] will only intensify conflict,” he said.

He added that it “shows that Japan wants to protect its own interests independent of the US” and represented an opportunity to push forward regional trade deals. 

Mr Yang and his Japanese counterpart, Mr Motegi, also pledged fast progress on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade pact, one of the largest free trade deals in history, which was signed by 15 Asia-Pacific nations earlier this month.

Mr Xi this week expressed interest in joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a move that would potentially give China even greater influence in regional trade as part of previously US-backed agreement abandoned by the Trump administration. Japan is already a member.

Additional reporting by Emma Zhou in Beijing

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China, Japan to lift restrictions on business travel

Nov. 24 (UPI) — China and Japan have agreed to “fast track” business travel between the two countries after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his Japanese counterpart in Tokyo.

Wang, who is to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Wednesday, is on a weeklong tour of Japan and South Korea. On Tuesday, Wang addressed the issue of expediting travel, but also raised the issue of disputed islands in the East China Sea, VOA News reported.

“Some Japanese fishing boats that do not have knowledge about the truth have repeatedly entered sensitive waters” near the islands, Wang said, according to the report. “We will certainly continue to safeguard [Chinese] sovereignty.”

Beijing claims the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands as its own. In recent years, Chinese fishing boats have been chased out of Japan-claimed territorial waters, and Tokyo’s military have invested in new units to increase surveillance near the islands.

Expectations have been building in China for improved relations with Tokyo. Before the pandemic, the two countries were moving forward with plans for a summit between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Wang Guangtao, an associate research fellow at the Center for Japanese Studies at Fudan University, has said China could play a greater role in regional affairs, according to South Korean newspaper Hankook Ilbo.

The Chinese academic also said the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership would allow China and Japan to operate in a free trade zone for the first time, according to Chinese state media Sunday.

On Wednesday, Wang Yi is to visit Seoul, but his trip comes at a time when China’s response during the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic has soured South Korean opinion of Beijing, reflecting trends in other countries.

According to an October poll from Pew Research Center seven in 10 respondents in Japan and South Korea say China has done a poor job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. Unfavorable views of China are at a historic high, the poll said.

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Japan, China Agree to Restart Two-way Travel by End November

(Bloomberg) — The foreign ministers of China and Japan agreed at a meeting in Tokyo to lift some virus-related travel restrictions by the end of the month, while also re-stating their differences over disputed islands in the East China Sea.



a room filled with luggage: Passengers rest next to social distancing signs displayed on seating at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. The global airline industry is facing a painfully slow recovery from the ongoing effects of the pandemic as carriers slash jobs and secure funds to ride out the crisis.


© Bloomberg
Passengers rest next to social distancing signs displayed on seating at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. The global airline industry is facing a painfully slow recovery from the ongoing effects of the pandemic as carriers slash jobs and secure funds to ride out the crisis.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi is the first senior Chinese official to visit Japan since Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga took office in September. The two men are set to meet Wednesday, as China seeks to recalibrate its ties with key American allies ahead of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next year. Wang then travels to South Korea for high-level talks in Seoul.

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Suga, who has little experience of diplomacy, must strike a delicate balance between the U.S., Japan’s only formal military ally, and China, its biggest trading partner. That task could be made more difficult by the pandemic, which forced the postponement of a state visit to Japan by Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier in the year.

China Reaches Out to Key U.S. Allies After Biden Election

At the meeting Tuesday, Wang and his Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi, agreed to restart some travel for businesspeople and residents before the end of November. Both ministers agreed that stable Japan-China ties are important for the region and the world, Motegi said.

How a Few Tiny Islands Put Japan and China in Dispute: QuickTake

Motegi also said he had pressed Wang for forward-looking action on the disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Wang responded that China would continue to defend its rights over the isles. Tensions around the islands have worsened in recent months, with ships and planes from both countries frequently chasing one another.

The two ministers said they had also agreed on the following:

Setting up a defense hot line by the end of the yearRestarting a high-level economic dialogue at the appropriate time next yearCooperating on the Tokyo and Beijing OlympicsSharing expertise on the coronavirus, and establishing a framework for talks on climate change and a mechanism for agricultural tradeBringing the RCEP trade agreement into force quickly; moving forward on a trilateral trade deal with South Korea

(Updates with Wang trip to South Korea.)

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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PLA’s morale extremely low, China sets up recreation centres

To boost the troops’ morale, China has started to set up recreation centres comprising a fitness centre, heated swimming pools, hot tubs, library and other facilities, sources said.

China has deployed thousands of its troops along the LAC with India in a bid to change the status quo on the borders. Now with the winter setting in and the temperature dipping to as low as minus 30-degree Celsius, the troops’ condition has worsened with less rotation on the ground. “This is a matter of concern for the PLA,” said a source, adding that PLA troops’ “morale is extremely low now”.

The recreational centres also have computers and play stations, sources said. “One such recreation centre has come up near the Moldo Garrison, opposite India’s Chushul,” the source said.

The sources also said that China is facing a shortage of specialised cold climate clothing and has gone for emergency procurements. Also, PLA troops are struggling to survive in the sub-zero temperatures with poor quality of clothing and accommodation, sources said.

The sources added that the PLA Joint Logistics Support Force (JLSF) has constituted a quality supervision team for emergency procurement of extreme cold climate clothing.

This team has been tasked to ensure good quality clothing and fast delivery to forward area troops.

“Emergency plans such as the setting up of special working classes, scientific planning, factory supervision, on-site inspections and placement of military representatives in factories to supervise production have been put in place,” the source said. This team is reporting directly to the Central Military Commission.

Chinese and Indian troops are deployed along the LAC in extreme weather conditions. Both the countries are engaged in an eight-month-long standoff along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh. They are also engaged in military and diplomatic talks to resolve the border disputes.

Eight rounds of corps commander level talks had taken place between both the countries’ military and the ninth round of talks is scheduled very soon to disengage troops.

( can be reached at [email protected])

–IANS
sk/arm

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China pushes for QR code based global travel



Xi Jinping wearing a suit and tie


© Getty Images


Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for a “global mechanism” that would use QR codes to open up international travel.

“We need to further harmonize policies and standards and establish ‘fast tracks’ to facilitate the orderly flow of people,” he said.

The codes will be used to help establish a traveller’s health status.

But Human Rights advocates warn that the codes could be used for “broader political monitoring and exclusion”.

Mr Xi made the comments at the G20 summit, an online meeting of heads of state from the world’s 20 largest economies, which was hosted by Saudi Arabia over the weekend.

He said the codes could be used to recognise “health certificates based on nucleic acid test results”, according to a transcript published by Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

“We hope more countries will join this mechanism,” he added.

Mr Xi also called for the re-opening of the global economy, including restoring “global and industrial supply chains” and the “liberalisation of trade of key medical supplies”.

Reopening travel lanes remains a challenge for most countries, with spikes in the disease making it difficult for the authorities to lift travel restrictions.

A travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong, for example, was postponed shortly before it was due to start this weekend due to a sudden spike in cases in Hong Kong.

‘Trojan Horse’

In a tweet, the executive director of Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth expressed caution over Mr Xi’s proposal.

“An initial focus on health could easily become a Trojan Horse for broader political monitoring and exclusion,” he said.

QR codes – which are bar codes that can be read by mobile phones – have been widely used in China since February to help limit the spread of Covid-19.

Automatically generated QR codes have been assigned to residents as indicators of their health status.



a person standing on a sidewalk


© Getty Images


A green code allows someone to travel freely, while an orange or red code indicates that someone needs to quarantine for up to two weeks.

The city of Hangzhou has said it plans to make a permanent version of the QR code-based app, which would be used to assign citizens a personal score based on their medical history, health check-ups and lifestyle habits.

QR codes have been used differently elsewhere.

In Singapore and Australia, for example, they’re used for contract tracing, with residents using them to check into and out of places they visit, including malls, restaurants and their places of work.

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Hong Kong looks to mainland China for next air travel bubble

SINGAPORE — Hong Kong is hopeful its next “air travel bubble” could be with mainland China, the executive director of the city’s tourism board has said.

Dane Cheng told CNBC such plans would hinge on the success of the forthcoming Hong Kong-Singapore travel corridor. But he noted that adding a similar arrangement for quarantine-free travel around China’s Greater Bay Area would be the logical next step for business and leisure travelers.

“The next one for Hong Kong that we would like to see (would be) with the mainland, the Greater Bay Area,” Cheng said Friday.

The Greater Bay Area links several cities in Guangdong province with the special administrative territories of Hong Kong and Macao.

“That would be a key border for us,” he added, noting both proximity and common business and family ties.

Rising Covid cases threaten deal

We would like to see more countries and more regions, more cities, planning to open in the first quarter of the coming year.

Dane Cheng

executive director, Hong Kong Tourism Board

If the Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble is suspended due to the deteriorating coronavirus situation in either city, it could dash hopes of air travel bubble becoming a model for other countries.

A blueprint for other countries

Cheng, for his part, noted that both sides would have to be “cautious” about implementation of the program. But he added that it is “an important first step” in resuming international travel.

In October, tourist arrivals into Hong Kong were down 99% year-on-year, to 7,800 passengers. Typically, travelers from mainland China account for 60% of Hong Kong’s inbound tourism.

“We would like to see more countries and more regions, more cities, planning to open in the first quarter of the coming year,” said Cheng.

On Wednesday, major Asian travel operator Klook said tourism boards across the region had already been in touch to discuss plans should other bilateral travel deals emerge.

Watch: The Greater Bay Area — Bridging Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China

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Coronavirus live news: India passes 9m cases; China gives 1m people Sinopharm vaccine | World news





India passes 9 million cases

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Churches in the Philippine capital Manila have been told not to hold any Christmas carol activities this season as part of measures to limit the transmission of Covid-19.

The Philippines, a catholic majority country, has one of the longest Christmas periods in the world, with celebrations beginning at the start of September and, for some, lasting as late as Valentine’s Day.

It’s the country’s most important holiday, but this year’s festivities will be different: as well as a ban on carols in church, there are also limits on church attendance,

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Coronavirus live news: China has given 1m people Sinopharm vaccine; US CDC warns against Thanksgiving travel | World news





California enacts coronavirus curfew for majority of state’s 40m residents





CDC advises against Thanksgiving travel

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised Americans not to travel for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, due to the nationwide surge in new coronavirus cases.

“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” Dr Henry Walke, the CDC’s coronavirus incident manager, said during a briefing today.

“For Americans who decide to travel, CDC recommends doing so as safely as possible by following the same recommendations for everyday living,” Walke added.

Walke particularly expressed fear about the possibility of Americans unknowingly spreading coronavirus to family members, saying, “One of our concerns is that as people over the holiday season get together, they may actually be bringing infections with them to that small gathering and not even know it.”

In a set of updated guidelines, the CDC recommended celebrating Thanksgiving virtually or only with members of one’s own household.

The guidance says, “In-person gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including college students returning home, pose varying levels of risk.”

The news comes a day after the US coronavirus death toll surpassed 250,000, which is far higher than any other country in the world:





China has given 1m people Sinopharm vaccine

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With Covid Under Control, Travel Recovers in China: NEF Update

(Bloomberg) — In China, the travel and transportation industries are showing signs of life as the coronavirus pandemic heads toward the end of its first year.



Narendra Modi holding a phone


© Bloomberg
Narendra Modi

Jean Liu, president of Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing Inc., said in a panel at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum. That business fell “off a cliff” when the pandemic started in January and February. But Liu gradually saw a recovery in April, and Didi is now racking up 60 million rides every day. “Right now we are fully back,” she said.



a person posing for the camera: Jean Liu, president of Didi Chuxing, speaks during a panel discussion at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Beijing, China, on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. The New Economy Forum, organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, aims to bring together leaders from public and private sectors to find solutions to the world's greatest challenges.


© Photographer: Takaaki Iwabu/Bloomberg
Jean Liu, president of Didi Chuxing, speaks during a panel discussion at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Beijing, China, on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. The New Economy Forum, organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, aims to bring together leaders from public and private sectors to find solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.

Liu said she is most proud of the initiative her company came up with to shuttle healthcare workers around the city when there was no public transportation. Around 140,000 drivers volunteered, she said.

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Neil Shen, founding and managing partner at Sequoia Capital China, sees travel in China picking up again by the second quarter of next year. “The good thing is Covid is well under control,” he said. “We see travel coming back pretty quickly.” —Isabelle Lee

The New Economy Forum is being organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

‘15-Minute Cities’ Can Speed the Urban Comeback (10:00 a.m.)

Covid-19 has devastated communities across the globe, but as with disease outbreaks of the past, cities can not only survive but see themselves transformed for the better.

“In every crisis there is also an opportunity,” Lord Mayor Hazel Chu of Dublin said in a panel at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum. Dublin, Chu said, has been rolling out a series of transportation improvements in light of the pandemic to help people move around. Among the ideas the city is pursuing is the establishment of a “15-minute city,” in which the needs of all residents can be met within a walking or biking system.

But it’s critical to prevent the 15-minute concept from becoming a “bubble” for wealthy citizens, Chu said: The Covid crisis is also exposing the deep inequalities inside cities, and accelerated the need for healthier buildings, more efficient public transit to prevent crowding, and better integration among communities of different socioeconomic backgrounds.  

Harvard University economist Edward Glaeser emphasized that urban density is not an impediment to pandemic resistance: The beauty of cities, he said, is that they allow large numbers of people to share spaces and resources. But cities will need better protocols and public health practices to help people protect themselves. “They don’t work if people are terrified of being next to each other,” he said. — Linda Poon

India’s Modi Seeks Funding to Build Smart Cities (9 a.m.)

The second day of the four-day

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