The Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme has received 104 applications as of 3 May, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.Types of reactions »
British climate activist Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of the Extinction Rebellion group, was arrested at home on Tuesday for conspiracy to cause criminal damage and fraud after her group attacked banks such as HSBC and Barclays. Activists from the group smashed the window frontage of HSBC and Barclays in Canary Wharf last month and have targetted Lloyd's of London as part of what the activists cast as a "Money Rebellion".
Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Tuesday accused a U.S. Coast Guard ship of "provocation" after it fired warning shots against Iranian military boats that approached it in the Gulf. The Pentagon said on Monday the U.S. Coast Guard ship Maui fired about 30 warning shots after 13 fast boats from the Revolutionary Guards' navy came close to it and other American Navy vessels in the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf.
TOKYO (Reuters) -SoftBank wants to list payment app PayPay, the CEO of its wireless unit said on Tuesday, adding that subsidiary SB Payment Service could also be a candidate for listing, as he seeks to illustate growth potential at Japan's No.3 carrier. QR code payment app PayPay has acquired almost 40 million users since launch in October 2018 through aggressive rebates as Japanese consumers shift away from cash. "We want PayPay to IPO in the future so they will become independent... I don't think that would be too far out," said Junichi Miyakawa, who became chief executive of SoftBank Corp last month, at an earnings briefing.
Germany will spend about 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) to support the development of its first quantum computer and related technologies in the next four years, the economy and science ministries said on Tuesday. The science ministry will spend 1.1 billion euros by 2025 to support research and development in quantum computing, which uses the phenomena of quantum mechanics to deliver a leap forward in computation. The economy ministry will spend 878 million euros backing practical applications.
MADRID (Reuters) -South Korean mobile handset manufacturer Samsung Electronics said on Tuesday it will not be present at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona next month, becoming the latest major company to decide to attend the event remotely because of concerns over covid. "The health and safety of our employees, partners and customers is our number one priority, so we have made the decision to withdraw from exhibiting in-person at this year’s Mobile World Congress," Samsung said in an emailed statement. The 2020 edition of the world's largest mobile telephone industry event, usually held each year in Barcelona in February, was cancelled because of the pandemic and postponed to late June 2021.
A popular Chinese TV series about home education has been branded as a “magic contraception tool” because viewers say it discourages them from having children. Xiao She De, or “A Little Dilemma”, describes two middle-class city-based families making difficult choices about the education of their young children who face fierce academic competition at school. Screening on TV channels and video streaming websites since April, the series has been rated as one of the top three most viewed and has triggered discussion on social media. “It’s this year’s most magic contraception TV series. It’s more useful than condoms,” wrote one viewer on China’s microblogging site Weibo.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. “After watching it, I don’t want to get married and don’t want to have kids,” a second viewer wrote. “Kids nowadays are so exhausted! They have to start studying from the time they are in their mothers’ bellies. If I have a child, I will simply hope he or she will be happy and healthy,” a third commenter wrote. “But wait, after careful thought, I think he or she should have not-bad scores. That means the kid has to spend a lot of time studying. So don’t have kids. No kids, no trouble at all.” Similar comments are flooding the internet about this TV series which is intended to be a true portrayal of mainland parents’ anxiety regarding their children’s education. Parents are torn between forcing their young children to study hard and sacrifice their interests and play time, and letting their children have a relaxed and happy life. How did China ‘coax’ people to take part in population census? One of the main characters in the series is an 11-year-old boy named Yan Ziyou. He is a top student because his mother has sent him to extracurricular institutions for additional lessons since he was in kindergarten. After he entered the fifth grade, with strong competition for a seat at a key middle school looming, his mother added more after-school classes for him and forbade him to play soccer – his sole hobby. As a result, the boy hated study, achieved poor scores and developed mental disorders. “I think my Mum doesn’t love me. What she loves is me with top scores,” Ziyou once said in class. The other character in the programme is a girl called Xia Huanhuan who is in the same class as Ziyou. Unlike Ziyou’s mother, Huanhuan’s parents don’t make her attend any after-school classes; instead they let her play. She is good at singing, but she came bottom of the class. Huanhuan’s life changed dramatically after her mother realised that impressive academic results can be essential to a person’s future development. Huanhuan’s mother then copied Ziyou’s mother and filled her daughter’s holiday and weekend schedules with academic classes. Huanhuan then got high scores in class but she was depressed all the time and had a bad relationship with her parents. “How poor these kids are! I sympathise with Ziyou and Huanhuan,” wrote one of the viewers on iqiyi.com where the series is shown. Schools in China make students cover eyes to feel gratitude for parents Besides educating children, this television series also portrays another “big mountain” on the shoulders of middle-aged people: caring for their elderly parents. In one episode, after Huanhuan’s grandmother fell and damaged her bones, Huanhuan’s father took a month off work to stay at home to take care of her. He also picked up the children from school, which was the grandmother’s job before she fell. His plan, though, meant his boss became dissatisfied with him. The series was released at a time when China saw its birth rate continue to decline. Last year, 10 million children were born on the mainland, according to statistics from the Ministry of Public Security. This is far fewer than 14.65 million births registered in 2019 and 16.04 million of 10 years ago. China abandoned its rigorous one-child policy in 2016 to allow couples to have two children. But the change has not been effective in motivating couples to have children. The hashtag of “young people dare not have babies” has received thousands of comments on Weibo, with internet users saying they can’t have babies due to house prices, work pressure and cost of raising a child. “I even tell my kids not to have a kid,” one viewer wrote. “I think Xiao She De should not be broadcast,” commented another. “It spreads parents’ anxiety. It would make it even more frightening for couples to have babies.”More from South China Morning Post:Rare Chinese child abuse case involving girl beaten with a hot spatula sees parents stripped of custodyChina deletes 2 million online posts for ‘historical nihilism’ as Communist Party centenary nearsMobile phone ban ordered for schools in China to improve students’ focus on study and fight addiction to the internet and gamesThis article Popular Chinese TV series on the pressures of raising children is more effective than condoms: a ‘magic contraception tool’ first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Two Chinese activists swept up in a crackdown against reporting on the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic were tried in a Beijing court on Tuesday, after more than a year in detention. Cai Wei and Chen Mei, who pleaded guilty, archived censored articles about Covid-19 and ran an online discussion forum before they were detained in April last year and charged with “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” – a catch-all offence which has been used to punish a number of activists who contradicted the official narrative on the pandemic. A verdict will be announced later, according to the pair’s families, but citizen journalist Zhang Zhan – who reported her findings from on the ground in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the disease first emerged – was jailed for four years in December last year for the same offence.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. Liberal voices in China fall silent after coronavirus Due to Covid-19 restrictions, only one member of each of the defendants’ families was allowed to attend the trial at Wenyuhe People’s Court, an old justice building in the city’s northeast. Chen’s mother, who asked to be identified only by her surname Wei, said it was the first time she had seen her son since he was detained. Wei said Chen was wearing a protective suit, making it hard to see his expression, but his voice sounded like he had been crying and his tone was regretful. “I don‘t agree that he committed a crime, but his behaviour and thinking may have been slightly radical. I don’t think he intended to go against the Chinese Communist Party,” she said. “I’m worried for his future. I’m heartbroken to see him handcuffed and shackled. The trial was just a show.” Outside the court, supporters of the two men presented flowers to Wei and Cai’s father, who was also present at the trial. Aoi, who works in the film industry, brought two bunches of camomile – representing freedom and justice – to give to Cai and Chen’s relatives. “[The case] reflects the problems of the whole system,” Aoi said. Cai, 27, and Chen, 28, were friends who worked on a project called Terminus2049, which had been saving copies of censored news articles from China on GitHub, the world’s largest open-source code sharing platform, since 2018. Before they were detained, they had archived around 600 articles, of which 100 related to Covid-19. Some included criticism of the government’s early handling of the outbreak. The trial, which lasted about an hour and a half, consisted mostly of the prosecution laying out the charges, with the judge and defence lawyers saying very little, according to Wei. The evidence related to the 2049BBS discussion forum that was part of the Terminus2049 project which had been built by Cai and managed by Chen. Wei said she recalled the prosecution describing some of the comments posted to the forum as false and insulting to China’s leaders, which had a negative impact on the image of China and its leaders. A sentence of one year and three months was recommended, and Wei said her son had told the family through his court-appointed lawyers that he would appeal if the verdict was significantly harsher than the recommendation. According to Wei, Chen’s lawyers – Nan Bo and Xing Qi – did not make a vigorous defence during the trial, with Nan telling the court Chen had been influenced by Western culture, while Xing asked for leniency. Neither of the lawyers had responded to a request for comment by the time of publishing. Chen Kun, Chen’s older brother, said the only people to have access to the defendants had been the court-appointed lawyers, even though their families had retained lawyers on their behalf. Chen Kun said the families had been consistently denied information about the case as the court-appointed lawyers had refused to share court documents with them. “The prosecution and court-appointed lawyers were working with each other and completely hid the information for this case. We have not received any useful information. I’m very worried that they will face heavy sentencing,” Chen Kun said. He added that both defendants had signed affidavits last year in which they said they pleaded guilty to the charges and would accept their sentence. The detention and prosecution of the two men has drawn criticism from organisations such as Human Rights Watch, which called for their immediate release, along with other citizen journalists and ordinary internet users who have faced harsh punishment for documenting the suffering and trauma experienced in the early days of the pandemic. At least a dozen people are known to have been prosecuted, detained or fined for not following the official narrative on the outbreak. Among them were Chen Qiushi, Li Zehua and Fang Bin who were detained for months after reporting from Wuhan during the world’s first Covid-19 lockdown. Chen Qiushi and Li have since been released, but there has been no word on Fang since his disappearance in February last year. Zhang Wenfang, a woman from the northern province of Hebei, was jailed for six months for “spreading rumours” by sharing a post on social media platform Weibo which documented more than 40 cases of personal suffering during the health crisis. In June last year, China issued a white paper “Fighting Covid-19: China in Action” which gave a glowing account of the government’s actions against the virus and was seen as a response to domestic and overseas criticism of the initial handling of the outbreak. At the time, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had issued the white paper not to defend itself, but to keep a record of what had happened. “The history of the combat against the pandemic should not be tainted by lies and misleading information, It should be recorded with the correct collective memory of all mankind,” she said.More from South China Morning Post:Chinese more trusting of government months into pandemic, survey findsCoronavirus: Chinese woman spent six months behind bars for Covid-19 social media post, court document showsRecord numbers of Chinese granted refugee status in JapanThis article Chinese activists who posted censored Covid-19 articles face court first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Japanese, US and French troops kicked off their first-ever joint military drill Tuesday in southwestern Japan, as concerns rise over China's growing assertiveness in the region.
A 48-year-old Hong Kong woman struggled with an intruder she found in her upscale Mid-Levels flat before daybreak on Tuesday but failed to stop him from fleeing with about HK$2.7 million (US$348,000) in valuables and cash. As of midday, a citywide manhunt was still under way for the burglar and an accomplice who helped him climb onto the first floor of the 20-storey Piccadilly Mansion on Po Shan Road shortly before 4am. According to police, the burglar scaled the building up a drainpipe and climbed into the victim’s fourth-floor flat through the window of a toilet while his accomplice acted as lookout on a nearby hillside.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. The break-in came to light when the tenant was woken up by the sounds of the burglar ransacking her 2,499 sq ft flat. “The struggle erupted when she … found a black-clad burglar in the study room,” a police source said. “The culprit managed to run off during the scuffle and ran into a toilet connected to the study room, from which he climbed out the window to escape.” Police arrived after receiving a call from her at about 4.07am. Officers scouted the area, but no arrests were made. According to police, the two suspects are about 1.7 metres tall. Jewellery and watches initially estimated to be worth HK$2.7 million were stolen along with nearly HK$4,000 in cash. Detectives from the Central criminal investigation unit have checked security camera footage to gather evidence. Hong Kong police arrest three during bungled burglary in New Territories On May 2, two mainland Chinese men believed to be behind a series of burglaries in the New Territories were among three people arrested at the Tuen Mun scene of a bungled break-in during which two police officers drew their guns. Officers are investigating whether the two mainland suspects had ties to a notorious rural gang operating in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Both were surnamed Wei, according to police, a name shared by many villagers there. According to police, 63 mainlanders who entered Hong Kong illegally were arrested in connection with various crimes last year, up 53.7 per cent from the year before. In 2020, police handled 2,095 reports of burglary across the city, down 12.5 per cent from 2,394 cases in 2019.This article Burglar escapes upscale Hong Kong flat with HK$2.7 million in valuables, cash after struggle with female tenant first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Residents in a Chinese city were warned to stay indoors as authorities released flocks of chickens as bait to track down a leopard that escaped from a safari park, state media reported Tuesday.
China has called for greater risk controls among commodity futures traders after overnight measures to cool rapid run-ups that sent contracts on iron ore to steel to record highs amid a global supply squeeze. The Dalian Commodity Exchange raised the margin requirement and widened the daily trading band for iron ore contracts starting Tuesday, without giving specific numbers, according to a statement posted its website late on Monday. The Shanghai Futures Exchange also on the same day raised trading costs by reinstating fees for closing positions on contracts linked to steel rebar and hot-rolled coils at 0.01 per cent of transaction value, according to a statement on its website.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. The move is sending a clear message that China’s market watchdog is paying close attention to gyrations in global commodity prices fanned by supply bottlenecks amid a wider reopening in major global economies. Apart from steel materials, copper also surged to a record in the US while a ransomware attack on US pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline spurred a rally in crude. “There are lots of uncertain factors affecting market operations and commodity prices, particularly coking coal and iron ore, resulting in wild swings,” the Dalian exchange said. “Market players should participate rationally to guard against risks and ensure smooth functioning of the market.” The cooling measures, however, have failed to restrain the rally, with prices reaching fresh all-time highs on Tuesday. The most active contracts on iron ore gained 1.7 per cent to 1,306.5 yuan per ton, while those on rebar and hot-rolled coils rose at least 4.6 per cent in Shanghai. Prices of copper, iron ore and steel rebar have surged by 86 to 113 per cent in US dollar terms over the past 12 months, according to Bloomberg data. Rising commodity prices have compounded the outlook of global monetary policies, even as the Federal Reserve has reiterated its accommodative policies will stay for an extended period of time. Faster inflation, however, could prompt policymakers to put a brake on liquidity to prevent it from derailing recovery. China’s producer inflation accelerated to 6.6 per cent in April, the fastest pace in more than three years, the statistics bureau said on Tuesday morning. “Commodity prices may be in for the risk of a pullback in the short term,” said Wang Yang, an analyst at Donghai Securities. China imported a record 1.17 billion tons of iron ore last year, while production of steel increased 7.7 per cent from a year earlier to 1.33 billion tons, according to official data, making it the top buyer and producer worldwide. Local regulators overseeing the futures market should promote high-quality development in trading to better serve the real economy, according to Fang Xinghai, vice-chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission. “The futures industry should firmly grasp the new development opportunities, increase the internationalisation process and improve China’s global pricing influence in the commodity market,” he said.More from South China Morning Post:China’s steel prices spike on record raw material costs, raising inflation fearsChina inflation: factory-gate prices surge by most in over three yearsChina targets air pollution, steel overcapacity with new curbs on ‘blind investment’China-Australia tensions ratchet up unease in Beijing about surging iron ore pricesChina-Australia relations: iron ore prices hit record as market mulls Beijing’s next moveThis article China’s commodity exchanges move to cool iron ore, steel prices as supply squeeze fuels global rally first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
A worldwide lack of semiconductors is proving a challenge for computer manufacturers, but the shortage is likely to persist for some years, the chief executive and founder of Dell Technologies told Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper. A surge in demand for electronic devices, coupled with U.S. sanctions against Chinese technology firms, has caused a dearth of the chips, crimping output of items ranging from cars to computers and smartphones. "The shortage will probably continue for a few years," Michael Dell said in an interview published on Tuesday.
Indonesia is considering a plan to tax the trading of cryptocurrencies after a surge in popularity among local investors, a tax official said on Tuesday. The Southeast Asian country has been seeking to shore up state revenues amid the coronavirus pandemic, though Neilmaldrin Noor, a spokesman at Indonesia's tax office, said a tax scheme for cryptocurrency was still at the discussion stage. "It is important to know that... if there is a profit or capital gain generated from a transaction, the profit is an object of income tax," Neilmaldrin said.
TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan's largest carrier, China Airlines Ltd, said on Tuesday that the quarantining of its pilots to stem a COVID-19 outbreak is expected to affect more than 10% of its freighter capacity, potentially affecting the island's exports. Taiwan has kept the pandemic under control thanks to early prevention, with only sporadic domestic cases, but since last month it has been dealing with an outbreak linked to China Airlines pilots and an airport hotel where many of them stayed. In a statement, China Airlines said it was cooperating with the government's instructions and would gradually quarantine its crew in groups, adding that it would try as hard as possible to maintain services and was not grounding the whole fleet.
Hong Kong stocks suffered the biggest sell-off in seven weeks as a surge in global commodity prices and factory-gate inflation in mainland China stoked concerns about tightening monetary policy. Meituan slumped for a 10th straight day to the lowest since October. The Hang Seng Index fell for a third day, sinking 2.03 per cent to 28, 013.81 at the close of Tuesday trading. The index has lost 2.2 per cent in three days. The Shanghai Composite Index erased losses to climb 0.4 per cent. Major markets in Asia all headed south, with Japan’s benchmark falling more than 3 per cent as the worst performer, while the ASX 200 and Kospi lost more than 1 per cent. The Nasdaq 100 Index tumbled 2.6 per cent in overnight trading.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. Higher commodity prices rattled markets, with copper and steel hitting record levels while futures contracts on iron ore also touched an all-time high on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange, prompting a warning from officials. Stocks retreated even as the Federal Reserve pledged to stick with its accommodative policies to keep growth on track. “Surging commodity prices have led to a debate on inflation and sparked worries about liquidity tightening,” said Xu Fei, an analyst at Wanlian Securities. “The direction of the central bank’s monetary policies needs to be highly on the radar screen.” China’s latest inflation data also added to ongoing fears that policymakers will further rein in ultra-loose monetary stimulus during the pandemic, which have fueled prices of stocks, raw materials and properties. Producer prices rose 6.8 per cent in April, the fastest pace since October 2017, the statistics bureau said on Tuesday morning, exceeding the consensus forecasts for a 6.5 per cent gain in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Consumer prices rose 0.9 per cent versus 0.4 per cent in March. Meituan slumped 5.3 per cent to HK$249, bringing the losses to 20 per cent since April 27. That losing streak has erased more than HK$330 billion (US$42.7 billion) in market value. Losses deepened after billionaire founder Wang Xing posted and later deleted a blog post seen as criticising the government. The Hang Seng Tech Index retreated 3 per cent for a third day of losses, as richly valued technology stocks bore the brunt of the sell-off amid lofty valuations. Alibaba Group Holding, which owns the newspaper, retreated 3.5 per cent to HK$207.60 and Tencent Holdings shed 1.8 per cent to HK$584.50. Some Chinese carriers advanced after Moody’s upgraded the sector outlook to positive from negative, on expectations of widespread increases in air travel starting in the second half of 2021 as vaccinations progress. Air China rose 1.7 per cent to 8.56 yuan in Shanghai, while China Southern Airlines added 0.2 per cent to HK$5.21. Three debutants on the mainland all surged. Sichuan Newsnet Media surged 655 per cent from the initial public offering price of 6.79 yuan in Shenzhen. Shenzhen Xunjiexing Technology, a maker of circuit boards, jumped 197 per cent to 22.56 yuan in Shanghai and Hebei Huatong Wires and Cables Group gained 44 per cent to 7.27 yuan.More from South China Morning Post:China’s steel prices spike on record raw material costs, raising inflation fearsHong Kong stocks surrender gains as investors dump Chinese tech stocks towards this year’s lowest pointThis article Hong Kong stocks sink by most in seven weeks as Meituan sell-off, inflation menace unnerved traders first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
TOKYO (Reuters) -Eighteen people have died from the COVID-19 respiratory disease outside of hospitals in Japan's Osaka Prefecture, officials said, amid calls for tougher restrictions on movement to halt a fourth wave of infections ahead of the Olympics. All but one of the deaths occurred since March 1 as highly infectious strains of the virus caused a spike in new cases, the prefecture reported late on Monday for the first time. The rise in coronavirus deaths at home is a sign of the stress Japan's hospital system is under as the country struggles to bring the latest surge in infections under control, with more than 96% of Osaka Prefecture's critical care beds occupied.
Hong Kong’s leader has ordered another round of compulsory Covid-19 testing for the city’s roughly 370,000 foreign domestic workers, but has withdrawn a mandatory vaccination plan after discussions with consulates. The U-turn came as Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Tuesday said the coronavirus situation had stabilised after a fourth day of zero local infections had passed, and announced that city schools would resume face-to-face classes on a half-day basis from May 24. Speaking ahead of her weekly Executive Council meeting, she also apologised for the chaotic arrangements experienced by residents forced into mandatory quarantine over the weekend.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. “The [helper vaccination] policy has aroused a lot of concerns, so after evaluation based on public health and taking into consideration the fact that other countries are still not asking for mandatory vaccinations … as well as the legal risks of such a plan, the government has decided not to request mandatory vaccination when helpers renew their contracts,” she said. She said another round of mandatory testing would be required for all domestic helpers soon, though those who had been vaccinated would be exempted. The new round of testing will start on Saturday with a screening deadline of May 30. “It’s like we’re working in the dark when determining appropriate public health measures,” she conceded. “We have to take precautions before any possible outbreaks, as we had found some infectious Covid-19 variants in the community. Having considered the inconvenience caused to the helpers and the employers [by the previous deadline], we have decided to extend the testing period for the second round.” Lam said more than 340,000 helpers showed up for the recent screenings, which lasted just nine days and ended on May 9. Three of that group tested positive for Covid-19. The decision to retest all domestic workers prompted an angry response from the Philippines’ top diplomat in Hong Kong, with Consul General Raly Tejada saying it was “illogical” that employers did not have to be screened as well. Tejada said he was informed of the plan during a Monday meeting with labour minister Dr Law Chi-kwong. “I questioned the necessity of another mandatory test, citing the near-perfect compliance of domestic workers to the initial mandatory test,” Tejada said. “I said that the initial mandatory test was already a success, having caught three cases that were linked to the previous initial case and therefore traceable. I also stated that I find it illogical to not include the employers who are in the same household.” But Law told him that screening employers as well would mean having to test about 1 million people, posing logistical challenges. Tejada said he believed the second mandatory round would “not go down well with the community”. Addressing the mandatory quarantine recently imposed on more than 2,000 city residents, Lam apologised and thanked them for their understanding, saying she understood they had faced unpleasant experiences ranging from poor food to confusion about when they could leave the government facility. Lam on Tuesday also noted that no major outbreak had followed the discovery of more infectious Covid-19 variants in the community in mid-April, pointing to a seven-day rolling average of just 0.1 untraceable cases. Only one case, imported from Indonesia, was recorded on Tuesday. But she said Hong Kong’s current social-distancing measures would remain in place until May 28 due to an abundance of caution, while schools would be allowed to resume face-to-face classes on a half-day basis on May 24, after the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exams. She added that the announcement was intended to give schools more time to prepare. The withdrawal of the helper vaccination plan came a week after Lam announced that the government had decided to review the controversial proposal and conduct further discussions with stakeholders. Authorities sparked an outcry on April 30 when they announced all domestic helpers would have to be vaccinated when renewing their contracts or applying for a Hong Kong work visa, with labour minister Law saying it was not too much to ask as those affected could “choose not to work in Hong Kong”. In response, Tejada from the Philippine consulate on Saturday argued that if domestic helpers from his country were forced to accept the new policy, it should apply to all non-resident foreign workers for the sake of fairness. Philippine foreign affairs secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr also waded in, saying the move “smacked of discrimination”. Indonesia later joined the Philippines in appealing for a fairer application of anti-pandemic measures. Separately on Tuesday, respiratory medicine specialist Dr Leung Chi-chiu said while no new mutated coronavirus variants had been recorded the past few days, the city should remain on alert for the next two weeks given that the virus could still be incubating in the community. “Having these [variant] cases in the community brings many troubles … If we’re unlucky, it could lead to a continuous spread or even a large outbreak,” he warned. Additional reporting by Kanis LeungMore from South China Morning Post:Hong Kong U-turn on Covid-19 jabs for domestic helpers: diplomatic row averted, but questions linger over insensitivity, needless hasteCoronavirus: Hong Kong health minister warns of heightened risk posed by variant strains, legal consequences for those who flout quarantine ordersCoronavirus: prosecutors eye second charge for Hong Kong variant patient accused of lying to contact-tracing immigration officerThis article Carrie Lam orders another round of coronavirus testing for Hong Kong’s domestic helpers, pulls plug on mandatory vaccination plan first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Beekeepers in New Zealand are seeking the exclusive right to use the "manuka" label for their honey, pitting them against rival Australian farmers over a prestige product that can fetch hundreds of dollars per jar.
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) -Malaysian telecommunications firm Axiata Group Bhd on Tuesday said Japanese peer SoftBank Corp will invest $60 million in its digital analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) arm ADA. SoftBank will own 23% of ADA via new shares, with its investment valuing the unit at $260 million, Axiata said in a statement. ADA will use the proceeds to expand in South and Southeast Asia, while SoftBank will establish the unit as its core digital and data marketing partner in Asia, Axiata said.
This story has been made freely available to our readers. Please consider supporting SCMP’s journalism by subscribing. Mainland China’s population grew last year, results of the once-in-a-decade census released on Tuesday showed, although the number of new births fell for the fourth consecutive year in 2020. According to the seventh national population census conducted at the end of last year, China’s overall population rose to 1.412 billion in 2020, from 1.4 billion a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) confirmed at an eagerly awaited press conference in Beijing.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. Chinese mothers gave birth to 12 million babies last year, down from 14.65 million in 2019, the NBS confirmed, marking an 18 per cent decline year on year and continuing the descent to a near six-decade low. The census data also show some structural contradictions facing the country’s population development, such as the decline in the size of the working-age population and women of childbearing age Ning Jizhe China’s fertility rate was 1.3 children per woman, which is below the replacement level of 2.1 – the rate needed for a stable population – and close to that of Japan. The NBS added that the average number of children that a Chinese woman was willing to have last year was 1.8. “The census data also show some structural contradictions facing the country’s population development, such as the decline in the size of the working-age population and women of childbearing age, the deepening of the ageing degree, the decline in the total fertility rate, and the downturn in the number of births,” said NBS commissioner Ning Jizhe. At the end of last month, the NBS released a statement denying a Financial Times report that the population of the world’s second-largest economy fell last year, which would have been the first decline since 1961. Demographers still believe China’s population is likely to begin declining in the next few years, after rising to 1.4 billion in 2019 from 1.39 billion a year earlier. Compared with the sixth national population census conducted in 2010, the 2020 figure increased by 5.38 per cent from 1.340 billion. The annual growth rate was 0.53 per cent, down by 0.04 percentage points compared with the average growth rate of 0.57 per cent from 2000 to 2010, according to the NBS. Between 2010 and 2020, the annual population growth on average of 0.53 per cent was the slowest growth of any decade since China’s first census in 1953. “The data showed that the population of China maintained a mild growth momentum in the past decade,” the NBS said. The mainland population refers to people living in the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government and servicemen of the Chinese mainland, excluding residents of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan and foreigners, the NBS explained. “China’s population growth rate will continue to slow down, while it will also be affected by economic and social factors such as age structure, fertility concepts, fertility policies, fertility costs and public health. China’s population will reach its peak in the future, but the exact time is still uncertain,” added NBS commissioner Ning. “It is expected that within the next period of time, China’s population is likely to keep above 1.4 billion.” The data showed that the number of Chinese children 14 years or younger rose to 253.38 million in the 2020 census, or 17.95 per cent of the population, up from 1.35 percentage points from the previous census in 2010. “The share of children rose again, proving that the adjustment of China’s fertility policy has achieved positive results,” the NBS said, in apparent reference to the implementation of the two-child policy in 2016. However, the share of the population soon to be or already at working age declined. There were 894.38 million people in the age group between 15 and 59, 63.35 per cent of the population, down 6.79 percentage points from the previous census in 2010. And, as expected, the share of Chinese senior citizens expanded. There were 264.02 million citizens aged 60 and older, equivalent to 18.70 per cent of the population, 5.44 percentage points higher than in 2010. Of the latter group, there were 190.64 million people aged 65 or older, 13.50 per cent of the population, the NBS said, without giving a comparison to 2010. “The further ageing of the population imposed continued pressure on the long-term balanced development of the population in the coming period,” the NBS statement said. The gender ratio of males to females stood at 105.07 in 2020, “basically the same level with a slight decline compared with that in 2010”, the NBS said. There were 723.34 million male Chinese in 2020, or 51.24 per cent of the population, compared with 688.44 million females, or 48.76 per cent. The gender ratio at birth was 111.3, down 6.8 points from 2010, showing that the gender composition of China “continued to improve”, the NBS said. The census confirmed anecdotal evidence of a regional population shift in China, with more developed eastern coastal provinces gaining population, with provinces in central and northeastern China seeing an outflow of people. China’s continued economic and social development has facilitated the population migration and mobility, the trends of which have become increasingly evident, and the size of [the] floating population has further grown National Bureau of Statistics The population in the eastern region of China accounted for 39.93 per cent of the population, up 2.15 percentage points from 2010. The nation’s western region also gained population, rising 0.22 percentage points from a decade earlier. Central provinces accounted for 25.83 per cent of the nation’s people, while the northeast accounted for 6.98 per cent, down 0.79 percentage points and 1.20 percentage points, respectively, from the 2010 census. China’s urban population grew over the last decade, boosted by Beijing urbanisation efforts. The percentage of urban residents rose to 63.89 per cent, up 14.21 percentage points, while the rural population fell to 36.11 per cent. The country’s “floating population”, largely migrant workers, also increased over the decade. Those living in places other than their household registration area rose 375.82 million, up 69.73 per cent from 2010. Of those, 124.84 million moved to other provinces. “China’s continued economic and social development has facilitated the population migration and mobility, the trends of which have become increasingly evident, and the size of [the] floating population has further grown,” the NBS said. Compared with 2010, the main data release in the 2020 census offered more data on regional breakdowns, including details of people from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan who lived in mainland China and a share of different age groups in provinces. The number of Han Chinese increased to 1.286 million in 2020 from 1.226 million in 2010, while the number of ethnic minorities increased to 125 million from 114 million during the same period. In its most recent estimate in November last year, the government said it expected China’s population to peak in 2027. Beijing has said in the past the annual gap between the number of newborns and the number of deaths will shrink significantly to around 1 million people over the next five years. But He Yafu, an independent expert on China’s demographics, predicted last month the population would begin to fall as soon as next year, as the number of births declines to below 10 million and the number of deaths surpasses 10 million. Any drop in the population would be the first since a two-year decline in 1960-61 due to the impact of the Great Chinese Famine. The population fell by around 10 million in 1960 and a further 3.4 million in 1961 before rebounding by 14.4 million in 1962, according to official figures. What is China’s census and why is the latest population survey so important? China conducted its seventh national population census in November and December last year, gathering a range of personal and household information pertaining to age, education, occupation, migration and marital status of people living in the world’s most populous nation. Last year was the first time the population census collected citizen’s personal ID numbers, raising privacy concerns, although officials said the information would be kept confidential. Census takers also used a smartphone app to collect information, with support from Chinese tech giant Tencent. The government tailored the way it conducted the census to account for how the coronavirus pandemic was affecting different regions, with data in high-risk areas collected by phone or online. The previous six population censuses were conducted in 1953, 1964, 1982, 1990, 2000 and 2010. There are already signs that China’s national birth rate and population are on the verge of falling, with some experts warning of grave consequences. Beijing, which has a population of around 21 million, suffered a 24.3 per cent decline in its birth rate in 2020 compared with a year earlier, according to official data. China also saw 10.035 million new registered births in the household registration system last year, down from 11.79 million in 2019, although this figure does not include the entire population. In response to its ageing population, the central government confirmed earlier this year that it will start to raise the retirement age by a few months every year. China’s mandatory retirement age has remained unchanged at 60 for men and 55 for women – or 50 for blue-collar female workers – for the past 40 years.More from South China Morning Post:China population: coronavirus pandemic fuels decline in migrant labourers amid fears about ageing workforceChina’s census takers ‘coaxed’ citizens to submit personal information with prizes, and the coronavirus pandemic helpedChina population census delay may be due to coronavirus impact on migrant workers, demographer saysChina’s economic growth may have ‘peaked’, will ‘wane’ for rest of 2021 after April sentiment slowdownChina trade: India coronavirus crisis, recovering US economy boosted figures, but ‘cyclical peak’ loomsThis article China population: census confirms increase to 1.412 billion in 2020, but births fall again first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
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