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Commuters ride a subway train during the morning rush hour in Beijing.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: China’s open door, sticky US border policy, Iran’s “mercy” deficit, Kosovo’s creeping crisis, Nepal’s “Terrible” new top dog

China’s COVID opening worries the neighbors

China’s National Health Commission announced on Monday that beginning January 8, travelers entering China will no longer be required to quarantine for eight days. Hong Kong followed the mainland by similarly relaxing testing requirements for international arrivals. It’s the latest signal that China has abandoned its zero-COVID lockdown-intensive policy, despite evidence the virus is now sweeping through a country where millions remain unvaccinated and even larger numbers have been jabbed only with less effective Chinese-made vaccines. An announcement last week that China will change the way it counts COVID deaths had led to anxiety elsewhere that Beijing has decided it can no longer contain new infections, that the economic cost of its zero-COVID approach is too high, and that it will now hide the true number of infections and deaths across the country to weather domestic and international criticism of its handling of the virus. This worry will feed the fear that much higher rates of transmission across this country of 1.4 billion people will help the virus mutate, spawning new variants that again infect people around the world. It’s no wonder then that Japan’s government has announced that, beginning Friday, it will tighten border controls for all travelers entering Japan from China, while the US is also mulling restrictions for Chinese arrivals.

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Will Nepal Cash Out? | Economic Empowerment | GZERO Media

Will Nepal cash out?

Like much of the world, Nepal saw digital payments soar during the pandemic.

Tulsi Rauniyar, a young Nepalese documentary photographer, experienced the transition firsthand. With COVID making human touch a big concern, e-commerce and cashless transactions became more commonplace — so much so that Rauniyar herself rarely uses cash anymore. This technological globalization is increasingly helping female entrepreneurs and businesswomen succeed in Nepal. But it still needs to reach rural areas — where many hard-working women are unaware of these transformative technologies.

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Meet the party that runs China
Meet the party that runs China

China in the (South Asian) ‘hood

As China faces pressure and criticism from the West for not changing its “neutral” stance despite Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine, Beijing is trying to create space for itself by shoring up old allies and mending fences in its rough neighborhood.

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A car is seen burning during renewed riots in the city of Lod, following the funeral of a 25-year-old Israeli-Arab man who was shot and killed during riots the previous night.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: Clashes in Jewish-Arab cities, Nepal's COVID crisis, Uganda's forever president

Integrated Israeli cities on the brink: Another bloody day in Israel and the Gaza Strip: Israeli forces continued to bomb Gaza Wednesday, killing several Hamas commanders. At least 56 Gazans have now been killed in Israeli strikes, including 14 children. Meanwhile, rockets continue to fall inside Israeli cities, causing millions to flee to bomb shelters. The Israeli death count now stands at eight. The more startling development for intelligence analysts, however, has been the increasingly violent clashes between Arabs and Jews in integrated Israeli cities following weeks of confrontations in Jerusalem: an Arab man was pulled from his car and attacked by Jewish vigilantes in a suburb outside Tel Aviv, while Arab Israelis have burnt synagogues and attacked Jewish Israelis. Integrated cities like Lod, Acre and Haifa are often highlighted as models for broader Palestinian-Israeli peace, but as Haaretz reporter Anshel Pfeffer points out, these unprecedented clashes show that Israel's security apparatus failed to understand that Palestinians in Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank are still motivated "to rise up and show solidarity with each other." International actors are reportedly trying to get the two sides to agree to an imminent ceasefire. Will it work?

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What We're Watching: Britain's new COVID strain, US Congress reaches stimulus deal, Nepal's political chaos

Britain's new COVID strain: Just as the Brexit transition comes to an end and the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union on January 1, Britons now face a new form of isolation. Countries in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Asia and elsewhere have banned travelers from the UK in response to reports that a variant of the novel coronavirus is raging out of control in that country. The (relative) good news is that, though this COVID-19 variant appears more infectious than the strain it has replaced, there is no evidence to date that it's more deadly or more resistant to the vaccines now in use in the UK. The bad news is that there will be more people flooding into British hospitals, and the virus variant is another factor undermining economic and financial confidence in the UK at a time when its leap into the Brexit unknown already threatens market turmoil.

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Nepal falls into political turmoil. China and India are watching

December 21, 2020 8:03 AM

Nepal is now set to hold elections starting in late April, more than a year earlier than the expected vote in November 2022.

Race for a cure: Kathmandu Post

November 11, 2020 11:25 AM

The paper says that Nepal's Oli administration must secure access to vaccines and limited super-cold storage infrastructure.

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