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Has China’s zero-COVID strategy gone too far?

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China is coming under pressure to abandon its severe COVID-zero policy, but the nation’s low vaccination rate means the solution isn’t straightforward

China’s largest city Shanghai has been suffering under one of the most brutal lockdowns the world has seen.

Strict measures in the city have extended for over a month and are making global headlines.

Widespread reports of people trapped in their homes without food and medical supplies have emerged from the city.

At the same time the nations economy is struggling to cope with severe COVID-19 measures, as international exports dropped to their lowest level in two years.

Fenced up houses in Shanghai

In recent weeks the calls to abandon China’s COVID-zero policy have reached thunderous levels.

So why is the nation persisting with its policy?

South China Correspondent Primrose Riordan tells Ticker NEWS the crux of the issue lies with China’s low vaccination rate.

“The disaster that could … happen as a result of veering away from the zero COVID policy at the moment, could be widespread deaths among the elderly population,” she says.

According to Riordan, there are very low vaccination rates among China’s elderly population, and the nation is struggling with “some serious vaccine hesitancy”.

In some cases people with underlying health conditions have been advised by doctors to not get vaccinated.

The resulting low vaccination rate coupled with the fact most of the population has had limited exposure to the virus raises the possibility that lifting the COVID-19 protocols could lead to a significantly high number of deaths, as seen in Hong Kong in March this year.

Because of this, Riordan says you can see why the Chinese government is maintaining its stance.

“The mystery at the moment is, of course, why they’re not upping the vaccination rate among the elderly, which would allow for a smooth route out of zero COVID,” she says.

Route out of lockdown

A number of nations around the world have attempted to implement similar zero-COVID strategies at different points in time.

Australia for example, implemented a number of strict lockdowns, but abandoned the strategy as vaccine rates increased above 80 percent and containment became more difficult as more contagious variants swept across the globe.

Riordan says China’s initial pursuit of COVID-zero was understandable.

“At least while there was such deaths in the rest of the world, China was spared that,” she says.

For her, China’s problem is to find a way to combat supply issues and find a way to move away from the strict COVID-zero policy.

“They have made a lot of measures to try and up those vaccination rates. But it has been, like fairly slow,” she says.

South China Correspondent for the Financial Times, Primrose Riordan, says it’s a mystery why this hasn’t been pushed more harshly.

“If you’re making staying at home compulsory, you’re wondering why vaccination wasn’t compulsory,”

she says.

Elsewhere in China, the fallout from the recent Hong Kong elections continues

John Lee was elected executive chairman on May 8, amid widespread speculation over the legitimacy of the selection process.

Riordan says the process was not necessarily an election in the western sense and that this is the way that they’re going to choose their leaders going into the future, because Beijing wants a lot more control of the process.

“Even in the past, they used to have at least… some sort of contender, or some sort of an other option that some of the Hong Kong elites might have voted for,” she says.

“This time obviously, the government wanted as much control of the process as possible.”

Riordan says the main issue moving forward is whether Lee will prioritise Hong Kong as a financial center.

Recently Hong Kong has had to follow Beijing’s COVID-zero policy, effectively separating the city from international businesses.

“When you’re choosing a security hardliner, rather than… somebody with a more financial background, it’s yet to be seen what policies he’s going to bring forward in terms of preserving that status of Hong Kong.”

she says

“I guess the policies going forward for international business would be the next thing to watch in Hong Kong,” she says.

Bryan Hoadley contributed to this article

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How close to a full scale nuclear war are we really?

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Since President Vladimir Putin’s latest warning that he is ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, the question of whether or not the former KGB spy is bluffing has become much more urgent.

There are several reasons why Putin’s nuclear warnings have the West worried. First, Russia has been increasingly aggressive in its actions in recent years, from annexing Crimea to intervening in Syria. This has led to a feeling that Putin is becoming more and more reckless and unpredictable.

Second, Russia has been beefing up its nuclear arsenal, with reports indicating that it now has more nuclear warheads than any other country in the world. This increase in firepower makes Putin’s threats all the more credible.

Last but not least, there is the fact that Putin is a former KGB agent. This means that he is no stranger to playing games of brinkmanship and bluffing. In the past, he has used nuclear threats as a way to get what he wants. For example, in 2008, he threatened to aim nuclear missiles at European cities unless the United States agreed to drop plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

The West is worried

Given all of this, it’s no wonder that Putin’s latest nuclear threats have the West worried. Only Putin knows if he is actually bluffing, but given his track record, it’s certainly a possibility.

If a nuclear weapon were used in Ukraine, it would cause a massive humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands of people would be killed or wounded, and millions more would be displaced. The economic and social damage would be enormous, and Europe would be plunged into chaos.

In addition, the use of nuclear weapons would also have devastating consequences for the rest of the world. The nuclear non-proliferation regime would be dealt a serious blow, and there would be a renewed risk of nuclear war.

The world would become a much more dangerous place.

Nuclear impact

A nuclear explosion in Ukraine would have a regional impact, but it could also have global consequences. The use of nuclear weapons would violate the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and this could lead to other countries acquiring nuclear weapons. In addition, the risk of nuclear war would increase, and this would have a negative impact on the entire world.

The UN has condemned Russia’s threats of nuclear war, and it has called on all parties to refrain from any actions that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons. The UN Secretary-General has said that there can be no military solution to the crisis in Ukraine, and he has urged all sides to return to the negotiating table.

Russia has several allies in its war against Ukraine. These include Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Russia also has the support of China and Iran.

The war in Ukraine has had a significant impact on energy prices.

Due to the conflict, there has been a disruption in the supply of natural gas and oil from Ukraine. This has led to an increase in prices for these commodities.

The West can only threaten Putin further, as they’ve done all year, since President Biden warned that Russia was about to invade Ukraine.

Every step of the way, Putin has done exactly what the West has feared.

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Suicide bombing rocks an education facility in Afghanistan

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At least 19 people are dead following a suicide bombing in Kabul

A blast at the Kaaj education centre in the Dashte Barchi area has claimed the lives of at least 19 Afghans.

Local reports suggest students were taking a university exam at the time of the attack.

The area is a busy place for the Hazara minority, who have been targeted in recent attacks.

Police are at the scene as investigations continue. At this time, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

A string of violence has plagued Kabul in recent weeks, which has claimed the lives of dozens.

The U.S. withdrawal saw the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan last August.

The Taliban has previously said it is seeking to restore stability. But rival Islamists have continued to plague the country.

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Judge sides with Trump in Mar-a-Lago investigation

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A United States Federal Judge has sided with former President Donald Trump amid the ongoing Mar-a-Lago investigation

In a move that will likely come as a relief to Donald Trump, a federal judge has ruled that the former president does not have to provide a sworn declaration regarding claims the FBI “planted” evidence in his Mar-a-Lago resort.

Previously, Trump had been required to provide the declaration as part of the review process for the investigation.

But Judge Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing the Mar-a-Lago investigation, has now pushed back several key deadlines, extending the final date of completion from November to December.

“There shall be no separate requirement on Plaintiff at this stage, prior to the review of any of the Seized Materials, to lodge ex ante final objections to the accuracy of Defendant’s Inventory, its descriptions, or its contents.”

Judge Aileen cannon
Judge Aileen Cannon & Donald Trump

This means that Trump will not have to confirm, under oath, his recent claims the FBI manufactured evidence against him

These are assertions which could be used against him if he is charged with any crimes.

Trump’s lawyers had argued that the president should not be required to provide a declaration, and it seems Judge Cannon has sided with them.

For now, Trump will not have to put his claims on the record.

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