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Indian badminton players seek travel exemption for Tokyo qualifier

Indian badminton players' hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics hang in balance, with the country's sports ministry seeking exemption from the travel ban to compete in a qualifier in Malaysia.In the wake of an unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases in India, Malaysia has banned travel from India.The Malaysian Open, which runs from May 25-30, is one of the final two events where Olympic hopefuls can collect points towards the Race to Tokyo rankings – a program that decides who qualifies for the Summer Games which begin on July 23."After the initial request made earlier this week, the Indian High Commission in Malaysia has received information from the Malaysian Government that the travel of the team may not be possible immediately," the Sports Authority of India (SAI) said on Thursday."However, with 19 days left for the competition to begin, the possibility of travel cannot be ruled out completely."India reported on Thursday a record 412,262 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours and a record 3,980 deaths. COVID-19 infections have now surged past 21 million in the country with an official death toll totaling 230,168.All top Indian singles and doubles players such as PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Srikanth Kidambi, B. Sai Praneeth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty, Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy are due to participate in the Kuala Lumpur event.The postponement of the India Open, which was scheduled for Delhi between May 11-16, had already dealt a severe blow to Indian shuttlers hoping to secure Olympic berths.As the current Race to Tokyo rankings stand, only Sindhu, Sai Praneeth and the doubles pair of Shetty and Rankireddy can make the cut.London 2012 bronze medalist Nehwal, who is ranked number 22 in the women's singles qualification standings, and former world number one Kidambi, 20th in the men's singles list, need to break into the top 16 in their respective categories to gain direct qualification to the Games.The Race to Tokyo period ends on June 15 and the final qualification event is the Singapore Open, scheduled for June 1.(CGTN)

China's Western trade troubles are provoked by America

Editor's note: Andrew Korybko is a Moscow-based American political analyst. The article reflects the author's views and not necessarily those of CGTN.In what seems like the blink of an eye, China's trade ties with Western countries have suddenly been caught up in a lot of trouble. The U.S. hasn't made any progress on negotiating phase two of the more comprehensive trade deal between the two countries despite the high hopes that many previously had from U.S. President Joe Biden. Then Australia continued its aggressive multifaceted campaign against China in spite of joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) alongside Beijing and over a dozen other countries last November. Finally, the EU practically froze the process for ratifying last December's Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) with China in response to Beijing's reaction to Brussels' recently imposed sanctions.None of this is coincidental, but is part of a larger Hybrid War plot provoked by America no matter how "conspiratorial" this might sound at first listen. There's no longer any doubt that the U.S.' permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies ("deep state") are in agreement over the country's need to "contain" China, a grand strategic goal that transcends partisan lines as proven by the fact that it's remained constant between the Donald Trump and Biden administrations. This policy takes the form of sabotaging China's trade ties with the Western countries upon which the U.S. exerts disproportionate influence such as Australia and the EU. America's objective is to preserve its fading unipolar hegemony in the emerging multipolar world order.This obviously occurs at the expense of everyone else's interests, but those countries' leaders that are too powerfully under the U.S.' sway are sacrificing their own national interests in order to serve their patron's. The U.S.' economic provocations against China are entirely of its own doing, but Australia's and the EU's are due to American meddling. Washington convinced its counterparts in Canberra that Beijing supposedly poses a threat to their national interests and also those within its so-called "sphere of influence" across the South Pacific. As for the EU, the U.S. peddled the disinformation about a so-called "genocide" in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region so much to the point where liberal-minded leaders felt compelled to react to this fake news.The end result is that the U.S. catalyzed what appears to be a self-sustaining cycle of escalation and subsequent destabilization of bilateral ties between its Western proxies and China. The former are caught up in a psychologically driven Hybrid War which inspires them to victimize China through economic aggression justified by a variety of false pretexts such as debunked suspicions about the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) and fake news about a "genocide" in Xinjiang. The damage that the U.S. convinced its proxies to deal with their relations with China likely won't be repaired for some time considering that they're already contemplating long-term policy changes against China.A cargo ship loaded with export containers sailing out of the Qianwan Container Terminal at Qingdao Port in east China's Shandong Province, February 19, 2021. /GettyExamples of these include Australia's sudden cancellation of two BRI projects in the state of Victoria on the false basis of so-called "national interests" and the EU's new industrial strategy that has clear anti-Chinese undertones thinly disguised with rhetoric about combating "unfair advantages" in trade. These two economic developments will inevitably have political consequences for those parties' relations with China. In response to these hostile moves, Beijing will likely prioritize its relations with Russia, the rest of the RCEP nations, and its many BRI partners across the Global South. The end result is that a global economic bifurcation of sorts is being provoked by the U.S. whereby the world is increasingly divided between Western and non-Western states.Although this outcome is arguably disadvantageous to everyone except the American elite, there's still no reason for folks to lose hope about the future. China has consistently supported its fellow Global South nations over the decades due to its responsibility as the largest developing country. Its new dual circulation paradigm has prepared it for this scenario, as has nearly a decade of BRI investments across the world that strengthened ties with its partners. China is strong enough nowadays that it doesn't have to bend to the West's economic version of "gunboat diplomacy" by implementing unilateral concessions in exchange for relief from this Hybrid War pressure. It will confidently carry on and continue to adapt to emerging challenges such as these ones.As the rest of the world comes to realize what's happening, it's inevitable that they'll learn about the clear-cut fault lines in this emerging world order. The primary contrasts are between the West vs. non-West; the Global Billion vs. the Global South; developed nations vs. developing nations; neo-imperialism vs. anti-imperialism; lawlessness vs. international law; and ideology vs. pragmatism.Nevertheless, there will still be players that importantly serve as bridges between these two sides, and those will be the ones that stand to benefit the most and play a crucial role in bringing about a "New Detente" sometime in the future. Until then, the world must wise up to the U.S.' divide-and-rule stratagem and prepare to push back against this global Hybrid War.(CGTN)

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Calls to Cancel Tokyo Olympics Grow Louder as Emergency Extended

A petition calling to cancel the Tokyo Olympics gathered support in Japan on Friday, as the government prepared to extend the state of emergency in the city and beyond to control the spread of the virus.A petition titled “Cancel the Tokyo Olympics to protect our lives” had gained more than 200,000 supporters by late afternoon.“The spread of the virus has not been stopped at all in Tokyo, the rest of the country or the world,” the petition reads. “Vaccination is so far limited to certain regions like the U.S. and Europe, so it is not a definitive way of stopping infections. Are we going to hold the Tokyo Olympics even if it puts lives and jobs in danger?”Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has been determined to press ahead with the Tokyo Games, already delayed a year due to the pandemic, billing the sporting extravaganza as an opportunity to declare victory over the virus.Voters disagree. A survey by the Asahi newspaper last month found just 28% wanted the event to go ahead in July, while 34% wanted it postponed again and 35% wanted it canceled outright.Several regions of Japan have had problems staging their legs of the Olympic torch relay, while participants including celebrities have in many cases dropped out. The governor of the southwestern prefecture of Fukuoka, Seitaro Hattori, on Thursday became the latest local leader to say that carrying out the relay would be extremely difficult, Jiji Press reported.The campaign for cancellation comes as Japan struggles to vaccinate its people -- it has immunized less than 2% of the total population, according to data collected by Bloomberg, the least among OECD countries and behind places like Myanmar, Bangladesh and Rwanda.With 11 weeks to go until the opening ceremony, Suga is set to extend the current state of emergency that covers Tokyo, Osaka and other western regions until the end of May and expand it to include two new areas struggling with a rise in cases.Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee signed an agreement with Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, which will donate vaccines to athletes and delegations traveling to the games, the drugmakers said Thursday. The first deliveries are expected to begin by the end of this month.(BLOOMBERG)


U.S. move to loosen vaccine patents will draw drug companies to bargain: lawyers

U.S. support for waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines could be a tactic to convince drugmakers to back less drastic steps like sharing technology and expanding joint ventures to quickly boost global production, lawyers said on Thursday."I think the end result that most players are looking for here is not IP waiver in particular, it’s expanded global access to the vaccines," said Professor Lisa Ouellette of Stanford Law School.President Joe Biden on Wednesday supported a proposal to waive World Trade Organization intellectual property (IP) rules, which would allow poorer countries to produce vaccine for themselves. So far COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed primarily to the wealthy countries that developed them, while the pandemic sweeps through poorer ones, like India.The real goal, though, is expanded vaccine distribution."If it is possible to increase the rate of scaling up production, this potentially would give the manufacturers a greater incentive to come to an agreement to make that happen,” Ouellette said.Vaccine makers like Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTEch have argued that patents have not been a limiting factor in supply. New technology and global limits on supplies are frequently cited as challenges, and both Moderna and Pfizer nevertheless have steadily boosted supply forecasts."There is no mRNA in manufacturing capacity in the world," Moderna Chief Executive Stephane Bancel said on a conference call with investors on Thursday, referring to the messenger RNA technology behind both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine."This is a new technology. You cannot go hire people who know how to make the mRNA. Those people don't exist. And then even if all those things were available, whoever wants to do mRNA vaccines will have to buy the machine, invent the manufacturing process, invent verification processes and analytical processes."To increase vaccine production capacity significantly within two years, the Biden administration would need to do much more than waive patents, including providing funding to find and build new manufacturing sites, and backing technology and expertise transfer to the new manufacturers, said drug supply chain expert Prashant Yadav.Moreover, the U.S. government must guard against allowing foreign companies to use COVID-19 vaccine makers’ technology to compete in areas outside of COVID-19, which are likely to be more lucrative in the long term, said Thomas Kowalski, an attorney at Duane Morris who specializes in intellectual property. Once a competitor has the technology, restrictions on use are difficult to enforce, he said.Professor Sarah Rajec of William & Mary Law School said she did not think a waiver itself would do as much as the signal from the United States, a stronger supporter of corporate intellectual property, that patent rights take a backseat to the urgent needs of the world population during the pandemic.Rajec said Biden’s support for a waiver "pushes the drug companies to be more open to partnerships, and other licensing on favorable terms, in a way that perhaps they otherwise wouldn’t be."Drugmakers argue that they have already struck significant partnerships, sharing technology with competitors who they might not have linked up with if not for the pandemic.“Our position is very clear: this decision will further complicate our efforts to get vaccines to people around the world, address emerging variants and save lives," Brian Newell, spokesman for pharmaceutical industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said in a statement.European patent attorney Micaela Modiano said that even if the waiver is adopted, vaccine makers are likely to negotiate for some payment, if less than what is generally paid in licensing arrangements. Her firm Modiano & Parners represents Pfizer but has not worked on any COVID-19 related matters."I would imagine that the pharmaceutical companies are already and will continue to lobby significantly to make sure that if this waiver proposal passes, that it just doesn't pass as such, but that they receive some sort of financial compensation," she said.(REUTERS)


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Why protectionism and trade wars won't create prosperity

Editor's note: Jonathan Arnott is a former member of the European Parliament. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.Watching U.S. President Joe Biden's first joint address to Congress on April 28, my mind couldn't help but wander back to one of the greatest tragedies in British history and a lesson which should have been learned long ago.In the early 19thcentury, savvy traders had been importing grain and wheat from abroad far cheaper than it could be produced domestically. The British government of the time enacted the Corn Laws: protectionist policies designed to ensure that no grain cereals could be imported below a fixed price. It was good, initially, for British farmers.Blocking free trade in this manner had dire consequences. When famine struck Ireland in the 1840s, the Corn Laws prevented new food supplies from coming in. A million died; a million more fled the country, many heading to the United States. Irish heritage within the United States is particularly prosperous.As far back as 1817, the economist David Ricardo was warning in his book Principles of Political Economy and Taxation that the repressive Corn Laws were the wrong solution to the problem. He advanced a theory known as Comparative Advantage: that nations prosper when they specialize in the things which they do best and do not fear trade. The Corn Laws provided perhaps the starkest example in history of what can go wrong when governments choose protectionism above trade, one which still resonates within Irish culture to this day."There is simply no reason," thundered Biden in his speech on April 28, "why the blades for wind turbines can't be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing." As political rhetoric goes, it's a hard-hitting remark. It speaks about protectionism, fighting for jobs for local people in America. In the most bland, technical sense, it's also true (though Biden clearly chooses "Beijing" disparagingly for political purposes rather than Shandong or Guangdong). It's perfectly possible for America to do more of its own manufacturing; the question is whether it's advisable. It's bad economics and incompatible with the rest of Biden's policies for the United States.U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., April 28, 2021. /GettyThe theory of Comparative Advantage would suggest that the United States has many of its own advantages. Rather than attempt a trade war with China, it would be better to focus on its own strengths as a nation and allow both nations to benefit from free trade.Biden is, of course, copying the economic protectionism of former president Donald Trump in an attempt to win back the votes of the working class. But the consequence, as night follows day, can only be state subsidies or higher prices. Possibly, the biggest valid criticism of Trump's policies on economics is precisely that: while using populist rhetoric about protecting jobs, he actually increased prices and lowered demand. Jobs in the steel industry were still lost, and higher prices resulted in a knock-on effect.Biden may be focusing on renewable energy, but ironically his plans could lead to renewable energy being less affordable. Alternatively, he may follow his partisan political interest and do the same thing in the opposite way: through state subsidies paid for by borrowing and tax rises. As the nation recovers from the impact of the pandemic, when there has already been substantial borrowing, such a strategy would have an even larger than usual knock-on effect on the wider economy. Such an "America First" mindset, interfering with free trade, will ultimately cost jobs. It is economic illiteracy.To compound matters, he's simultaneously asking Congress for a massive increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour, so that a worker on 40 hours a week would be guaranteed an income of over $30,000 per year. A huge increase in labor costs can result in only two outcomes: either jobs will be lost due to higher wage costs, or it will trigger a substantial rise in the rate of inflation so that the wage increase is not as substantial as it first appears.Either policy would, on its own, be economically foolish. To attempt to combine both at the same time is reckless. Whether Biden is motivated by an anti-China mindset or domestic policies, either way his recent speech shows him heading in the wrong direction.(CGTN)


From poverty alleviation to rural vitalization

Editor's note: Dr. John Gong is a professor at the University of International Business and Economics and a research fellow at the Academy of China Open Economy Studies at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE). The article reflects the author's views, and not necessarily those of CGTN.It is no exaggeration to say that Chinese President Xi Jinping's southern tour is important to the next stage of economic development in rural areas of China.Xi has made several speeches about rural vitalization in recent years. A few days ago, during his visit to a vineyard in Maozhushan Village in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the Chinese president put forth the concept of "development of modern rural industries with various unique characteristics benefiting farmers."China's former leader Deng Xiaoping's reform and opening-up policy has undoubtedly industrialized the urban areas in China, lifting hundreds of millions of city dwellers to the middle class. But his teaching of "getting rich together" still lingers against the backdrop of hundreds of millions more people living in the countryside still waiting for a better life.Let's be honest that there is still a gap between urban-rural livelihoods today. That is what President Xi's poverty alleviation drive is all about, and this nation has achieved a milestone by having eliminated absolute poverty by the end of 2020.Now we are moving to the next stage in this battle, which we call "rural vitalization." There is actually a vice-ministerial level central government organization established recently under the similar idea – the National Bureau of Rural Development under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.President Xi's vision of rural vitalization may be summarized from three perspectives based on my understanding. Rural vitalization, first and foremost, is about economic development, or perhaps one step further, about industrial development in rural areas based on unique local characteristics and conditions.The grape industry he prized about in Maozhushan Village is a case in point. This small village made a reasonable fortune out of growing grapes in an industrialized fashion in recent years. Furthermore, this type of industrial rural development model has to be inclusive in nature in that it benefits mostly local farmers. That is what he means by "development of modern rural industries with various unique characteristics benefiting farmers."Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects progress in promoting rural vitalization and grassroots-level governance in Maozhushan Village of Caiwan, a town in Quanzhou County in the city of Guilin, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, April 25, 2021. /XinhuaSecond, President Xi is big on ecological development and the preservation of the environment, for which he famously said, "green mountains and clear water are mountains of gold and silver." During his Guangxi tour, he praised the local leadership for cultivating an ecological village environment in Maozhushan.Later on, Xi examined the Lijiang River's governance body that has spent a great deal of resources to improve the river's surrounding environment. The river often serves as one of the must-go places for foreign tourists.The last but certainly not the least, rural vitalization perspective concerns the cultural aspect in rural areas. Vitalization is not just about material gains but also social and cultural improvement.In many parts of China's countryside, there are still signs of backwardness in social customs and habits that would make us embarrassed. This is also one area that the government can play a role in terms of leading and financing some projects to enrich rural farmers' lives.In short, the next economic development battleground appears to include a large part of China's countryside. Most of us living in the city in China probably have never thought about a life far away from the city. But the other side of China also needs an infrastructure and a quality of life that are comparable to ours.This is not just about lifting the rural population to the middle class under Deng Xiaoping's vision, but probably in a selfish way also about finding a second home in the countryside for us too. Isn't life beautiful if you have a hide-away place far away to spend some quality time with your family over the weekend?(CGTN)


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APD | G-7 Meeting and China

Author:  Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab hosted the G-7 Foreign and Development Ministers' Meeting in London on 3 to 5 May 2021. The Group of Seven (G-7) is an intergovernmental organization consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The Group (G-7) was emerged to facilitate shared macroeconomic initiatives by its members in response to the collapse of the exchange rate in 1971, during the time of the Nixon shock, the 1970s energy crisis, and the ensuing recession. The group is contributing almost half of the global net wealth and GDP. In March 2014, Russia was suspended by G7 members from the political forum G8 following the differences on the Crimea issue. After the suspension in January 2017, the Russian Federation decided to leave the G8 permanently. It was confirmed in June 2018.The recent meeting was attended by all G-7 member countries and Australia, India, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, the Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the High Representative of the European Union, as guests on the special invitation of the UK.Many issues came under discussions and especially the emerging geopolitics. However, China was one of the hot topics under discussion. At the end of the meeting, a Joint Communiqué was released ( which was agreed upon by all member countries. Para #13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 were issued regarding China.Based on a joint statement, it is obvious the gap between China and G-7 is growing and, to some extent, worrisome. The meeting's primary task was to strengthen the alliance against China and take collective actions to counter China. The danger of deterioration in geopolitics is very much visible. There all possibilities that China may face direct threats in the South China Sea, or Taiwan Straight, or with any neighboring or regional state, or in any other mode, like restriction or sanctions, to resist China's rise. However, China has surpassed the threshold, where any other nation can coerce it. But the further development might not be so smooth as the last four decades. It is predicted that International interference on the Hong Kong issue and Taiwan's reunification may increase. Blaming China for Human Rights in Xinjiang and Tibet may be used as a tool to pressurize China. Chinese participation in International organizations may be monitored or face limitations and restrictions. Chinese international influence may face challenges or be undermined. Chinese exports may face strict laws or a new type of restrictions. Chinese nationals also may face difficulties for international travel.Western media may enhance its drive to malign China and bombard with fake news, anti-China sentiments, and misinformation. It is well understood that Western Media is dominating world opinion. They might promote an anti-China narrative more systematically.Chines are well aware of all such threats and are capable of facing them or dilute them. China has attained a stage where it can neutralize such challenges and can counter them conveniently. Friendly countries will support China and stand with China at any difficult moment. The future is China, and no power in the world can resist China's rise to superpower. This meeting will have a deep impact on the future course of action from both sides. All preventive measures must be in place by Chinese experts and policymakers. China may further cement its relations with Russia, Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan in the days to come. There is a dire need further to strengthen SCO, BRI, and regional alliances. India used to be a traditional Russian-ally, and the country in South Asia is entirely in the anti-China camp, either it is "Quad" or G-7,  and can not be trusted anymore. However, the Indian minister who attended the meeting and had close interaction with few leaders found Coronavirus test positive with Indian variant, which is highly contagious and fatal. He is in quarantine in the UK for two weeks. How many people are infected by him? Time will tell the impact. But it is confirmed that the Indian variant has reached the UK. Due to its aggressive and expansionist policies, India has spoiled its relations with all of its neighbors and depending on friends far away like the US. But the US had not enough supported India when the tension was at peak between China and India in the Ladakh region, nor during the worst situation of the Pandemic. India has been isolated in the region already, and friends far away are also not sincere with her.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


Real a fading force as Chelsea on brink of another European glory

Of all the moments that summed up Chelsea's sumptuous masterclass against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday, one tongue-in-cheek anecdote stood out and captured the irony of this thrilling encounter.Eden Hazard, who remained anonymous throughout and a shadow of his former self for Real, was caught laughing hysterically with Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma at full time. You could be forgiven for thinking that the expensive Madrid flop had just bagged a hat-trick and effortlessly sent Los Blancos into another European final.Alas, the opposite was true. Hazard and his teammates were utterly outclassed by their Premier League counterparts, who assumed dominance across two legs and could have scored far more than three if they were more clinical in front of a goal.Real Madrid are not the intimidating powerhouse they once were. This is the third year they have failed to reach the final and the second in a row they have been schooled by a ruthless English opposition. Last time around, the Spanish giants were overwhelmed by Manchester City in the round of 16 and they were extremely fortunate to escape another thrashing.Real Madrid's Eden Hazard endures another disappointing night during their Champions League clash with Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge in London, England, May 5, 2021. /CFP"Chelsea were the better team. We have no excuses," admitted Real midfielder Casemiro. The sadness was echoed by their manager Zinedine Zidane. "We didn't have any clear chances," he observed. "They made a number of them and that's football. We fought and tried but they deserved to win and go through."Real's troubles are far from over. Their president Florentino Perez was widely ridiculed for being the mastermind of the ill-fated European Super League and could face inquiry and punishment from football authorities. Their captain Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric are both out of contract this summer, even the future of Zidane is uncertain as the French tactician has repeatedly refused to address questions regarding his contract extension.In sharp contrast, Chelsea have gone through a remarkable transformation after Thomas Tuchel was hired to replace Frank Lampard as manager less than four months ago. Key cogs such as N'Golo Kante, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, and Timo Werner all rediscovered their form in time and excelled in the biggest game.Despite a stuttering start of the season, Chelsea have lost just two of Tuchel's 24 games in charge to move into pole position to qualify for next season's Champions League via a top-four finish in the Premier League even if they fail to beat Manchester City in Istanbul on May 29.Chelsea fans celebrate outside the ground after beating Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinal at Stamford Bridge in London, England, May 5, 2021. /CFPTuchel will be tempted to make up for last season's final loss with PSG and he has already shown he had what it takes to outplay after Chelsea's 1-0 win in the FA Cup semi-final."I felt it was an amazing club from the first day," beamed Tuchel, who is going back to the Champions League final for a second consecutive season. "I felt huge support from day one. I am very grateful to be at the sideline of this team. The heads were never down, they always stayed positive and never regretted anything. The job is not done yet. We are in two finals now and the sacrifice I personally gave was worth it since day one."Ahead of the game against Real, Lampard's name was chanted by Chelsea fans, who still consider it too harsh to sack their club legend and gathered outside Stamford Bridge to make their voice heard. But given the incredible progress the Blues have displayed so far on the pitch, it won't be too long before Tuchel is adulated and treated as one of their own.(CGTN)


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14 killed in jihadist attack on Nigeria military base

Jihadists killed 14 security personnel and civilians in an attack on a military base in northeast Nigeria's Borno state on Wednesday, security sources told AFP.Suspected Boko Haram fighters in trucks fitted with machine guns launched a dawn raid on the army base in the town of Damboa, sparking intense fighting.Sources said six soldiers, four police officers and two members of a government-backed militia were killed along with two civilians."We lost six soldiers in the attack while six others were injured," a military officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.The officer claimed 13 insurgents were killed by a fighter jet as they fled the area.The leader of an anti-jihadist militia said the civilians who died were among more than 50 local residents hit by shrapnel after rocket-propelled grenades fired by the jihadists hit nearby homes.Nigeria's decade-long jihadist insurgency has killed 36 000 people and displaced two million others inside the country, and spilled into neighbouring Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.The United Nations has complained of a surge in violence in the conflict zone in recent weeks.Anger has been growing among local residents about the army's failure to stem the attacks despite repeated claims from officials that the insurgency has been defeated.(CGTN)


One dead, multiple injured shot near skate park in California

A 23-year-old male was shot dead and five others were injured following a shooting at a party near a skate park in Tulare County, California, late Wednesday night, ABC News reported citing local police.The conditions of the other shooting victims are unclear, including a 7-year-old girl who is suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, police said at a press conference.Police said a "solo suspect shooter" walked up to the party and fired multiple rounds.(CGTN)


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China's advance May Day holiday box office hits 100 mln yuan

Advance box office sales for new films during the upcoming May Day holiday totaled 100 million yuan (about 15.42 million U.S. dollars) by Wednesday afternoon.More than 10 new titles will be released on Friday and Saturday, according to a schedule released by film data platforms.My Love, a romantic drama from Enlight Pictures, currently tops the advance sales chart compiled by box office tracker Maoyan, having amassed 42.1 million yuan.Cliff Walkers, renowned Chinese director Zhang Yimou's first foray into the spy genre, is in second place with more than 25.6 million yuan.Crime thriller Home Sweet Home ranks third with 10.1 million yuan.Three other films have made significant advance gains: Break Through the Darkness, a crime action tentpole telling the story of China's fight against organized crime; the Hong Kong-based crime thriller Money Empire; and Tiger Robbers, a fantasy comedy.May Day, also known as Labor Day, is observed on May 1 in China. The five-day May Day holiday starting on May 1 is usually a busy movie-going period in China.(中国网英文)


'The Stars' novel wins China's top sci-fi award

Chinese writer Zhao Lei has scooped the top award for his novel The Stars at the 11th Chinese Nebula Awards in Lingshui, Hainan province.The Stars, published by People's Literature Publishing House and sci-fi brand Eight Light Minutes in 2019, won the gold award for best sci-fi novel. The seven-member jury praised the work in a statement that read: The novel manages to tell a hardcore science fiction story in the style of a thriller, with the writer skillfully using a dual-plotline structure. The writer's imagination is bold and uncanny, yet logically rigorous. The author is like a clever detective, uncovering the secrets of space signals through the vivid characters one by one, until the final shocking truth is revealed.The novel is the latest work by Zhao, who writes under the pen name Qi Yue (July). He started writing back in 2001, but took a decadelong hiatus from the world of literature as he pursued a career in the video game industry. After deciding to write again, the result was The Stars.In addition, the gold award for best sci-fi novella went to Baoshu's Celestial Priest, while Chen Qiufan picked up the top award for best sci-fi short story for In this Moment, We Are Happy. Chen Yang, whose translation of Central Station by Israeli British author Lavie Tidhar, won the gold award for best translated novel. Cognitive Defamiliarization: A Study into the Science Fiction of H.G. Wells by Li Chan won the gold award for best nonfiction book.The Chinese Nebula Awards, an international award for science fiction writers in the Chinese language, are organized by Xinhuanet, Eternal Vision Science Fiction Media Co. (Hainan) and Time Vision, with guidance from China International Culture Exchange Center. It was founded by Chinese sci-fi heavyweights Dong Renwei, Yao Haijun and Wu Yan in 2010. The event is held annually, with the exception of last year when the ceremony was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the 11th edition was eventually held this year on Saturday, however foreign guests were absent from the ceremony as the pandemic situation remains serious in many countries.More than 300 sci-fi writers, publishers, experts and professionals from the culture and tourism sector, industries of film, finance and real estate as well as workers and readers from Chinese sci-fi circles, attended the event in Lingshui Li Autonomous County in south China's island province of Hainan, which is gearing up to build the Hainan Free Trade Port.A group photo of attendees at the 11th Chinese Nebula Awards held in Lingshui, Hainan province, April 24, 2021. [Photo courtesy of EV/SFM]Past winners include such top Chinese writers as Liu Cixin, Wang Jinkang, Han Song, He Xi and new generation front-runners such as Chen Qiufan and Jiang Bo. This year, Gu Congyun, aka Mu Ming, won the gold award for best new sci-fi writer, while several writers including Wang Nuonuo, Wu Chu, Zhao Lei, Fenxing Chengzi took home silver awards. They are the future stars of Chinese sci-fi, the renowned writer and award juror Han Song said.Gillian Zhao, the president of Warner Bros. China, also attended the event in search of new works of literature with potential for investment. This year I feel that the award-winning works are updated and iterated, and a lot of new talent has emerged, she told, and the subjects have become more diversified.Han noted that Chinese sci-fi has become a favorite among the public, growing from a niche and marginal literature in China thanks to the efforts of sci-fi enthusiasts across the country. The genre has also been bolstered by Liu Cixin's win at the Hugo Awards for The Three-Body Problem and the box office triumph of sci-fi movie The Wandering Earth.Dong Renwei, sci-fi mogul and one of the founders of the awards, has bigger ambitions for the development of sci-fi in China. He hopes that the Chinese Nebula Awards can become a top sci-fi award globally and that the country can become the next sci-fi center in the world.In building up Chinese cultural soft power, science fiction is an important part. China should develop new styles of science fiction with elements of Eastern culture, and show the world its local values, he said. That's the most important mission of those working in Chinese sci-fi today.(中国网英文)


Sportsmore >>

Benzema stunner for Real frustrates impressive Chelsea

Chelsea held their own away to Real Madrid but had to settle for a 1-1 draw in Tuesday's Champions League semifinal first leg after Karim Benzema scored an acrobatic goal to cancel out an early strike from Christian Pulisic.Chelsea made a bright start in heavy rain at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium and deservedly went ahead when Pulisic rounded Thibaut Courtois to score in the 14th minute.Thirteen-time European Cup winners Real looked ragged and short on ideas but pulled level in the 29th with a moment of true class from the talismanic Benzema, who controlled a knockdown before volleying into the roof of the net.Chelsea looked the better side in the second half as well but could not break down Real again and then had to withstand some late pressure from the hosts, who visit Stamford Bridge in the second leg on May 5 looking to reach the final for a fifth time in eight years.This was the first ever Champions League meeting between the two sides, who were both named as founding clubs in the controversial European Super League last week before Chelsea hastily withdrew from the competition.It was far from an idyllic setting for such an occasion, played at the tiny, empty arena located at Real's training ground and the non-stop rain made it harder for either side to create flowing passing moves.The visitors had the first clear opening when Pulisic nodded across to Timo Werner but former Chelsea keeper Courtois thwarted the German striker with his legs.Pulisic took no chances the next time he got into the area, controlling a long ball from Antonio Rudiger and dribbling around Courtois before calmly passing the ball into the net, despite the efforts of Raphael Varane and Nacho to block the shot.Benzema carved out Madrid's first chance through his own efforts, swiveling away from a Chelsea defender on the edge of the area before aiming for the top corner and hitting the post.The Frenchman had better fortune with his next attempt, controlling Eder Militao's header following a corner before unleashing an unstoppable strike, scoring his 28th goal of the season and his 71st in the Champions League, joining Real great Raul as the competition's joint-fourth top scorer of all time.The second half was more cagey as the spirit Chelsea had showed early in the match dried up as they tired, although they still managed to control the game while barely allowing Real a sniff until the end.(CGTN)


Wimbledon to become 14-day tournament from 2022

The Wimbledon Championships will become a 14-day tournament from 2022, with matches arranged on Middle Sunday, traditionally the day for organizers to work out better schedule for latter rounds and usually resulting in a "Maniac Monday" packed with matches, according to the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) on Tuesday."From 2022, to coincide with the centenary of center court, Middle Sunday will become a permanent part of the tournament schedule, turning the championships into a 14-day event," AELTC Chairman Ian Hewitt said."Thanks to improved grass court technology and maintenance over the past five years... we are comfortable that we are able to look after the courts, most particularly center court, without a full day of rest."Another change made is that the players are banned from renting private houses near the stadium in 2021, including bars and restaurants in the Wimbledon Village."The minimized risk environment we created for the players is a requirement from the government to bring athletes without them going into quarantine upon entry into the UK," AELTC Chief Executive Sally Bolton said."Players enjoy private housing and we hope to bring it back next year but it's just not possible this year."(CGTN)


Science&Militarymore >>

Amazon's profits more than tripled in the first three months of 2021

Amazon's profit in the first three months of 2021 came in at $8.1bn (£5.8bn) - more than triple what it was in the same period last year.The online marketplace is among the businesses that have thrived during the various government lockdowns aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus.As many millions of people were forced to stay in their homes, Amazon was relied on for the delivery of supplies.Since the pandemic began, the business has posted four consecutive record quarterly profits, attracted more than 200 million Prime loyalty subscribers, and recruited more than 500,000 employees to keep up with the demand.Revenue was up 44% to $108.5bn (£77bn), making Amazon one of just four US companies to have reported quarterly revenue above $100bn (the others being Apple, Exxon Mobil and Walmart).Sales at Amazon's ad business were up 77% and its cloud-computing business - which helps power the online operations of Netflix, McDonald's and others - grew by 32%.Brian Olsavsky, Amazon's chief financial officer, said many businesses want to outsource their technology infrastructure to Amazon Web Services."We expect this trend to continue as we move into the post-pandemic recovery," he said.Image: Jeff Bezos will step down as chief executive this year in favour of a role as executive chairman. Pic: APBut COVID-19 has brought extra costs: The company has purchased cargo planes and new warehouses to get its items closer to customers and hasten delivery.Amazon has also faced activism from within its workforce, recently seeing a unionisation effort defeated at a warehouse in Alabama.The push for unionisation was the biggest in Amazon's 26-year history and it was only the second time such an effort from within the business had reached voting stage.The criticisms of the company's working environment appeared to prompt Mr Bezos' admission earlier this month: "We need to do a better job for our employees".Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, said Amazon's weak spot was its physical retail."To us, Whole Foods reveals the Achilles' heel of Amazon: as great as it is at functional factors such as convenience, operational prowess, technological innovation and so forth, it lacks something of a soul when it comes to creating inspiration and excitement."This especially applies to physical spaces but is also evident in the very functional nature of its website and its difficulty in gaining traction in some sectors like luxury fashion."At one level this doesn't matter as Amazon's skills and differentiation is elsewhere."However, that weakness one of the big opportunities for other retailers and, as a retailer like Target shows, focusing on things that Amazon isn't so good at is a recipe for considerable success."(Skynews)


EU-based digital assets platform Finoa inks $22M Series A funding led by Balderton Capital

Institutions need to keep their crypto assets somewhere. And they aren’t going to keep it on some random, or consumer-grade crypto operation. This requires more sophisticated technology. Furthermore, being in the EU is going to be a key barrier to entry for many US or Asia-based operations.Thus it is that Berlin-based digital asset custody and financial services platform Finoa, has closed a $22 million Series A funding round, to do just that.The round was led by Balderton Capital, alongside existing investors Coparion, Venture Stars and Signature Ventures, as well as an undisclosed investor.Crucially, the Berlin-based startup works with Dapper Lab’s FLOW protocol, NEAR, and Mina, which are fast becoming standards for crypto assets. They are going up against large players such as Anchorage, Coinbase Custody, Bitgo, exchanges like Binance and Kraken, and self-custody solutions like Ledger.Finoa says it now has over 250 customers, including T-Systems, DeFi-natives like CoinList and financial institutions like Bankhaus Scheich.The company says its plan is to become a regulated platform for institutional investors and corporations to manage their digital assets and it has received a preliminary crypto custody license and is supervised by the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin).The company was founded in 2018 by Christopher May and Henrik Ebbing, but both had previously worked together at McKinsey and started working in blockchain in 2017.May commented: “We are proud to have established Finoa as Europe’s leading gateway for institutional participation and incredibly excited to accelerate our growth even further. We look forward to supporting new exciting protocols and projects, empowering innovative corporate use cases, and adding additional (decentralized) financial products and services to our platform.”Colin Hanna, Principal at Balderton Capital, who leads most of Balderton’s Crypto investments, said: “Chris, Henrik, and the entire Finoa team have built a deeply impressive business which bridges the highest levels of professionalism with radical innovation. As custodians of digital asset private keys, Finoa needs to be trusted both with the secure management of those keys and with the products and services that allow their clients to fully leverage the power of native digital assets. The team they have assembled is uniquely positioned to do just that.” May added: “We identified a lack of sophisticated custody and asset servicing solutions for safeguarding and managing blockchain-based digital assets that successfully cover the needs of institutional investors. Finoa is bridging this gap by providing seamless, safe, and regulated access to the world of digital assets.”“Being in the European Union requires a fundamentally different organizational setup, and poses a very high entry to new incumbents and other players overseas. There are few that have managed to do what Finoa has done in a European context and hence why we now see ourselves in a leading position.”(TC)


Businessmore >>

Samsung heirs to pay $11 billion, donate artworks to settle tax bill

The heirs to South Korea's Samsung group announced their plans to pay more than 12 trillion won (about $10.78 billion) in death duties on Wednesday – one of the world's biggest inheritance tax settlements.Lee Kun-hee, the late Samsung Electronics chairman, was the country's richest man before he died last October at age 78, leaving an estimated 22 trillion won (about $19.6 billion) in assets.Lee's family "expects to pay more than 12 trillion won in taxes related to inheritance, which is more than half of the value of the late chairman's total estate," Samsung said in a statement.South Korea has stringent inheritance tax laws and high rates. The Lee family's handling of the hefty inheritance tax bill – one of the largest ever in both South Korea and globally – had been closely watched as it could have resulted in the dilution of the family's controlling stake in Samsung.The family's statement on Wednesday did not give details of how Lee's shares will be distributed among the heirs or whether any will be sold.The family will make payments in installments, with one-sixth of the total tax bill to be paid first, then the rest over five years at an annual interest rate currently set at 1.2 percent, according to tax officials.The family also announced it will donate 1 trillion won to public healthcare charities, including for the creation of a specialized infectious diseases laboratory. Lee's extensive collection of antiques and paintings will be donated to the National Museum of Korea and other cultural organizations.(CGTN)


Google ad surge drives up profits for parent firm Alphabet

Google parent Alphabet on Tuesday reported that quarterly profit more than doubled as digital advertising surged with more people relying on the internet during the coronavirus pandemic.Profit in the first quarter leaped to $17.9 billion from $6.8 billion in the same period a year ago while revenues jumped 34 percent to $55.3 billion, led by gains in advertising and cloud computing services.The surge in Alphabet's earnings comes as the tech giant faces increased scrutiny from regulators regarding its power and the pandemic has people turning to the internet more than ever.Money taken in by Google's cloud computing division, which competes with services offered by Amazon and Microsoft, topped $4 billion, up from $2.7 billion in the same period a year earlier.The Silicon Valley giant reported robust gains in search advertising, those messages tied to the leading internet search engine, as well as for its YouTube video sharing platform.Alphabet continues to invest heavily in data centers and other infrastructure to keep its money-making operations humming.Google Cloud revenue reflected the opportunity the Silicon Valley company has in that market, according to chief financial officer Ruth Porat.Porat credited "elevated consumer activity online and broad-based growth in advertising revenue" with the overall revenue showing.Alphabet shares were up 4 percent in after-market trades that followed the release of the earnings figures.The pandemic has sped up a trend in people using the internet for shopping, work, learning and entertainment, according to analysts.Google is a centerpiece of online activity, with offerings such as its search engine, ad marketplace and YouTube video platform.Google is among internet giants in the crosshairs of regulators and critics concerned about whether it unfairly wields its power to dominate markets and fend off competition.(CGTN)


chinamore >>

Ecological wonder and ancient town draw tourists to Peng’an county, Sichuan

A herd of cattle cross the Jialing River towards an island for grass on April 30. Such a grand scene in Peng'an county, Sichuan province appears repeatedly everyday between April to October. [Photo by Liu Yonghong ]A cattle-herding festival was launched in Peng'an county, Sichuan province, on April 30, attracting tourists from all over the country to enjoy this natural wonder and a newly restored ancient town. A herd of cattle cross the Jialing River towards an island for grass on April 30. Such a grand scene in Peng'an county, Sichuan province appears repeatedly everyday between April to October. [Photo by Guo Anping]The county is famous for a natural scene called "hundreds of cattle crossing the river." In a small village of Peng'an near the Jialing River, the upper tributary of the Yangtze River, hundreds of cattle swim across the Jialing River in the morning to graze on the central island. The cows make the return journey across the river at dusk.The grand scene repeatedly occurs from April to October and has become popular among tourists. Therefore, the local government launched an annual cattle-herding festival in 2010. The yearly festival begins on the last weekend of April. A herd of cattle cross the Jialing River towards an island for grass on April 30. Such a grand scene in Peng'an county, Sichuan province appears repeatedly everyday between April to October. [Photo by Liu Yonghong ]Peng'an is also well-known for Xiangru Ancient Town, which was the hometown of Sima Xiangru (179-118 BC), a statesman, poet and musician from ancient China.The newly restored Xiangru Ancient Town officially opened to the public on the same day as the cattle-herding festival. The local government launched a project in 2018 to restore the 1-square-kilometer ancient town, aiming to protect and restore its cultural relics and make the ancient town a famous cultural tourist spot. The newly restored Xiangru Ancient Town, hometown of Sima Xiangru (179-118 BC), a statesman, poet and musician in ancient China, officially opens to public on April 30. [Photo by Guo Anping]The ancient town has a group of ancient buildings from the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911) and covers a total area of 13,000 square meters.The local government will hold various cultural and tourism activities during the cattle-herding festival, which will last until May 5."Peng'an has very rich cultural and tourism resources, and the journey is worth tourists' time and effort," said an official from the county's bureau of culture, radio, television and tourism.The newly restored Xiangru Ancient Town, hometown of Sima Xiangru (179-118 BC), a statesman, poet and musician in ancient China, officially opens to public on April 30. [Photo by Guo Anping]The section of the Jialing River that flows through Peng'an is 89 kilometers long and is said to be one of its most beautiful parts, according to the official.The county has many other tourist spots, including the Zhouzi Ancient Town near the Jialing River and the Xiangru Lake National Wetland Park, which covers a total area of 2,052 hectares.


Tianhe launch brings hope to space experiments and cancer research

For the first time in history, scientists will be able to send human organoids for advanced cancer studies into space – and they are sending them there onboard China's future space station.Tricia L. Larose, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), is leading a team of international scientists in the "Tumors in Space" project, aiming to find better cancer therapies.Cancer is the second leading cause of death, after heart disease, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, according to the World Health Organization. Scientists have been searching for a cure on Earth and now Larose and her team of international scientists believe it's time to look at other types of laboratories and send human organoids to space.Organoids are a three-dimensional clump of human cells and extracellular matrix, grown from the stem cells of a real tumor in a cancer patient. It's believed to be the closest bio-sample to real human beings. Previous cancer studies in space have used cell lines, which are two-dimensional in nature and do not come from human beings.With the cutting-edge research, Larose is trying to test two hypotheses."We're looking to see if cosmic radiation has a unique mutation signature at the level of the DNA in our organoid," Larose said."If that's true, these mutation signatures act like fingerprints in our DNA, we can then use that fingerprint to test astronauts, to test jet fighter pilots, to see if we can predict the risk, not just of cancer, but of any disease that's caused by cosmic radiation."Another test is to see whether tumors will stop growing in weightless conditions, as evidenced in some previous studies with 2D cells.But what are the ethical concerns about bringing live human organoids to space?"We need to interact directly with the patients, inform them of our research, get their permission and then send the organoid to outer space," Larose added."There are some ethical issues, but I think in order to find a prevention and better treatment for cancer, any cancer patient around the world would be very keen to participate in that."The experiments will be carried out in 2025 on the future space station. The organoids will stay in space for 31 days, more than twice the length of past experiments. Larose added her group is confident that after the 31 days, they will see the effect of the space flight environment on the level of the DNA on the organoids.Larose hailed the launch of Tianhe core module lift-off as an exciting day for space and international collaboration. "Tumors in Space" is an international effort with scientists from Norway, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium and China working together."All of the experiments onboard the China space station are coordinated through the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. And this really gives us confidence that our access to space with China is for peaceful purposes and also for the benefit of all humanity," Larose said.(CGTN)


The Belt and Roadmore >>

Belt and Road Initiative paves way for win-win cooperation between China and Czech

By APD Writer He WeiIn July last year, the first China-EU freight train departed from Prague, captial of Czech,to Yiwu, a city in east China’s Zhejang Province. The new cargo train service marked the official launch of “the Belt and Road Initiative” in Czech. Thanks to joint efforts of both sides, the economic and trade ties between China and Czech Republic is heading for a bright future.During the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May 2017, two months before the opening, China signed the Memorandum of Understanding to Jointly Coordinate and Promote Cooperation and Project Implementation with Czech. According to the memorandum, more efforts will be made to set up a China-Czech Cooperation Center under the Belt and Road initiative, a key project bank and a cooperation platform, integrate domestic and foreign resources, as well as adjoin and implement projects On the sidelines of the The Working Conference of China-Czech Jointly Coordinating and Monitoring Cooperation Plan and Projects under the Framework of the “Belt and Road Initiative”, Liu Jielei, vice chairman of the Czech-China Friendship Association, told the Asia Pacific Daily (APD) that besides geographic advantage, Czech enjoys a sound investment environment because of its stable domestic policies, friendly policy toward China, lower business taxes and labor cost than that of in other European countries.The "Yixin’ou (Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe) cargo train, which began in Yiwu, was hailed as an important bridge linking Asian and European continents and a signficiant achievement in the early stage of the initative by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xu Jie, general manager of Rongsheng Travelling (Czech) Investment Co., Ltd., said because of its important location, they have launched two projects including the Czech-Chinese Technology Business District (CCTBD) project and the South Moravia Chinese Herbal Spa Project in Prague during the past two years, stressing that initial success has been achieved thanks to the initiative.Transalated by Hu Yahui(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


Work conference held in Yiwu for China, Czech to coordinate their efforts in promoting Belt and Road Initiative cooperation

By APD Writer He Wei The conference, which jointly organized by the western development department of the National Development and Reform Commission and the second foreign policy department of the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade kicked off on June 6, 2018. It is of great significance in implementing the plan for China-Czech cooperation and promoting bilateral communication and cooperation. Both sides took a review on the development of the plan and held a talk over the cooperation prospects on trade, finance, think tank and projects. The priority work of the China and Czech cooperation in the next phase was discussed during the conference.Both sides reached an agreement on enhancing the cooperation on the field of policy coordination, facility connectivity, economic and trade, investment, finance and culture aiming at boosting the economy of both countries and benefiting the people. Almost 100 people from government officials, financial institutions, think tanks  and enterprises of both countries attended the conference.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)