The shock resurgence in domestic infections has rattled China, where the disease emerged late last year but had largely been tamed through severe restrictions on movement that were later emulated across the globe.
It also gives a bleak insight into the difficulties the world will face in conquering COVID-19 — even as Europe prepares for the summer holiday season after an encouraging drop in contagion, with some countries set to welcome visitors from elsewhere on the continent from Monday.
Of the 57 new cases logged by Chinese authorities, 36 were domestic infections in the capital, where a large wholesale food market at the centre of the outbreak has been closed and nearby housing estates put under lockdown.
“The meat sellers have had to close. This disease is really scary,” said a fruit and vegetable trader surnamed Sun at another central Beijing market, adding there were fewer customers than normal.
Others were more sanguine. “As long as you wear a face mask, it should be fine… Anyway, I have to buy food, right?” said shopper Song Weiming.
At least 429,000 people worldwide have died from the respiratory illness, nearly halfway through a year in which countless lives have been upended as the pandemic ravages the global economy.
The total number of confirmed cases has doubled to 7.7 million in slightly over a month and the disease is now spreading most rapidly in Latin America, where it is threatening healthcare systems and sparking political turmoil.
Brazil has the second-highest number of virus deaths after the United States, surpassing Britain’s toll, and the Chilean health minister resigned on Saturday amid a furore over the country’s true number of fatalities.
There is still no treatment for COVID-19, but pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca said it has agreed to supply an alliance of European countries with up to 400 million doses of a possible vaccine.
German government sources told AFP a vaccine could be developed by the end of the year.
– Europe reopens –
Many European nations are further lifting painful lockdowns that have saved lives and forced caseloads down, but have also withered economies and caused misery for millions.
The EU has recommended that member states fully reopen their frontiers with each other on June 15, but the border reopenings have been far from harmoniously coordinated.
Some like Poland have done so already, with people from other European Union countries allowed to visit, and Germany said it would end land border checks on Monday.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis travelled to picturesque Santorini island on Saturday to open his country’s tourism season.
“Greece is ready to welcome tourists this summer by putting safety and health as our number one priority,” he said in English in front of a spectacular sunset.
France has said it will gradually reopen to countries outside the borderless Schengen zone from July. French President Emmanuel Macron is set to give a speech on Sunday, in which he will detail plans to further relax virus restrictions.
In another joyful return to semi-normality, football superstar Lionel Messi took to the pitch again in Spain as Barcelona resumed their La Liga title challenge and thumped Real Mallorca 4-0 in an empty stadium.
Live sport also returned on Saturday to New Zealand, which has gone 22 days without new coronavirus cases, as 20,000 rugby fans watched the Otago Highlanders edge the Waikato Chiefs.
But even in the much-awaited global sporting revival, there are wobbles — Australian rugby league officials postponed a top-level game on Sunday hours before kick-off due to a coronavirus scare.
The World Health Organization said this week the pandemic is accelerating in Africa, and Botswana’s capital Gaborone was locked down Saturday after new cases were detected.
And in the US, which has seen the most COVID-19 deaths with over 115,000, more than a dozen states — including populous Texas and Florida — reported their highest-ever daily case totals in recent days.
The rise comes as huge anti-racism protests rage across America and the world, with many demonstrators wearing masks to protect against the spread of the virus.
Xi-Biden Call Analysis: Cooperation Should be Based Upon Mutual Respect
In the first phone conversation between the leaders of the world’s two biggest economies in seven months, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday morning had a “candid, in-depth and extensive strategic communication and exchanges” with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden, according to a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
“On the basis of respecting each other’s core concerns and properly managing differences, the relevant departments of the two countries may continue their engagement and dialogue to advance coordination and cooperation on climate change, COVID-19 response and economic recovery as well as on major international and regional issues,” Xi told Biden.
White House officials said Biden initiated the 90-minute phone call, which is only the second of this kind since the U.S. president took office.
There had been high expectations for Biden to improve bilateral relations ever since he replaced former President Donald Trump in January.
Biden’s China journey four decades on
Biden came to China in 1979 as a member of the first delegation the U.S. Congress sent to China. The then senator said in a speech that China’s development was good for the United States.
He visited China again in 2011, and wrote in a New York Times op-ed that “a successful China can make our country [U.S.] more prosperous, not less.”
“On issues from global security to global economic growth, we share common challenges and responsibilities – and we have incentives to work together,” read the article titled “China’s Rise Isn’t Our Demise.”
In his first phone call with Xi on the eve of the Chinese New Year in February this year, Biden sent his greetings to the Chinese people. He said he was prepared to have candid and constructive dialogue with China in the spirit of mutual respect and to improve mutual understanding and avoid miscommunication and miscalculation.
Yet such goodwill failed to match up with the actions, according to Yuyuantantian, a public WeChat account that focuses on current affairs. And hostility has been particularly evident in the U.S. Congress.
In recent months, there have been more China-related bills in the U.S. Congress than ever before, with more than a dozen in July alone, most of which recommended the adoption of opposing or restrictive policies against China.
The U.S. has made a major strategic miscalculation on China, said Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, as quoted in the Yuyuantantian article. “It mistakenly takes China as a major strategic competitor and believes whatever China does is aimed at undermining the U.S. leadership and dominating the international order.”
Xi has said China and the United States will have different views on some issues, but the key is to respect each other and treat each other as equals. But the U.S. has yet to learn to do that, according to Yuyuantantian.
‘Whether China, U.S. can handle their relationship well bears on the future of the world’
China and the United States are respectively the biggest developing country and the biggest developed country, whether they can handle their relationship well bears on the future of the world, and it is a question of the century to which the two countries must provide a good answer, Xi said in the Friday phone conversation.
The two countries should bring relations back to the right track of stable development as soon as possible for the good of the people in both countries and around the world, he added.
How to get China-U.S. relations back on track has become a “must-solve problem,” Yuyuantantian commented, adding that the ball is now in the U.S. court.
Washington is gradually losing its reputation all around the world, the public account said. “If it really wants cooperation, it has to ‘get off its high horse,’ face the reality and start an open dialogue with China,” it added.
Through the lens: How 20 Years of Conflict Since 9/11 Changed Afghanistan
The Afghanistan war ended just as abruptly as it had begun. Two decades ago, the September 11 terrorist attacks led the U.S. to formulate its controversial counter-terrorism policy, including its longest war in history – the war in Afghanistan.
Twenty years later, the mountainous country nestled in the heartland of Asia has once again come to a crossroads as the U.S. withdrew its troops, with the Taliban reclaiming the power they lost two decades ago.
Afghanistan has long been a battlefield for global powers, but it has never been conquered, hence its moniker – the “Graveyard of Empires.”
In the series “Through the lens: Afghanistan 2001-2021,” we dive into the scars the war has left on the country, and the fear, wrath and resilience of the Afghan people, in eight episodes.
The September 11 attacks claimed some 3,000 lives, making it the deadliest attack in U.S. history.
The U.S. military invaded the country, already war-plagued and impoverished, in the name of the “war on terror.”
In decades of war and destitution, opium poppy plantation and production have become a major source of income for local farmers. “Either Afghanistan destroys opium, or opium will destroy Afghanistan,” former Afghan President Hamid Karzai once said.
In the protracted war in Afghanistan, no one suffered more than Afghan civilians. Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee from homes with no shelter and rarely any food.
Wars after wars have made migration a norm for the Afghan people. As of 2021, Afghanistan is the third largest source of refugees in the world, with the number of Afghan refugees standing at 2.6 million. Domestically, 4 million internally displaced persons are still in temporary camps.
In the capital, Kabul, there are only two kinds of people – the rich and the poor.
On April 14, Biden announced the U.S. troop withdrawal would be completed by September 11, marking the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that sparked the invasion. In the months that followed, the country witnessed massive chaos.
How the new Afghan government deals with the wide range of social, political and economic issues will determine how an Afghanistan under the Taliban will be received by the Afghan people and the world.
Editors: Zeng Ziyi, Zhao Yue, Wang Xiaonan, Yu Jing, Zhong Xia, Du Junzhi
Images designed by Liu Shaozhen
Graphics by Yang Yiren
Producer: Wang Xiaonan
Xi Jinping Urges ‘True Multilateralism’ in World’s ‘Daunting’ Economic Recovery from COVID-19
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday said the world economy is undergoing a “daunting recovery” which requires “true multilateralism” in the face of fresh COVID-19 flare-ups.
“We are ready to work with all parties to uphold true multilateralism, advocate trust and harmony, promote win-win cooperation, and march with firm steps toward the goal of building a community with a shared future for mankind,” Xi said at the opening ceremony of the plenary session of the sixth Eastern Economic Forum via video link from Beijing.
The forum – held in Russia every year since 2015 – has the goal of promoting multilateral cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Last year’s session was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the speech, Xi called for the international community to unite. “We need to intensify cooperation in vaccine research, development and production, provide more public goods to the international community,” he said.
The Chinese president also voiced opposition to any sort of politicization of COVID-19 vaccines and origins-tracing.
Extra efforts for mutually-beneficial cooperation
“We need to redouble our efforts to advance mutually-beneficial cooperation,” Xi said at the opening ceremony.
He called for the deepening of collaboration between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union in areas including digital economy and climate change.
The Chinese president also urged the group to embrace a “common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security” by “narrowing differences” and “building consensus through dialogue and exchanges.”
As Friday marks the 76th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War, Xi also called for the defense of the victory’s outcomes.
“The international community must defend firmly the victorious outcomes of World War II, safeguard the truth of history, and stay committed to taking history as a mirror to open up a brighter future,” Xi said.
(Cover: Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the opening ceremony of the sixth Eastern Economic Forum via video link, September 3, 2021. /Xinhua)
Politics1 year ago
Electricity Tariff Hike: Review Is A Painful Adjustment – President Buhari
Politics1 year ago
Party Crisis: Progressives Governors’ Forum DG Calls For Constitutional Review
Politics1 year ago
PGF Boss, Lukman Denies Media Report of Division Among APC Governors
Investigation1 year ago
NDDC Spent 1.3trn Between 2015 And 2019 – Senate Report
Politics2 years ago
Ignore Tinubu’s Comment, He Cannot Speak for South-West – Activist
News3 years ago
Armed Forces Need N9bn Annually For Shoes, Boots, Says DG Defence Research
Politics1 year ago
South-South Zone Is Completely PDP, Says Wike Ahead Of Edo Election
Politics1 year ago
Edo Refinery, Other Projects Will Earn Gov. Obaseki Second Term – Gideon Ikhine