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Beijing Lifts Lockdowns As Virus Cases Reduce

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Beijing lifted several lockdowns imposed to control a fresh coronavirus outbreak and reported just three new cases in the city on Wednesday, raising hopes that the cluster had been brought under control.

The Chinese capital had closed off dozens of residential compounds and carried out mass testing last month after hundreds of infections raised fears of a virus resurgence.

But five residential communities that have had no new virus cases during a control period were released from lockdown on Tuesday, state media reported, as the city relaxed curbs.

Seven other Beijing communities saw their lockdowns lifted last Friday.

The vast majority of cases have been linked to the sprawling Xinfadi market that supplies about 80 percent of Beijing’s fresh produce and meat, sparking concern about food safety.

State media outlet China News reported that the lockdown of five communities in the hard-hit Fengtai district was lifted, and disease control experts would propose a plan for removing restrictions on another seven in the area surrounding the market.

But the report said even the communities freed from lockdown would have to “strictly implement closed management”, with non-residents unable to enter the compounds.

Communities will also issue entry passes for residents.

China had largely brought the deadly outbreak under control before the new Beijing cluster was detected.

The government has since imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people in neighbouring Hebei province to contain a fresh cluster there, adopting the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the epicentre of Wuhan city earlier this year.

However, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiology expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters in June that the new outbreak had been “brought under control”.

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Report: U.S. Wealth Division Leads to Serious Human Rights Issues

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The China Society for Human Rights Studies on Tuesday published an article laying bare the harsh reality of the serious division between the rich and the poor in the United States under the superficial of its overall prosperity.

The growing division between the rich and the poor in the United States has further highlighted and exacerbated the existing social and economic inequality within the U.S. society, reducing people at the bottom to a more difficult situation, read the article titled “The Growing Division Between the Rich and the Poor Leading to Increasingly Severe Human Rights Issues in the United States.”

The wealth of 0.1 percent of the richest U.S. family equals to the sum of wealth owned by the 90 percent families from the bottom combined, noted the report, citing comments from a UN Special Rapporteur who said the United States has the widest gap between the rich and the poor among all Western countries.

“The American Dream was rapidly transforming into the “American Illusion,” said the rapporteur.

A person sleeps on a bench in the Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, the U.S., May 26, 2020. /AP

American illusion

The growing division between the rich and the poor have led the American people into grave human rights disasters, the report pointed out, noting low-income groups are faced with the threat of hunger and their equal opportunities for education are also eroded due to poverty.

According to the report, around 40 million U.S. citizens live in poverty, and among them, 18.5 million live in extreme poverty. Nearly half of U.S. households are unable to maintain an adequate standard of living and more than five million U.S. citizens live in a state comparable to that of the absolutely poor in the third world.

The division also caused the “health gap” in the U.S. as those who lost their medical insurance due to poverty cannot afford medical expenses also have shorter life expectancy and are more likely to die of illness, said the report.

The report attributed the cause of the division to “the so-called U.S. democratic system” which “deprives its citizens of economic, social, and cultural rights.”

Money politics

It further revealed that the U.S. government lacks the political will to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, stating the nature of “money politics” of the U.S. political system.

“The capital interest has turned the U.S. government into a spokesman for the rich,” said the report.

It suggested that the division between the rich and the poor in the U.S. will be a stable, long-term trend as substantial reversal of this situation is unlikely in the near future.

“The severe negative impact it has brought on the enjoyment and realization of the human rights of the U.S. people will continue to worsen,” the report concluded.

(With input from Xinhua)

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Bill Gates Calls for COVID-19 Meds to go to People Who Need Them, Not ‘Highest Bidder’

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Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates called for COVID-19 drugs and an eventual vaccine to be made available to countries and people that need them most, not to the “highest bidder,” saying relying on market forces would prolong the deadly pandemic.

“If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder, instead of to the people and the places where they are most needed, we’ll have a longer, more unjust, deadlier pandemic,” Gates, founder of Microsoft, said in a video released on Saturday during a virtual COVID-19 conference organized by the International AIDS Society.

“We need leaders to make these hard decisions about distributing based on equity, not just on market-driven factors.”

With hundreds of vaccine projects under way and governments in Europe and the United States investing billions of dollars in research, trials and manufacturing, there is concern that richer nations could scoop up promising medicines against the new coronavirus, leaving developing countries empty-handed.

The European Commission and the World Health Organization have warned of an unhealthy competition in the scramble for a medicine seen as key to saving lives and resolving economic chaos sowed by virus, while some officials in Washington have indicated they would seek to prioritize U.S. residents.

Gates said efforts begun two decades ago to battle the global HIV/AIDS crisis, when countries came together to eventually make medicines available in most of the world including Africa, can serve as a model for making COVID-19 medicines widely accessible.

As examples he pointed to the 2002-created Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the U.S.-based President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief to get medicines to people to combat some of the world’s deadliest diseases as examples.

“One of the best lessons in the fight against HIV/AIDS is the importance of building this large, fair global distribution system to get the drugs out to everyone,” Gates said.

(Cover image: Microsoft founder Bill Gates attends the 10th World Health Summit 2018 event in Berlin, Germany, October 16, 2018. /Reuters)

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China-US Relations: Online Forum Held to Discuss Future Cooperation Between Beijing And Washington

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The China-US Think Tanks and Media Online Forum aims to help construct mutual respect, trust and cooperation between Beijing and Washington. The forum was held online this morning here in Beijing. Lu Sirui has more.

More than 30 top diplomats and experts from across the world have met online to discuss the direction of China-US relations.

Ties between the two nations have become increasingly tense, as COVID-19 continues to rage across the globe. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed the pandemic on China, leading to strained relations.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says China is still willing to strengthen China-US relations with good will and sincerity. He delivered a speech during the online forum, saying the two sides should keep channels open for more dialogue.

WANG YI Chinese Foreign Minister “The China-US relationship is one of the world’s most important. There needs to be more positive messages and energy from it. I hope the US will develop more objective and cool-headed perceptions about China, and a more rational and pragmatic China policy.”

The forum discussed the issues and challenges facing the two countries, as well as ways to keep both sides on the right track for better bilateral relations. LU SIRUI, CGTN, BEIJING.

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