'Where is Peng Shuai?': Australian Open bans t-shirts in support of Chinese tennis player
Today's Headlines: Chinese carries out air maneuvers with 39 military aircraft near Taiwan; Japanese sends aid for Tonga; thaw between Thailand and Saudi Arabia ; Covid infections boom among under-10s in Indian Karnataka; Taliban delegation arrives in Europe; Armenian president resigns.
The organisers of the Australian Open Tennis Championship yesterday prevented some spectators from entering the stands wearing a t-shirt that read "Where is Peng Shuai?". The former Chinese tennis player disappeared in November after reporting sexual violence from a Chinese leader. Questions remain about her personal status.
Taiwanese air force jets took off yesterday to ward off 39 Beijing military aircraft that had entered Taipei's defensive air identification zone. The Chinese carried out the largest air operation since October. For more than a year, China has been carrying out flyovers in the vicinity of Taiwan, which the communist leadership considers a "rebel province".
Japanese military forces left today to deliver aid to Tonga, the Pacific archipelago brought to its knees last week by a massive undersea volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami. According to the Tongan authorities, the volcanic ash and the tidal wave affected 84% of the population (105,000 inhabitants); three people are confirmed dead.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha will visit Saudi Arabia starting tomorrow. This will be the first high-level meeting between the two countries in more than 30 years. Riyadh downgraded diplomatic relations with Bangkok in 1989 after a caretaker with Thai citizenship stole million worth of jewellery from the palace of a Saudi prince.
The Indian state of Karnataka reported a surge in Covid-19 infections among children under 10 years of age. In the first three weeks of January, the total reached 12,800, compared to 376 cases in December and 322 in November.
A Taliban delegation began a three-day meeting with Western government authorities in Norway this morning. This is the first time since its return to power in Kabul in August that the Afghan Islamist movement has held such discussions in Europe. The meetings focus on respect for human rights and the humanitarian situation in the country.
In Vorkuta, a village in the great Russian north infamous for its Stalinist lagers, the local Gulag Museum has assembled an extraordinary collection of artefacts and objects belonging to the prisoners. However, the inhabitants are opposed to the exhibition so as not to revive the memory of those years, and as some citizens have stated, "also because we are returning to the conditions of today's Russia".
Armenian President Armen Sarkisyan resigned from office three years early. The reason: "To promote national unity and not to subject the prestige of the institutions to slander and conspiracy theories". Many were urging the head of state, whose office is only honorary, to intervene in opposition to Prime Minister Nikol Pašinyan, who is highly criticised by the opposition.