01/17/2024, 09.47
ASIA TODAY
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China: population decline speeds up, lowest ever birth rate

Today's news: in Gaza, a hospital again under attack; In Vietnam first hearing of maxi-trial for "gun attack" in Central Highlands; Indian migrant workers going to Israel will not be entitled to Delhi's social protections; Fourth spill of treated water from Fukushima in February; Istanbul, a fee for foreign visitors to enter Hagia Sophia.

CHINA
For the second consecutive year, there has been a decline in the Chinese population, overtaken in 2023 by India as the largest nation in the world, casting a further shadow on the growth prospects of the world's second largest economy. The overall population is 1.409 billion, a decrease of about 2.08 million from last year. The decline is more than double the 850,000 in 2022. The birth rate has now fallen to 6.39 per 1,000 people, the lowest on record.

GAZA
The Israeli army has carried out attacks (again) near a hospital in the Strip. According to fragmentary information, the military has been operating around a facility in Khan Younis for hours, forcing patients and displaced people to flee. “The hospital is shaking - says a doctor, with sounds of gunshots in the background - and panic is widespread”. Meanwhile, the UN raises the "famine" alarm in Gaza.

VIETNAM
First hearing yesterday for around a hundred people accused in a maxi-trial for "coordinated attacks with firearms" against government offices. The incident dates back to last year in the central plateaus, an area inhabited by ethnic minorities; nine victims, including four policemen. According to the accusation, the attackers aimed at an independent state and risk the death penalty.

INDIA - ISRAEL
Indian migrant workers seeking employment in Israel will not be entitled to the social welfare the government offers to those who go abroad to conflict zones. The Hindu newspaper reports this, citing official documents according to which those concerned will not be able to benefit from "medical coverage or employment guarantees" usually granted by Delhi to fellow citizens heading to the Gulf.

JAPAN
Tepco plans a fourth release of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima plant, scene of the 2011 nuclear accident, in February; a safe procedure for Japan, but strongly criticized by nations in the area such as China and Russia. For Tokyo it is a fundamental step in the dismantling of the plant. At least 7,800 cubic meters will be sent to the Pacific.

TURKEY
Since January 15, foreign tourists have paid 25 euros to enter Hagia Sophia, the former Christian basilica then a museum with Ataturk and converted into a mosque at the behest of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a decision that has raised international criticism, starting from UNESCO. There are now separate entrances for believers and tourists. Turks visiting for religious purposes are exempted, while there is no certain information on non-Turkish Muslims who enter to pray.

RUSSIA - CHINA
As Kommersant informs, electricity exports from Russia to China collapsed by 34% in 2023, over 3 billion kWh, returning to the levels of the 2012-2020 period. Among the causes are the increases in domestic consumption in the regions of the Russian Far East and the continuous failures of Russian structures, especially in the coldest months of the year.

AZERBAIJAN - UAE
27-year-old Gejdar Aliev junior, son of Azerbaijani president Ilham, has begun appearing at public events alongside his father, despite currently having no official position. Nonetheless, there is already talk of "dynastic succession" especially after the reception in Baku in honor of the President of the United Arab Emirates Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahayan with his family.

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