12/30/2021, 10.10
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Homage to Li Wenliang two years after Wuhan 'mysterious pneumonia'

Today's headlines: Japanese expatriates in Taiwan are studying escape routes in the event of a Beijing attack on the island; Omicron alert, Riyadh reimposes social distancing measures at Mecca and Medina; on Christmas Eve, Vietnamese authorities attacked dozens of Montagnard Christians; the Russian Duma introduces a committee for the defence of Christian values. 


Thousands of Chinese Internet users today posted messages in honour of ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, two years after he reported - later censored by local and central officials - to have suffered a "mysterious pneumonia" in Wuhan, the source of the Covid-19 pandemic. He was hospitalised on 12 January 2020 because of the infection, which killed him on 7 February. His death caused widespread commotion. 


Japanese living on the island are studying an escape plan in case of an attack by the Beijing army. Tokyo has pledged to guarantee the safety of all its citizens, while a Japanese bank has set up an emergency network. The workers, some 19,000 in number, are expected to leave Taiwan by ship along the eastern coast. 


Pakistan has bought a full squadron of 25 Chinese J-10C multi-role fighters in response to India's purchase of Rafale aircraft. There was immediate criticism from the opposition, which claimed that the fighter planes made by Beijing were no match for the French ones. Afnan Ullah Khan said that investments were needed in the construction of the Azm project and in improving the capabilities of the JF-17 aircraft. 


With the advance of Omicron, as of today Saudi Arabia is re-introducing social distancing measures in the Great Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. Faithful and pilgrims engaged in Umra will have to follow defined routes in the two places. The obligation to wear masks, a strict protocol for access permits and anti-contagious health regulations are back. 


Singapore and China yesterday signed 14 new agreements at the 17th joint meeting of the bilateral cooperation council (Jcbc), an annual high-level forum. The memorandums of understanding (MoUs) range from finance, trade and customs information exchange, competition law and governance to urban planning and maritime security. 


In the days leading up to Christmas, Vietnamese authorities attacked at least 60 Montagnard Christians belonging to the Evangelical Church of Christ in the south-central province of Phu Yen. Officers confiscated a banner dedicated to the festival and beat up Pastor Y Cuon Nie while he was making preparations. Hanoi has long accused the community of wanting to overthrow the government. 


An inter-party committee will be formed in the Duma "to defend Christian values", according to Interfax. The aim is to unite the efforts of deputies from all groups in legislative work in accordance with the principles of the Russian Orthodox Church and in defence of traditional values, with the blessing of Patriarch Kirill. The group is expected to be led by deputy chairman Petr Tolstoy.


Protests in Kazakhstan by shopkeepers and owners of public establishments against the use of Ashyq, a compulsory application for checking customers' Green Passes, which is also used by the State to check the tax practices of shopkeepers. The latter are starting to receive threatening messages from the tax authorities, because the app's check-ins do not match their tax receipts.



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