11/21/2022, 09.54
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South China Sea: Beijing ship forcibly retrieves rocket debris

Today's headlines: heavy artillery deployed in Iranian Kurdistan; foreign officials argue with Afghan resistance: China appears to relax measures against covid while students locked up on campuses create cardboard animals; Tokaev re-elected president of Kazakhstan with over 80% of the vote.



A Chinese coast guard vessel forcibly recovered a floating object that was being towed by a Philippine ship in the South China Sea. The metal object, presumably the debris of a Chinese rocket, had been spotted 730 metres west of Thitu Island, part of the disputed Spartly Islands. The Chinese ship first attempted to block the passage of the Philippine vessel and then cut the line that was dragging the object.


This morning a 5.6 magnitude earthquake in West Java shook the capital Jakarta. Some buildings were evacuated. Local residents felt tremors and saw buildings shaking but the National Meteorological Agency did not issue tsunami warnings.


President Yoon Suk-yeol suspended his daily press conference after preventing a journalist from boarding the presidential plane and covering the head of state's trip to Southeast Asia. The reporter in question, from broadcaster Mbc, had been accused of publishing 'fake news' and shouted at one of the government aides what they were referring to, without receiving a reply. President Yoon's approval rate dropped this week to 33%.


Signs appeared that China was easing its measures against covid after protests in some cities and on university campuses. Students in the central city of Zhengzhou staged protests against the 'zero covid' policy last week and were emulated by stranded migrant workers in the southern city of Guangzhou. Many university students have created cardboard pets and shared pictures of them on Chinese social media.


According to some sources, Indian and Iranian officials travelled to Tajikistan last week to speak with Afghan resistance leader Ahmad Massoud. In the same days, a meeting was held in Moscow with representatives of various countries in the region to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. The Taliban were not invited because they did not accept the request to create an inclusive government.


According to some humanitarian groups and according to videos circulated on social media yesterday that have not yet been verified, the Iranian Revolution Guards entered the Kurdish city of Mahabad with heavy artillery to quell protests. At least four protesters, including at least one minor, were reportedly killed. Meanwhile, the government arrested two actresses for appearing in public without a veil.


The Azerbaijani TV channel 'Khazar' showed a report on Iran's Islamic propaganda activities in Georgia, with the spread of Shiite cells of the 'Zeyneb' and 'Fatima' groups, which in reality pursue aims of supporting the policies of the government in Tehran, as Vagif Akbarov, First Sheikh of the Administration of Muslims of Georgia, also complains.


The Russians' fears of losing Crimea too can be seen in the process of "evacuation of objects of cultural heritage" that has begun on the peninsula, as revealed by Ukrainian archaeologist Evelina Kravčenko, according to whom "everything is being taken away from museums", packing up paintings and exhibits, including the many archaeological relics.


Kasym-Zomart Tokaev was re-elected president of Kazakhstan with 81.31% of the vote. The other candidates received respectively: Dayrabaev 3.42%, Abden 2.60%, Kazhyken 2.53%, Auesbaev 2.22%, Tursynbekova 2.12%. "Against all" 5.8% of voters voted. 69.44% of those eligible went to the polling stations, the presidents of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan immediately congratulated Tokaev. 

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