China is making marriage easier for prospective newlyweds after decades of demanding blessings from their bosses, but same-sex unions remain outlawed in a land where homosexuals were until recently considered mentally ill. \nUnder new rules taking effect on Oct. 1, couples need only show their ID cards and residency papers and sign a document stating they are not married or related to register, state media said on Tuesday. \nThe regulations waive old requirements forcing people to undergo health examinations and obtain certification of their single status from employers. \n"Certificates from the employers violated, to some extent, the principled policy of the freedom of marriage," the Xinhua news agency quoted civil affairs official Zhang Mingliang, director of the ministry's Department of Grassroots Government Units and Community Development, as saying. \nChina's marriage booklets will also no longer be red, the traditional symbol of good fortune which dominates most joyous occasions. And divorce booklets will cease to be green, now popularly associated with a slang term for the husband of a cheating wife and foreign "green cards" much coveted by Chinese citizens. \nZhang told the Beijing Times that in keeping with international standards, the certificates should lose their "emotional shades." He said the ministry was studying what color they would be. \nMigrant couples will still have to travel to either the spouse's home province to apply to marry or divorce, rather than register in a third place, civil affairs official Wang Hongli told Reuters. \nA database of nuptials between foreigners and Chinese will be launched early next year, it said. \nZhang said couples with AIDS or other infectious diseases could marry -- HIV-positive patients have been barred from doing so in certain parts of the country -- but said same-sex marriages would remain illegal. \nChina's largely closeted gay population, as many as 50-100 million by some experts' estimates, have seen a flurry of breakthroughs. \nThe government struck homosexuality from a list of psychiatric disorders in 2001. Private gay and lesbian wedding ceremonies have drawn limited press attention and created a stir in artistic and intellectual circles. \n"But the new regulations on marriage registration have no special restriction on marriage involving such people," Zhang said in reference to gays.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications