Beijing has issued a new regulation threatening to punish the large numbers of people flocking to the city to petition the government over social injustices, state media reported yesterday. \nShouting slogans, stopping government vehicles and surrounding offices of the Communist Party and the government are now considered illegal and punishable, the Xinhua news agency cited the regulation saying. \nAnd in an indication of growing alarm over a recent spate of suicides and attempted suicides by petitioners who lose hope, the government said those people would also be punished. \n"Anyone who seriously violates social order by committing suicide, self-immolation and other extreme activities such as harming themselves should be stopped by public security officers and should be subject to legal responsibilities," Xinhua cited the regulation saying. \nBeijing authorities are increasing alarmed over the rising numbers of petitioners coming to the city, some of whom have set themselves on fire in central Tiananmen Square. \nPreviously, police handled petitioners by keeping a close eye on them or discouraging them from lingering in the capital after submitting their petitions to offices handling complaints. \nThe latest move backs up a leading human rights group's claim that authorities are taking a harder line against the increasing number of people travelling to the capital to petition the government over social injustices. \nMany of the complaints involve forced evictions, which have become common throughout China as local officials cash in on a property boom by evicting millions of residents to sell the land to rich developers. \nNew York-based Human Rights in China has documented about a dozen people who recently were sent to detention halls or labor camps for up to two and a half years by Shanghai city. \nLocal governments rarely address people's complaints about wrongdoing by local officials. \nCourts are controlled by the government, leaving people with grievances no choice but to travel to Beijing to seek help -- a tradition dating back centuries when Chinese journeyed to the capital believing the emperor's court was the last hope. \nThe Xinhua report said the number of social problems has risen with China's economic reform and development, and therefore the number of petitioners increased. \nThe regulation says police should stop petitioners who stage protests and if persuading does not work, forcefully take them away. \nSuch people should then be sent back where they came from to be "educated and dealt with" by the local Communist Party committee and government. \nLast month during an annual parliament meeting, thousands of petitioners were rounded up and kept in a gymnasium in Beijing.
South Korea yesterday said that it would lift COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings next week as the country prepares to switch to a “living with COVID-19” strategy amid rising vaccination levels. A new panel established this week is drawing up a plan for a gradual lifting of curbs, aiming to lift restrictions and reopen the economy next month on the expectation that 80 percent of the adult population will be fully vaccinated. From Monday, the South Korean government is to allow gatherings of up to four unvaccinated people and ease operating-hour restrictions imposed on venues such as restaurants, cafes and cinemas, South
Japan’s Mount Aso erupted yesterday, spewing a giant column of ash thousands of meters into the sky as hikers rushed away from the popular tourist spot. No injuries were immediately reported after the late-morning eruption in southwest Japan, which sent rocks flying in a dramatic blast captured by nearby CCTV cameras. People were warned not to approach the volcano as it ejected hot gas and ash as high as 3,500m, and sent stones tumbling down its grassy slopes. Authorities were checking if any hikers had been trapped or injured, officials told local media, as TV footage showed dozens of vehicles and tour buses
‘AVOIDABLE SITUATION’: After being tortured in his home country, a Sri Lankan and his family are at risk of deportation from the UK, despite his academic fellowship A scientist conducting groundbreaking research into renewable energy is facing deportation with his family to Sri Lanka, where he was tortured, after receiving contradictory information about his case from the British Home Office. Nadarajah Muhunthan, 47, his wife, Sharmila, 42, and their three children, aged 13, nine and five, went to the UK in 2018 after Muhunthan, who is working on thin-film photovoltaic devices used to generate solar power, was given a prestigious Commonwealth Rutherford fellowship. The award allowed him to reside to the UK for two years to research and develop the technology. His wife obtained a job caring for
A top global law firm is no longer representing the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in seeking the removal of a Tiananmen memorial from its campus after it came under heavy criticism in the US for helping China purge dissent, the Washington Post reported. Mayer Brown is the latest international company to face pressure over how its actions in China contradict its more progressive statements in the West. The 8m high Pillar of Shame sculpture by Danish artist Jens Galschiot has stood on HKU’s campus since 1997, the year the city was handed back to China. It features 50 anguished faces and tortured