Why Taiwan is not recognised on the international stage

THERE IS an island 180km off the coast of China. Its democratically elected leaders say they run a country called the Republic of China. To the Communist government in Beijing the island is “Taiwan, China” or “Taiwan Province, China”. International organisations, desperate not to offend either side, struggle to name it at all—many opt for the deliberately ambiguous “Chinese Taipei”, after its capital city. To most it is just “Taiwan”,

Why Britain’s public conveniences are anything but

Antoinette, a rough sleeper in the Finsbury Park area of north London, doesn’t feel safe going to the toilet. The one public toilet nearby is often dirty, she says, and people take drugs in there. A pub near the underground station allows non-customers in, but men use it for another kind of relief. She prefers a branch of Costa, a coffee chain, but the door requires a passcode that is handed out only to customers. So she relies on friendly baristas slipping her the code.

Despite a tragedy, children continue to compete in Thai boxing bouts

The death of Anucha Thasako was supposed to change everything. After several sharp blows to the head during a Thai boxing bout in 2018, the scrawny 13-year-old fell to the floor, unconscious. The referee rushed to his side, to no avail. There was no doctor in attendance. Anucha died soon afterwards from a brain haemorrhage. He had been boxing since the age of eight, and had taken part in around 170 fights.

China’s government finds surprising support for same-sex marriage

A romance and two years of dating, Emma and her girlfriend, Han, have tied the knot (see picture). They invited about 100 people to their wedding on January 18th in the south-western city of Kunming. It involved a ceremony, with the two women in matching white wedding dresses, followed by a banquet and an after-party. Emma says she was both excited and nervous. The wedding meant “commitment and responsibility” and “the courage to spend the rest of my life with the one”. She is looking forward to

What is at stake in the Taiwan election?

TAIWAN’S VOTERS go to the polls on January 11th to elect their president and parliament (called the Legislative Yuan). If opinion surveys are any guide, the current president, Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which supports eventual independence, will beat Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang (KMT), which advocates closer ties with China. That would rule out any near-term prospect of a thaw in relations across the Taiwan Strait.

China pushes Uighurs on to catwalk to erase native dress

Uighur women have been coerced into appearing in fashion shows and beauty pageants to make them “look more Chinese”, according to a research paper into a government initiative. About a million Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention camps in Xinjiang but some women who live outside the camps have been encouraged to take part in fashion shows and “longest-hair competitions” organised by the Chinese government under its Project Beauty initiative.

Beijing turns to thugs to silence Hong Kong protest leaders

A brutal hammer attack on a prominent Hong Kong activist has raised fears that gangs backed by Beijing are trying to stop pro-democracy demonstrations by targeting protest leaders for “political assassination”. The last time Beijing faced a mass uprising on Chinese territory, in Tiananmen Square in 1989, it sent tanks to crush dissenters. Today, in Hong Kong, with the world watching, protesters claim different tactics are being employed.

Carrie Lam forced to abandon annual speech after heckling

Carrie Lam’s annual policy address was scuppered this morning by protests from pro-democratic legislators. Hong Kong’s chief executive had been scheduled to give her speech inside the Legislative Council at 11am. However, she was forced twice to leave because of the chaos in the chamber. Her speech was eventually delayed to 12.15pm and given via video link. Several members of the legislative council were thrown out by its president for being unruly.
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