Blocking students is not the answer to Chinese spying in America

ON SEPTEMBER 9TH a Chinese international student at Rice University in Houston found a nasty surprise waiting for her at her apartment. While she was out, someone had scrawled the word “spy” in capital letters across her front door, and again on the knocker. She was “pretty scared,” says Iris Li, a childhood friend and fellow student in America who shared the pictures online. “She doesn’t feel safe in that community."

Why women in England and Wales are having abortions earlier

Within a week of discovering she was pregnant in late April, Sylvie (not her real name) knew she wanted an abortion. The pandemic had made her the sole breadwinner, and she had a young daughter to look after. She called Marie Stopes, a charity, which arranged a phone consultation with a representative from BPAS, another charity, at her local hospital. Four days later a packet of medicine arrived through the letterbox, and she terminated her pregnancy at home with the support of her partner. Abortion is a “horrible thing,” she says. But “in terms of how it was handled, it couldn’t have gone better”.

Why China’s divorce law is so controversial

Under China's new civil code, adopted in May, couples will have to wait 30 days between registering their intent to split for good and actually doing so. Nothing wrong with that, some might argue—many other countries have similar “cooling-off” requirements. On matters related to marriage, Chinese law is still remarkably liberal. Yet weeks after the restriction was introduced (it will take effect in January), many netizens remain furious. It will, they say, imperil the lives of women.

Many Hong Kongers are considering emigration

In September 2018, Matthew Torne, a British filmmaker, released the third in his trilogy of documentaries about Hong Kong. “Last Exit To Kai Tak” is a bittersweet chronicle of five Hong Kongers who, after the disappointment of the pro-democracy “umbrella” protests of 2014, grapple with what is left for them in the city, as its liberties are chipped away by an increasingly bellicose Chinese government. The burning question, as one character puts it, is this: “revolution or emigration?”

A Chinese trans woman wins a surprising legal victory

In many ways , Gao Moumou was lucky. She had a good job as a product director in Beijing for Dangdang, an e-commerce firm, which allowed her to save enough money for her gender-reassignment surgery. Her office gave her time off to recover, but on September 6th, 2018, less than three months after her surgery, Dangdang fired Ms Gao, citing her “continuous absenteeism”. Ms Gao thinks the real reason was transphobia. In January this year a court in Beijing surprised many by agreeing with her.

Canadian courts test the “rough sex” defence

In a trial in Canada later this year, one of the questions is whether Cindy Gladue liked rough sex. Specifically, if she liked it rough enough to consent to digital penetration that tore an 11cm wound in her vaginal wall. Ms Gladue bled to death, so she cannot testify. Bradley Barton, charged with her manslaughter, says her death was a tragic accident. Mr Barton’s case, a retrial, will be heard in November. The verdict in another case is expected on July 31st.

The challenges of reducing America’s jail population

It might have been the most polite bank robbery in New York’s history. At half past five in the afternoon on January 10th a man in a Chicago Bulls baseball cap walked into a Chase Bank branch in Brooklyn and handed a note to the teller. “This is a robbery,” the message said, in handwritten red ink. “Big bills only.” He walked out with $1,000. The man accused of the heist is Gerod Woodberry. Less than four hours before the Brooklyn incident, Mr Woodberry had been released from police custody after being

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.
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