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China lashes out, Hong Kong clamps down

Plus more news and notes from around the world


Chinese President Xi Jinping (center) presides over the opening session of the Chinese National People’s Congress in Beijing.

China lashes out, Hong Kong clamps down

CHINA: Beijing’s National People’s Congress, delayed since March, opens on Friday as the government of President Xi Jinping lashes out at those who blame China for aiding the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, President Donald Trump announced he may permanently freeze U.S. funding to the World Health Organization and reconsider its membership unless the WHO enacts reforms.

On Tuesday, WHO member states passed a resolution calling for an independent investigation of the international response to the coronavirus, including its origins.

Early reports showed the Chinese government putting secrecy and order ahead of openly confronting the deadly virus, while the WHO heaped praise on Chinese officials in a bid to keep it engaged and funding the organization.

TAIWAN tried to warn global health officials about the coronavirus threat as early as Dec. 31, but the WHO ignored the memo.

HONG KONG: A sweeping new national security law, imposed by Chinese officials who bypassed Hong Kong’s legislature, criminalizes dissent and likely will ignite more demonstrations. Citing coronavirus restrictions, authorities also have banned an annual Tiananmen Square anniversary gathering on June 4.

BRAZIL: Global coronavirus cases surpassed 5 million on Wednesday, with Latin America overtaking the United States and Europe in reporting the largest portion of new daily cases worldwide. Rapid spread in Brazil has overwhelmed the country’s healthcare system, with at least 116 nurses dying of COVID-19.

BRITAIN: The United States will receive about 300 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine, pledging $1.2 billion toward production that will allow Americans to take part in late-stage clinical trials. The vaccine may be available in September.

SPAIN: Believers across Europe say they face undue hurdles as many European Union countries have not included places of worship in their roadmaps for easing coronavirus restrictions.

INDIA: Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) took a direct hit from the powerful Cyclone Amphan, with at least 84 people dead and power outages affecting millions across India’s West Bengal state and coastal Bangladesh.

Tennessee Pastor Bryan Nerren, detained for seven months in India on charges of evading duty payment, returned to the United States on Wednesday. Authorities claimed Nerren did not pay duty on $40,000 he carried for conferences he was attending on behalf of the Asian Children’s Education Fellowship, a nonprofit group he heads. Nerren said he was never informed of a duty and openly declared the funds at customs, where he was asked if the funds would support Christian causes.

IRAQ: Nearly six years after Islamic State fighters organized the capture and displacement of Yazidi families, investigators with the Commission for International Justice and Accountability are amassing evidence to prosecute ISIS figures for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide—including Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, believed to be the successor to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS leader killed by U.S. special forces last year.

BURUNDI: Voters turned out on Wednesday without taking coronavirus protections to replace an autocratic president who has governed the central African nation for 15 years.

UNITED STATES: Our nine-year space launch drought is about to end. Two astronauts blast off to the International Space Station next Wednesday aboard a SpaceX Falcon rocket, a historic first as a private company rather than NASA sends them into orbit. Since the closure of the space shuttle program in 2011, U.S. astronauts have flown Russian rockets from Kazakhstan to reach the orbiting space station.

NOTE: No Globe Trot on Monday, as Memorial Day marks a time to remember those who’ve died in wars and frontline healthcare workers who have given their lives treating patients with COVID-19.

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Mindy Belz

Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine’s first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run From ISIS With Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C.

@MindyBelz

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JerryM

The WHO, I understand, agreed to a review but without any real teeth.