Good Morning. We’re covering Singapore’s testy reopening, rising tensions over Taiwan, and China’s horrific custody battle.
Singapore’s uncertain reopening
Vaccines were considered a city-state ticket to a return to normalcy. But despite 83 percent vaccination rate, Singapore is not opening up.
Instead, the government reinstated restrictions and urged people to work from home. For many residents, there was a sense of whiplash and troubling questions about what it would take to reopen if vaccines weren’t enough.
But even though almost all infections, 98.4 percent, present mild or no symptoms, the country is not accustomed to large outbreaks. This is a grim case study for countries like New Zealand and Australia trying to transition from a zero-Covid strategy.
Background: The initial handling of the coronavirus in Singapore was widely considered successful. It closed its borders, tested and detected aggressively and was one of the first countries in Asia to order vaccines.
What will happen next: A vision of how the pandemic could spread in Singapore involves wearing face masks, limited travel and social distancing, perhaps until 2024.
Worth quoting: “In a way, we are victims of our own success, because we have achieved as close to zero Covid as we can and a very low mortality rate,” said an infectious disease expert. “That’s why we want to maintain the position at the top of the class, and that’s very hard to do.”
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
China exerts power on Taiwan
The self-governing island has come at the center of US-China tensions. The rattle of the saber between the superpowers could ignite a military conflict and eventually reshape the regional order.
“No one should underestimate the determination, strong will and powerful ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping said on Saturday.
China’s growing military has made victory conceivable, but some believe it is inevitable. The economic and diplomatic setbacks for Beijing will be shocking.
Analysis: America wants to thwart any aggression, but it has seen its military dominance in Asia eroding. In October 2020, as the Pentagon simulated a war game, the US team fought against the new Chinese weapons.
Brinkmanship: Many Chinese officials believe US power has faltered as the country grapples with a politically divisive and economically devastating pandemic.
China’s bitter custody battle
China has outlawed a practice in which parents kidnap and hide their own children to gain sole custody. Over the years, thousands of children have been kidnapped and hidden.
Kidnapping increased with the divorce rate. According to an estimate, fathers are behind 60 percent of the fears. Kidnappings mostly involve sons under the age of 6, reflecting the traditional emphasis on boys as bearers of the family name.
Background: Chinese custody battles are notoriously acrimonious. Courts rarely grant joint custody, and judges often choose to keep children in their current living environment. Some kidnappings are part of a wider pattern of domestic violence, which affects one in three families.
Numbers: In 2019, experts estimate that parents hid about 80,000 children. Many say the figures are the most likely.
Worth quoting: “It’s almost become a game – whoever has physical custody, has legal custody,” said one lawyer. “It’s free for everyone.”
Asia and Middle East
In Rwanda’s capital, Milk Bars are a popular place to come together, reminisce about rural life, and enjoy a favorite national drink. “When you drink milk,” said a motorcycle taxi driver who drinks at least three liters a day, “your head is always straight and your thoughts are right.”
The status of the vaccine mandate in the US
- Vaccine Rules. On August 23, the FDA granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNtech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and older, paving the way for mandates in both the public and private sectors. Such a mandate is legally permitted and upheld in court challenges.
- Colleges and Universities. More than 400 colleges and universities require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Nearly all are in states that voted for President Biden.
- School. California became the first state to issue a vaccine mandate for all teachers and announced plans to add the COVID-19 vaccine as a requirement to attend school, which could begin as early as next fall. Los Angeles already has a vaccine mandate for public school students ages 12 and older that begins Nov. 21. New York City’s mandate for teachers and staff, which took effect on October 4 after being delayed due to legal challenges, appears to have taken thousands of last-minute shots.
- Hospitals and Medical Centers. Many hospitals and major health systems require employees to be vaccinated. Mandates for health care workers in California and New York state appear to have forced thousands of holdouts to take the shot.
- indoor activities. New York City requires workers and customers to show proof of at least one dose of COVID-19 for indoor dining, gyms, entertainment and performances. 4, Los Angeles will require most people to provide proof of full vaccination to enter a range of indoor businesses, including restaurants, gyms, museums, movie theaters and salons, in one of the nation’s strictest vaccine regulations .
- at the federal level. on 9 september, President Biden announced a vaccine mandate for the vast majority of federal workers. The order will apply to employees of the Executive Branch, including members of the White House and all federal agencies and the armed services.
- NSThat private sector. Mr Biden has mandated that all companies with more than 100 employees be required to be vaccinated or tested weekly, helping to push for new corporate vaccination policies. Some companies, such as United Airlines and Tyson Foods, already had mandates in place before Mr Biden’s announcement.
art and ideas
India’s Virtual Art Market
The pandemic hit India hard. For the past 18 months, the country has been battling a lockdown, an internal-migration crisis and a growing outbreak.
But the coronavirus has also forced the art scene to rethink and recalculate. Some artists, often unable to go to their studio to produce larger pieces, work with smaller formats or play with different materials. In an effort to grow further, galleries collaborate with digital exhibitions and open viewing rooms online.
Aparajita Jain, who co-leads a leading contemporary art gallery in New Delhi, said, “There were no art fairs, no glamour, and we were reduced to the most important part of the art world, the task of making art. ” .
It has worked. A crop of new collectors have discovered galleries and artists through online connections, and have started shopping with enthusiasm. Since the start of the pandemic, the sale of Indian modern and contemporary art has repeatedly set records at auction.