A tense start to US-China talks in Alaska

The World
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After a tense day of high-level meetings between the US and China taking place in Alaska, the first face-to-face sit-down between the two sides since President Biden took office in January, top officials are expected to resume talks on Friday. In what has been described as a public blowup, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other US officials raised concerns about the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang region, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and cyber attacks on the US, while unapologetic Chinese officials described the blunt interactions as an attack on China.

After a deteriorating relationship between China and the US over the last year of the Trump administration, the testy public start to talks may have been more a show for each country’s domestic audiences while progress was reportedly made in closed-door sessions.

The Biden administration has taken a path to pushing back against China’s more assertive authoritarianism while Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief, Yang Jiechi, took aim at the US, accusing Washington of hypocrisy for criticizing China on human rights abuses.

What The World is following

The rollercoaster tale surrounding the AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine took another turn after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said Thursday that the jab is safe to use. Germany, Italy, France and Spain had halted the use of the shot after concerns over blood clots emerged. While the EMA acknowledged cases of blood clots, it said that the threat is a small one, echoing what the World Health Organization has suggested. Germany on Friday became the first country to resume vaccinations with AstraZeneca.

Across the Atlantic, the US — where the AstraZeneca vaccine has not been approved for use — announced plans to send 4 million AstraZeneca doses, sitting unused in the country, to neighboring Mexico and Canada. The donations, while lauded by government officials, has raised concerns about a quid pro quo.

With more than 35,000 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, France has ordered a new month-long lockdown for Paris, and several regions in the north starting midnight on Friday, and impacting as many as 21 million people.The country’s vaccine rollout has stumbled and officials are trying to counter a full-scale third wave. Health authorities suggest that the measures to prevent the spread of the virus won’t be as strict — schools will remain open and people will be allowed to exercise outdoors.

From The World

The EU proposes certificates to ease travel during the pandemic. Not everyone is on board.

European authorities have introduced a certificate scheme aimed at easing travel across the bloc’s 27 member states.

Under the proposal, certificate holders — people vaccinated against COVID-19, those who have tested negative for the virus and those who have recovered from it — would be eligible to bypass certain public health restrictions, such as quarantine requirements when traveling within the EU.

While countries that rely heavily on tourism, such as Greece, have advocated for so-called vaccine passports, other countries, including Germany and France, have been more reluctant, citing discrimination fears and other concerns.

7 years after Russia's annexation of Crimea, Indigenous Tatars still face prosecution

On the seventh anniversary of Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, the Group of Seven major industrialized countries issued a strong condemnation of what it called Russia's ongoing “occupation” of Crimea, accused Russia of human rights abuses, and called for international monitors to be given access there.

One of the groups most affected by the illegal annexation of the peninsula was the Indigenous Crimean Tatars. Some are still facing persecution from Russian government authorities.

Ayla Bakkalli, the representative for Crimean Tatars at the United Nations, spoke to The World’s Marco Werman about what it has been like for Tatars to live under Russian occupation.

Bright Spot

Dozens of fragments of a Dead Sea Scroll with biblical text written in Greek have been found by archaeologists in a cave in the Judean Desert. The scroll fragments contain verses from the books of the prophets Zechariah and Nahum. The team of researchers also found a 6,000-year-old skeleton of a child, some rare coins and a basket believed to be the oldest in the world.

In case you missed it

Listen: Lawmakers to address immigration amid increase in migrants at US-Mexico border

A man is shown in shadow and wearing a brimmed hat with several pup tents shown in focus in the background.

A migrant from Honduras seeking asylum in the United States stands in front of rows of tents at the border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico, March 1, 2021.

Credit:

Gregory Bull/AP

The US House is considering two immigration bills that are expected to address citizenship for young immigrants and undocumented farmworker protection. The legislation comes as the Biden administration confronts a growing humanitarian challenge at the US-Mexico border. And, a group of London teenagers recently put up guerrilla road signs that highlight the disproportional effect of toxic air on people of color. Also, a memo from Afghanistan's Ministry of Education banning girls over the age of 12 from singing in public has triggered a backlash on social media.

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