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In this file photo taken on 25 January 2020, medical staff members wearing protective clothing to help stop the spread of a deadly virus which began in the city arrive with a patient at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

The world may never know the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic

A Joint WHO-China Study Team report has said that it is "extremely unlikely" that a Wuhan laboratory leak was the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet the US and other countries have cast doubts on the report, citing delay and access issues. China hit back, labelling this as another smear campaign. With each side singing their own tune, are the report results of any consequence?
Bicycle and car commuters are seen crossing a busy intersection at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Germany, on 7 December 2020. (Odd Andersen/AFP)

Will the EU be setting global standards in a post-pandemic world? 

US-based researcher Yu Shiyu notes that the EU seems to have gained greater unity and internal coherence from the stress test of Covid-19. In contrast, the US seems to be more divided and has not found its way around the pandemic as well as its many other domestic issues. What has the EU done right to be able to be a standard setter in the post-pandemic era?
A general view of the first consignment of the Covid-19 vaccines from China, seen offloading from a plane at the PAF Base Nur Khan, Pakistan in this handout photo released by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on 1 February 2021. (Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR)/Handout via Reuters)

Vaccine diplomacy: China and India push ahead to supply vaccines to developing countries

More than three quarters of the vaccinations that have taken place worldwide have been done in just 10 countries that account for almost 60% of global GDP, while 2.5 billion people in almost 130 countries have yet to receive a single dose, according to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO. China and India have since embarked on “vaccine diplomacy” in a bid to despatch vaccines to developing countries. They may have their own goals in doing so, but their timely humanitarian aid for others is exemplary, says Zhu Zhiqun.
In this file photo taken on 7 November 2020, a woman waves a Joe Biden flag as people celebrate on Black Lives Matter Plaza across from the White House in Washington, DC, after Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election. (Alex Edelman/AFP)

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong: The world will not split into two, but neither can it return to the past

Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait interviewed Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong ahead of the Bloomberg 2020 New Economy Forum on 17 November. Among the topics they discussed, PM Lee spoke at length about China, the US, global trade, the internet, and most of all, the China-US relationship. This is an excerpt of the interview transcript.
A sign encouraging voter turnout is seen at a campaign yard sign distribution site in Madison, Wisconsin, US, 17 October 2020. (Bing Guan/File Photo/Reuters)

Intellectuals and accountability: Should scientists sway public opinion on politics?

Zhang Tiankan chastises renowned journals The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine, Science and Nature, for veering off their professional domains and making prescriptive statements about which US presidential candidate to vote for. Such behaviour is irresponsible and unbecoming, to say the least. He asks: Shouldn't intellectuals be accountable for their views and positions?
An incoming freshman checks into his campus dormitory at University of Colorado Boulder on 18 August 2020 in Boulder, Colorado. (Mark Makela/Getty Images/AFP)

Trump's sweeping 'espionage' claims against Chinese scholars unfair, baseless and discriminatory

US academic Zhu Zhiqun opines that conditions in the US are becoming increasingly unfavourable for Chinese and Asian Americans. In particular, the current toxic environment and pressure on US institutions to clamp down on Chinese students are undoing decades of goodwill generated from people-to-people exchanges. Will the authorities realise that soon enough and make a U-turn?
The Statue of Liberty is seen over a wind blown American flag scarf on Liberty Island on 20 July 2020 in New York City. (Jeenah Moon/Getty Images/AFP)

A 'failed state'? China must not misjudge the US

Some Americans have begun to regard the US under the Trump administration as a “failed state”. While many Chinese worry about Trump’s irrationality and unpredictability in playing the "China card", others are slighting the US, believing that now is the opportunity for China to displace the US on the global stage. But is the US a failed state? Political scientist Zheng Yongnian cautions that it may not be so, and China must not only read the US rationally and realistically, it also has to learn to coexist with the US under harsher conditions.
Appropriate stimulation of acupoints can help achieve harmony of qi, blood, yin and yang. But how does this work? (Internet)

Acupressure points and acupuncture: How does it work?

Is it true that by applying pressure at different points and parts of the body through needle acupuncture or acupressure massage, one’s health can improve? What is the logic behind this?
This combination of file pictures created on 11 June 2019 shows US President Donald Trump (left) as he departs the White House, in Washington, DC, on 2 June 2019, and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the kick off his presidential election campaign in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 18 May 2019. (Jim Watson and Dominick Reuter/AFP)

Will the US abandon Taiwan?

Academics Zhou Wenxing and Wang Weinan observe the hard truth that Taiwan is often used as a strategic card to be played in the US’s relationship with China. While Biden seems to be the safer pair of hands on Taiwan policy, if Trump gets re-elected, Taiwan may be entering a game of high risk but high returns. Either way, Taiwan will have to watch for which way the political vane turns, as the winds moving them are rarely in their control.