Families across the world are preparing for reunions after China fully opened its borders yesterday and began welcoming visitors without strict quarantine requirements.
The reopening comes at an auspicious time for global tourism. China is also allowing its citizens to once again go overseas, just as the travel period for Lunar New Year begins.
But unease has tempered the celebratory mood. Some countries fear that China’s outbreak could lead to new mutations of the virus and added additional restrictions for incoming travelers. And within China, there are fears that rural villages, which have a disproportionate number of older adults and scant access to medical care, are particularly at risk as domestic travel increases.
Here are more specific restrictions:
The E.U. “strongly encouraged” its 27 members to put in place testing and masking requirements as Chinese return to popular cities there.
Hong Kong capped the daily number of visitors at 60,000 people. It will require visitors to show a negative P.C.R. test.
South Korea halted all direct flights to Jeju Island, once favored by Chinese tourists. Travelers have to take a P.C.R. test when they arrive in Seoul and quarantine if they are found to be sick.
Japan is requiring visitors to provide proof of a negative P.C.R. test before arriving and to take another test when they arrive.
Thailand is anticipating around 300,000 Chinese visitors in the first three months of 2023. But it will still require visitors to have two vaccine shots. They will also need to have medical insurance to cover Covid treatment if they get sick.
Protesters storm Brazil’s government
Angry supporters of Jair Bolsonaro charged into Brazil’s Congress and presidential offices yesterday afternoon. This is a developing story. Here are live updates.
Dozens of protesters streamed into the presidential offices. Some held a barricade to hold back police and allow more protesters to enter. Inside the building, the protesters could be seen attempting to build more barricades with chairs. Outside, a crowd using sticks or poles struck a police officer on horseback, pulling him off his horse, according to video posted to social media.
The action was the violent culmination of incessant rhetorical attacks by Bolsonaro and his supporters against the nation’s electoral systems. The protesters believe the election was stolen from Bolsonaro. In reality, two months ago, he lost his re-election bid for the presidency.
Details: President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who defeated Bolsonaro in October and took office on Jan. 1, was in São Paulo. Congress was not in session. Both Congress and the presidential offices were largely empty.
Bolsonaro: He has been staying in Florida, where he traveled late last month as his presidency was coming to a close.
A flawed Kabul drone strike
My colleague Azmat Khan obtained new information about a botched U.S. drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, in August 2021 that killed 10 civilians, including an aid worker and seven children, in the courtyard of their family home.
Analysts saw possible civilian casualties minutes after the drone fired a missile, according to an official U.S. military investigation — 66 partially redacted pages that The Times obtained through a lawsuit. The analysts also assessed that children had been killed.
The information was then shared with top commanders, according to the investigation. But military officials at the time issued misleading statements about their assessments, saying that there were “no indications” of civilian casualties.
Pentagon officials also maintained that an ISIS target had been killed in the strike, even as evidence mounted to the contrary. Only after The Times published an investigation did military officials acknowledge that the aid worker had posed no threat and had no connection to ISIS.
Analysis: The investigation provides detailed examples of how assumptions and biases led to the deadly blunder. Military analysts wrongly concluded that a package contained explosives and that a car’s “erratic route” was evidence that the driver was trying to evade surveillance.
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Across East Asia, populations are graying faster than anywhere else in the world. As a result, governments are struggling to pay out pensions, and people in their 70s need jobs.
“As long as my body lets me, I need to keep working,” said a 73-year-old who wakes at 1:30 a.m. to deliver produce to restaurants across Tokyo.
Lives lived: Two months after the armistice that ended the Korean War, a North Korean Air Force officer flew his Soviet-made MIG to an airfield in South Korea manned by U.S. forces. A year later, he had a new name — Kenneth Rowe — and was living in the U.S. Rowe died last month at 90.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Seoul’s art explosion
When it comes to the global art market, South Korea remains a minor player. Its art sales in 2021 totaled about $726 million, according to a report. For comparison, China’s sales came in around $13 billion, and auction turnover in Hong Kong was $1.7 billion.
But while South Korea may still be on the rise in the contemporary art world, a sense of possibility permeates the air. About 80 percent of the country’s art museums — more than 200 — were established after 2000. Art dealers and foreign galleries have descended. Last fall, South Korea’s capital even hosted Frieze Seoul, the fair’s first installment in Asia, which has editions in London, New York and Los Angeles.
And the government is invested. It has been providing grants to artists and dealers in an effort to generate a hallyu, or “Korean wave,” which has propelled K-pop and Korean cinema to worldwide prominence.
“Twenty years from now, if the country is as rich as it is right now,” a dealer said, “I think it can be like London or New York.”