June 2023

MONTH IN BRIEF

Bitter sweet release

Fang Bin, one of several citizen journalists who disappeared after sharing videos of scenes in Wuhan, the epicentre of the covid pandemic, has been freed from jail after three years. Mr Fang has returned home to Wuhan and is reportedly in good health. Although activists have welcomed his release, they remain concerned for another whistle-blower, Zhang Zhan, who was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment in 2020 and remains in prison, despite being hospitalised for 12 days after going on hunger strike.

‘Malicious defamation’ of Modi

India’s Delhi High Court has issued a summons to British broadcaster the BBC in a defamation case

India’s Delhi High Court has issued a summons to British broadcaster the BBC in a defamation case over its documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi that questioned his leadership during the 2002 Gujarat riots. The suit was filed on the basis that the documentary ‘maliciously defamed India’, said Mr Siddharth Sharma, an advocate for Gujarat-based non-profit Justice on Trial that filed the suit. India-UK ties have soured after the documentary and a ‘breach of security’ incident at the Indian High Commission in March, at a time when they are struggling to make progress in free trade talks.

Chinese anger at chip curbs

China has lashed out at Japan over Tokyo’s new export restrictions on some chipmaking technology and says it will take action to defend its interests, just days after it banned some domestic companies from using semiconductors from US chipmaker Micron Technology.

China ‘firmly opposes’ Japan’s decision to impose curbs on the shipment of 23 types of chipmaking technology, an unnamed spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce said in a recent statement.The action is an abuse of export control measures and goes against free trade and international trade regulations, the statement said.

Building blocks of the future

Pakistan’s first female architect, Professor Yasmeen Lari, has won the coveted 2023 Royal Gold Medal, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced. Since co-founding The Heritage Foundation of Pakistan in 2000, Prof. Lari has ‘reacted imaginatively and creatively to the physical and psychological damage’ that various major natural disasters, including earthquakes, floods and conflicts, have inflicted on the people of Pakistan, the RIBA statement said. Her work is distinguished by its focus on developing ‘robust, intelligent yet simple, architectural designs’ that allow those in distress to ‘build for their own needs using the available debris of disaster’.

Zelenska seeks South Korean support

Ukraine’s First Lady has met with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol during a trip to South Korea as a special presidential envoy. In an interview with South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, Olena Zelenska, the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, expressed willingness to invite Mr Yoon to her country, saying such a visit would be ‘very supportive’ to Ukrainians. But she warned against the risk of war fatigue and called for ‘more radical’ support for Ukraine to fight against Russia’s aggression.  

Peak of achievement

A Gurkha veteran has become the first double above-the-knee amputee to summit Everest. Budha Magar, 41, a former corporal who lost his limbs after stepping on an improvised explosive devicewhile serving with the British army in Afghanistan, reached the top of Sagarmatha – the Nepali name for the world’s highest mountain – at around 3pm Nepali time on May 19.He then descended safely to base camp. For several years, Magar was prevented from climbing Everest by a Nepalese law banning double amputees, as well as blind people, from mountaineering. Nepal’s top court quashed the law in 2018.

Psych examination for Kishida attacker

A man accused of throwing an explosive at Japan’s prime minister in April is to undergo a three-month psychiatric evaluation. Ryuji Kimura, 24, was arrested for allegedly hurling a pipe bomb-like explosive towards Mr Fumio Kishida as the premier campaigned in the western city of Wakayama. Mr Kishida escaped unharmed, but the incident horrified a nation still haunted by the assassination of its former prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was gunned down in 2022 while giving a speech.

Farewell to Farooque

Aged 102, Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao, an Indian-American born in Karnataka, has been awarded the 2023 International Prize in Statistics. Rao’s ‘monumental’ work more than 75 years ago continues to exert a profound influence on science, the International Prize in Statistics Foundation said in a statement. Rao, will receive the award along with $80,000 in prize money, at the biennial International Statistical Institute World Statistics Congress being held in Ottowa in July.