With his collar rolled up against the cold, the head of the International Olympic Committee gazed out over the stadium and spoke of the ideals that had united athletes from around the world. “In our fragile world, where division, conflict and mistrust are growing, we are showing the world that it is possible to be fierce rivals while living together in peace and respect”, Thomas Bach, a medalist fencer gold almost 40 years ago, said Friday at the opening ceremony of the Winter Games. The Olympic mission is clear, he said: “Always build bridges, never erect walls.” Critics of Bach and the IOC say these ideals are absurd, and discussions of respect and building bridges are overshadowed by Olympic officials who are closing in on some of the world’s most powerful authoritarian leaders.
BEIJING (AP) — China and Egypt “share similar visions and strategies in defending their own interests,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping said Saturday during a meeting with authoritarian Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el- Sisi. The Egyptian leader was one of at least four heads of state who met Xi after attending the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics, seeking closer ties with China while avoiding Western criticism over their authoritarian regime. Xi “welcomed the strengthening of political trust” between the countries, citing cooperation in the fight against the pandemic. Their comprehensive strategic partnership is a model of “China-Arab, China-Africa and China-developing world solidarity”, Xi said, according to CGTN, the international arm of state broadcaster CCTV.
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping declared the Winter Olympics open on Friday evening, inviting the world to come back – in a way – for the second Games of the pandemic era, this time as an emboldened nation and more powerful whose authoritarian turn of government has caused the leaders of some countries to stay at home. China used its first Olympics in 2008 to amplify its international aspirations. This time, in a ceremony held at the same lattice-work Bird’s Nest Stadium that hosted the inaugural event of that year’s Summer Games, he put on a more confident and more provocative to the world. Athletes Zhao Jiawen and Dinigeer Yilamujiang delivered the Olympic flame.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — During the last Winter Games, North Korea was in the global spotlight in South Korea, with hundreds of athletes, cheerleaders and officials performing sought to woo their South Korean and American rivals in an attempt at diplomacy that has since stalled. Four years later, as the 2022 Winter Olympics arrive in key ally and neighbor China, North Korea is not sending any athletes or officials, ignoring the International Olympic Committee’s suggestion that individual athletes could potentially compete despite the country’s ban. And although the country finds itself once again on the world stage, this time it is because of belligerence, not charm, in the form of a rapid series of increasingly powerful missile tests.
BEIJING (AP) — As soon as a Uyghur athlete helped light the Olympic flame at the Beijing Olympics, the debate began: Was it a signal of defiance from Chinese leaders or proof that protests around the world had a impact? Dinigeer Yilamujiang’s selection for the top honor of being the last Olympic torchbearer at the opening ceremony of the Winter Games in Beijing on Friday night came as a huge surprise. What that meant – because Olympic gestures like this always have meaning – was unclear. US human rights lawyer Rayhan Asat – whose brother Ekpar Asat is among more than a million Uyghurs jailed by China – was initially appalled.
SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Police in Indian-ruled Kashmir said they arrested a prominent journalist accused of publishing “anti-national content,” amid a growing crackdown on media in the disputed region. Fahad Shah, editor of the Kashmir Walla news portal, was summoned for questioning in the southern town of Pulwama on Friday and later arrested. Police said he was identified among Facebook users and portals who posted “anti-national content”, without specifying what it was. He said the content was posted with the “criminal intent” to create fear and could “incite the public to disturb law and order”. He said such content “amounts to glorifying terrorist activities.” The case concerns a shootout between rebels trapped in a civilian house and Indian troops in Pulwama on January 29.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was discharged from the National Heart Institute two weeks after admission on Saturday and will recover at home, the hospital said. The 96-year-old former prime minister, once the world’s oldest leader, was admitted to the coronary care unit on January 20 for the third time in just over a month. The last hospital stay followed an elective medical procedure at the same facility on January 7. In December, he was admitted for a full medical examination and observation. The hospital said Mahathir will need to follow up on his continued treatment, without giving details.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A major fire broke out at the Russian Embassy in the Philippine capital, prompting the evacuation of employees and their families but causing no injuries, Russian and Philippine authorities said Saturday. . Investigators were trying to determine the cause of the hours-long fire, which started on the second floor of the embassy in the financial district of Makati City in metro Manila on Friday night and caused more than 100 million pesos ($2 million) in damage, the Philippine Fire Protection Bureau said. More than a dozen fire engines helped put out the blaze in the upscale and well-guarded village of Dasmarinas, home to several embassies and diplomatic residences.
QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — A methane gas explosion at a coal mine in southwest Pakistan early Saturday killed four workers, while three others were saved from the partially collapsed mine, an official said. Chief Mines Inspector Abdul Ghani said the blast took place in the Sra Ghazgai mining area, outside Quetta, where the mine is believed to have been illegally mined. No owner or contractor linked to the mine could be located after the blast because rescued workers were in no condition to provide details, he said. Ghani said the mine was undergoing a thorough review to ensure no others were trapped deep within the collapsed mine.
BEIJING (AP) — Despite all the talk of a diplomatic boycott, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has managed to lure a global slate of presidents, royals and other dignitaries to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing. ‘winter. The fact that most of them represent countries that have little chance of winning medals – if they even compete – doesn’t seem to matter. Which, from Beijing’s perspective, presents a picture that China has emerged as a global powerhouse whose authoritarian style of rule can go hand in hand with a world dominated by the United States and its other democracies. “There is a strong authoritarian slant among the list of leaders present,” said Andrew Yeo, professor of politics at Catholic University of America and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.