Asian Insider: China loosens Covid-19 rules | ‘Sober-curiosity’ takes off

Dear ST reader, 

We hope you’ve been keeping well.

In our Asian Insider newsletter this week, China eases its Covid-19 curbs after three years, in the strongest sign that it is preparing its people to live with the virus. Over in Malaysia, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s Cabinet has drawn criticisms over controversial appointments while in Japan, ‘sober-curiosity’ gains popularity


Light at the end of China’s Covid-19 tunnel

After three long years, China finally loosens its Covid-19 restrictions. This includes allowing people to isolate at home if they test positive and scaling down mandatory PCR testing requirements. The changes do not completely dismantle the country’s zero-Covid policy, but they still represent a considerable shift in measures that have dragged down the economy.

Read more: Beijing residents wary amid rapid easing of Covid-19 curbs 

In the news: Netizens in China call for IPO ban on Covid-19 testing firms

Malaysian PM Anwar gets down to business

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has picked his Cabinet, but not everyone is happy. He is drawing flak for naming himself Finance Minister and choosing Umno president Zahid Hamidi as one of his deputies, despite the latter facing dozens of graft charges. Still, Datuk Seri Anwar has wasted no time in getting down to business, including widening a dragnet on alleged misappropriation of funds under his predecessors.

Find out: Who’s who in Malaysia’s new Cabinet

In the news: PN wins Padang Serai ward, BN retains Tioman seat in twin polls   

Analysis: Umno’s Cabinet team key to ensure Zahid and Anwar’s longevity in government

Sign up for the Malaysia edition newsletter and follow us here for the latest developments from the country.

Farewell to a statesman

Chinese President Xi Jinping lead the nation in mourning the death of former leader Jiang Zemin, where he called for greater unity and hailed the leadership of the 96-year-old ex leader, who died on Nov 30 of leukaemia and multiple organ failure in Shanghai. 

Read more: The Chinese are feeling nostalgic for the Jiang era

Analysis: Shanghai Gang faction will fade away with Jiang Zemin’s death

More contentious US-China ties

With the Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives next year, US relations with China are likely to be more contentious, leaving the Biden administration with even less room to manoeuvre, writes Charissa Yong in the latest edition of Power Play. The Republican hawkishness on China is not skin deep or merely politically expedient – the party is also pushing for consequential policies to help Washington confront Beijing.

Opinion: China takes another big step into the Middle East ‘vacuum’

COP27: Highs and lows

There seemed to be hits and misses at the 27th UN climate change summit in Egypt, with much-needed new decarbonisation targets nowhere in sight. But there were some positive outcomes, including the creation of a fund to help nations vulnerable to climate disasters. Climate change editor David Fogarty, India correspondent Debarshi Dasgupta and Cheryl Tan explore some of the key developments and what lies ahead.

‘Sober curiosity’ takes off

There is a burgeoning movement in Japan towards “responsible drinking” and “sober-curiosity” either for personal, wellness, health or allergy reasons. This has seen mocktails speciality bars popping up across the country while home-grown brewing giants rolled out non-alcoholic versions of beers and other beverages, reports Japan correspondent Walter Sim in the latest dispatch of Letter from the Bureau.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.