In today’s bulletin: Tense wait continues for US election results; China blocks travellers from coronavirus-hit countries; Pakistan’s army in the spotlight; Indonesia asks US & Japan to invest in South China Sea; Living alone in China, and more.
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Tense wait for US election results though Biden has the edge
Several hours after the voting closed, it is still not clear who would be the next President of the United States although Democratic nominee Joe Biden is in the lead having won the two crucial battleground states of Wisconsin and Michigan.
With this, he now has a total of 264 electoral votes – six shy of the 270 needed, according to US network projections.
US Correspondent Charissa Yong writes that with ballots still being counted, Mr Biden has already garnered about 70.5 million votes for president, beating a record previously held by his former boss, President Barack Obama, who had collected 69.5 million votes in 2008.
So far, President Donald Trump has received about 67.8 million votes.
The latter has, however, said that he would seek a recount in Wisconsin and file legal suits to stop the counting of votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Among other states, Alaska, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada and North Carolina have yet to be called, but if Mr Biden wins Nevada where he has a slim lead, it would give him the six votes needed.
Democratic V-P candidate Harris' ancestral village in India gets festive as Biden leads count
China blocks travellers from coronavirus-hit countries
In an unusual turn of events, mainland China has decided to bar the entry of some non-Chinese visitors from Britain, Belgium and the Philippines because of concerns over spread of coronavirus infections.
It has also demanded travellers from the United States, France and Germany present results of additional health tests, as coronavirus cases rise around the world. These are some of the most stringent border restrictions imposed by any country in response to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, in India, graveyards in some of the big Indian cities - cannot keep pace with the country's growing Covid-19 death toll.
India Correspondent Debarshi Dasgupta writes that a cemetery in capital Delhi carved out close to nearly 1ha more of land last month to bury Covid-19 victims after it ran out of previously allocated space. This was its third such allocation since April.
Pakistan's army in an unfamiliar place - the spotlight
Pakistan's military has been pivotal to the country's progress, through the decades. Now, however, its role and its stronghold, is being questioned as the country's opposition leaders champion democracy.
Alongside, the military's support for ruling Prime Minister Imran Khan has begun to backfire with the public. And, as observers point out, the Khan government has not been able to protect the institution from political attacks.
While Pakistan does endure periodic cycles of domestic political unrest and economic slumps - it has needed help from the International Monetary Fund close to two dozen times after deficit blowouts - events in play now have implications beyond its borders because of Islamabad's close strategic ties to Beijing.
Indonesia asks US & Japan to invest in South China Sea
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has reportedly called on US businesses to invest in the Natuna islands in the South China Sea, which has been the centre of diplomatic tensions with China over maritime rights.
Indonesia has also extended a similar offer to Japan and other countries, writes Regional Correspondent Arlina Arshad. During the visit of Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi in January, President Joko Widodo urged Japanese businesses to increase investments in fishery and energy there.
Analysts are seeing the move as a "smart approach" by the government to safeguard Indonesia's sovereignty over the chain of islands off the coast of Borneo.
US wants to cooperate with Indonesia 'in new ways' on South China Sea
Living solo in China
China could be progressing steadily to be one of the world’s few economies set to grow in this era of the pandemic. But there's a lesser known phenomenon also taking hold that will need much more attention than what it is getting now. This is about more and more people opting to live on their own in cities, and away from cities.
Loneliness is a major problem for increasing numbers of Chinese who live in one-person households. And with it comes mental health problems. There will be several other challenges, and issues to be addressed, writes Global Affairs Correspondent Goh Sui Noi.
In other news...
hai protesters plan rally this weekend to petition King: Pro-democracy protesters plan to hold a fresh rally this weekend to petition King Maha Vajiralongkorn, a day after rejecting a Parliament-initiated plan to form a committee to ease the political tensions.
Seoul's top diplomat heads for Washington: South Korea's top diplomat & foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha plans to visit Washington next week, officials said on Thursday, as Seoul seeks a solid alliance with the United States regardless of the presidential election results.
Pyongyang prohibits smoking in public places: North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly introduced smoking bans in some public places, such as political and ideological education centres, theatres and public health facilities to provide citizens with "hygienic living environments," state media said.
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