China received more foreign investment last year than U.S., U.N. says


Employees work on the production line of WEY Tank 300 SUV at a factory of Great Wall Motors on January 19, 2021 in Chongqing, China.

VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images

The Chinese economy brought in more foreign direct investment than any other country last year, knocking the United States from its perch atop the list.

China brought in $163 billion in inflows last year, compared to $134 billion attracted by the U.S., the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development wrote in a report released on Sunday. In 2019, the U.S. received $251 billion in inflows and China received $140 billion.

Overall, the report found that foreign direct investment tanked globally, as the Covid-19 pandemic brought countries large and small to virtual stand-stills.

FDI plunged 42% in 2020, to $859 billion, a 30% drop from even the depths of the 2009 financial crisis. The economic measure accounts for investments in a country made by people and businesses in other countries, such as the construction of a factory or the opening of a satellite office.

Developed countries were hit harder last year than so-called “developing” countries. Investment in the U.S. fell 49%, slightly less than the developed country average of 69%.

FDI in developing countries fell a comparatively moderate 12%. China, included on that list, actually saw a small increase of 4% in its inflows.

The European Union saw FDI decline by two-thirds, according to the report, with the United Kingdom seeing no new inflows. The U.K. has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus.

China managed to largely get coronavirus under control within its borders last year, despite being the first nation to be hit with the deadly disease.

Strict lock down measures, early mass testing and an abundance of personal protective equipment have been credited for the country’s relatively low death toll.

Since the start of the pandemic, China has had fewer than 100,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and suffered about 4,800 deaths from the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The U.S., which has a much smaller population, has had nearly 25 million cases and more than 400,000 deaths.

Despite China surpassing the U.S. in the flow of foreign direct investment in 2020, the total stock of foreign investment remains much larger in the U.S. than in China, according to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Other economic data have also suggested that China has borne the brunt of the pandemic more nimbly than its peers. Beijing reported 2020 GDP growth of 2.3% earlier this month, and is expected to be the only major economy to report a positive annual growth rate.

The United Nations report comes one day before China’s President Xi Jinping will deliver an address at a virtual gathering of the World Economic Forum. President Joe Biden is not expected to attend the event.

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Latrell Mitchell set to sign two year, $1.75 million deal with South Sydney Rabbitohs


Mitchell was in sublime touch in the weeks before he suffered a hamstring injury against Parramatta saw him miss the club’s finals campaign. Mitchell started the year off slowly but was beginning to justify the club’s faith in him to wear the No.1 jersey before he was struck down through injury.

The Rabbitohs paid around $600,000 for Mitchell in 2020, with the Roosters chipping in around $200,000 of his salary before he was released. The news is a huge boost for South Sydney ahead of what shapes as a crucial year for the club. Coach Wayne Bennett will finish up at the end of the year, while Adam Reynolds, Dane Gagai, Braidon Burns, Jaydn Su’A and Tevita Tatola are all off contract.

Panthers playmaker Jarome Luai is set to extend with Penrith.Credit:Nine

Like South Sydney, Penrith are also in the process of locking up their biggest stars. Centre Stephen Crichton has all but agreed to a three year extension. A similar deal awaits Luai, while the club is also in negotiations with Isaah Yeo.

Yeo and Nathan Cleary are the frontrunners to replace James Tamou as Penrith captain, with the Penrith lock set to be rewarded for his 2020 campaign with a significant increase in his extension with the club.

The Panthers are also considering signing Wests Tigers back Paul Momirovski in a deal which would potentially allow fullback Daine Laurie the opportunity to leave immediately and link up with the joint venture club.

Laurie has asked for a release from the final year of his deal with the Panthers but the club is adamant both he and Canterbury-bound Matt Burton will see out 2020 at Penrith. That could change, at least in the case of Laurie, if Penrith find a suitable replacement. Burton, a renowned five-eighth, is expected to start the year in the centres in place of Brent Naden.

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Alex de Minaur determined to achieve success this year after ‘dark time’ amid coronavirus pandemic


Alex de Minaur says a challenging 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic is “fuelling the hunger” for his bid to climb the rankings this year and achieve his best finish at a major.

De Minaur, Australia’s top-ranked men’s player, made a lightning start to the new season earlier this month when he won the fourth ATP Tour title of his career in Turkey.

The world number 23 entered the 2021 season off the back of his best showing at a major, a quarter-final appearance at the US Open in New York.

But de Minaur said his run to the last eight at the US Open could not make up for the frustration he experienced while being alone in lockdown at his Spanish base for months on end as coronavirus wrought havoc.

“2020 was a tough year. Obviously I had my best result at a Slam (Grand Slam tournament) but it doesn’t feel like my best achievement,” de Minaur said.

“It was still a dark time. I wasn’t feeling great. It was just mentally — I wouldn’t say — my best performance.

“I ended up putting a couple of matches together and I had my best result. It’s still something to be proud of but still 2020 as a whole, I would say, I had a lot of expectations for it and … it’s just fuelling the hunger for 2021, to make it even better.”

De Minaur already has a title under his belt in 2021, having won the Antalya ATP Tour event.(Twitter: ATP)

De Minaur has one more week in quarantine in Melbourne as he prepares for the Australian Open. He is able to leave his hotel room only to train.

The 21-year-old said he could not wait to get his “freedom back”.

“I’m sure that will feel amazing,” de Minaur said.

“I’ve got my goal in my head of where I want to be when 2021 finishes up, but it’s a goal that I don’t like to say out loud.

“It’s a goal that me and my team had and this is a strong start. Realistically I want to keep pushing myself up the rankings, keep putting myself at the end of weeks and keep pushing these top guys.

De Minaur, who is the second-youngest player in the top 25 of the men’s rankings, said he spent much of the extended preseason working on his body and mind.

“I don’t want just to be having a good result every now and then,” he said.

“I want to be bringing my level every single week.”

Nick Kyrgios lifts up Alex De Minaur in celebration.
De Minaur is set to team up with Nick Kyrgios for Australia in the upcoming ATP Cup.(AAP: Mark Evans)

De Minaur missed last year’s Australian Open with an abdominal tear, an injury he picked up while helping Australia reach the ATP Cup semi-finals.

He will again spearhead Lleyton Hewitt’s line-up next week in Melbourne before returning for another tilt at his home major.

“Hopefully I can be playing my best tennis at the ATP Cup and the Aussie Open,” de Minaur said.

AAP/ABC

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Deja vu in Wuhan as restrictions return one year after first lockdown


Blue, a hue associated with lockdown – blue face masks, blue emergency tents, blue metal sheets that sealed streets – is back in the city’s colour palette.

“For us Wuhan residents, we’ve already been through this,” said Wang Hui, 37, a chauffeur. He’s been tested for COVID-19 so many times – always negative – he’s lost count. “This is just the way it is.” Social distancing may be a nuisance, but it beats the alternative – complete lockdown. Saturday marked exactly a year since Wuhan residents were sealed in their homes for 76 days, confused and scared by a mystery virus killing their neighbours and relatives. Even before the latest virus flare-up, many were wary of surprise outbreaks and have been happy to keep exercising precautions.

Wang, for instance, is due to receive a vaccine – prioritised by the government as his job means coming into contact with different people daily. “I’ll get the jabs, but after that I’ll still wear a face mask.”

Ms Ma, a shop attendant, half-joking, jumped away when this reporter from Beijing approached. The capital city is rushing to mass test residents after finding transmissions in some neighbourhoods.

“Ah, stay far away from me!” she said, describing how a friend living in one of Beijing’s affected districts was recently ushered into quarantine upon arriving in Wuhan.

“We have to stay vigilant,” said Ms Qin, 55, while walking her two dogs. “I still don’t take the subway these days; it’s way too crowded and I’m scared of the risks.”

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Most people are doing their best to live with this new normal, slipping face masks below their chin to slurp spicy sesame noodles, a speciality, and shouting over loudspeakers triumphantly proclaiming Wuhan a “heroic city”, followed by reminders to ventilate indoor spaces.

“We aren’t exactly relaxed about the situation,” said Mr Li, 52. “But we do have to find ways to live with the stress.” For him, that means enjoying a cup of aged pu’er tea in his teahouse – a new location with cheaper rent.

The resurgence is alarming for Beijing a few weeks ahead of Chinese New Year, a travel period that ramped up infection spread across the country last year. This year, authorities have urged its 1.4 billion people to stay put.

It also comes as Beijing is eager to tout containment success and export its vaccines – a way to deflect growing global anger over its mistakes, which some health experts say may have exacerbated the pandemic.

Residents wear masks while queuing to buy milky tea in Wuhan on the first anniversary of lockdown.Credit:Getty Images

A massive new exhibition in Wuhan boasts of victory in what Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party leader, called the “people’s war” against the virus.

Visitors walk through China’s official narrative, which sources all virus achievements to Xi and praises him for pulling the country out of misfortune, making zero mention of missteps.

But there’s no mention of key figures – Ai Fen, punished for being one of the first doctors to sound the alarm, or Zhang Yongzhen, the virologist who mapped and shared the genome publicly without official permission.

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Whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang appears near the end on a wall of martyrs, but the sign omits that he was reprimanded by police after warning colleagues about a virus from which he later died.

Chinese government officials have stopped saying “lockdown”, instead using the euphemistic term “wartime measures” to mean the quarantine of millions, which occurs even if only a handful of infections are discovered. “Wuhan is the safest city in the world,” agrees Ma Lianping, 32, who owns a noodle shop across the street from Jinyintan Hospital, one of the first in the world to start treating coronavirus infections.

“I don’t really know about the government’s figures,” said a man running a funeral goods shop across from a crematorium. At pandemic peak, he saw dozens of corpses transported daily to be burned, more than the 10 or so a day now.

A few blocks from Wuhan Central Hospital, where Dr Li worked and later died, a cafe has on its menu “the whistleblower coffee – a 100 per cent controversial drink”.

More than 40 clinics in Wuhan have started administering vaccines. Nationwide, 15 million doses have been given, enough for about 1 per cent of the population.

Authorities aim to vaccinate 50 million people before Chinese New Year on February 12.

But some in Wuhan are again bedding in for the holiday. “No, I don’t trust the vaccine. It was developed based on last year’s virus,” said Mr Li, a taxi driver slated to receive a vaccine. “Now, new variants are circulating.”

The Telegraph, London

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Voices From China’s Covid Crisis, One Year After Wuhan Lockdown


They are survivors, essential workers and specialists still trying to understand the physical and emotional effects of the coronavirus. They make up a tapestry of people, offering a view of the first months of the pandemic, and of what China’s recovery means.

A year after the Covid-19 lockdown in the Chinese city of Wuhan — the first in the world, and still one of the harshest — we asked six people, some of whom we spoke to at the height of the outbreak, to describe what they have been through.

These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

One day in August, our manager reminded us that drivers always had to wear masks, no matter how much the situation had improved. Personally, I don’t know if it’s PTSD, but I always wear a mask. I’m probably the only driver in our company who still always carries hand sanitizer in my pocket and uses it regularly.

I always thought I wasn’t afraid of death. But I found out during the epidemic that I’m terrified of it. I missed my wife, my 5-year-old twin boys, my father, so much. I thought, if I survive this, what will I do?

So after the lockdown lifted, my first thought was going home. I stayed two months. In the past, I would stay two or three days, maybe a week, then hurry back. I don’t make a lot of money, and my mind was always on making more. But now, my thinking has changed. If I make a little more money, what’s the use?

I never thought that this sudden epidemic would create a situation where everyone said thank you. I was shocked. Wasn’t respect for people like experts, academics, celebrities? How could it go to a delivery worker? It made me so happy.

Now, things have gone back to the way they were last year. This is human nature.

Zhang Yongzhen, a virologist, came under immense official pressure after he released the full sequence of the new coronavirus on Jan. 11 of last year, in defiance of Chinese government orders. He remains absent from Beijing’s narrative of how the country beat the virus, in contrast with Zhong Nanshan, the government-appointed doctor celebrated for announcing what many experts had already figured out: that the virus could be transmitted by humans.

At that time, I made four findings about the virus. One, it was like SARS. Two, it was a new coronavirus. Most important, the virus was transmitted through the respiratory tract. I also thought it was more infectious than the flu virus. Even then, I thought it must be able to spread from humans to humans.

If more experts had shared my opinion from the beginning, then we may not have needed Zhong Nanshan to say something.

Whether in the United States or in China, we need to cultivate a group of critics — real scientists in the field. China really needs it. Zhong Nanshan is old. Who will be the next to dare to speak the truth? You must have enough courage to speak the truth.

I have since encountered some difficulties in terms of my work and funding for my programs. But I don’t regret anything I did. I trusted myself. I have so much experience, my team has made so many discoveries over the years, that we were able to make accurate judgments.

I hope you can mention one thing. My wife passed away on Oct. 13, 2019. We got married in 1989 and we were together for 30 years. If I have made any contribution to society, it is because of the support of my wife.

Blair Zong, 34, was one of hundreds of Americans who were evacuated from Wuhan, and she published a visual diary in February chronicling her quarantine on a military base in California. She is now in Austin, Texas, working as an event planner and a nanny.

After Wuhan locked down, I was nervous and anxious. I heard rumors about people dying and things got really scary. Someone sent me a report that said America was evacuating citizens, so I called the consulate. I made the decision to go and said goodbye to my mom and grandparents.

The day I left quarantine, there was a lady behind me in line in the San Diego airport who was coughing nonstop. I remember thinking at the time that it was a bad sign, but I also felt like there was no way the virus could spread here that badly. Everything was normal again.

But then starting in March, people here started buying up toilet paper, and the panic came back. The situation had stabilized in China, so my friends there started to mock me, asking: “Do you regret going back now?” One of my college friends in Wuhan sent me a package of goggles and masks.

I have become more calm and more careful about life. I accept everything as it comes. I’m trying to be more eco-friendly.

As Wuhan focused on fighting the coronavirus, Zhao Qian, 29, struggled to get medical treatment for her newborn daughter, who had a life-threatening heart condition.

At the time, hospitals weren’t taking in any patients, including our daughter. We tried so hard, we tapped every possible resource and connection, and it was only through our efforts that we were able to save our daughter’s life. All of the doctors had gone to the frontline.

Overall, though, the country’s policies were quite good. I remember when all the supermarkets were closed, some volunteers were still helping me buy food. No matter what unpleasant hearsay or rumors there may have been, I think the country was very powerful. Wuhan people are now very safe. It’s very reassuring.

Any Chinese person should feel very proud. No matter how great the hardship, even with an outbreak that was so serious that other countries couldn’t control it, as long as the people are unified, I think we can get through anything.

Lei Wuming, 50, a psychology professor at the Wuhan University of Technology, began hosting funerals over WeChat, a popular messaging app, to give grieving families a way to mourn.

Back then, I was like a priest hosting these funerals. I was also a psychologist. I helped create an atmosphere for families to express their grief. First, to express their grief, and second, to cherish the memories.

It brought families closer. They recalled the same memories and the same person and it made their relationship closer. They were huddling together to keep warm.

The families would set up a chat group. Then I would join. I would play some funeral music and then make a speech. Then I would name each person who would talk, one by one. They could choose to talk, type or even send emojis.

It was social support, so the family would feel, “I am not alone here. I have families and friends who are there for me.”

In retrospect, our death toll compared to Western countries — if it is truthfully reported — ours is quite low. But at the time of the pandemic, we didn’t think like that. We thought we were done for.

After Liu Pei’en’s father died from the coronavirus last January, he vowed to pressure the authorities to take responsibility for initially concealing the outbreak.

Looking back at the first half of last year, I was so angry. The local officials threatened me. I left Wuhan, and they still wouldn’t let it go. They harassed my relatives. They wanted to make it seem like I had a mental illness.

But in the second half of the year, I began to change. I devoted myself to studying Buddhism. Faith allows you to understand life and truth. I could see that retribution and killing have been a part of humanity from ancient times to the present.

My heart began to calm down. I am no longer angry and full of hate. Still, the pain is raw and I cry a lot.

I spend a lot of time praying. I try to donate as much money as I can to temples and other charity organizations for the poor and elderly around Wuhan. I have given more than 100,000 yuan ($15,000) in my father’s name, to help him earn merit.

Any dreams I had for making money before have now faded. Because what is the use of money anyway? Money can’t buy back life.

I realized I was ignorant when I thought I could sue the government. Nothing will come of it. And if you take a step back, everyone is guilty and will face karmic retribution.

I only care about the people around me, about being myself. I’m planning to take my mother to Sanya for Chinese New Year. That’s where we were going to go last year before my father was infected.

Reporting and research was contributed by Keith Bradsher, Albee Zhangand Coral Yang.

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Dees defender out for year with ACL injury


“Marty is a very impressive and resilient person, and we will fully support him through his rehab. He’ll meet with the surgeon next week to discuss the appropriate treatment required to repair the ACL.”

Hore played for Collingwood’s VFL team before the Demons drafted him as a mature-aged defender with pick 56 in the 2018 national draft and he played 14 games in 2019 after making his debut in the opening round of 2019.

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He did not play a senior match in 2020 after breaking his toe and then tearing his quad tendon, an injury which required surgery.

Melbourne have had a good run with injury early in the pre-season as they attempt to win their way back into the finals for the first time since they charged into the 2018 preliminary final.

Midfielder Angus Brayshaw is working towards rejoining full training as he continues his rehabilitation from a foot injury that forced him out of the final two games of 2020. He had been ahead of schedule before Christmas and is progressing well.

Veteran defender Michael Hibberd rolled his ankle recently forcing him into the rehab group as it flared an existing issue while defender Harrison Petty faces being on a modified program all year as a result of ongoing groin issues.

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NT ICAC Commissioner Ken Fleming announces early retirement, citing ‘challenging’ year


The Northern Territory’s first Independent Commissioner Against Corruption has announced his retirement, two years before his term is due to end.

Ken Fleming QC was appointed as the head of the NT’s anti-corruption watchdog in July 2018 and plans to relinquish the role in July this year.

“It is with regret that I announce my retirement as the Northern Territory Independent Commissioner Against Corruption,” he said in a statement.

“2020 was a challenging year for many people, and for me reinforced the importance of being close to family.”

During his tenure, Mr Fleming has overseen the establishment of the powerful corruption-fighting unit, which last year commenced 56 investigations into allegations of serious and systemic misconduct.

His office has publicly released three reports into its investigations, the most notable of which found the NT’s long-serving former Speaker Kezia Purick responsible for breaches of public trust that amounted to “corrupt conduct”.

Former Speaker Kezia Purick rejected adverse findings made against her by the ICAC Commissioner.(ABC News: Michael Donnelly)

Ms Purick resigned from her role following the finding that she had inappropriately interfered with the creation of a political party.

But she told Parliament last year that she did not accept ICAC’s findings against her, saying she had not been afforded natural justice.

Mr Fleming’s time as ICAC Commissioner has not been without controversy.

In late 2019, he relinquished his oversight role in an investigation following the shooting death of 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker at Yuendumu, after making controversial comments.

Another significant ICAC report looming

In September last year, Mr Fleming flagged the release of a “major report” in November 2020 that “may just fill all of your expectations and longings”.

But the report, including what it related to, was yet to be made public.

Mr Fleming on Thursday said he remained confident his office would continue to fulfil its mandate once he departed in the middle of the year.

“It has been a privilege and an honour to have served as the first NT Independent Commissioner Against Corruption and to have established an office dedicated to preventing, detecting and responding to improper conduct within the Northern Territory.”

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner, whose government established the ICAC, thanked Mr Fleming for his “outstanding service”.

“Commissioner Fleming is experienced, intelligent and intrepid — qualities that made him the perfect person for such a challenging role,” Mr Gunner said.

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Helmet-less riding claimed 96 lives last year in Khammam


KHAMMAM: Khammam assistant police commissioner S Ramesh said that about 96 motor cyclists were killed in road accidents in the commissionerate limits last year for not wearing helmets.

Laying stress on wearing of helmets, he said that thousands of fatalities can be averted if all two-wheeler drivers wear helmets. He said that from around 732 road mishaps, 232 persons lost their lives in which 96 deaths were for being without helmets.

 

“The police department wants to make the year 2021 an accident and death-free one. Cooperation of people by way of following road-safety measures will help achieve it”, he said.

Decrying the tendency of people to change vehicle numbers other than the one approved by the road transport authority, he said stern action will be taken against all such persons. He warned of criminal cases and jail against those moving around without the original RTA allotted numbers.

The police are monitoring such numberless vehicles through CCTV footages. He said that 220 vehicles were found without number plates and the owners were asked to display the numbers. He said that another 30 vehicles were found to be with false number plates and all those fraudulent numbers have been displayed in all police stations.

 

As part of awareness, the traffic police are organizing various programmes. A bike rally from Mayuri Centre culminated at the traffic police station after passing through Kinnera Centre, IT Hub, NTR Statue, Sri Sri Circle and Raparthinagar.

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Essendon Bombers select Dyson Heppell to captain squad for fifth consecutive year, Zach Merrett back in leadership group


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Essendon coach Ben Rutten said the the playing group and coaching panel both had a role in selecting the club’s four official on-field leaders for 2021.

“Dyson, Michael, Zach and Andy each possess outstanding work ethic, professionalism and commitment to the Essendon Football Club,” Rutten said in a statement.

“These players lead by example and are committed to the program’s values, so they are each to be congratulated on this achievement.

“We also commend Dyson in being unanimously endorsed to lead this football club as captain for a fifth year. It shows the high regard he is held in by his peers.

“Dyson’s leadership continues to evolve year on year and he leads from the front. He nurtures but challenges the playing group, and is incredibly determined to take this group forward. He is to be applauded for his caring and committed attitude across all facets of this organisation.”

Rutten, in his first season as senior coach after a succession plan with AFL coaching veteran John Worsfold was finalised, said Zaharakis, Smith and Shiel would continue to “play an important role in building the leadership capabilities of our playing list this season”.

Essendon have had an off-season with considerable change, including the departure of star forward Joe Daniher to the Brisbane Lions and appointment of long-time Melbourne football boss Josh Mahoney to one of football’s hottest seats, replacing Dan Richardson as football boss at Tullamarine.

Heppell said the Bombers were well placed in 2021 as the club’s emerging playing group takes more steps forward.

Dyson Heppell was back at training last month. Credit:Getty Images

“There is a really good energy at the football club under a new senior coach in Ben and we are all united and committed in wanting to be better across the board. We’re hungry and determined and we’ve seen that desire in our training sessions this pre-season,” Heppell said in a statement.

“As a playing group, we’ve spoken about wanting to be a really dependable and hard-working football team. While we can set the example as a leadership group, it takes all of us to drive this football program forward. I’m excited to see what this playing group can bring in 2021.”

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