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Report: 10.41 million people died in China in 2022

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A total of 10.41 million people died in China by the end of 2022, bringing the population to 850,000 fewer than at the end of 2021.

According to the National Statistics Bureau, it is the first significant reduction in the PRC’s population since 1961, the final year of the Great Famine under the country’s former leader Mao Zedong.

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In 2022, there were 9.56 million births, down from 10.62 million the year before and the lowest number since at least 1950, despite government initiatives to encourage parents to have more children.

According to Kang Yi, the director of the National Statistics Bureau, the fall in births was the primary reason for the population decline.

“That’s mainly a result of drop in people’s willingness to have babies, the delay in marriage and pregnancy, as well as a fall in number of women of childbearing age,” Mr Kang told reporters after a press briefing Tuesday.

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Mr Kang added that the drop — while the beginning of a new trend — was “not something to be over-concerned about.” The supply of the country’s labour force is still greater than the demand, he said.

“The population will likely trend down from here in coming years,” said Zhang Zhiwei, president and chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management Ltd. “This is very important, with implications for potential growth and domestic demand.”

China experienced an increase in mortality connected to the COVID-19 virus starting last month after the country’s leadership listened to popular outcry demanding an end to its zero-tolerance policy against the virus in early December.

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This year will probably see more COVID-19-related deaths than usual since infections are still spreading across the nation and because fatalities typically follow illnesses by a few weeks.

The number of deaths this year may increase due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Putin warns West over arms deliveries to Ukraine

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President Vladimir Putin on Thursday vowed a decisive response to any country threatening Russia and lashed out against Germany for promising tanks for Kyiv.

His threats came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that the Kremlin was consolidating its forces for a fresh offensive.

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Zelensky was speaking in Kyiv beside EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, who said the bloc was looking to finalise fresh sanctions against Russia by February 24, exactly one year after Putin ordered troops into Ukraine.

In the southern Russian city of Volgograd, Putin said: “It’s unbelievable but true. We are again being threatened by German Leopard tanks.”

He was speaking at a ceremony commemorating the Red Army’s victory against Nazi troops 80 years ago in Stalingrad, as the city was then known.
“We have something to respond with,” he added. “A modern war with Russia will be completely different.”

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Ukraine this month secured promises from the West for deliveries of modern battle tanks to fight Russian forces, and Kyiv is now asking for long-range missiles and fighter jets.

– Sanctions to ‘erode’ Russia –
Russia is “preparing to try to take revenge, not only against Ukraine, but against a free Europe and the free world,” Zelensky told a joint press conference with von der Leyen.

Putin has insisted that Russia is weathering the barrage of sanctions imposed by Ukraine’s Western allies and will continue its military campaign in Ukraine.

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But von der Leyen said sanctions were already “eroding” Russia’s economy, “throwing it back by a generation”. She estimated that an existing oil price cap alone was costing Moscow around 160 million euros every day.

“We will introduce with our G7 partners an additional price cap on Russian petroleum products and by the 24th of February — exactly one year since the invasion started — we aim to have the 10th package of sanctions in place,” she said.

Von der Leyen arrived in Kyiv on Thursday with the EU’s most senior diplomat Josep Borrell ahead of a Ukraine-EU summit on Friday in the war-torn country, which is seeking EU membership.

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Zelensky said his country deserved to start accession talks this year to “give energy and motivation to our people to fight.”

But EU leaders say the process could take many years.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed the EU and specifically von der Leyen had called for Russia to be defeated so its economy would be devastated.

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“Is this not racism, not Nazism,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov’s comments echoed Putin, who has frequently drawn parallels between what he calls Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine and the Soviet war against Nazi Germany.

Putin launched his intervention last year, saying that Russia needed to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

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Von der Leyen’s trip comes one day after Kyiv raided the homes of an oligarch and public officials as part of efforts to ease Western concerns about graft.

“I’m comforted to see that your anti-corruption bodies are on alert and effective,” von der Leyen said.

– ‘How can I leave?’ –
On the front line, Russian forces are pressing Ukrainian troops in the eastern Donetsk region, now the epicentre of fighting.

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Moscow has been trying to seize control of Bakhmut in the industrial region for months in what has become the longest and bloodiest battle of the invasion.

Residents who remain in the war-scarred town told AFP they will not budge if the Russians arrive.

“How could I leave?” said 75-year-old Natalia Shevchenko.

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She said she spends so much time sheltering from bombardments in her basement that she feels “like a mole” as she steps out into the light and her eyes adjust.

“Don’t worry,” she told AFP as shells whistled in the background. “They’re far away. I’ve now learnt where they’re going.”

Russian forces have also been shelling the southern region of Kherson, after withdrawing its forces from the region’s main city last year.

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Separately the United States said Thursday it backs moves to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to take part in the 2024 Olympics only as neutral athletes prevented from displaying national flags or emblems.

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Elderly man, 91, charged with murder after his wife, 92, found dead in home

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A 91-year-old man has been charged with the murder of his 92-year-old wife.

Police are investigating John Woodbridge after Anne Woodbridge was found dead at a home in Weston-super-Mare on Monday morning.

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After appearing before Bristol Magistrates’ Court today he is now due to appear at Bristol Crown Court on March 17.

In a statement, Avon and Somerset Police said: “A man has been charged after an investigation into the death of a woman in Weston-super-Mare.

“Anne Woodbridge, 92, was found deceased at a residential address on the morning of Monday 30 January.

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“John Woodbridge, of Ashcombe Road, has subsequently been charged with murder.

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Southern Cameroon seeks US, others’ intervention in crisis with Cameroon

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The people of Southern Cameroon also known as the Ambazonians have sought the intervention of the United States of America in the lingering crisis between them and La Republique Du Cameroon.

The Leader of Southern Cameroon Dr Samuel Sako who made the call on behalf of the people during a virtual conference urged the U S. government to initiate peace talks between the two warring parties

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Sako also requested Switzerland and Canada be part of the dialogue.

While decrying the impact of the crisis on the people of Southern Cameroon, Sako explained that the people wanted the international community to prevail over the Republic of Cameroon to revert to the initial agreement of 1961 which brought the two entities together.

Sako wanted America to be the convener of the meeting noting that the U.S. .government had a way of getting President Paul Biya of attending a meeting that they want him to attend. When Americans get involved, the negotiation process works”.

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“La Republique must be represented on the table through official delegations. We can’t have a proper dialogue without the political leadership of LRC that is responsible for the killings and genocide in Ambazonia”.

“Any dialogue that does not bring the La Republique to the table for talks is a distraction. And distractions won’t bring peace. They will only empower the enemy to continue with their mission of annihilation and deceive the world that some kind of solution will emerge from somewhere even when there is no process. Anything short of the process will not get the Interim Government of Ambazonia on the table.”

According to Sako, La Republique du Cameroon Government should be blamed for the outright rejection of the Swiss-led mediation talks, which made Switzerland pull out as mediator of any possible talks between Ambazonia and La Republique in 2017.

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The Leader of the Ambazonian people maintained that negotiation was the only way towards disarmament, return of refugees, and restoration of lasting peace,.

Dr Sako added that Southern Cameroon was out for genuine negotiation for the good of all, urging the world to rise up and end the alleged genocide in the region.

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