From Biden’s trip to Asia to Hong Kong’s border controls – Here is your May 25 news briefing

From Biden’s trip to Asia to Hong Kong’s border controls – Here is your May 25 news briefing
FILE PHOTO: Travellers wearing face masks queue at the check-in counters of the Hong Kong International Airport amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Hong Kong, China, March 21, 2022. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

To start off, we’re looking into:

Hong Kong’s border controls

Hong Kong will seemingly keep its current quarantine policy for inbound travelers, as a “significant amount” of daily infections still comes from imported cases, said the city’s outgoing Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

On Tuesday, the financial hub logged 250 COVID cases, including 34 that were imported. This was a slight rebound from the previous day’s low of 190 cases, the fewest reported since February 4. Plus, zero virus-related deaths were reported for four consecutive days. Despite this, seven days of hotel quarantine for inbound travelers will remain in place, at least until July 1, when John Lee officially takes office as the city’s new leader.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong stocks have continued to decline, with growing calls from business communities and airline companies to ease border controls. The Hang Seng Index fell as much as 1.6% on Tuesday. Cathay Pacific dropped by 1.7%.

Biden’s trip to Asia

Biden Asia
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden arrives at Osan Air Base for travel to Japan, in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, May 22, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Pool/File Photo

Biden has pretty much wrapped up his Asia trip. We’ve been waiting to see how things develop before reporting more. And, so far, here’s everything that has happened:

Taiwan comments

Typically, the US usually remains “strategically ambiguous” on its stance on Taiwan, but Biden said a couple of days ago that the country would intervene if China tried to take Taiwan by force.

After Biden’s comments, the administration was quick to clarify that its stance on the “One China” policy hasn’t changed, but Beijing still didn’t exactly appreciate the comment.

Indo-Pacific pact

Biden also revealed a new economic pact in the Indo-Pacific, which includes a dozen Asia-Pacific nations and is designed to counter China’s influence in the region. The idea is that it will bring the US closer to economically strong countries in Asia like South Korea and Japan. But some are questioning whether it will be worth very much since it doesn’t have all the provisions that a standard free trade agreement has.

Vibes in the Quad in general

Speaking of those strong countries in Asia, Biden also met with the rest of the Quad, a group of four countries (The US, India, Japan, and Australia) with an ongoing security dialogue. The meeting reportedly involved discussions about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as China’s influence in the South China sea and potential Taiwan implications.

But as the meeting was happening, Japan and South Korea were scrambling jets because of Chinese and Russian warplanes entering their airspace in what the Japanese defense minister called a “provocative” action. Beijing said it was part of an annual military exercise.

Social egg freezing in Asia

An employee checks a bio tank that freezes eggs in a Fertility Research lab at Cha Fertility Center in Bundang, South Korea, April 30, 2022. Picture taken April 30, 2022. REUTERS/Heo Ran

Up until now, unlike many other Asian countries, Singapore has made it difficult for single women to freeze their eggs, allowing only women with medical conditions to go through the process. That’s changing next year, though.

Egg freezing allows women to extend their ability to get pregnant in the future by preserving fertility. But, this decision often comes with a hefty price tag. It’s also unclear how effective the process is at increasing birth rates.

Some doctors in the Asia-Pacific region report that only around 5-10% of women return to get their eggs fertilized. This may be because most countries in Asia require that eggs be fertilized by the woman’s legal spouse – a rule that also applies to foreigners in Malaysia and South Korea.

According to the White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development, the government will begin allowing single women aged 21 to 35 to freeze their eggs. But, it was clear to point out that it “encourages parenthood within marriage” and does not support “planned and deliberate parenthood by singles,” calling the scenario a “lifestyle choice.”

Only legally married couples will be able to use the frozen eggs for procreation. Some critics point out that, though the policy is a welcome improvement on women’s reproductive rights, it excludes women who wish to be single mothers and those within the LGBTQ+ community.

To end, we’ll look into:

“Proof of Love" might just be the first crypto dating show

For those who are on the fence about trashy dating shows, are we able to woo you with some ETH? As in, singles-plus-crypto? 😍

If you’re intrigued, then “Proof of Love” might be just for you. It’s basically your standard dating show, where contestants do questionable challenges to compete for the heart of the show’s bachelorette. But at the end of each episode, the winner has to choose whether they want to go on a date with her or take US$3,000 in Ethereum and walk away.

What makes it even more interesting is that the contestants who choose to go on a date can come back to compete for a jackpot prize, which right now is worth about US$15,000 (in Ethereum as well, of course).

The whole thing is a project funded by roughly US$500,000 worth of Ethereum, which the founders got from selling NFTs. It’s produced by a company called Mad Realities.

And if this whole thing sounds a little ridiculous to you, that’s sort of the point. According to Mad Realities’ CEO Devin Lewtan: “The internet is so serious sometimes, especially Crypto Twitter. Everyone’s very focused on making money. We wanted to create a space for real people to come on and lean into the bit.”

It’s hard to say which is more important based on the show – diamond hands or diamond rings; going to the moon or going on a (honey)moon?

In other news

🇺🇸This is still developing, but what we know is that, on Tuesday afternoon, there was a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. A reported 15 people were killed, 14 children and one teacher. The suspect, an 18-year-old male, has also been reported dead.

📉Snaps … anyone? About 12 hours ago, Snap (parent company of Snapchat) issued a profit loss warning, and with that, the company shares and the founders’ net worths both took a big hit. It also led to a widespread sell-off in the tech and advertising space, with analysts saying that the whole situation is probably more industry-driven than Snap-specific.

🇮🇳Food: Global food supplies are already tight at the moment, and to add to the strain, India will restrict sugar exports to protect its own domestic supply, which comes after banning wheat exports this month. Global wheat supply is low because of the Russia-Ukraine war, and India was last year’s top sugar exporter.

🇹🇷NATO: On Wednesday, Turkey will be discussing Finland and Sweden’s bids to join NATO. For a bit of context, Turkey is against the move because it says that the two nordic countries harbor terrorists.

💼WFH: Credit Suisse CEO Thomas Gottstein has said that 9-5 days at the office are fully behind us, adding, “It’s unrealistic, and it is not what employees want.”

🔮Life in crystals: Scientists are about to open up an 830-million-years-old crystal that might contain life. Researchers say that the shapes consistent with a microorganism developing in such an extreme habitat ​​are a major step in understanding our origins on Earth and possibly understanding life on other planets.

👨‍⚖️Amber-Johnny: Closing arguments are expected to take place this Friday. #IStandWithAmberHeard has garnered about 8.2 million views, while #JusticeForJohnnyDepp has earned about 15 billion views on social media. Some people have even been paying around US$30,000 in travel expenses just to get front row seats in court.

🍖Kim Kardashian has a long and diverse resume. Now, she can add “Chief Taste Consultant” for Beyond Meat on it as well, which will require her to share her favorite company products in its newsletter.

The tight labor market

Not to press on this any further … but you know how we explained that if you want to put your feet up on the table and do the day’s Wordle at work, now’s the time?

Well, the designer for HSBC who “redesigned" the company logo was way ahead of any of us.

HSBC logo redesign
Credit: @hkmehmeh

Written and put together by Jake Shropshire, Christine Dulion, Julianna Barcela and Krystal Lai