From foreign investment in China to humpbacks living up to their name – Here are today's Headlines

China's "Two Sessions" are ongoing right now, running from March 5 to March 11 in Beijing.

From foreign investment in China to humpbacks living up to their name – Here are today's Headlines
A Chinese flag flutters outside the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) building on the Financial Street in Beijing, China February 8, 2024. REUTERS/Florence Lo/File Photo

To start off, we're looking into:

China welcomes foreign investment

China's "Two Sessions" are ongoing right now, running from March 5 to March 11 in Beijing. This is where China discusses its future plans and policies. One big focus this year is on becoming more self-reliant and boosting domestic industries like artificial intelligence (AI) and space exploration. China also wants to make it easier for foreign investors to join in manufacturing and some services sectors. Here's the backstory.

"No matter how the world changes, China's pace of opening up will never stall and its determination to share development opportunities with the world will never change," said China's Premier Li Qiang last year.

The EU’s DMA shakes tech giants

Digital Markets Act
European flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium September 20, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

With the EU cracking down, these industry titans are scrambling to adapt. Apple is taking action by adjusting its App Store fees and allowing third-party apps to be installed on its devices. Google is vowing to offer more options for Android users and link other comparison sites for travel and shopping in searches, while Meta has said it would unlink Facebook and Instagram services. Microsoft is allowing some of those automatically bundled programs in Windows to be uninstallable. Meanwhile, Meta has announced an ad-free subscription option for Facebook and Instagram in Europe in response to regulatory concerns. Here's the backstory.

"The most significant challenge is from Apple because it challenges one of the DMA's rules, which requires it to give app developers the same ability to use iPhone functions which Apple reserves to itself," said Zach Myers, the assistant director for competition at the Centre for European Reform. "But even if that case succeeds, most of the DMA will still be in force."

OpenAI hits back at Musk

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, attends the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, January 18, 2024. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

Last week, Elon Musk sued OpenAI and its CEO, Sam Altman, on the grounds that the company has deviated from its original aim of developing responsible AI for the good of humanity – not for profit. OpenAI has now responded to Musk's claims with a blog post on Tuesday. It included emails Musk sent while he was still with OpenAI that favored the idea of making it a for-profit business. According to OpenAI, Musk said in one email, "This needs billions per year immediately or forget it," referring to OpenAI's fundraising. Here's the backstory.

"We're sad that it's come to this with someone whom we've deeply admired — someone who inspired us to aim higher, then told us we would fail, started a competitor, and then sued us when we started making meaningful progress towards OpenAI's mission without him," the company said in the post, which was co-authored by several of OpenAI's co-founders, including Altman, Brockman and Ilya Sutskever.

To end, we'll look into:

Hong Kong's single-use plastic ban

single-use plastic ban Hong Kong
Pexels/Rathaphon Nanthapreecha

The long-awaited single-use plastic ban is nearly here in Hong Kong. Time to break out your reusable cups and cutlery!

As climate change continues to wreak havoc on our planet, people and governments are looking to do what they can to help save our environment. Landfill waste continues to be a problem in Hong Kong, with 20% of it being plastic – and only 6% of that is actually recycled. 

To combat this, the Hong Kong government has introduced a single-use plastic ban that'll come into play in two phases, with phase one starting on Earth Day, April 22. So here's a quick guide for what you need to know about the single-use plastic ban.

In other news ...

📰Middle East update: For months, the Iran-backed Yemen-based Houthis have been attacking cargo ships in the Red Sea, disrupting the global trading route. The Houthi Telecommunications Minister Misfer Al-Numair announced on Monday that ships intending to enter Yemeni waters will have to get a permit from Yemen's Houthi-controlled Maritime Affairs Authority beforehand. The US military Central Command said on Tuesday that one of its ships was targeted, but it took out the drones and missiles that were launched at it. But on Wednesday, a commercial ship was attacked, and at least two people were killed, with the rest of the crew abandoning the ship. These are the first deaths associated with the Houthi attacks since they began.

Israel's Civil Administration is responsible for settlements in the West Bank, and its website has posted a decision that Israel will advance over 3,400 new housing units in three West Bank settlements to the final approval stages. Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is planning to travel to Cyprus this week for talks on opening a maritime aid corridor for Gaza. 

🗞️Haiti update: Earlier this week, an armed gang attacked a major prison in Haiti, leading to thousands of inmates on the loose. Then, the Haitian government declared a state of emergency. Gang fighters have also been trying to take control of the Port-Au-Prince airport in an effort to overthrow Haiti's PM Ariel Henry. The gang's leader has now said that if Henry doesn't resign, it will start a civil war. On Wednesday, the UN Security Council also privately met to discuss the growing security crisis in the nation.

📢Russian election protest: Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, has urged followers to protest the upcoming election in Russia. Before his death, Navalny had encouraged people to come out at once to vote at noon, overwhelming the polling stations and showing strength in numbers. Navalnaya is continuing to promote this "Noon Against Putin" action and suggesting people write "Navalny" on their voting ballots. 

📩Super Tuesday outcome: The results from Super Tuesday, a major voting date in the US, indicate that a Biden vs. Trump rematch is set for the US presidential elections this November. Trump's last-standing Republican rival and former UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, has dropped out of the race.

🚫Visitors banned from Kyoto district: In Kyoto, Japan, the local council has decided to ban visitors from its famous geisha district, Gion, starting in April for their "out of control" behavior. This move aims to protect the entertainers after a series of incidents where the Geishas have had their kimonos pulled on and been pressured to take photos with visitors. Some have even said they've had their hair ornaments stolen and cigarette ash flicked on them. Entry into the area will only be granted to the geisha, their clients and residents. 

🫰EU tariffs on EVs: After an increase in imported electric vehicles (EVs) from China, the EU has imposed retroactive tariffs on them to ensure that European domestic manufacturers have a better chance at selling and producing their own EVs. Made-in-China EVs must now be registered with the customs authorities starting on Thursday.

🧴Cancer in acne creams: An independent testing lab in the US found that acne cream products from brands like Proactiv, Clearasil, and Clinique have elevated levels of the carcinogen benzene, a chemical linked to cancer. The lab has asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to recall the acne treatments while they investigate the issue further. 

🏠Hong Kong public housing: The average wait for public housing in Hong Kong continues to increase gradually, reaching 5.8 years on average in the last quarter of 2023. The Housing Authority has said that the long wait is due to the slow delivery of new flats. 

⚽Women's World Cup 2031: On the sidelines of China's "Two Sessions," National People's Congress delegate and sports lawmaker Kenneth Fok has said there's hope that the nation will host the Women's World Cup in 2031 if it can build more sports venues and has support in the Greater Bay Area. FIFA is expected to decide the host nation in 2025.

🐳Humpbacks humping: For the first time, photographers have caught humpbacks in the act 😏, doing "the deed" – and it turns out that they were both males. Although the pics were caught back in 2022, they were just published in a study last week in Marine Mammal Science. According to the study, it's the first time penetration by a humpback whale has been documented. It is also the first report of sexy time between two male humpbacks. Bow chicka wow wow.

humpback whales
Source: Pacific Whale Foundation

Quiz Time!

What deadline in 2024 did the EU give six major “gatekeepers” named last year to comply with the new Digital Markets Act?

  1. March 5
  2. March 7
  3. March 8
  4. July 15

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Written and put together by Joey Fung, Alisha Khan and Christine Dulion

**The answer to the quiz is [2]