International News Digest: China's 'Crypto' crackdown, Myanmar plane crash and more
Here is your daily round-up of all that is making news across the world.
Bitcoin as legal tender in El Salvador
El Salvador has become the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as legal tender after Congress approved President Nayib Bukele's proposal on Wednesday. With 64 out of 84 votes the lawmakers voted in favour of the move despite concerns over the impact on El Salvador's programme with the International Monetary Fund. Bukele has cited the use of bitcoin for its potential to help those citizens living abroad to send remittances back home, whilst the US dollar Willa also continue to be legal tender. According to the president, it will bring financial inclusion, investment, tourism, innovation and economic development for the country.
Taiwan 'cautiously optimistic' on resuming US trade talks
A senior Taiwan official has said that the country is 'cautiously optimistic' about resuming stalled high-level trade talks with the United States this year after the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken signalled a chance. Taiwan has long angled for a free deal with the US but talks have not moved forward since the Obama administration. Any agreement between the US and Taiwan will increase the hostility between the two and China.
Military plane crashes near Myanmar's Mandalay, 12 dead
A military plane crashed near Myanmar's second-largest city of Mandalay on Thursday, killing 12 people. According to the military-owned television station Myawaddy, the plane was coming from the capital Naypyidaw to the town of Pyin Oo Lwin and was landing when it crashed about 300 meters from a steel plant. There were 6 military personnel on board along with monks due to attend a Buddhist monastery. No casualties were reported on the ground. Among the survivors were the pilot and one passenger who was taken to a military hospital.
Donald Trump-era ban on TikTok dropped by Joe Biden
President Joe Biden has revoked an executive order from the previous Trump administration that would have banned Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat in the United States. Instead, the US Department of Commerce will now review apps developed by those countries which fall under the jurisdiction of a foreign adversary such as China and use an evidence-based approach according to Biden. The ban had been ordered by the previous administration as the app was perceived to be a threat to national security and instead, it was proposed that US companies like Walmart would control the app in the country, but neither the ban nor the involvement of any company came to fruition.
US health body: If Covid trends continue, it could be years before the virus is controlled
According to the Pan American Heal Organisation, if the spread of the Covid virus continues at current rates in the Americas without the sharing of vaccines it can take years to control it. There were about 1.2 million new cases and 34000 deaths in the region as of last week and four out of five countries with the highest death toll in the world are in the Americas. The introduction of new transmissible variants has made it even more difficult to control the virus along with the lack of vaccinated individuals, only 10% of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean is vaccinated.
Joe Biden arrives in UK on first stop of Europe trip
US President Joe Biden and his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, arrived in Britain on Wednesday for the first stop of his European tour and the G7 summit. He will have a one-on-one meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday. He is also set to meet Vladimir Putin during the summit.
China's crackdown on crypto-related money laundering
A month since China announced that it will crackdown on bitcoin mining and trading in order to fend off financial risks, the country has arrested more than a thousand people who are suspected to use cryptocurrency in money laundering from telephone and internet scams. According to the Chinese public security ministry, there have been more than 170 criminal groups that have been apprehended by the police who have used these techniques and laundered money. This is the fifth round of a nationwide crackdown by China in order to curb telecom fraud, called Operation Card Breaking. In the operation so far, 311,000 people have been arrested and 15,000 criminal organisations have been shut down. Telecom criminals use fake or stolen SIM cards and compromised bank accounts to launder money through the traditional banking system. China's Payment and Clearing Association claims that nearly 13% of the gambling sites use virtual currency and blockchain technology has made it difficult for authorities to track the money.
'Ring of Fire' eclipse to sweep across Earth
The Northern Hemisphere will get to witness a solar eclipse on Thursday, the eclipse is called the annular eclipse which sees the moon across the face of the sun but not completely block the light. It will be most visible in the Arctic. The countries which will have a good view of the eclipse are Canada, Greenland, northern parts of Europe and Asia along with the eastern part of the US and northern Alaska. They will get to see 40% of the Sun eclipsed. To observe the eclipse one must never look at it with their naked eye due to the severe damage that it can cause, the eclipse must be seen with either a pinhole projector or approved eclipse glasses.
Abu Dhabi restricts many public areas to those free of Covid
The second-most populous city in the United Arab Emirates is set to allow only vaccinated people to enter shopping malls, restaurants, cafes and other public spaces from June 15. The new rules were announced on Wednesday as the UAE saw a rise in cases over the past three weeks, recording 2179 new infections on Wednesday from 1229 on May 17. Those vaccinated will have to prove it with a country’s covid app and have to get tested every thirty days, those who have not been vaccinated have to be tested every three days in order to have a green status and stay negative until vaccinated. The UAE has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and a variety of vaccines available to the citizens such as AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sinopharm and Sputnik V.
Myanmar authorities open new corruption cases against Suu Kyi
According to media reports from Thailand, new corruption cases have been opened against Aung San Suu Kyi and officials from her government. She was deposed and overthrown by the army on February 1 in a coup that has brought with it chaos and many civilian protests. The state newspaper quoted the anti-corruption Commission saying that the cases were related to the misuse of land and accepting money and gold on behalf of the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, which she chaired. If found guilty, Suu Kyi could see sentence her up to 15 years in prison.