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China’s longest-serving ambassador to the US leaving post, notes ‘critical crossroads’ as tensions grow

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Cui Tiankai announced on Tuesday through a farewell letter that he is leaving his position as China’s ambassador to the US just as the two nations are facing a “critical crossroads.”

The US is facing a “choice between cooperation and confrontation” as it goes through a “new round of restructuring in its government policy towards China,” Cui warned in his letter on Tuesday, according to the South China Morning Post.

He added that “overseas Chinese in the US have to shoulder a greater responsibility and mission.”

“I hope you will defend your right to be in the US and to develop your own interests, with the starting point of helping to safeguard the fundamental interests of the people in China and the US,” he wrote.

Relations between the US and China have deteriorated over the years, with former President Donald Trump making the Chinese government a near-constant target, whether it was over trade negotiations or the Covid-19 pandemic. The Biden administration has not seen relations grow much, with the current president being nearly as critical and pushing for a stronger stance from other nations.

Before delivering his farewell letter, Cui met with Russian ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov and the two discussed relations between the countries. Antonov briefed his colleague on the US-Russia summit held in Geneva days earlier.

Antonov revealed he even asked for advice from his “friend” Cui on the state of affairs between the US and Russia, which have also faced struggles.

Antonov praised the relationship between the two countries, saying, “No one will be ever able to drive a wedge between us because Russia and China have a strategic partnership and friendly relations.”

Cui has been in his position for eight years, and he is expected to be replaced by China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Qin Gang.

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Source: rt.com

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Tokyo governor taking a week off, suffering from ‘excess fatigue’ as Olympics loom and Covid-19 lingers

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The Tokyo government has announced that its governor will be taking a break due to “excess fatigue” with the Olympics just one month away and the metropolis battling persistent Covid as vaccinations remain low.

“A deputy governor will serve official duties on her behalf this week as Governor Koike needs a rest due to excess fatigue,” a metropolitan government spokeswoman told Reuters on Tuesday.

The announcement of Koike’s break comes as the Japanese capital is due to host the delayed Olympic Games in just one month while the city fights Covid-19.

Last week, amid concerns that the games would lead to a further increase in infections, the government elected to cancel all public viewing events in Tokyo for its upcoming Olympics.

A poll published in May highlighted opposition to the event, with over 80% of the Japanese public saying they are against hosting the postponed Tokyo 2020 summer Olympics.

On Tuesday, Japan reported 435 new cases of Covid-19, substantially below the average in most other developed nations. Healthcare services have struggled under the pressure despite having one of the world’s highest numbers of hospital beds per capita.

Government data suggests that only 4.18% of Japan’s citizens have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

In May, the head of a Japanese doctors union warned that the presence of people from all around the world in Tokyo for the games could lead to the emergence of an “Olympic” coronavirus strain.

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YouTube secures victory in copyright challenge at EU’s top court over publishing of unauthorized content

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The EU Court of Justice handed a win to Google’s YouTube on Tuesday in a case over the publishing of unauthorized content on its platform. But it warned that sites could be liable if they do not act swiftly to remove such content.

The court case was the latest challenge against the tech company over the publishing of copyrighted material on its platform and the level of culpability YouTube has when its users share unauthorized content.

“As currently stands, operators of online platforms do not, in principle, themselves make a communication to the public of copyright-protected content illegally posted online by users of those platforms,” the EU Court of Justice said in its ruling.

While the court did not hold the company responsible for unauthorized content being uploaded, it did warn that tech companies like YouTube could be held liable if they do not act quickly to remove or block such material when it’s flagged by the copyright holders.

The EU judges called on the company and similar platforms to ensure that they put relevant tools in place to tackle or prevent copyright breaches committed by users.

YouTube “is a leader in copyright and supports rights holders being paid their fair share,” a Google representative said in response to the ruling. “We’ve invested in state of the art copyright tools which have created an entirely new revenue stream for the industry.”

The case had been sparked by a lawsuit filed by a music producer, Frank Peterson, who was suing YouTube after several users uploaded phonograms that he is the copyright holder of. After a separate court case was launched in a German court against file-hosting platform Cyando over similar concerns, Berlin sought advice from the EU Court of Justice, leading to the ruling on Tuesday.

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Content-sharing platform Disclose.tv accuses Google and Apple of temporarily ‘censoring’ content on its Telegram group chat

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Disclose.tv, a Reddit-like service for people who seek “true insight into what is actually happening in the world” has accused Google and Apple of censoring its group chat on Telegram messenger.

The service blamed “Big Tech oligarchs at Google and Apple” for the apparent glitch in the display of its Telegram chat on devices running Android and iOS operating systems. On Android, all comments were replaced with a notice stating that they “cannot be displayed on Telegram apps downloaded from the Google Play Store.” The iOS version of the messenger simply refused to display the channel.

The web version of Telegram could still access the Disclose.tv channel as normal. The Android variant installed directly rather than through Google’s App Store worked fine as well, the platform said. About an hour after the warning was posted, the display of comments went back to normal.

It was not immediately clear whether the malfunction was indeed an act of censorship by the US tech giants, as claimed by Disclose.tv, or some bug in Telegram code. If the former is true, it would apparently mean that the owners of the stores have the power to selectively suspend content on apps that they distribute to users.

Unlike Google, Apple does not allow users to install apps it has not approved, so the ramifications of the censorship scenario are more profound for iPhone owners.

Disclose.tv is a German-based content sharing platform that has been operational since 2007. It caters for an audience that wants “to gain true insight into what is actually happening as the world becomes increasingly complex,” according to its own description. Its Telegram channel has more than 270,000 subscribers.

Some of the posts on the platform include an observation that four ‘progress pride’ flags with a triangle lapel can form a swastika if placed in a certain way, and a suggestion that the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games foreshadowed the Covid-19 pandemic. With Silicon Valley obsessed with rooting out what they consider misinformation, one can see how Disclose.tv could fall foul with Google and Apple.

After the chat was fixed, the platform called for “breaking up Big Tech.”

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