Chinese players have accomplished one upset after another at the ongoing US Open.
In the hard-court tennis Grand Slam tournament, Zhang Zhizhen became the first man from the Chinese mainland to beat a player in the top five of the ATP rankings as he pulled off a resilient display of tennis skills to prevail against World No.5 Casper Ruud of Norway 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 0-6, 6-2 on Wednesday night.
Thanks to his powerful serves (18 aces) and punishing forehand that overwhelmed Ruud with a whopping 60 winners overall, Zhang made it to the third round of the tournament, a new breakthrough in his personal career.
“That was a wild ride,” US Open official Twitter commented on Zhang’s surprise victory over the 2022 US Open runner-up. Rudd had been to the finals in three of the last six Grand Slam events.
The 26-year-old also avenged his loss to Rudd in the third round of the French Open in June. Zhang will face Rinky Hijikata of Australia in the third round. His opponent, Ruud, believes he can keep on going. “I was impressed, in a way, how he played,” Ruud said. “He’s going to be a threat for many years.”
“Last year at the US Open, I can say it was a bad memory. But this year is a little bit different,” said Zhang after the match.
“At the end of the match, when I finished the last point, I didn’t really celebrate, as if I was not super happy. But I was happy inside, it just didn’t show.”
Liu Yu, a Beijing-based sports commentator, told the Global Times that Zhang has been improving, especially after he hired Lu Yen-hsun, a retired player from Taiwan island, to join his team. Liu said he looks forward to seeing Zhang representing China at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Should Zhang reach the fourth round, he will have a chance to become the first Chinese man to crack the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings.
Zhang is not the only Chinese that stunned a seeded player as Zhu Lin moved into the third round after breezing past Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-3, 6-3 in the women’s singles.
The emerging younger generation of Chinese swimmers have contributed massively to China’s swimming dominance at the Asian Games, as the national swimming team brought their gold medal tally on Monday to 11.
A most outstanding breakthrough came from Pan Zhanle, a 19-year-old freestyle sprint specialist. The young man crushed it with a new lifetime best of 46.97 seconds to take the gold medal in the men’s 100 meters freestyle on Sunday.
But Pan remained unsatisfied with the breakthrough.
“I felt my performance was mediocre. I was aiming to break the world record before the race,” Pan told reporters after the race. “The Asian record doesn’t feel like anything extraordinary. This is something I should get. It’s a bit disappointing that I missed it by only 0.11 seconds.”
Pan’s performance has set a new Asian record, making him the first Asian swimmer to finish 100 meters under the 47-second barrier and the fifth-fastest swimmer in the discipline in history. Previously his personal best was at 47.22 seconds produced at this year’s Chinese Championships.
The world record remains at the 46.86 seconds Romania’s David Popovici put on the books at the 2022 European Championships.
Pan told the Global Times that the secret behind his triumph lies in the everyday training during which he has paid close attention to improving his flip turns.
“The last two months I have put a lot of effort into improving my jump start and flip turns,” Pan told the Global Times. “Communication with the coach is very important,” he said, before noting he will continue to strive toward the goal of breaking the world record in the future.
Standing next to Pan on the men’s 100 meters freestyle podium was 18-year-old Wang Haoyu. Speaking of his performance of 48.02 seconds, 1.05 seconds behind Pan’s achievement, Wang said nervousness at the Asian Games thwarted him from attaining a better performance.
“I was a little nervous. It’s impossible not to be [as it’s my first Asian Games]. It was slightly below my expectations,” Wang told reporters. “I got on the podium, but the result could have been better. I still need to fight in the events to come.”
Female breaststroker Tang Qianting, 19, also set up a new Chinese national standard and Asian record in the women’s 50 meters breaststroke.
Firing off a time of 29.92 seconds in the heat, she not only produced the sole outing of the field under the 30-second barrier, but it represented a shiny new lifetime best for the teen and her first-ever foray under the threshold.
Tang’s previous career quickest record was 30.08 seconds she logged at this year’s World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.
Monday night also saw 18-year-old Chinese swimmer Yu Yiting win the women’s 200 meters individual relay in 2:07.75, setting up a new Asian Games record and outperforming veteran teammate and 2012 Olympic champion Ye Shiwen.
Yang Junxuan, 21, has also played a key role in securing the women’s 4×100 meters freestyle relay gold medal
Besides the young swimmers, already crowned world champions Zhang Yufei and Qin Haiyang remain the marquee names in the swimming squad.
Having publicly announced that she is aiming for the Asian Games MVP award, Zhang told the Global Times that the biggest challenge in achieving the goal is the short-distance sprints.
The previous Asian Games female MVP award winner was Rikako Ikee of Japan who won six gold and two silver medals in eight competitions when she participated in the Jakarta Asian Games in 2018.
Zhang, who anchored the Chinese women’s 4×100 meters freestyle relay to victory following her 200 meters butterfly title, said she wants to win seven gold medals in Hangzhou.
“I’m hoping to get seven gold medals here. And I feel confident about it. Let’s take it one step at a time,” she told reporters.
Breaststroke world champion Qin Haiyang lowered the Asian Games record in men’s 100 meters breaststroke to 57.76 seconds to win his first gold medal at the Hangzhou Games.
The triple world champion has set his sights on setting up a new 50 meters world record, after he crushed Adam Peaty’s 200 meters world record in the worlds.
“The world record I want to break the most is the 50 meters,” Qin told reporters.
“It’s an event that I feel more confident in, and I’ve also been putting more effort into training for this one.”
The Hangzhou Asian Para Games unfolded with a heartwarming opening ceremony that showcased the spirit of “optimism, harmony, perseverance and sharing” in East China’s Zhejiang Province on Sunday.
Themed “Hearts Meet, Dreams Shine,” the 85-minute opening ceremony revolved around the image of the osmanthus, the official city flower of Hangzhou. The Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium, or “Big Lotus,” was turned into a spectacle of golden osmanthus flowers in full blossom thanks to digital technology.
From the 22 massive bouquets of golden osmanthus flowers that highlighted the charm of Hangzhou, the flower transformed into water and then arched bridges and eventually became a giant golden crown in the air over the packed 80,000 capacity stadium to welcome the athletes of the participating countries and regions.
More than 3,000 athletes from over 40 countries and regions across Asia will show their perseverance and pursue their dreams in Hangzhou. They will join hands to write a new chapter of harmony, unity and sharing for the Asian community.
The Chinese delegation, which consists of 723 people with a total of 439 athletes, will compete in 22 sports and 397 events at the Para Games, which are scheduled to run until Saturday.
People with disabilities were invited to participate in the ceremony to demonstrate their indomitable spirit and positive mentality toward life.
China’s national flag was carried into the stadium by four children, two with disabilities and two without. A group of performers gave a rendition of the national anthem using sign language.
A dance show featuring 36 able-bodied dancers and 36 wheelchair dancers displayed the touching scenes of athletes going hand in hand on the journey to realize their dreams, highlighting the spirit of integration of able-bodied people and people with disabilities.
Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang declared the 4th Asian Para Games open.
The flame of hope and love was lit as the last torchbearer, fitted with a robotic arm operated by a brain control system, ignited the cauldron together with the Games mascot Feifei.
Majid Rashed, president of the Asian Paralympic Committee, told the Global Times that the Hangzhou Games are the best ever Para Games and that they offer athletes across Asia the opportunity to present their talents.
“Beyond the competitions, the Games convey the message of inclusiveness and aim to raise people’s awareness about people with disabilities,” said Majid. “Over the next six days of competitions, you will see stories of determination and inspiration.”
“Hangzhou has been a great role model for hosting such a big event. The facilities and the venues are outstanding and will be one of the legacies for people of this beautiful city,” Majid noted.
“I look forward to coming to Hangzhou with my family in the future.”
Sha Xiaolan, general director of the opening ceremony of the Asian Para Games, told the Global Times that the image of the golden osmanthus crown was designed to extend the wishes of “winning laurels” to every athlete.
The Chinese character for osmanthus also means “laurels” in Putonghua (Standard Chinese).
“From a small osmanthus flower to an osmanthus crown, we hope to convey the idea that athletes’ unrelenting efforts in training will accrue accomplishments. Every little effort counts in making their dream come true,” said Sha.
The song “Our Asia,” which was used for the opening ceremony of the Asian Games, was played again to usher the athletes into the stadium.
“Using the same song is to express the notion of the integration of the disabled and able-bodied,” said Sha. The beloved song was penned 33 years ago for the 11th Asian Games in Beijing.
Cui Wei, vice director of the opening ceremony of the Asian Para Games, told the Global Times that the ceremony was dedicated to inviting everyone to Hangzhou as the city is permeated with the aroma of osmanthus in October.
“If the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games was romantic and spectacular, then the ceremony of the Asian Para Games is warm, touching and inspiring,” said Cui.
“We want to take this opportunity to show Hangzhou’s humanistic care for disabled people and reflect the country’s progress and achievements in the cause of disabled people,” Cui said.
Lü Yuan, chief writer of the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Para Games, said the osmanthus was chosen as the main image of the opening ceremony for its touching symbolic meaning in traditional Chinese culture.
“After communicating with many visually impaired people, we thought the aroma of osmanthus can be shared by nearly everyone,” Lü noted.
“We want to convey the power of community, companionship and solidarity. This small osmanthus flower does not bloom alone, but blooms in clusters. None of us walks alone. The power of love and companionship keeps us going forward,” said Lü.
Chen Weiqiang, spokesperson of the Hangzhou Para Games, said that by Sunday, over 320,000 tickets had been sold, going on to note that the Games have helped Hangzhou become a more accessible city for people with disabilities.
The press conference for the 2023 Beijing Dance Academy Performance Season was held at the Beijing Dance Academy.
From November to January 2024, 47 shows, 90 performances and more than 30 supporting activities will be staged in various theaters in Beijing.
The performance season covers different professional genres, such as Chinese classical dance, Chinese ethnic and folk dance, ballet, musical and modern dance.
The performance season is a gathering of high-quality domestic performance institutions.
Xu Rui, president of the academy, said that he looks forward to deepening cooperation and exchanges with more performance institutions, and telling Chinese stories with an inclusive and eclectic vision and atmosphere.
Ba Tu, the Party chief of the Beijing Dance Academy, said that the performance season is a distinctive mark of the academy’s attributes: talent output, quality collection, and resource convergence.
The special section, Taoli Cup Invitation Performance Series, will include top-notch artistic talents and excellent artistic works selected for a national tour.
In recent days, the youth-oriented travel reality show Divas Hit the Road Season V has been captivating audiences on Hunan TV and its online video platform Mango TV, igniting cultural enthusiasm for China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI).
This year marks the 10th anniversary of China’s proposed BRI. State-owned Hunan TV, the provincial satellite TV station of Central China’s Hunan Province, launched this program. Seven Chinese artists, including Qin Hailu, Qin Lan, Xin Zhilei, Dilraba Dilmurat, Zhao Zhaoyi, Wang Anyu, and Hu Xianxu, embark on a journey including Saudi Arabia, Croatia, and Iceland.
The show follows a “study-travel” format, offering a unique opportunity to share the stories of people along the Silk Road and strengthen cultural connections in a down-to-earth manner. Before the program’s premiere, multiple national tourism boards from Saudi Arabia, Croatia, Iceland, Britain, Australia, South Africa, and Spain posted hashtags related to the program to invite people to share their travel experiences and leave their marks as they journeyed along the way.
Meanwhile, the participating Chinese companies involved in Belt and Road cooperation projects, such as China Railway Construction and China Railway 18th Bureau Group, also joined hands with online users to collectively share the “China stories” along the Silk Road.
Starting from the Cultural Office of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Beijing, the program takes the “study-travel” approach. On one hand, it delves into essential sites along the Belt and Road, such as the China-built Peljesac bridge in Croatia, highlighting key projects and contributions made by Chinese companies. On the other hand, it offers a deep dive into local customs and traditions, fostering international friendships and making new acquaintances.
Since its debut on October 25, the show has encouraged viewers to learn Arabic, with many online users expressing their eagerness to experience Saudi Arabian cuisine and its stunning landscapes. Domestic travel platforms have witnessed a surge of 772% in searches related to “Saudi Arabia.”
Through the show’s engaging travel explorations, domestic audiences are taken into the lives of real families living along the Belt and Road, feeling the tangible improvements brought about by Chinese wisdom and contributions. Meeting international friends who love Chinese products, speak Chinese, and have a fondness for China in a foreign land has left the show’s participants touched and proud.
China’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Chen Weiqing, posted a bilingual promotion of the show to global audiences, stating, China’s most popular variety show, Divas Hit the Road, has completed its filming in Saudi Arabia. Chinese artists have introduced the changes and developments in Saudi Arabia to the Chinese people.
The popularity of the show has not only captivated Chinese audiences but has also led to a surge in interest in the Silk Road and its cultures. Following the program’s broadcast, the search volume for terms like “Saudi” and “Saudi Arabia” on domestic travel platforms experienced a remarkable 772% increase.
As of now, the program has garnered over 2800+ trending mentions on domestic social media platforms, sparking widespread conversations.
The historical drama Qu Yuan will be staged in Shanghai this weekend, telling audiences a story of one of the greatest patriotic poets in ancient China, as well as the splendid early Chinese culture of his time.
The play is based on the life story of Qu Yuan, a statesman and poet of the State of Chu during the Warring States Period (475BC-221BC), today the central and southern areas of China.
Witnessing the fall of Chu’s capital, its people’s displacement as well as the loss of land, Qu refused to align himself with the corrupt officials or yield to oppressive forces. He eventually drowned himself in the Miluo River in Central China’s Hunan Province, completing the magnificent patriotic anthem that he had composed with his own life.
On stage, the story is going to be told using flashbacks, starting with Qu’s last days before he drowned himself in despair. This part will be the biggest highlight of the whole play, said the play’s director Guo Xiaonan.
“Qu had a great affection for saving humanity. His spiritual realm was far beyond that of ordinary people, which brought him a unique sense of spiritual loneliness,” Guo told the Global Times in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
“Qu also had a deep love for his state. When his ideals and ambitions in life were shattered, he chose to end his life, which I think was not a simple suicide, but a sublimation of his soul,” Guo said.
“This spirit has influenced Chinese culture for more than 2,000 years, and also is the strongest part of the play.”
Legend has it that after his death, the Chu people were deeply saddened and flocked to the river to pay their respects. China’s time-honored Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, commemorates Qu.
Qu was listed as one of the world’s four literary celebrities by the World Peace Council in 1953, the other three being Francois Rabelais, Nicolaus Copernicus and William Shakespeare. He left many immortal literary works to later generations, such as Chu Ci, or Songs of Chu, and Jiu Ge, or The Nine Songs.
His famous literary works will be presented in the drama to create a strong emotional resonance with the audience.
Guo said he believes one line from Qu’s poetry will resonate the most with the audience: “Long as the way is, I will keep on searching high and low.”
This well-known line embodies human being’s exploration of the meaning of life, and the great spirit of perseverance and active endeavor, said Guo.
“Qu and his cultural imprint are a precious spiritual wealth not only of the Chinese nation, but also the whole humanity,” he noted.
Apart from Qu’s life and his spiritual world, the play will also highlight the culture of Qu’s homeland Chu, a charming part of early Chinese culture.
According to Guo, the play will showcase lacquerwares and bronze wares of that time through props, lighting and dances, opening a window for the audience to view the representative culture from the 800-year history of Chu.
The play is being produced by the Hubei Changjiang People’s Art Theatre and Hubei Sanxia Performance Arts Group. It is scheduled to be staged at Shanghai’s Majestic Theatre on Saturday and Sunday night, as a part of the ongoing 22nd China Shanghai International Arts Festival.
As I was getting ready to listen to a brief on the weeklong Southwest China’s Xizang Autonomous Region tour I was about to take at the multicultural hall of the Jianguomenwai Diplomatic Residence Compound in Beijing, my co-worker Mi Tian jokingly cautioned me: “Birat, don’t run away from Xizang just because your home is closer than Beijing.”
Having traveled the “roof of the world” for a week, I didn’t need to “run away” in search of my home in Nepal as I found Xizang was just like my home. My friend Tan Xiaoren, a Chinese from Malaysia, has told me some useful Chinese words. In Xizang, I was telling him the meaning of “Tashi Delek,” a greeting.
On October 6, a dinner was hosted for us by the Xizang regional foreign affairs office at the Phin Tsok Ge Don Restaurant in Lhasa. During the happiest dining hour, all of us were served sweet milk tea. Among the two dozen plus friends from 20 plus countries, we two Nepalese (me and my friend Manju) were sipping the tea we enjoy in our everyday life. However, for other foreign friends, it was a new experience. Deputy head of foreign affairs office of the Xizang Autonomous Region Yi Lin and the region’s noted public intellectual Lo Ten sang a Nepali song along with Tibetan songs. Other friends were surprised at seeing them sing a Nepali song.
When we were greeted at the Nyingchi Airport on October 3 by local officials with the gift of scarves, all out other friends greeted them back with greeting gestures. Interestingly, we two Nepali journalists greeted them by presenting our own scarves. Our friends were amazed to see how we greeted each other. For us, though, the Xizang greeting is familial as it shares some commonalities with the Himalayan communities of Nepal. These are some of the few examples of our recent memorable tour to Xizang.
On October 4, an open-air stage at the Dayhello Hotel of Lulang held an artistic performance which included a song titled “Welcome to Pokhara,” a tourism town in Nepal. It was the only song in a foreign language because Pokhara of Nepal and the Nyingchi of Xizang are officially sister cities.
I was more than happy to make my first footfall in Xizang. A journalist named Li Guangqing asked me: “Have you ever been to Xizang?” To which I replied, “I have been to Xizang many times in my imagination. But, this is my first time in reality.” I did not say this as a joke. It has historical legacy. Nepal’s Great Poet Laxmi Prashad Devkota’s iconic epic Muna Madan is the story of a Nepali man coming to Xizang. There are many Nepali sayings popular among ordinary Nepali people. For instance, there is “Lhasa janu kutiko bato,” which translates as head to “Lhasa via Kuti,” a popular pass. Another saying goes: “Lhasama sun chha kaan mero buchchai,” which roughly translates as “There is gold in Lhasa but I don’t have an earring.” This saying describes Nepal’s historic trade linkage with Xizang and its impacts among the ordinary people.
Nepal has three international and three bilateral border crossings with Xizang together with a dozen plus local passes for people’s movement. This physical attachment is reflected in the cultural and emotional attachment among people from both sides of the Himalayas. For instance, when I saw an English-speaking lady at the Botai Nyingchi Grand Hotel in the Bayi district, I greeted her with “Tashi Delekh.” She replied with “Namaste,” the Nepali greeting. I later learned that she was from Xigaze, the second largest city in Xizang and which is in close proximity with Nepal. She had not been to Nepal. Still, she could greet in Nepali. This speaks volumes about cross-border camaraderie and cultural communication.
Nepal has 1,414 plus kilometer long border with Xizang. Nepal is the only nation with a diplomatic presence in Xizang. This is another reason for Nepal’s attachment to the region.
In the seventh century, Songtsan Gampo, the then king of Xizang, had married the Nepali princess Bhrikuti as his first wife.
This history is well-written in the Jokhang Temple of Lhasa, which was listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 2000. UNESCO also says that the Potala Palace, another World Heritage Site, has architecture that is a mixture of Chinese, Tibetan, Nepali and Indian.
Having traveled from Nyingchi to Lhasa, Lulang to Qiangna, and visited the touristic treasures around their vicinity, I saw Xizang as a home away from home. Lhasa, the sister city of Kathmandu, hosts thriving Nepali traders, including the recent awardee of the fifth edition of My China Story, which made me feel at home.
This time, I traveled by the bullet train from Ngingchi to Lhasa. However, in the future, I want to take a similar journey from Kathmandu to Lhasa. This is possible as Nepal is a BRI partner country and the China-Laos railway is an exemplary railway.
As the US announced its Middle East railway plan during the Group of 20 (G20) Summit over the weekend in India, Chinese experts expressed doubts about its credibility and feasibility, saying that it is not the first time for Washington to make empty pledges to various countries and regions.
The experts noted that the true purpose of the Biden administration is trying to “isolate China” in the Middle East, a region where Chinese cooperation with the region has constantly gained momentum in recent years.
The comment followed an announcement by US President Joe Biden and India regarding a multinational railway and port deal linking the Middle East and South Asia. The announcement came on Saturday on the sidelines of the G20 Summit.
Biden said it was a “real big deal” that would bridge ports across two continents and lead to a “more stable, more prosperous and integrated Middle East,” according to a Reuters report.
The idea of the rail and port network initially emerged at the I2U2 Business Forum, launched in 2021 by the US, India, Israel and the UAE to discuss infrastructure projects in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia joined the discussions later.
Zhou Rong, a senior researcher at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Saturday that the US lacks both the genuine intention and the capability to follow through on its pledge to build up the transportation network in the Middle East.
“It is not the first time that the US has been involved in a ‘much said, little done’ scenario,” Zhou said.
During the Obama administration, then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton announced that the US would sponsor a “New Silk Road” that would emerge from Afghanistan to link the country with its neighbors to increase its economic potential, but the initiative never materialized.
“The Biden administration’s Middle East infrastructure plan is an apparent effort to counter the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is entering its 10th year in 2023 with brought fruitful projects to partnering countries and regions. The Biden administration is again engaging in bloc politics in order to slow down China’s development,” Zhou said.
The recent moves by the US in the Middle East are more reactive than proactive, given China’s stronger presence, Liu Zhongmin, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Saturday.
China has been engaging with the Middle East through the BRI for years. Its peacemaker role in the Saudi-Iran detente is lauded by the international community, the countries in the region in particular, which has injected stability into the region.
In areas such as infrastructure construction, cooperation between the Gulf countries and China has advanced significantly in recent years. “It is impossible for the US to create a hedge in the short term,” Liu said.
Zhou described the US plan as “more of a symbolic gesture.” From a technical perspective, the US decision to focus on transport infrastructure, an area where it lacks expertise, in a bid to salvage its declining influence in the region, suggests that the highly touted plan is unlikely to be realized.
“In terms of the technology and costs of building railways, no country in the world than China has a more prominent advantage. What the Middle Eastern countries want from the US is not just a railway, but also security. However, the US has neither provided nor been able to bring security to the region; instead, it has complicated the security situation there. This is the dilemma the US is facing in the Middle East,” Ding Long, a professor with the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times.
For Middle Eastern countries that will participate in the US-led railway initiative, there is no concern that their ties with China will weaken just because of the deal, instead, they will continue maintaining close cooperation with the world’s second-largest economy, Zhou said.
“In fact, the US’ ability to influence its allies in the Middle East is shrinking, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE have recently joined the BRICS cooperation mechanism. I think the two countries will exercise prudence in the issue,” Liu said.
“China welcomes all initiatives that can help pool synergy and promote global infrastructure development. Any calculation to advance geopolitics in the name of infrastructure development will win no support and will never succeed,” a spokesperson for Chinese Foreign Ministry said in June 2022 on the US’ plan to roll out a new infrastructure plan to counter the China-proposed BRI.
There are no such thing as different initiatives countering or replacing each other. The world needs more bridges to be built rather than torn down, more connectivity rather than decoupling or building fences, and mutual benefits rather than isolation and exclusion, the spokesperson said.
A chaotic scene unfolded at the Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok, Thailand on Tuesday afternoon as gunshots rang out near an upscale retail area, resulting in the tragic deaths of at least three people, according to Thai local media. The incident took place around 4.20pm local time.
Local police authorities reported the arrest of a 14-year-old male suspect, apprehended by police on the third floor of the nearby Siam Kempinski Hotel.
Security camera footage captured the suspect shooter, who was seen kneeling with his hands on his head as three police officers closed in on him. In a swift action, one of the officers subdued the suspect on the ground.
Several Chinese tourists near the scene of the shooting incident told the Chinese news outlet Southern Metropolis Daily that they had heard multiple gunshots, and many people were fleeing, as chaos gripped the area.
The incident occurred near a high-end handbag store on the “M” level inside the building, Chinese media learned. A Chinese tourist who was in the vicinity told the South Metropolis Daily that both the Paragon and Siam Center malls were closed in the wake of the incident. They were initially trapped inside Siam Center, but have since been allowed to evacuate.
Another Chinese tourist was quoted as telling reporters that they were shopping inside Siam Paragon when they witnessed many tourists fleeing. Subsequently, while escaping, they heard multiple gunshots.
“If I remember correctly, I heard three gunshots while I was running. I have now exited and am not entirely sure about the situation inside,” the tourist said.
Thailand recently granted visa exemptions for Chinese nationals from September 25 to February 29, 2024 to boost local tourism. The temporary waiver is expected to attract five million additional visitors, according to media reports, citing Tourism Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol.
Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin also welcomed Chinese tourists at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, Thailand on September 25.
According to the latest data from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), from January 1 to September 17, Thailand has hosted over 2.34 million Chinese tourists, approximately 37 percent of the same period in 2019.
One Chinese national was killed and another injured in the shooting incident in Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok, Thailand on Tuesday, the China Central Television reported, citing information from the Chinese Embassy in Thailand.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has not confirmed any details as of Tuesday evening.
A number of Chinese netizens expressed their concern about whether it’s still safe to travel to Thailand, sharing their anxiety on Chinese Twitter-like Weibo platform on Tuesday, with news of the shooting incident attracting more than 32 million views on the platform.
The Asia-Pacific Regional Director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Alexander Matheous has described the situation of quake-affected people in west Afghanistan’s Herat province as extremely impoverished, and said the body would continue to assist them.
“We will continue to provide relief items in the coming days. Our plan is to work with the Afghan Red Crescent on suitable shelters for the people to live in the short term,” Matheous told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.
The IFRC has already provided humanitarian assistance such as blankets, non-food items and hygiene kits, the official said, adding the affected families need more support.
The official who visited the quake-stricken areas in Herat also noted that the quake-affected people need support to rebuild their homes and live in the long term.
Two deadly quakes, each with a magnitude of 6.2 on the Richter scale, followed by several aftershocks, rocked west Afghanistan with an epicenter in the Zanda Jan district of Herat province last Saturday, and left at least 2,053 dead and thousands more injured.
Another tremor measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale jolted Herat on Wednesday, killing one person, injuring more than 150 others, and causing property damages.
“More than 2,000 people and over 2,000 homes are destroyed,” the official said, adding most of the victims are women and children, and the affected families have lost what they had.
“People need food, water, shelter, medical camp…It was a very dramatic and tragic disaster for the people,” the official told Xinhua.
Praising the contribution of the Afghan Red Crescent Society in tackling the problems of the quake-affected people, the official said that it was the first humanitarian organization to be present after the disaster.
“We will support the Afghan Red Crescent to work not just in this relief phase, but also in the months to come to rebuild the houses and people’s livelihoods,” Matheous emphasized.