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Eva Air pushes back Phuket flights to July 2021

Maya Taylor

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Eva Air pushes back Phuket flights to July 2021 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia
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A new timetable from Taiwan’s Eva Air indicates a delay to the planned resumption of direct flights between Taipei and Phuket, which had recently been tentatively pencilled in for March 2021. The new schedule now lists the flights as operating from July 1 next year with the airline’s website taking bookings from that date.

The delay is indicative of the current “kicking the can down the road” attitude of world governments and airlines, and the ongoing delays to re-opening borders in the region any time soon.

There are currently 3 flights a week scheduled to Phuket, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, departing Taipei at 11.05 and touching down in Phuket at 14.20. The return flights leave Phuket at 15.30, arriving in Taipei at 21.00.

TTR Weekly reports that direct flights from Taipei Taoyuan to Phuket were due to start back up on March 30, based on the assumption Thailand would re-open to tourists after Chinese New Year in February. However, there is still no confirmation from the government as to when borders might re-open, with talks on Phuket’s international tourism plan set to continue today.

There is a much-discussed “Phuket Model” on the table which would open the island’s airport to general tourism but with strict guidelines in place, including a mandatory 14 day quarantine (although the initial proposal would allow a 1 kilometre radius around the hotel as part of the quarantine space). Still, nothing has been confirmed at this stage.

There are currently no scheduled commercial flights into Thailand for tourists at this stage and the Thai government has signalled it will likely be early 2021 before any resumption of general tourism.

SOURCE: TTR Weekly

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    September 2, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    Next July!
    There will be weeds growing out of Phuket airport runway by then.
    The homeless will be squatting in the terminal building.

    • Avatar

      james

      September 2, 2020 at 10:13 pm

      There are plenty of domestic flights from Phuket, I was on one to Bangkok a couple of weeks ago.

  2. Avatar

    Bobby M

    September 2, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    Can you blame them.

    It takes a lot of work to put airline schedules together and a lot of money to fly empty aircraft. The truth, is that it’s a genuine reflection of their trust in your actions. Especially the Phuket scheme. They want no part in it.

  3. Avatar

    EdwardV

    September 2, 2020 at 10:13 pm

    Actions speak louder than words and this action is yelling. I hope someone in Bangkok is listening.

  4. Avatar

    james

    September 2, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    I left Phuket a couple of weeks ago after seven months.

    Flight from Phuket Bangkok and then Bangkok to London with Eva Air, it was time to leave before they let in thousands of tourists again bringing the virus back to Phuket.

    I can safely hide in the little village here until there is an anti-viral drug developed by Oxford university for example, 60,000,000 samples have already been ordered by the government here.

    Of course, Thailand does not need such drugs as only 65 people have died due to the virus there, and if you believe that to be true then you will believe anything.

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Protests

Thai beauty queen victim of racist slurs for siding with anti-government protesters

Maya Taylor

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Thai beauty queen victim of racist slurs for siding with anti-government protesters | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

The winner of the 2020 Miss Grand Thailand competition has become the target of racist online attacks after declaring her support for the ongoing anti-government protest movement. Nation Thailand reports that Pacharaporn Chantarapadit, aka, “Nam”, took the title of Miss Grand Thailand on Sunday evening, in a televised competition shown nationwide.

While being interviewed on stage on Saturday, the same day anti-government activists held a mass rally in Bangkok, the beauty queen, from the southern province of Ranong, voiced her support for the movement, taking aim at the current administration.

“With my heart, I choose the protesters. The people have the right to express their views on what is best for the country. If you call this country Thailand, we need a real democracy. And moreover, we need you to get out of the country.”

Her words prompted outrage from those in support of the government, with people taking to social media to attack Nam. Many resorted to crude, racist abuse, using words such as “negro” and “coal black”, to refer to her skin colour. Pale skin continues to be revered in Thailand, leading to deeply-ingrained prejudice against darker-skinned citizens.

The attacks have been condemned by Nam’s followers, who accuse her critics of being ill-informed. They’re also urging other pro-democracy supporters to boycott Thai celebrities who either continue to stand up for the government or don’t support the anti-government movement. Many say they have decided to unfollow their former idols because of their political views or their refusal to speak out. Thai K-pop singers are the latest in the firing line, with several hashtags calling for pro-democracy supporters to boycott the music stars.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Finish of visa amnesty September 26 | Complete Thailand Travel Guide (September 2020)

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Finish of visa amnesty September 26 | Complete Thailand Travel Guide (September 2020) | The Thaiger

Latest update – September 22. The Thaiger updates information about travelling to and re-entering Thailand. Depending on where you’re coming from, your purpose for visiting Thailand and your country’s own Covid-19 travel restrictions, the situation is changing daily. If you are overseas and wish to come to Thailand your FIRST port of call must be the Royal Thai Embassy in your country before you make any bookings.

What happens on September 26?

Tourists have until September 26 to renew their visa or they could get arrested and deported. The warning has come directly from the immigration bureau. Immigration officials have also stated there won’t be another visa amnesty.

“Those who overstay will face arrest and be deported back to their home countries.”

Immigration officials estimate there are more than 150,000 foreign nationals who need to have their tourist visas renewed as they would have lapsed since the borders were closed and international flights largely grounded in April.

“Those who don’t renew their visas by this Saturday will face a daily fine.”

Some foreigners who arrived on tourist visas earlier in the year have been in Thailand since late March when the Thai borders closed and many international flights were cancelled due to the world coronavirus pandemic. Other people had resident or business visas that have lapsed and not been renewed. They will need to renew them before September 2. The visa amnesty was renewed twice since many people were unable to their home countries, but now the amnesty is coming to an end.

Immigration officials say they will enforce the end of the amnesty. Immigration police also say they also plan to track down the tourists by using the addresses kept in the database. They will be arrested and face legal action and probably deportation and could be blacklisted from re-entering Thailand in the future. Officially, those who overstay their visa by 90 days are barred from entering Thailand for 1 year. Those who overstay more than 10 years are banned for life.

The website for the Thai Immigration Bureau is HERE. Good luck, it’s not the easiest website to navigate.

Also, if you have a current visa, you must do your 90 day reporting now. The deadline for updating your 90 day reporting was August 31, so you may have to pay a fine if you are not up to date.

Tell us about the new long stay ‘special tourist visa’, the STV.

The Thai cabinet has approved a plan to allow foreign tourists to visit Thailand but they’ll have to agree to mandatory 14 day quarantine and stay for at least 90 days. The new 90 day special tourist visa would be able to be extended twice, for 90 days each time. So, a total of 270 days (around 9 months). It was also announced that travellers would have to arrive on charter flights only, further pushing up the price of potential travel back to Thailand.

“Visitors can arrive for tourism or health services, and they can stay at alternative state quarantine facilities, specific areas or at hospitals that function as quarantine facilities. Our public health system is amongst the best in the world and people can have confidence in it.”

The new ‘STV’ (Special Tourist Visa) which will cost 2,000 baht and will last for 90 days each. The new visa regulation will be in effect until September 30, 2021 and may be extended beyond that time.

The government noted that it doesn’t have the ability to fully re-open to tourism at the moment as they have to be able to process incoming visitors and find approved locations for them to serve their 14 day quarantine.”The target is to welcome 100-300 visitors a week, or up to 1,200 people a month, and generate income of about 1 billion baht a month.”

Thai officials have also said they will only accept tourists from “low risk” countries, without specifying what those countries are.

On Friday, September 18, a director at the Department of Disease Control, said that foreign tourists will have to present proof of a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours prior to travel. Additionally… “they must also have quarantined in their country of origin, have health insurance for international travel and a specified minimum amount of money in their bank account”. He said they will also need a record of “not visiting crowded places prior to their departure”.

The Thaiger will update the details of the new long stay tourist visa as soon as the become available.

Here are the basic published provisions approved by the cabinet…

1. A foreigner who wishes to travel to stay for a long period (Long-stay travel) in Thailand.

2. A foreigner who has acknowledged they are willing to comply with Thailand’s public health measures in Thailand, and agree to conduct a state quarantine at an Alternative Local State Quarantine (ALSQ) for 14 days.

3. A foreigner who provides evidence of long-term residency in Thailand, including evidence of payment for the hotel accommodation or hospital accommodation that provides Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) service in Thailand and at least one piece of the following evidence…

  • Proof of payment for hotel accommodation or hospital accommodation after the state quarantine
  • A copy of ownership of an apartment or condominium belonging to foreigners or family members of foreigners
  • A copy of a rental license or deposit payment of the purchase of apartment, condominium, or house by foreigners in Thailand

How is Thailand doing compared to the rest of the world with it’s re-opening to tourists?

The UN World Tourism Organisation has published its latest update on the state of the world’s re-openings in the Covid-era. 53% of the world’s tourist destinations have now started easing travel restrictions government’s imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The UNWTO reports acknowledges that many destinations “remain cautious” and some are even re-closing borders and tightening up restrictions again.

It’s the 7th edition of the “Covid-19 Related Travel Restrictions: A Global Review for Tourism”and identifies an ongoing global trend to gradually restart the world’s tourism machine. The report analyses restrictions by governments up to September 1. The research covers a total of 115 destinations (53% of all destinations worldwide) have now eased their travel restrictions – that’s an increase of 28 since 19 July. Of these, two have lifted all restrictions, while the remaining 113 continue to have certain restrictive measures in place.

• Another stand-out stat was that in advanced economies, 79% of tourism destinations had already started easing restrictions. In emerging economies, less than half, just 47% of destinations, have started the process.

• 64% of those destinations which have eased have a “high or medium dependence” on airlines to deliver international tourists to their location. Island destinations are particularly at risk at this time as the air lift is critical to their tourist success.

• 43% of all worldwide destinations continue to have their borders completely closed to all tourism, of which 27 destinations have had their borders “completely closed” for at least 7 months.

• Half of all destinations in the survey, with borders completely closed to tourism, are listed as being among the “World’s Most Vulnerable Countries”. They include 10 Small Island Developing States, one Least Developed Country and three Land-Locked Developing Countries.

Should I use a visa agent to extend my visa?

There are plenty of ads being posted at this time offering magic extensions to visas and opportunities to stay in Thailand after September 26. Please be aware that some of these alleged visa agents are scams. There are also plenty of good visa agents who will be able to provide you with advice and solutions, at a cost, allowing you to remain in the country.

If you do wish to contact a visa agent at this time make sure you get a referral from a friend, visit their office in person or ask plenty of questions and check their bonafides. Do not start sending money to accounts until you have seen some paperwork or evidence that they are able to provide you with a legal and professional service. Caveat emptor!

I had a retirement visa and have lived in Thailand for many years. When can I return?

Soon, it seems. The next batch of returnee categories is now being considered by the CCSA. This time, foreigners with permanent residences who have been stranded overseas for the past 6 months, and long-term foreign residents (retirement visa), will receive priority when the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration announces the next date for the next phase of lifting the shutters on Thailand’s borders.

The chairman of the CCSA’s panel, who oversea the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, announced that the panel will recommend these two groups of foreigners back into Thailand “as they have high purchasing power”.

Both groups would still have to undergo the mandatory state-controlled 14 day quarantine. It’s under the quarantine that so many Thai repatriates have been found to have Covid-19 during the series of tests they undergo.

As of today there has been no official date announced for the commencement of this program.

If you believe you fall into either of these categories, contact your local Thai Embassy or consulate to discuss your circumstances BEFORE you purchase a ticket or make any other arrangements.

Is it safe in Thailand at the moment?

Yes. No less safe than usual and certainly there has been no civil unrest that would make you ponder your personal safety beyond the usual precautions you would take anywhere in the world. The current student protests are fairly limited and are publicised ahead of time so you can avoid those situations. Whilst there has been some outbursts against foreigners from a Thai politician and a few stressed-out locals, the situation for foreigners remains safe and secure at this time.

What happened to the Phuket Model?

It was a non-starter after the government encountered resistance from some in Phuket. It was also not well received by travellers and many in the local hospitality industry.

At this stage, a model to allow limited tourists to re-enter the country, on extended tourist visas, with some restrictions, is being hammered out by the CCSa in conjunction with the Public Health Department, TAT and Ministry of Sports and Tourism. Nothing has been decided at this stage.

Are there any Facebook pages where I can share my story about wanting to come back to Thailand?

The ‘Love Is Not Tourism Thailand’ Facebook page, which includes families torn apart by the pandemic, is calling on the Thai government to help reunite their families.

“We’re asking the government to issue visas or allow entry for family members and lovers to reunite with each other for humanitarian reasons. Evidence such as a passport with an entry stamp into Thailand, photos, and text messages should be able to verify their unions.”

I have been stranded in Thailand since April. Now I have run out of money and don’t know what to do.

This is a really difficult situation and you’d be well advised to contact your friends and family, and advise them of your predicament. Also, you MUST contact your country’s embassy or consulate to alert them of the situation. They will at least have information about repatriating you to your home country or perhaps other options that may be available.

Just hoping your situation is going to improve won’t work. Get as much information as you can about your options. And hopefully your family or friends can send you some funds to tide you over during this crazy time. Chock dee krub!

The airlines are selling tickets to fly to Thailand now. Should I buy one?

No. Don’t buy a ticket for a flight to Thailand until you have ALL the paperwork required, have discussed your trip with your local embassy and you have been approved for travel. Why the airlines keep selling tickets, for flights that will be cancelled, is a mystery.

There are currently no plans to open Thailand’s borders for international tourism beyond proposals for a limited opening for tourism into Phuket called the Phuket Model. It was proposed to start in October but no decisions have been made.

Which leads us to the next question….

When will Thailand open its borders for international tourism?

Both the Civil Aviation Authority and a Deputy Governor from the TAT have stated that it is unlikely that the borders will be reopened for general tourism until 2021. But there is now the new Special Tourist Visa which allows tourists to visit for 90 days at a time (extendable twice for a total of 270 days), at a cost of 2,000 baht per application or extension. There are still quite draconian restrictions on the new visa, including the 14 day mandatory quarantine and lots of paperwork. Your starting point would be to contact your Royal Thai Embassy in your country.

Would a Thailand Elite Visa solve my problems?

Yes and no. The Elite Visa program is an excellent and convenient means of staying in Thailand with few problems, allowing you to avoid visits to Immigration and most of the paperwork. But it’s an expensive up-front costs and, for now, there is a 3-4 month waiting period to process new applications.

At this time, there is also a limit on the number of people, on various visas, they are allowing to re-enter Thailand each day. But if you have the cash, it’s definitely an option as people on the Thailand Elite Visa are currently allowed to re-enter the Kingdom.

Our flight has a transit stop in Thailand. Can we get off the plane and spend a day in Bangkok?

No. At this time all transits require passengers to remain on the plane. There may be some situations where they deplane passengers but you will be restricted to a section of the airport.

Can I get a job, get a new visa and stay in Thailand?

Maybe, possibly. Jobs for foreigners are thin on the ground at the moment. Outside of teaching English (there will always be jobs for English teachers in Thailand), most companies are cutting staff right now, rather than employing. You would need to secure a letter of offer from your new employer and visit you local immigration office to discuss the matter urgently, before September 26.

Can I fly back to my country and get a new Non B visa, and then return to Thailand?

In theory, yes. But it will take some good planning and a dose of luck for the plan to be successful. Theo did it… HERE’s the link to his story. You will certainly need to do a 14 day quarantine upon your return and the capricious nature of various embassy and immigration officials could make the many steps to get all the paperwork a nightmare.

What about other tropical holiday spots?

Island economies, dependent on tourism – from Bali in Indonesia, to Hawaii in the US – grapple with the pandemic, which has brought global travel to a virtual halt. World aviation has dropped by 97% (last month compared year-on-year). Re-opening to tourists has led to the resurgence of infection in some places like the Caribbean island of Aruba, and governments are fearful of striking the wrong balance between public health and economic reality. Even The Maldives, which confidently re-opened for tourism, has had a recent surge of new cases and forcing the government to rethink its plans.

Ibiza and the other popular Spanish party islands, are also devastated by the current Covid situation.

Can I travel to Thailand for medical Tourism?

Yes. Even though Thailand’s borders are still closed to most travel, including tourism, there are some select groups being allowed back into the Kingdom. Medical tourists are one of those groups but, for most countries, ONLY for urgent or emergency medical matters. Foreign medical tourists are now permitted to apply to come to Thailand for medical treatment with strict disease control measures being put in place.

BUT, and there’s always a ‘but’ at the moment, some countries will not permit its citizens to travel outside of their home countries, even for medical emergencies. In all cases, you would need to consult your local Royal Thai Embassy to find out if you are eligible, before you book a flight or sing a contract with a medical provider in Thailand.

Under the CCSA regulations, foreign medical and wellness tourists have to arrive by air to ensure effective disease control, not via land border checkpoints at this stage.

“Those seeking cosmetic surgery and infertility treatments will be allowed to enter the country. Those seeking Covid-19 treatment are barred.”

If you’d like to investigate coming to Thailand at this time, go to MyMediTravel to browse procedures and check out your options.

Spokesperson Dr. Taweesilp Visanuyothin says the visitors must have an appointment letter from a doctor in Thailand and entry certificates issued by Thai embassies across the globe. People wanting to visit Thailand for medical procedures at this time will need to contact the Thai Embassy in their country to organise the visa and paperwork. Thailand’s major hospitals will provide potential candidates with an appointment letter.

They will also need to produce proof that they tested negative for Covid-19 before their arrival. Once in Thailand they will be tested again and will required to stay at the medical facility for at least 14 days, during which they will be able to start their chosen treatments.

The CCSA says that medical procedures will only be allowed for foreigners at hospitals that have been registered to provide the treatments and have proven their ability to contain any potential outbreak. Potential patients will only be allowed to bring a total of 3 family members or caretakers during their visit to Thailand. Caretakers will have to go through the same screening procedures as the patient.

Embassies and participating hospitals will be able to provide more information about procedures, facilities, paperwork requirements and arrival options.

Again, MAKE SURE you consult the Royal Thai Embassy in your home country before proceeding with any medical tourism pans.

Are there any plans to extend the range of foreigners who can come into Thailand at this stage?

Two more categories are being currently considered for re-entry into Thailand – foreigners with permanent residences who have been stranded overseas for the past 6 months, and long-term foreign residents (retirement visa), will receive priority when the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration announces the date for the next phase of re-opening.

Since Thailand’s experience with Covid-19, it has closed its borders to tourists and visitors, stranding both Thais and foreigners who want to return to the Kingdom. It also stranded up to 500,000 foreign visitors who are unable to leave Thailand due to the border closures or simply decided to wait out the peak of the pandemic here. Many of those have already flown back home on either specially organised repatriation flights or the handful of scheduled flights still leaving Bangkok.

Although restrictions are slowly being lifted, the new measures prioritise professionals, businesspeople and wellness travellers, rather than couples who aren’t legally married, including gay couples, and other types of non-immigrant visas.

People currently allowed back into Thailand include people holding a certificate of permanent residency, a current and valid work permit, those who have special arrangements with, or have been invited by the Thai government, and migrant workers. Holders of a Thailand Elite visa are also permitted under the current situation, although there is a cap on entry numbers under that program.

Travel advice from the UK government

From 4 July, Thailand is exempt from the FCO advice against all non-essential international travel. This is based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.

However, the requirement to self-isolate on return to the UK from Thailand remains in place. See guidance on entering or returning to the UK.

The following advice within Thailand remains in place. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to areas within the provinces on the Thailand-Malaysia border, including…

  • Pattani
  • Yala
  • Narathiwat
  • Southern Songkhla province. This does not include areas north of and including the A43 road between Hat Yai and Sakom, and areas north-west of and including the train line which runs between Hat Yai and Pedang Besar.

Travel to Thailand is subject to entry restrictions.

  • At present only certain categories of foreign nationals are permitted to enter or transit Thailand.
  • If you’re eligible to enter, you will be subject to a 14-day state quarantine at a Thai government-designated facility at your own expense. If suspected of carrying Covid-19, you may be denied entry into the country
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Myanmar

Myanmar’s Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border

The Thaiger

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Myanmar’s Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border | The Thaiger

Myanmar is currently suffering a wave of Covid-19, causing concern in Thailand as its western border authorities bump up security measures and patrols. Burmese authorities have been introducing increasingly draconian restrictions to control the sudden spread of the virus over the past 4 weeks. Whilst the case load is still relatively small, the concerns are focussing on the porous western borders of Myanmar onto adjacent Bangladesh and India, as well as the spike in cases in the largest city Yangon. The current rise in cases originally broke out in the western Rakhine state and the city of Sittwe about a month ago.

Yangon is now under lockdown as the city is quickly turning into the country’s hotspot of Covid-19.

Myanmar's Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Google

Yangon’s lockdown rules have paralysed the city. Almost all its businesses are closed, with the exception of essential services, and people must have a permit from their district administration to attend work.

All domestic travel – buses, taxis, trains, planes – is now shut down and the country’s schools are closed. Even driving a car around Yangon at the moment requires a permit from the city administration. When it comes to food, only one person is allowed to leave the home at a time and exercising outside is not allowed. Even if there’s a medical emergency only 2 people may leave the home but must have permission from their district administrators. Residents are not allowed to visit neighbour’s homes and 2 people outside is considered a ‘gathering’.

Of course everyone must wear a face mask whilst outside and in public places.

Curfews remain in place in most areas and checkpoints have now been set up around the region. Even the public service has been told to remain at home and work remotely until further notice. Some parts of Yangon are now under even harsher lockdowns with a ‘Chinese style’ lockdown where people are not permitted to leave their home for any reason at all the aid workers patrol the area handing out supplies and food. (When the city of Wuhan and the state of Hubei were locked down in the earliest phases of the Covid-19 virus, the lockdowns were similarly draconian, and ultimately effective)

There were 610 and 6 new deaths in the past 24 hours. Yesterday 671 new cases of Covid-10 were reported, the biggest spike, by far, since the outbreak began. The cumulative total number of infections is now 5,541 while the death toll remains at 92 people.

Myanmar's Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Worldometer.info

Across the border, in Thailand, officials have increased checkpoints and border patrols along the long and leaky jungle border region. Thais living along the border are being asked to report strangers and minimise their movement around the border zones, traditionally busy local hubs for trade. Thai officials fear there will be a migration of Burmese trying to flee the country as the crackdown on movement causes panic in the country.

In a predictable explanation about a recent case of a 2 year old Burmese child who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, Thai health authorities now say the child “may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar”.

The health department says they speculate that the child “was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town”. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya, Central Thailand, and quit their jobs last month. The department says the infant probably contracted the virus around September 4 – 10 while the family was travelling. The family crossed unofficial passageways, not passing through a checkpoint, into Myanmar. News website Xinhua claims it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

SOURCES: Pattaya News | Xinhua | Reuters

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