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Your Week in Asia

Japan reopens, Beijing Paralympics, South Korea election early voting

Your weekly lineup of Asia's biggest business and political events

A sign in the international terminal at Tokyo's Haneda Airport. On Tuesday, Japan starts a limited reopening of its borders, allowing up to 5,000 people -- including foreign students and business travelers -- to enter each day.   © AP

Welcome to Your Week in Asia.

Japan will allow foreign students and business travelers to enter the country from March 1, marking the first major reopening of its borders in more than a year. The Winter Paralympics start in Beijing on Friday. So does China's annual meeting of its top political advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. That's followed by the legislative National People's Congress gathering on Saturday.

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Hong Kong population update

The latest six-monthly population figures for the financial hub are expected to show it has continued shrinking after recording a 1.2% year on year fall last August. That was the biggest decline since the government began keeping records in the 1960s. Draconian COVID-19 measures and the national security law imposed by Beijing have sparked an exodus of both local and foreign talent, triggering fears of a brain drain. The government has played down the outflow previously, emphasizing Hong Kong's "mobile population." But economists are worried the downward trend could cause skills shortages and push down property prices.

Honor flagship mobile launch

Honor, formerly Huawei Technologies' budget phone line, hosts its global press event at the opening day of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It will mark the Chinese smartphone brand's first solo global event after it was spun off from Huawei in late 2020. Freed from the sanctions Washington imposed on Huawei, Honor has since regained access to key U.S. technologies, such as mobile processors from Qualcomm. It will launch its latest flagship Magic 4 smartphone series during the event. Honor managed to squeeze into the global top 10 smartphone vendors for the full year in 2021, according to data from research agency IDC.

GDP: India, Turkey


Japan reopens borders

Japan starts a limited reopening of its borders, allowing up to 5,000 people -- including foreign students and business travelers -- to enter the country each day. This is still a far cry from nearly 90,000 foreign visitors a day that Japan received before the COVID crisis.

New China regulations on algorithms, online religious activities

Spreading religion in China via cyberspace without a license will be banned from March 1. Beijing's new "Measures for the Administration of Internet Religious Information Services" bans all fundraising for religious activities, the creation of religious organizations including schools online, as well as efforts to attract new followers. Non-Chinese individuals and groups face particularly tight restrictions. Previously, religious groups and followers were able to make accounts freely on China's popular WeChat social media app. They could also broadcast messages on a daily basis.

A new law regulating the use of algorithms comes into effect on the same day. This will allow users to switch off algorithmic recommendations on apps and see or delete the keywords the algorithms use to target them. It's all part of Beijing's growing clampdown on the tech sector.

Hong Kong requires ID for SIM cards

New rules requiring people to register phone SIM cards using their real names are due to take effect in the territory. This will bring the rules into line with mainland China's strict registration system. Each individual may register no more than 10 prepaid SIM cards with each telecommunications operator, while corporate users can sign up to 25. The government argues the move will prevent crimes -- but rights activists and other critics say it will invade privacy.

Australia monetary policy announcement

Company earnings: Sea, Baidu, iQiyi


Australia GDP


Western Australia reopens border

Western Australia's tough border restrictions are due to come down on Thursday, ending the COVID-induced isolation of the country's largest state and resource-producing heartland. This marks a major shift after even domestic travelers were largely locked out for much of the pandemic. The "hermit" policy has been credited with protecting the mining sector from coronavirus outbreaks, but it has also caused frustration among residents.

Tibet House U.S. Annual Benefit Concert

Patti Smith, Keanu Reeves and Laurie Anderson are among this year's performers at the Tibet House benefit show. Reeves' announcement that he would join the 35th edition of the Tibet House concert sparked online anger among some Chinese netizens. They called for a boycott of the latest Matrix movie. Reeves also risks being added to a long list of celebrities censored by China for interacting with the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, or speaking out about alleged human rights abuses in the territory. Beijing argues Tibet is an inalienable part of China. It views the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile, as a separatist.

Malaysia monetary policy announcement

Company earnings: Grab, Bilibili


Beijing Paralympics open

China follows up the strictly COVID-controlled 24th Winter Olympics with the Paralympics for some 600 athletes with physical disabilities. They will compete in 78 events through March 13.

Early voting begins in South Korea presidential race

South Korea starts a two-day early voting period for the presidential election on March 9. Yoon Suk-yeol of the opposition People Power Party is leading the race by a thin margin in opinion polls, with the governing Democratic Party's Lee Jae-myung in close pursuit.

The two front-runners agree that the country should set up an extra budget for helping people marginalized by the pandemic. However, their foreign policy plans differ greatly. Yoon wants a strong alliance with the U.S., while Lee has vowed to press on with the current Moon Jae-in government's engagement policy with North Korea.

Australia begins first Pakistan cricket tour since 1998

The Australian cricket team starts its first visit to Pakistan since 1998. The one-month tour will consist of seven matches, including three Tests. The Australian team is due to arrive in Islamabad on a chartered flight after completing mandatory isolation in their home country, according to media reports. They can take part in training sessions after a one-day room isolation in Pakistan.

China's 'two sessions' commence

China's top political advisory Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference kicks off one day ahead of the National People's Congress in Beijing. Also known as the two sessions, the annual sittings will draw some 5,000 lawmakers, academics and businesspeople from across the country. They are expected to set economic growth targets and discuss socio-economic developments.

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