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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Rumors have swirled for months that local authorities pressed residents of Xinjiang, a far northwestern region in China, to take traditional Chinese medicine during the coronavirus pandemic. Now a new report from the Associated Press based on interviews, public notices and social media posts suggests this may be true.

Why it matters: Forcing an entire population to take medicine that has not been clinically proven to be effective against the coronavirus could be a breach of medical ethics.

What's happening: Chinese authorities have implemented a lockdown across Xinjiang that is extreme even by China's standards. Residents have been locked inside their own homes amid a strict quarantine that has lasted 40 days — even though the number of reported cases in Xinjiang remains relatively low.

Details: The medicine that some residents told the AP they have been forced to swallow in the presence of medical staff and under the threat of detention is called Lianhua Qingwen.

  • It's an herbal medicine produced by a company that has seen its shares rise dramatically in value in the past six months.

The big picture: Under Xi Jinping, China has increasingly sought to push traditional Chinese medicine both domestically and abroad.

  • It may be mostly about money. As AP's Dake Kang wrote, "The Chinese government’s push for traditional medicine, given free to Xinjiang residents, is bolstering the fortunes of billionaires and padding state coffers."

Go deeper: Beijing looks to criminalize "defaming" traditional Chinese medicine

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Dec 3, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Why some Asian countries keep building coal plants

Coal-fired power's persistence in Asia is a big climate problem, but the reasons some countries can't quit coal — even as other parts of the world are gradually breaking up with the fuel — aren't always so obvious.

Driving the news: Enter a new paper in Energy Research & Social Science that explores what's driving demand for China's financing of coal-fired power plants in the region, even as other power sources are cost-competitive.

The Democrats' wake-up call

Eric Adams, a former cop who leads the New York mayoral race, speaks last night at the Schimanski nightclub in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Democrats, in private and public, are warning that rising crime — and the old and new progressive calls to defund the police — represent the single biggest threat to their electoral chances in 2022.

Why it matters: There has been a big spike in big-city crime, a dynamic increasingly captured in local coverage and nationally on CNN and Fox News.

The robotaxi era will require a rethinking of vehicle safety

Zoox's robotaxi is bidirectional and includes more than 100 safety innovations. Photo: Zoox

Vehicles are being reimagined as autonomous, electric, toaster-shaped robotaxis. Now their safety has to be reworked too.

The big picture: There's more to self-driving cars than just removing the steering wheel and pedals. The entire vehicle needs to be redesigned for riders, not drivers, so their safety can be assured even when they're not in control.

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