On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: What’s China’s plan in the wake of Russia’s invasion?
Reporter Maureen Groppe considers. Plus, there’s some optimism after the latest negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, Russians are increasingly seeking asylum in the US, education reporter Alia Wong looks at what teachers are doing amid anti-Asian hate and March Madness is here.
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Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.
Buenos dias. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Tuesday, the 15th of March, 2022. Today China’s relations with Russia in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine. Plus the latest from Kyiv and more.
Here are some of the top headlines:
- Filmmaker Brent Renaud has been shot and killed in Ukraine. The documentary brought stories of suffering from conflict areas all over the world throughout his career. He was 50 years old.
- COVID 19 cases in China have more than doubled from a day ago as the country faces its worst COVID arises since the early days of the pandemic. The fast spreading stealth omicron variant has slammed both the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong.
- And Idaho has become the first state to pass abortion legislation modeled after the Texas six-week ban. The Idaho House passed the bill with no Democrat support.
Western officials, including in the US, are keeping a close eye on what China does next when it comes to Russia. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters a third week, much of the West has worked to isolate Russia with some of the harshest sanctions in modern history. But as White House correspondent Maureen Groppe tells us, China is trying to balance relations with both Russia and the West. Will they help Russia avoid sanctions or push President Vladimir Putin to end the war?
Well, China so far has been trying to stay on the sidelines. This war is not good for them. It has economic repercussions that are not helpful, but they also don’t want to do anything that hurts Russia. Russia is a strong ally with them against the West. So they are in this tough spot right now where Russia is looking to them for help. And the US is warning that they should not help. And there’s also been some calls that China should try to step in and see if they can find some way to resolve this, resolve the war and give Putin an off ramp.
The war has made the relationship between China and Russia more difficult. Right before the war, the two, when they met before the start of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, they released this pretty remarkable statement about their strong, their no limits friendship. But this war is certainly proof of that. And right after the administration announced that there would be talks between the US and Chinese officials. They also put out the word that they know that Russia has asked China for military help, for economic help. And they’re warning China not to do that.
The US has not been specific in what that would mean. They’ve been explicit that China should not do this, but they haven’t spelled out exactly what that would mean. But yes, one possibility is that they could extend sanctions to China the way they’ve been sanctioning Russia. What Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor said Sunday, was we are communicating directly privately to Beijing, that there will absolutely be consequences for large scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them.
Check out Maureen’s full story in today’s episode description.
Russia and Ukraine held their fourth round of talks yesterday and their first in a week. They ended without a breakthrough after hours of discussion, but both sides have expressed optimism over the past few days. And an aid to Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted that negotiators would discuss peace, cease fire, immediate withdrawal of troops and security guarantees. Previous discussions brought no end to fighting nor did they even successfully clear humanitarian corridors at the time.
Meanwhile, nearly all Russian military offenses stalled over the weekend with little progress, according to a senior US defense official spoke anonymously to the Associated Press. The official said that Russian troops remained about nine miles from the city center of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. But things progressed earlier this morning. Right before dawn, shelling hit a 15 story apartment building in Kyiv killing at least one person while others are still trapped inside. Russia has had the most success in the air, launching more than 900 missiles since invading last month.
While Russia has struggled in and around Kyiv, forces struck an airplane factory there this week, killing two people. It’s one of the largest cargo plane producers in the world. And Russian artillery fire hit a nine story apartment building in a northern district of Kyiv killing another two people.
There was welcome news though, in the Southeastern port of Mariupol, the city has seen some of the war’s worst violence and humanitarian conditions as it’s been cut off from resources. But a convoy of more than 150 civilian cars reportedly left Mariupol along a designated humanitarian route yesterday.
Russia said 20 civilians in the separatist controlled city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine were killed by a Ukrainian ballistic missile, though that has not yet been confirmed.
Overall death figures from the conflict are hard to verify, but the latest UN estimate is 596 civilian deaths, a number it acknowledges may be much larger. More than 2.8 million refugees have fled Ukraine in what the UN calls Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II. The vast majority around 1.7 million are in Poland. While more than 200,000 refugees are in each of Hungary and Slovakia, and more than 130,000 have gone to Russia. The leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are traveling to Kyiv today on a European Union trip to show support for the country.
While Ukrainian refugees are desperately fleeing their country. Many people are also fleeing Russia. There are worries of economic collapse and new crackdowns on free speech while foreign luxuries are on their way out of the country. Those with the means to travel have gone to Turkey and other neighboring countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, but some are also trying their hand at asylum in the United States. Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to international sanctions, the US was already seeing an increase in Russian asylum seekers. More than 8,600 did so on the US-Mexico border between August and January. That’s 35 times more than the 249 who did so during the same period a year before, though the pandemic may have played a role in those numbers.
Russians do not need visas to enter Mexico, unlike the US. So many fly there before renting cars to drive to the border. And once they reach the border zone, they can claim asylum on US soil. Maksim Derzhko and his daughter sought asylum at the San Diego border crossing last year.
Taylor Wilson translating for Maksim Derzhko:
“We pretended we were going on vacation to Mexico, and then we flew to Tijuana. Emotions, it’s hard to put into words. It’s fear of the unknown. It’s really hard. We had no choice. There was no freedom of speech or democracy in Russia. America has always been an example for me.”
Russians are almost guaranteed a shot at asylum if they touch US soil, though President Joe Biden has kept Trump era asylum seeking restrictions in place. Border agents can technically deny asylum on grounds that it risks COVID 19 spread. But cost, logistics, and even diplomatic relations often make it more of a headache to send people back to their home countries.
Anti-Asian American violence is still raging, but Education reporter Alia Wong says that Asian American and Pacific Islander teachers are trying to stop it by introducing more Asian history into their classrooms.
I don’t think it would come as a surprise to anyone who’s a product of the US education system, that students in this country generally learn very little, if anything, about Asian-American history. Asians have played major roles in the formation and evolution of American society. You know, numerous landmark Supreme Court cases, dealing with civil rights and discrimination were spearheaded by Asian-Americans. Asian-American history is American history. Yet that history is all but invisible in school curricula. So Yung Ann is a social studies education professor at Kennesaw University in Georgia. And she did a qualitative study, it was recently published, of all 50 states history curriculum standards to evaluate how well those standards represented Asian-Americans. Their experiences, their contributions. And at most the standards delve into Japanese incarceration and anti-Asian immigration laws like the Chinese Exclusion Act. But other than that, she found that they’re reduced to an oppressed foreign, niche group with little role in shaping the nation.
And when you look at teacher training programs, colleges of education, there too, in part, because people in the school system don’t learn any of this history, it’s not being adequately covered in these teacher training programs, it’s often relegated to the back burner. So then that creates this vicious cycle.
I spoke with more than a dozen Asian-American educators across the country. And one common thread was that all of them had to seek out that knowledge about their history as young adults. They didn’t learn about Asian-American history as students in the K-12 system. It wasn’t until college when they had the ability to carve out their own academic paths that they discovered all that history. And in a similar vein, all of them spoke of how teaching that history now, as educators in the K-12 system, it involves a similar process of having to be proactive, to seek out teaching resources, to seek out allies, to seek out mentors.
Just 2% of teachers identify as Asian-American, and just a small percentage of those educators teach social studies or language arts, subject areas where this history would be incorporated. But those teachers, although they’re a small number, they are coming together, especially amid the wave of anti-Asian violence. This ongoing wave. With or without legislation, the teachers I spoke with are doing everything they can to weave Asian-American history into their curriculum. Even when, as is often the case, the standards say nothing about that history. They’re using Asian-American literature and music as examples of larger concepts, or as a way to complicate student’s understanding of historical events, such as World War II. They’re often weaving in their own personal stories to demonstrate a lesson.
There’s growing interest among teachers as a whole to learn more about Asian-American history and impact that knowledge on their students, and a number of organizations are offering profess development and teaching resources. So we are seeing mounting efforts to really change the status quo.
You can find more from Alia on Twitter @aliaemily.
March Madness is here. The men’s college basketball tournament play-in games begin today. Sixteen seeds Texas A&M, Corpus Christi and Texas Southern will tip things off at 6:40 Eastern time. Corpus Christi won the Southland Conference while Texas Southern won the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The winner will play number one seed, Kansas. Then the night cap sees a battle of 12 seeds, Indiana and Wyoming at 9:10 Eastern. Neither team won their conference tournament, but are in as large bids. Awaiting this game’s winner is No. 5 seed St Mary’s. And another pair of play-in games is set for tomorrow. You can watch all four games on truTV and streaming on NCAA.com.
And you can find new episodes of 5 Things, seven mornings a week right here, wherever you’re listening right now. Thanks to PJ Elliot for his great work on the show. and I’m back tomorrow with more than 5 Things from USA TODAY.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism