Accused of urinating in public, spitting on the street, or kicking a sacred temple bell -- free-spending Chinese tourists are receiving a mixed welcome as their soaring numbers help the kingdom's creaking economy. Last month it was a photo of a young girl peeing in the grounds of Bangkok's Grand Palace that triggered the latest round of enraged, and sometimes racist, comments as Thai social media users claimed she was Chinese. In March a Thai model's video of tourists from China jumping the queue at an airport was viewed more than two million times and saw a similarly angry rant against Thailand's largest group of foreign holidaymakers.
Across the country of 11 million people -- on far-flung Aegean islands, in the shadow of the 2,400-year-old Parthenon in Athens, to the northern border shared with fellow EU state Bulgaria -- voters began casting their ballots. The rest of Europe, and international investors, will be watching intently, unsure of the outcome that could greet them on Monday. "I'm voting 'No' because I think it's better for the country," said 80-year-old Michelis, first in through the doors of a school being used for the vote on Skoufa street in central Athens.
Greece voted on Sunday on whether to accept more austerity in exchange for international aid, in a high-stakes referendum likely to determine whether it leaves the euro-currency area after seven years of economic pain. Staged against a backdrop of shuttered banks and threats of financial apocalypse, the vote is too close to call and may not produce the clear mandate for negotiations that Athens’ creditors seek. Greeks are split on whether to accept an offer by creditors that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras calls a "humiliation" and is urging people to reject.
The World Bank has removed a critical portion from a recently released report on China's economy, saying the section had not been adequately reviewed. On Wednesday, the Washington-based institution released its China Economic Update report in Beijing, which included a section urging the country to accelerate reform of its state-dominated financial sector. In blunt language, the World Bank warned that failure to address the issue could end "three decades of stellar performance" for the world's second-largest economy.
Americans marched in star-spangled parades, ran relay races, gathered for fireworks shows and crowned a new world hot dog eating champion as they celebrated Independence Day in traditional style on Saturday. Possible security threats, wildfires in the West and rainy weather on the East Coast apparently did little to dampen the spirits of celebrants decked out in red, white and blue from their headbands to their shoelaces. Crowds at Boston's Old State House erupted in applause and cannons shot out tri-color confetti after the annual July Fourth reading of the Declaration of Independence.
A 108th-minute penalty kick by Fara Williams gave England their first ever win over top ranked Germany and a third place finish at the Women's World Cup. "It feels a lot better to be sitting here after that than it did the other day," said England coach Mark Sampson. "We knew the challenge we faced today from a world class Germany team.
The United States and Australia kicked off a massive joint biennial military exercise on Sunday, with Japan taking part for the first time as tensions with China over territorial rows loom over the drills. The two-week "Talisman Sabre" exercise in the Northern Territory and Queensland state involves 30,000 personnel from the US and Australia practising operations at sea, in the air and on land. Some 40 personnel from Japan's army -- the Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) -- will join the American contingent, while more than 500 troops from New Zealand are also involved in the exercise, which concludes on July 21.
The Dalai Lama launches three days of celebrations Sunday in California for his 80th birthday at what is billed as a Global Compassion Summit but which is expected to draw protests. Thousands of followers and fans of the Tibetan spiritual leader are to attend events in Anaheim and at the University of Irvine, including on his actual birthday Monday. "This milestone occasion is a joyous opportunity for people to come together in celebration of His Holiness' life and achievements," said Venerable Lama Tenzin Dhonden, founder of the non-profit Friends of the Dalai Lama.