Main news of the last weeks


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23 APRIL 2019

Heng Swee Keat becomes Singapore’s sole Deputy Prime Minister, paving the way for him to succeed Lee Hsien Loong

Singapore’s Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday was promoted to become the country’s sole Deputy Prime Minister, moving him closer to succeeding Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as the Lion City’s next leader

Japan, France to cooperate to promote free trade

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Emmanuel Macron say they will work together in leading discussions on free trade and other issues at the G20 summit in Osaka

Myanmar Court Rejects Appeal of Jailed Reuters Reporters

Myanmar’s Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the final appeal of two Reuters journalists and upheld seven-year prison sentences for their reporting on the military’s brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims

China puts a damper on navy’s 70th anniversary celebrations as it tries to allay fears over rising strength

A 32-strong Chinese fleet led by Asia’s largest destroyer, the Type 055, joined with 18 foreign warships from 13 countries on Tuesday for a naval parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the PLA navy

Sri Lanka bombings retaliation for Christchurch mosque shootings, minister says

Security forces arrested 40 people over a series of terror strikes in Sri Lanka, including the driver of a van allegedly used by suicide bombers, officials said on Tuesday. An owner of the house where some suspected attackers lived was also detained

22 APRIL 2019

Vietnamese ex-president Le Duc Anh who ousted Khmer Rouge dies, aged 99

General Le Duc Anh, a Communist Party hardliner and former Vietnamese president who led the invasion of Cambodia which led to the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, has died aged 99

Iran, Pakistan to set up border ‘reaction force’ after attacks

Iran and Pakistan have agreed to set up a joint border « reaction force » following a spate of deadly attacks by militant groups on their frontier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced on Monday after talks with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan

Philippines warns journalists out to ‘destroy’ Duterte

Philippine government on Monday (Apr 22) warned the press against plotting to « destroy » President Rodrigo Duterte’s government, as his spokesman accused journalists of spreading fake news

Japan PM Abe’s ruling bloc suffers rare losses in two by-elections

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc suffered two rare losses in by-elections on Sunday (April 21) in an apparent warning from voters not to get complacent ahead of a national election for Parliament’s Upper House later this year’s-ruling-ldp-loses-2-out-of-2-lower-house-by-elections

21 APRIL 2019

Afghan supreme court extends Ghani’s term until delayed elections

Afghanistan’s supreme court on Sunday said it had extended the term of President Ashraf Ghani until delayed elections take place – resolving for now the question of what would happen after his term expires on May 22

Sri Lanka explosions: At least 207 killed, hundreds injured in Easter Sunday carnage

Eight devastating bomb blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka on Sunday (April 21), killing at least 207 people and injuring 450, including dozens of foreigners

20 APRIL 2019

Former Asean secretary-general Rodolfo Severino dies, aged 82

Respected diplomat and former secretary-general of Asean Rodolfo Severino Jr died on Friday night (April 19), the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Saturday

19 APRIL 2019

Uzbekistan, S.Korea sign deals worth $12bn during Moon visit

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday signed deals worth $12 billion with Uzbekistan during a week-long tour of Central Asia, as he seeks to ease reliance on China and the US

Korea tops Asia in press freedom: Reporters Without Borders

Korea ranks first among Asian countries in press freedom, according to the 2019 World Press Freedom Index released on April 18 by the Paris-based organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

India suspends Kashmir border trade with Pakistan

India has suspended trade across its disputed Kashmir border with Pakistan, alleging that weapons and drugs are being smuggled across the route, as tensions simmer between the nuclear-armed neighbours

Malaysia negotiating to buy military assets through barter: Defence Minister

Malaysia is negotiating with several countries to acquire military assets through barter trade, said Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu on Friday (Apr 19)

18 APRIL 2019

Korean leader Kim Jong-un supervises test-fire of ‘new tactical guided weapon’

North Korea has developed a new tactical guided weapon and Kim Jong-un supervised the test-fire of it.That’s according to Pyeongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency on Thursday.The test-fire was conducted by the regime’s defense science academy.
Kim Jong-un assessed that having this new weapon means a lot in upping the regime’s combat power

U.S. offers Japan secret info for development of F-2’s successor jet

The United States has proposed disclosing some of the top-secret details of its state-of-the-art F-35 stealth fighter jet to Japan to encourage joint development of an aircraft that will succeed the Air Self-Defense Force’s F-2 fighter, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned

Japanese Emperor performs ritual to report abdication to Shinto gods

Emperor Akihito prayed at a Japanese shrine Thursday in a ritual to report his upcoming abdication to the Shinto gods

17 APRIL 2019

Indonesia elections: Widodo set for 2nd term as president and new parliament support

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has won a second five-year term, preliminary election results showed Wednesday, in a victory for moderation over the nationalistic rhetoric of his rival, Prabowo Subianto

Five million lost jobs in India between 2016 and 2018: Report

At least five million Indians lost their jobs between 2016 and 2018, and young urban men are being hit hardest, a Bengaluru-based private university said in a report on Tuesday (April 16)

Myanmar pardons more than 9,000 prisoners in New Year amnesty

President Win Myint said 9,535 local prisoners, and 16 foreigners, had been pardoned in a gesture designed “for the peace and pleasure of the people, and taking into consideration humanitarian concerns”

16 APRIL 2019

Chinese Police Hold Another Ethnic Mongolian Writer Over Protest

Chinese authorities in the northern region of Inner Mongolia are holding an ethnic Mongolian writer and teacher under criminal detention, a U.S.-based rights group said on Tuesday

Imprisoned Myanmar journalists awarded Pulitzer prize

On Monday in New York the Pulitzer Center handed its award for International Reporting to Reuters staff, with a special mention for Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo who are serving seven years in Yangon’s Insein Prison for « exposing state secrets. »

China’s acceptance of Vatican-approved bishop candidates ‘a positive sign’

Beijing’s acceptance of two Vatican-approved bishop candidates from Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi sends a “cautiously positive” signal over their controversial agreement ahead of Good Friday, experts said,-the-first-two-bishops-chosen-after-the-China-Holy-See-agreement.-Nothing-new-46770.html

Watchdog Group Voices Concern over Human Rights in Pakistan

An independent monitoring group in Pakistan has expressed concern about the state of human rights in the country and called for the immediate redressal of the issues highlighted in its annual report, released Monday

US approves F-16 support for Taiwan in face of pressure from Beijing

A Pentagon statement said the State Department had approved the sale of a programme of pilot training, maintenance and logistics support for the F-16 aircraft now at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona

15 APRIL 2019

Indian party leaders Yogi Adityanath and Mayawati banned from election trail over hate speech

India’s election watchdog on Monday banned two outspoken politicians from campaigning in the country’s national vote for making provocative speeches which it said could stir communal unrest

Pakistan reaches ‘agreement in principle’ with IMF over bailout

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday said that it held « constructive discussions » with Pakistani authorities during last week’s spring meetings in Washington and that its mission will be visiting Pakistan « before the end of April to continue the discussions » on a bailout package

US Denounces “Coercion” as China Conducts Drills Near Taiwan

Chinese bombers and warships conducted drills around Taiwan on April 15, the latest military maneuvers near the self-ruled island that a senior U.S. official denounced as “coercion” and a threat to stability in the region

Philippine President Duterte signs largest national budget of $96.8b, after months of delay

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday (April 15) signed a 3.7 trillion peso (S$96.8 billion) budget for this year, its largest ever, ending months of impasse that forced the South-east Asian country to cuts its growth target

14 APRIL 2019

Prominent Myanmar Filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi Held in Jail For Facebook Post Criticizing Military

A Myanmar court on Friday denied bail for a renowned filmmaker and human rights activist sued by a government military officer for allegedly insulting and defaming the armed forces in a Facebook post, sending him to Yangon’s notorious Insein Prison until his next court appearance in late April, his attorney said

Sri Lankan writer Shakthika Sathkumara imprisoned at instigation of Buddhist extremists

Award-winning Sri Lankan author Shakthika Sathkumara was arrested by the police on April 1 and has been imprisoned on remand until April 23, following a magistrate’s ruling at Polgahawela. The magistrate extended the writer’s incarceration when he was brought before the courts on April 9

13 APRIL 2019

Kim Jong-un gives Donald Trump until end of year to change attitude to North Korea nuclear talks

Kim Jong-un said the US must change its attitude to talks by the end of this year if there was to be a third summit with Donald Trump

India hopes to avoid US sanctions over Russian missile deal

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin in October, defying US warnings of sanctions on countries buying Russian military equipment

12 APRIL 2019

Kim Jong-un solidifies grip on power with new title and leadership shuffle

In one of the biggest leadership shake-ups in years, North Korea named a new nominal head of state and a new premier, and gave leader Kim Jong Un a new title, state media reported on Friday, moves analysts said solidify Kim’s grip on power

ICC rejects Afghanistan war crimes probe

The International Criminal Court said that despite « a reasonable basis » to consider war crimes commited in Afghanistan there was little chance of a successful procecution. Rights group Amnesty criticized the decision

Malaysia to go ahead with China-backed East Coast Rail link

Malaysia on Friday said it had a signed a fresh deal to proceed with the stalled China-backed East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), after months of false starts and contradictory statements from Prime Minister

11 APRIL 2019

Philippine, US troops train for invasion scenario on island adjacent to South China Sea

Philippine and US troops on Wednesday (Apr 10) conducted their first joint airfield seizure drill on an island adjacent to the South China Sea, aimed at helping the Southeast Asian country deal with any potential island invasion

South Korea’s constitutional court rules to lift abortion ban

South Korea’s constitutional court ruled to lift the country’s 66-year-old ban on abortion on Thursday, in a landmark decision that will decriminalise the medical procedure by the end of 2020

Young Chinese to be sent back to villages in Mao-style move

China is planning to send millions of youth « volunteers » back to the villages, raising fears of a return to the methods of Chairman Mao’s brutal Cultural Revolution of 50 years ago

10 APRIL 2019

China, EU Hail Breakthrough Investment Agreement

European Union and China leaders say they intend to enter into what they called an “ambitious” comprehensive investment agreement by 2020

Malè, a landslide victory for the Democratic Party. Growing distance from Beijing

The Maldivian Democratic Party, led by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, won 65 seats out of a total of 87. The agreements signed with China are under careful scrutiny–46735.html

Academics Call on China’s Tsinghua University to Reinstate Professor

A group of prominent academics has called on the ruling Chinese Communist Party to reinstate a professor at one of the country’s top universities

9 APRIL 2019

Leading Hong Kong Umbrella Movement activists found guilty of public nuisance

Nine activists were all convicted of at least one charge in a prosecution that deployed rarely-used colonial-era public nuisance laws over their participation in the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests, which called for free elections for the city’s leader

Brother of Sri Lanka ex-president sued in US over alleged torture and killings

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was Sri Lanka’s defence secretary during the final years of the country’s civil war against the Tamil Tigers until his brother lost the presidency in 2015, and has been mooted as the family’s presidential candidate in this year’s election

‘Almost an invasion’: Protesters in Philippines slam Duterte for weak response over disputes in South China Sea

Protesters descended on the Chinese embassy in Manila on Tuesday to oppose China’s growing sway in the Philippines, as tensions continue to rise over Beijing’s presence in the contested South China Sea

8 APRIL 2019

Indonesian Buddhist woman’s blasphemy conviction upheld

Indonesia’s Supreme Court has upheld an 18-month jail sentence for a 44-year-old Buddhist woman convicted last year on blasphemy charges

Russian warships arrive in the Philippines amid rising South China Sea tensions

The destroyers Admiral Tributs and Vinogradov — classified as « large, anti-submarine ships » — docked in Manila early Monday, along with the Admiral Irkut, a « large sea tanker

United States will be the Philippines’ only military ally, foreign chief Teodoro Locsin says amid South China Sea tensions

The United States will remain the Philippines’ only military ally, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr said, amid an increased Chinese presence near a disputed island in the South China Sea

China, North Korea open new border crossing despite sanctions

China and North Korea opened a new border crossing over the Yalu River, signalling aspirations for deeper economic ties between the neighbours even as Pyongyang’s trade remains crimped by international sanctions

Bangladesh Posts Border Guard to St. Martin’s Island for 1st Time in 22 Years

The Bangladeshi government on Sunday redeployed over 100 Border Guards Bangladesh personnel armed with heavy weapons to St. Martin’s Island, the country’s southernmost point. It is the first time in 22 years the force has been based on the island off Cox’s Bazar, and reinforces an existing Bangladesh Coast Guard deployment there, officials said

Taiwan to Buy 108 M1A2 Abrams Tanks From US Despite China’s Objection – Reports

According to the local media, the Taiwanese Armed Forces have more than 1,000 tanks, mostly of M60A3 and CM-11 models. Once Washington approves the deal, 108 M1A2 Abrams tanks will enter service within the Sixth Army Corps, which secures the safety of northern Taiwan, where most of the central government establishments are situated

7 APRIL 2019

Islamabad says New Delhi planning military aggression

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi says Islamabad has credible intelligence that India is planning an attack between April 16 to April 20

RAF and Royal Navy urged to cut ties to sultan of Brunei over anti-gay law

The RAF and Royal Navy are under pressure to cut links with the sultan of Brunei amid a global backlash against his country’s decision to introduce death by stoning as punishment for homosexuality

6 APRIL 2019

Maldives votes in crucial ballot to elect new parliament

Voting began in the Maldives in a crucial parliamentary election on Saturday many hope would help President Ibrahim Mohammed Solih to overcome a coalition split that has hampered his efforts to restore political freedoms and tackle corruption

Indian GDP to exceed more than seven percent over next 2 years

In its Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2019, ADB projects gross domestic product (GDP) growth in India to rise to 7.2% in fiscal year 2019 and reach 7.3% in 2020, reversing two years of declining growth as reforms to improve the business and investment climate take effect

Thailand’s junta charges rival party leader with sedition

The sedition charge, which was filed by the junta, was the second criminal case opened against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, 40, since he formed the progressive, youth-oriented Future Forward Party last year

5 APRIL 2019

South China Sea: Duterte warns Beijing of ‘suicide missions’ to protect disputed island

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has warned Beijing to back off from a disputed island in the South China Sea, warning of “suicide missions” if China touches it

Malaysia U-turns on decision to join war crimes court after political pressure

Malaysia will no longer join the International Criminal Court (ICC), said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday (Apr 5), citing political pressure and « confusion among the rulers »

Thai election officials say 66 victorious candidates face disqualification

Thailand’s Election Commission said Friday (April 5) that scores of candidates who were tipped to secure elected seats in last month’s contentious polls are under investigation and could be disqualified, in a move that could shift yet-to-be-released final results

4 APRIL 2019

US set to sell India advanced copters to hunt submarines at sea

India is expected to soon get one of the most advanced naval helicopters capable of hunting submarines in the sea and launching anti-surface missions. The US state department has approved the sale to India of 24 MH-60R multi-mission helicopters for an estimated cost of $2.6 billion

Shaanxi government razes Qianyang parish to ground (video)

This morning, the Qianyang (Shaanxi) government razed the only parish in the city to the ground. A bulldozer reduced the two-story building to rubble under the supervision of a group of policemen. In the video sent to AsiaNews we hear the sobs of some women, while several faithful look astonished at the destruction

3 APRIL 2019

Malaysia ex-PM Najib pleads not guilty to all charges as trial starts

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak appeared in court Wednesday for the start of his corruption trial, exactly 10 years after he was first elected to office only to suffer a spectacular defeat last year on allegations he pilfered millions of dollars from a state investment fund. He pleaded not guilty to all charges as the trial begun

UN calls for food aid for starving North Koreans despite sanctions

The head of the UN World Food Programme has called for the White House and other western donors to put children’s lives before politics and fund a major injection of aid to North Korea despite the failure of Donald Trump’s summit with Kim Jong-un

Thai police summon anti-junta politician Thanathorn on sedition charge

Thai police summoned a prominent anti-junta politician on Wednesday to answer a sedition complaint, a police document showed, a charge rising star Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit called politically motivated after a disputed election

South Korean ship detained for violating UN sanctions: Seoul

A South Korean ship has been detained for more than six months on suspicion of violating UN sanctions against the nuclear-armed North, Seoul’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday (Apr 3)

South Korean police apologize and army expresses regret for 1948 Jeju massacres

South Korean police apologized for the first time Wednesday over massacres that killed 10,000 people decades ago and the military expressed deep regret as President Moon Jae-in seeks to re-examine history

2 APRIL 2019

Some 200 Hindu radicals beat nuns, devastate Catholic school in Tamil Nadu

Members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh destroyed the Little Flower Higher Secondary School in Chinnasalem. Damages total US$ 145,000. Some women tried to strangle the nuns,-devastate-Catholic-school-in-Tamil-Nadu-46667.html

France urges Brunei to drop anti-gay stoning law

France has called on the authorities in Brunei to scrap a law that would make adultery or gay sex punishable by death by stoning. The Sultanate maintains the death penalty, but no one has been executed since 1957

1 APRIL 2019
Vietnam Gets Six Patrol Boats from U.S. Signaling Closer Security Ties

The Vietnamese coast guard Sunday received six patrol boats from the United States, in a move that indicates a renewed desire for cooperation between the former enemies

Japan reveals Reiwa to be name of new imperial era ahead of Emperor Akihito’s abdication

The « Heisei » imperial era will end on April 30 when Emperor Akihito steps down. Japan’s government says the imperial era associated with his successor will be known as « Reiwa. »

UN finally tells the truth about Laos

Communist-run Laos has had a relative knack for staying out of the news for its human rights abuses, endemic corruption and sub-par performance in providing services to its citizens. But now finally someone of prominence is speaking out

Sale of ‘obsolete’ F-16s to Taiwan irks Beijing

Beijing has responded angrily to the talk of sales by the US of more than 60 Lockheed Martin F-16V jets to Taiwan, even though the fourth generation warplanes, whose original model entered service 40 years ago, will hardly trouble China’s more advanced J-20 fighters

Philippines Protests Over Chinese Vessels in Disputed Waters

The Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest over the presence of more than 200 Chinese boats near an island occupied by Manila in the disputed South China Sea, the president’s spokesman said on April 1

30 MARCH 2019

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn revokes royal decorations of ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra

The Thai King has revoked the royal decorations of billionaire ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, citing his conviction and « extremely inappropriate » flight from the country, according to an announcement published on Saturday (March 30)

Afghan vice-president Abdul Rashid Dostum survives Taleban attack

Taleban fighters on Saturday (March 30) attacked a convoy carrying Afghanistan’s vice-president Abdul Rashid Dostum, in an assault that left the former warlord unscathed but killed one of his bodyguards

29 MARCH 2019

Cambodia’s PM Hun Sen Unveils ‘Strategy’ to Offset Loss of EU Trade Scheme

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday unveiled his strategy to offset the loss of a preferential trade agreement that the European Union is likely to withdraw in response to his government’s failure to reverse rollbacks on democracy, saying he is “done taking orders” from other countries

Maria Ressa, founder of news site Rappler and Duterte critic, arrested again

Prominent Philippine journalist Maria Ressa has been re-arrested at Manila airport, allegedly for violating laws barring foreign ownership of media

Chinese Xuanhua underground bishop Msgr. Cui Tai arrested

The police also detained the episcopal vicar, Fr. Zhang Jianlin. A priest banned from ministry accused him of « not following the Vatican’s instructions » and urged the police to arrest him. From 2007 onwards, Msgr. Cui Tai has been subjected to continuous detention or house arrest–46630.html

28 MARCH 2019

Thai Election Commission says junta party won popular vote

Thailand’s Election Commission says it has counted 100 percent of the votes from the recent general election and a party allied with the ruling junta has won the most votes, though the results are not yet official

27 MARCH 2019

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen warns of ‘Hong Kong example’ on Hawaii stopover as she vows to boost military

Despite Chinese protest, the US state was on the itinerary for Tsai’s tour of the Pacific. Experts say the tour is part of a « defensive » strategy from Taipei as it faces increased pressure from Beijing

27 MARCH 2019

India’s Narendra Modi announces successful anti-satellite system

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country had joined the space “super league” on Wednesday after it successfully tested an anti-satellite system in a demonstration of its space warfare capabilities

Philippine journalist and prominent Duterte critic Maria Ressa charged again

Philippine authorities said Wednesday (Mar 27) they had filed more criminal charges against Maria Ressa, a veteran reporter and prominent critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, six weeks after detaining her overnight

Brunei to impose death by stoning for gay sex and adultery

Adultery and gay sex in Brunei will be subject to death by stoning from next week, authorities said, under a sharia law that has been on hold for four years amid heavy criticism

China expels ex-Interpol chief from Communist Party

While Chinese authorities accuse former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei of taking bribes, his high-profile disappearance has raised concerns about the reach President Xi Jinping’s sweeping anti-graft campaign

Indonesia threatens to quit Paris climate deal over palm oil

A senior Indonesian minister warned on Wednesday (March 27) Southeast Asia’s biggest economy could consider exiting the Paris climate deal if the European Union goes ahead with a plan to phase out palm oil in renewable transportation fuel

26 MARCH 2019

Human rights in Hong Kong ‘deteriorating severely’: Amnesty

Hong Kong’s human rights have « deteriorated severely » over the past year, with free speech under attack, Amnesty International said on Tuesday (March 26), the latest report to criticise the city’s government for restricting liberties

EU leaders hold out olive branch to Chinese ‘rival’ by saying they want active role in Belt and Road Initiative

European and Chinese leaders sought to reassure each other over economic cooperation on Tuesday despite the increasing US move towards protectionism, as leading EU figures said they were still open to joining China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”

China denounces US Tibet report as ‘full of prejudice’

Beijing on Tuesday (March 26) denounced a US report accusing the Chinese government of impeding access to Tibet as « full of prejudice » and warned that continued interference in the Himalayan region could damage US-China relations

25 MARCH 2019

North Korean officials return to liaison office with South after Trump blocks extra sanctions

North Korea on Monday reversed its recent decision to pull out of a symbolic inter-Korean liaison office on the border with South Korea, unexpectedly sending some of its officials back to work

24 MARCH 2019

Xi meets Macron as French president seeks united EU front on China

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron met for dinner in the south of France Sunday ahead of official talks with the host leader seeking to forge a united European front to contend with Beijing’s advances

Thais go to polls in first election since 2014 coup

Thais went to the polls on Sunday for the first election since a coup in 2014. The election pits a royalist junta and its allies against a party with links to the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra

22 MARCH 2019

North Korea abruptly withdraws staff from Kaesong liaison office with South Korea

North Korea has abruptly withdrawn its staff from a liaison office with South Korea, a development that is likely to put a damper on ties between the countries and further complicate global diplomacy on North Korea’s nuclear program

Vietnam officially protests China over ramming in South China Sea

Hanoi has officially logged a protest with Beijing over the ramming of a Vietnamese fishing boat earlier this month within Vietnam’s waters in the South China Sea

Italy to buy into China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Chinese President Xi Jinping began his European tour in Rome against a background of growing Western unease over Italy joining the Belt and Road Initiative. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is to sign a memorandum of understanding with Xi on Saturday.

21 MARCH 2019

US Imposes New North Korea Sanctions, First Since Failed Summit

The United States imposed sanctions on March 21 on two Chinese shipping companies it says helped North Korea evade sanctions over its nuclear weapons program, the first such steps since a U.S.-North Korean summit collapsed last month

Two former Philippine ministers file case in ICC against China’s island-building in South China Sea

Two former Philippine government officials have filed a case before the International Criminal Court (ICC) holding China’s President Xi Jinping accountable for a massive island-building push in the South China Sea which they charged has led to « the most massive, near permanent and devastating destruction of the environment in humanity’s history »

Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen heads to the South Pacific in a bid to fend off China

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen set off on Thursday (March 21) for a trip to the South Pacific to shore up ties with three island nations that still recognise Taiwan as a country, in an effort to offset China’s expanding influence in the region

China says Dalai Lama reincarnation ‘must comply’ with Chinese laws

The Dalai Lama has warned of a possible « double reincarnation » with one from a « free country » after Beijing reiterated that his next incarnation must comply with Chinese law

20 MARCH 2019

Vietnam Court Jails Activist For 2 Years Over Facebook Posts

A court in the southern Vietnamese district of Binh Thuy  sentenced activist and Facebook commentator Le Minh The to two years in prison for  “dividing the people from the (Communist) Party–reactionary–facebook-posts-11363326

Matteo Ricci and the Cultural Revolution absent in ode to friendship between China and Italy sung by Xi Jinping

In an interview given today to the Corriere della Sera, on the eve of his journey that will take him to Rome, Monaco and France, President Xi Jinping’s words are a true love song for Italy. Yet what is really amazing about this long ode to relations between our nation and the Middle Empire is his silence on Matteo Ricci and the Cultural Revolution

Afghan presidential election delayed again

Following the controversial parliamentary elections and the amendment of the election law, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Wednesday announced September 28 as the new date for the polls

19 MARCH 2019

Myanmar court jails Rakhine leader Aye Maung for 20 years for treason

A Myanmar court on Tuesday (March 19) sentenced a prominent ethnic Rakhine leader to 20 years in jail for treason, a verdict likely to intensify anger amid fighting between the ethnic group and the army

US cuts off Afghan president’s security adviser as tension over peace talks simmer

Diplomatic sources said that US cut relations with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s national security adviser after he launched a blistering public attack on the chief US negotiator, Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad

18 MARCH 2019

Former premier William Lai makes bid for Taiwan presidency

Former premier William Lai (賴清德) launches his campaign to become the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) 2020 presidential candidate today (Monday, March 18)

China defends its security crackdown in Xinjiang

Authorities in China have arrested almost 13,000 « terrorists » in Xinjiang since 2014, the government said on Monday, in a White Paper defending its controversial de-radicalisation measures for Muslims in the restive far western region

Next Dalai Lama could come from India, exiled spiritual leader says as he warns that successor chosen by China won’t be trusted

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, said on Monday it was possible that once he dies his incarnation could be found in India, where he has lived in exile for 60 years, and warned that any other successor named by China would not be respected

16 MARCH 2019

Philippines leaves International Criminal Court as it probes Duterte’s drugs crackdown

The Philippines will from Sunday (March 17) no longer be part of the treaty that created the International Criminal Court (ICC)

15 MARCH 2019

Activists in Hong Kong and Taiwan closely monitored and harassed as China fears ‘separatist’ collusion

As Beijing grows wary of pro-independence groups seeking to forge closer ties in Hong Kong and Taiwan, activists say they are coming under increased surveillance and harassment from pro-China media outlets and unofficial “operatives.”

North Korea says it may suspend nuclear talks

North Korea is considering suspension of denuclearization talks with the United States, Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told reporters on Friday

14 MARCH 2019

India, Pakistan Agree for Smooth Progress in Sikh Shrine Project Amid Tensions

India and Pakistan have claimed that Thursday’s meeting on the Kartarpur corridor issue concluded with a significant understanding on operationalising the project. This was the first bilateral meet to discuss the modalities and the draft agreement for facilitation of pilgrims to visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the Kartarpur Corridor

Singapore, Malaysia agree to suspend overlapping port claims

Singapore and Malaysia agreed on Thursday (March 14) to jointly suspend overlapping port claims in the waters off Tuas, saying this was vital to end a stand-off which has seen at least one collision in the waters since the dispute began in December.

China blocks UN move to designate Pakistan JeM chief Masood Azhar as global terrorist again

The US, the UK and France had moved a fresh proposal in the UN Security Council to designate Pakistan-based terror group JeM’s chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, a listing that will subject him to global travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo

Taiwan to strip citizenship of Beijing devotees

Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior is reportedly seeking to strip the citizenship of a Taiwanese woman who is now a member of China’s top political consultative body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, after she made a controversial televised speech calling for reunification during the CPPCC’s annual session

El Salvador top court suspends scrapping of Taiwan trade accord

El Salvador’s highest court on Wednesday temporarily suspended the cancellation of a free trade pact with Taiwan, after the Central American nation’s sugar industry sought an injunction, arguing the move would hurt its business interests

13 MARCH 2019

CIA ‘implicated’ in attack on North Korean embassy in Madrid

Spanish investigators have reportedly linked the CIA to an attack on the North Korean embassy in Madrid last month

European Union calls for united trade and tech front against ‘rival’ China

The European Union is urging its leaders to take a tougher stand on mounting China-related trade, technology and geostrategic concerns, a major step that could overshadow the country’s relations with Europe for years to come, analysts said

Japan to opt out of U.N. motion condemning North Korea’s rights abuses in apparent bid for talks on abductions

For the first time since 2007, Japan will not take part in the submission of a draft joint resolution condemning North Korea’s human rights abuses to a U.N. panel, the government said Wednesday, in a conciliatory gesture apparently aimed at convincing Pyongyang to hold talks with Tokyo

12 MARCH 2019

Sri Lanka parliament finally approves 2019 budget

Sri Lanka’s parliament on Tuesday (May 12) approved the cash-strapped country’s 2019 budget, which had been delayed by four months due to a power struggle triggered by President Maithripala Sirisena dismissing the premier

Tokyo begins ceremonies for emperor’s abdication

Akihito read a document to the imperial ancestors containing his decision to leave the Chrysanthemum Throne. There will be a total of nine ceremonies that will culminate in « taiirei seiden no gi », when the sovereign will become « emeritus emperor ». The last monarch to abdicate was Kokaku in 1817–46473.html

UN probing North Korea sanction violations in 20 countries

UN experts say they are investigating possible violations of United Nations sanctions on North Korea in about 20 countries, from alleged clandestine nuclear procurement in China to arms brokering in Syria and military cooperation with Iran, Libya and Sudan

China says it will eventually phase out ‘vocational training centres’ in Xinjiang where 1 million Uygur Muslims are reportedly held for ‘re-education’

China’s top official in Xinjiang on Tuesday said the “vocational training centres” in the far western border region would eventually be phased out, as Beijing comes under growing international pressure over the mass detention camps

Japan to build new warships in ‘message to China’ over Diaoyu Islands

Japan is to begin building a new class of light patrol ships for the Maritime Self-Defence Forces in 2020, the defence ministry has confirmed to the South China Morning Post

10 MARCH 2019

Indian Lok Sabha elections 2019: Seven phase elections to be held from 11 April-19 May, counting on 23 May

Lok Sabha elections will begin on April 11 and continue for over a month till May 19 across seven phases, followed by counting of votes on May 23, the Election Commission announced Sunday, kick-starting the countdown for a mega electoral battle where the BJP will pitch for a re-election of the Modi government amid the Opposition’s efforts for a united fight to unseat it

North Korea holds rubber-stamp election to determine Assembly representatives

It’s an election that happens every five years, and it will have officially wrapped up just now at 6 PM, local time. North Korea puts only one candidate on the ballot in each district, and voting is not optional

Tibet Supporters Mark 60th Anniversary of Failed Uprising Against China

The abortive mission forced the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s traditional Buddhist leader, into exile in mountainous Dharamsala, in India, where he established a Tibetan government-in-exile

9 MARCH 2019

Malaysian man gets 10 years in prison for insulting Islam on Facebook

The sentence of 10 years and 10 months is believed to be the harshest such penalty on record in the Muslim-majority country

9 MARCH 2019

Myanmar, Ukrainian firm ink arms plant deal

A Ukrainian company and the Myanmar military have signed a joint-venture agreement to build a plant capable of manufacturing armored personnel carriers (APCs) and self-propelled howitzers, the Myanmar website The Irrawaddy reports

Malaysian man gets 10 years in prison for insulting Islam on Facebook

The sentence of 10 years and 10 months is believed to be the harshest such penalty on record in the Muslim-majority country


8 MARCH 2018

Thousands march against Philippine President Duterte on International Women’s Day

Thousands of women took to the streets of Manila on Friday (March 8) in protest against President Rodrigo Duterte’s alleged misogyny while an exhibition marking International Women’s Day exhibited the clothes of Philippine rape victims

Indonesian activist Robertus Robet charged with insulting military

Indonesia has charged a rights activist with allegedly insulting the country’s military, sparking a protest from campaigners, who derided it as “ludicrous” and an attack on free speech

India signs $3b submarine deal with Russia

India has signed a $3 billion (Dh11 billion) deal to lease a third Russian nuclear-powered submarine for 10 years, giving Delhi a boost in the Indian Ocean against arch-rivals Pakistan and China, media reports said

US asked to sell 66 advanced fighter jets to Taiwan

Taiwan has submitted a formal request for the purchase of 66 F-16V fighter jets from the United States to counter a military buildup by China, with Deputy Minister of National Defense Shen Yi-ming admitting they were needed “to counter current enemy threats”

Chinese exports fell more than 20% in February

Last month, dollar-denominated exports plunged 20.7% compared to the same period last year while imports dropped 5.2%, official data released by the General Administration of Customs revealed on Friday

7 MARCH 2019

Thai court bans Thai Raksa Chart party for nominating princess as PM

Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday that the Thai Raksa Chart party should be dissolved and its executives banned for 10 years, a decision that has raised tensions ahead of the country’s first election since the 2014 coup

China Opens a New Military Base in Tajikistan

The section where the Chinese facilities are located is strategically important as it overlooks one of the crucial entry points from China into Central Asia and is close to the vital corridor through which the country has a connection with Afghanistan’s heartland. The corridor is particularly important to China due to its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

121 detained, 182 madrasas seized in Pakistan crackdown

Pakistan on Thursday said that law enforcement agencies took 121 people into preventive detention and seized 182 madrasas as part of its continuing crackdown on terror groups

6 MARCH 2019

Sri Lanka backtracks on UN war crimes probe

Sri Lanka’s president went back Wednesday on pledges to investigate war-time atrocities, saying he did not want to « re-open old wounds. » The move has sparked a rift with the country’s government

Former S.Korean president Lee Myung-bak released on bail

South Korea’s former president Lee Myung-bak has been released on bail after nearly a year in detention, as he appeals corruption convictions

Philippine Defense Chief Calls for Review of Defense Treaty with US

The Philippines should review an outdated defense treaty with the United States and avoid unnecessarily being dragged to war in case of conflict between Washington and China over the South China Sea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said

Beijing plans to continue tightening grip on Christianity and Islam as China pushes ahead with the ‘Sinicisation of religion’

Delivering his annual government work report on Tuesday, Premier Li Keqiang told the national legislature that “we must fully implement the [Communist] Party’s fundamental policy on religious affairs and uphold the Sinicisation of religion in China”

North Korea said to be rebuilding structures at rocket site

North Korea is restoring facilities at a long-range rocket launch site that it dismantled last year as part of disarmament steps, according to foreign experts and a South Korean lawmaker who was briefed by Seoul’s spy service

5 MARCH 2019

China hikes defence budget by 7.5 pc to $177.6 billion

China’s defence budget for 2019 has been pegged at 1.19 trillion yuan (about 177.61 billion US dollars), marking an increase of 7.5 per cent over the last year’s figure, despite lower economic growth rate ranging between 6 and 6.5 per cent

China lowers growth target amid trade and debt fears

Beijing is targeting 2019 growth of 6.0 to 6.5 percent, down from the 6.6 percent gross domestic product reported for 2018 – itself the slowest growth in almost 30 years

It’s official: India is Trump’s next target in the trade wars

After months of simmering trade tensions between the United States and India, President Trump is following through on his threat to punish India for being what he called “a very high-tariff nation.”

S Korea saw low GDP growth, income rise in 2018

South Korea grew by a six-year low of 2.7% last year, but national per capita income exceeded US$30,000 for the first time, according to data released by the Bank of Korea, or BOK, Tuesday

4 MARCH 2019

China accuses arrested Canadians of stealing state secrets

Accusations about ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor come as China seeks Huawei CFO’s release

Duterte stresses desire to rename Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday reiterated his desire to change the name of the Philippines weeks after he said the late president Ferdinand Marcos was right in wanting to change the country’s name to « Maharlika. »

Retired Myanmar Army Generals Form New Political Party With Eye on 2020 Vote

Myanmar’s election commission has approved a new political party formed by a splinter group of retired generals from the country’s main opposition party, who have their eyes on the next general election in 2020

59 Nobel laureates urge Imran, Modi to defuse tensions

Fifty nine Nobel laureates have written letters to the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan urging them to “defuse the rising tensions” between the two countries, according to a statement

Cambodia PM imposes deadline on lifting political bans

Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said on Monday that banned former opposition politicians could lose a chance to have their political rights restored if they are still reluctant to request for it

3 MARCH 2019

US and South Korea scrap major military exercises to ease tensions with North

South Korea and the US are eliminating their massive springtime military drills and replacing them with smaller exercises in what they call an effort to support diplomacy aimed at resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis

Pakistan denies Indian claims it used US F-16 jets to down warplane

The US has said it is trying to find out whether Pakistan used US-built F-16 jets to down an Indian warplane, potentially in violation of trade agreements, as the standoff between the nuclear-armed Asian neighbours showed signs of easing

2 MARCH 2019

Shinawatra parties rally across Thailand as crucial court ruling looms

Parties aligned with Thailand’s powerful Shinawatra clan staged major rallies Saturday (March 2) ahead of a court ruling that could deal a gut punch to their prospects in national elections later this month

Cardinal Filoni: The Pope’s affection for Taiwan and Taiwan’s for the Pope

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples was Papal envoy at the National Eucharistic Congress. At least 10 thousand Catholics participated in concluding Mass’s-affection-for-Taiwan-and-Taiwan’s-for-the-Pope-46395.html

1 MARCH 2019

Pakistan hands over captured Indian pilot at Wagah border

An Indian Air Force pilot captured by Pakistan was returned to India at the Wagah border crossing on Friday to the cheers of hundreds of countrymen who gathered to give him a hero’s welcome


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