Main news of the last weeks


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20 FEBRUARY 2019

China’s former military chief of staff Fang Fenghui jailed for life for corruption

Fang Fenghui, who was appointed to the top post in People’s Liberation Army in 2012, was convicted of accepting and offering bribes, and having an unclear source of a huge amount of assets, the news agency Xinhua reported

Thai police seek to prosecute leader of anti-junta Future Forward party Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit

Thai police said on Wednesday (Feb 20) they were seeking the prosecution of the leader of a new political party over a speech he made that was posted on Facebook criticising the ruling junta, just over a month before a general election

UN Secretary General urges ‘maximum restraint’ in India-Pakistan Kashmir row

Secretary General Antonio Guterres offered UN assistance to try to defuse the row between the nuclear-armed arch-rivals, as the Indian prime minister continued to weigh retaliation for a suicide bombing that killed at least 40 of his policemen

Saudi crown prince vows to improve ties on first visit to India

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has pledged investment and counterterrorism support on his first visit to India. Mohammed bin Salman’s visit comes amid tension in the subcontinent after last week’s suicide attack in Kashmir

19 FEBRUARY 2019

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen says she will run for re-election in 2020

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen told CNN in an interview she will run for re-election as the island’s leader in 2020, despite her flagging popularity and growing hostility from Beijing

Pakistan will retaliate against any Indian attacks over Kashmir bombing, says Imran Khan

Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, has warned his country will retaliate against any Indian attack in the wake of last week’s Kashmir suicide bombing and called instead for dialogue to calm the growing crisis

Li Nanyang, daughter of Mao’s personal secretary Li Rui, boycotts father’s funeral and says he rejected state trappings for burial

The daughter of Mao Zedong’s personal secretary is boycotting her father’s funeral, which she says is taking place against his wishes in a cemetery reserved for high-ranking revolutionary figures

18 FEBRUARY 2019

China’s State Council reveals details of ‘Greater Bay Area’ plan to turn Hong Kong and 10 neighbouring cities into economic hub

China’s State Council unveiled a sweeping plan to link Hong Kong and Macau with cities in southern China to create a so-called Greater Bay Area, aiming to make it a high-tech megalopolis to rival California’s Silicon Valley

Maldives court orders arrest of ex-President Yameen Abdul Gayoom

The criminal court in the capital Male ordered Monday that former Maldives President Yameen Abdul Gayoom be arrested and held in custody on suspicion of money laundering

Pakistan says Saudi crown prince orders 2,100 Pakistani prisoners released

Saudi Arabia also signed investment agreements with Islamabad worth $20 billion on Sunday as crown prince Mohammed bin Salman began his Asia tour with a two-day trip to Pakistan

16 FEBRUARY 2019

Mao Zedong’s personal secretary and biggest critic Li Rui dies at 101

Li Rui, who over nearly four decades went from being one of Mao Zedong’s personal secretaries in the 1950s to a Communist Party critic, revisionist historian and standard-bearer for liberal values in China, died in Beijing on Saturday (Feb 16). He was 101

15 FEBRUARY 2019

Hong Kong’s ‘Long Hair’ lawmaker fails to overturn legislature ban

Leung Kwok-hung – known by the nickname « Long Hair » – was one of four lawmakers disqualified in 2017 for altering their swearing-in oaths to reflect their frustrations with Beijing’s increased political control over the city

Gunmen sentenced in the death of Myanmar democracy advocate Ko Ni

A Myanmar court sentenced two men to death Friday for killing U Ko Ni, a well known adviser to the country’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi and one of Myanmar’s best known advocates for democracy

Japan to recognise Indigenous Ainu people for first time

After suffering years of discrimination and forced assimilation, the Ainu people have finally been recognised as « indigenous » Japanese people, giving them the right to support for their communities and a boost to local economies

India says will ensure ‘complete isolation’ of Pakistan after worst terror attack under Modi

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday (Feb 15) promised a strong response to a car bombing in Kashmir that killed 44 paramilitary officers that his government blamed on Pakistan, ratcheting up tensions with the nuclear rival

14 FEBRUARY 2019

Kashmir attack: Bomb kills at least 40 soldiers in military convoy

At least 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers have been killed in a bomb attack by militants on their convoy in Indian-administered Kashmir

13 FEBRUARY 2019

Maria Ressa, journalist and Duterte critic, arrested in Philippines

Maria Ressa, a high-profile Philippine journalist and vocal critic of the country’s president, was arrested Wednesday in connection with « cyber libel » charges against Rappler, the news site she oversees

Myanmar to drop charges against ethnic minority protesters in Aung San statue dispute

Myanmar will drop charges against dozens of ethnic minority protesters who demonstrated against a statue of independence hero General Aung San and will hold talks with them, state media said on Wednesday, offering a rare concession

12 FEBRUARY 2019

Afghan mujahideen fighter-turned-president Mojaddedi dies, aged 93

Afghanistan’s first president following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the country and the collapse in 1992 of Kabul’s pro-communist government, Sibghatullah Mujadidi, has died. He was 93

Thailand suspends TV channel linked to ex-PM Thaksin ahead of poll

Thailand’s telecoms regulator on Tuesday (Feb 12) suspended the operating licence of a television channel linked to ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra weeks ahead of a general election, citing national security concerns

Pakistan censors New York Times article by activist critical of military

An opinion piece in the International New York Times criticising Pakistan’s powerful army was censored by its local publisher on Tuesday (Feb 12), replaced by a blank space in a country where it can be dangerous to reprimand the military

11 FEBRUARY 2019

Australia, France ink US$35b submarine deal

Australia formally signed a A$50 billion (US$35 billion) “strategic partnership” with France to build 12 state of the art submarines on Monday, a signal of Canberra’s willingness to project power across the Pacific

EU to hit Cambodia with trade sanctions over rights abuses

The EU has begun the process of ending Cambodia’s preferential trade deal with the bloc. It says the country needs to do more to address human rights issues at home

Britain urges the West to be ready to flex military muscle in the Pacific as US Navy steps up activities in South China Sea

Western powers should be prepared to back their interests with military power just as Britain is prepared to send its new aircraft carrier to the Pacific, British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said on Monday

10 FEBRUARY 2019

South Korea, US ink provisional defense cost-sharing pact with an 8,2 % increase for Seoul

South Korea will pay 1.03 trillion won ($916 million) for the upkeep of the U.S. forces in South Korea (USFK), 8.2 percent more than what it spent last year, the two countries agreed Sunday. It’s the first time Seoul has ever agreed to pay above the 1 trillion won mark as U.S. President Donald Trump urges allies across the world to pay more for their own defense

Turkey calls on China to close Uighur detention camps

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman slammed Chinese authorities’ systematic assimilation policy towards Uighur Turks, saying it is a « great embarrassment » in a written statement on Sunday


Filipino Mgr Pabillo defends Christian values against the president’s ‘careless and vulgar’ language

Speaking about Duterte’s attacks on the Church, the auxiliary bishop of Manila is dismayed by “so much bullying and ‘gutter-talk’,” which have “polluted our public discourse ». In his view, “’divide and rule’ leadership tactics have been used. There is a deliberate strategy to antagonize a certain sector of society.”

Thai Raksa Chart Party ‘accepts King’s command with full loyalty’

The Thai Raksa Chart Party issued a statement on Saturday, saying it accepted His Majesty the King’s royal command that prohibited Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi from becoming the party’s sole candidate for prime minister

Sister of Thai king Princess Ubolratana to run for PM in March election

Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, the older sister of Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, is now a candidate for prime minister — a move that marks a startling break with Thai royalty’s long-observed practice of staying out of politics


India’s Congress to scrap law punishing Muslim men for instant divorce if voted back to power

India’s main opposition Congress party said on Thursday (Feb 7) it would scrap a decree passed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government prescribing jail terms for Muslim men seeking an instant divorce if the party wins an election due by May

Japan protests as China continues gas activity in contested waters

Japan has lodged another protest with China over its continued deployment of a drilling ship at a gas field in a contested area of the East China Sea


Why is Donald Trump meeting Kim Jong Un in Vietnam on 27-28 February?

Vietnam has diplomatic ties with both North Korea and the US. North Korea has an embassy in Hanoi and reports suggest that Kim Jong Un is interested in following Vietnam’s economic and political example

US downplays Taliban claims they will withdraw half of Afghan troops by April

The US Department of State dampened the group’s claims, saying it had not agreed to any timeline of a possible withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan

Philippines announces libel charge against critical journalist Maria Ressa

Philippine prosecutors said Wednesday (Feb 6) they will file a libel charge carrying up to 12 years in prison against journalist Maria Ressa, who leads a news website that has clashed with President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration


All N Korean Workers to Leave Russia in Accordance With UN Decision – Minister

All migrant workers from North Korea will leave Russia and return to their homeland by the end of this year in accordance with the requirements of the UN Security Council resolution, Russian Minister of Labor and Social Protection Maxim Topilin said on Tuesday

South Korea and US to share costs of troops after ‘in principle’ deal for Seoul to contribute US$1 billion

The United States and South Korea have reached an agreement “in principle” on sharing the cost of stationing US troops in the Asian country, the State Department said on Monday

UN to Accuse Seoul of Violating N.Korea Sanctions

A UN panel will likely point out that Seoul violated international sanctions by delivering refined oil products to an inter-Korean liaison office in North Korea without notifying the Security Council, Kyodo News reported Thursday

China offers Lunar New Year olive branch to Canada, saying it wants to get relations back on track amid fallout from arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou

Chinese diplomats have issued a Lunar New Year message of goodwill to Canada, saying they want to get relations back on track amid the ongoing controversy surrounding the detention of a senior Huawei executive

Japan cancels port call by warship in South Korea amid row

Japan announced Tuesday it has canceled a port call in South Korea by its main warship during a multilateral naval exercise as relations between the two Asian neighbors fall to their lowest level in recent years


Merkel and Abe meet for talks on trade and nuclear arms control

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to toast a new free trade deal between Japan and the EU. The pair were also expected to address nuclear arms control

Indonesia’s military demands more positions in ministries and state institutions

Indonesian bureaucrats may soon face tighter competition to reach the top rungs of the career ladder, with the government planning to allow active military officers to take up positions in ministries and government institutions


Chinese ‘underground’ bishop gains official recognition: State media

A bishop from China’s « underground » Catholic church is slated to step up as the official state-backed clergyman for a diocese in central China, state-run media reported, amid a thaw in relations between Beijing and the Holy See

Sri Lanka seeks to borrow US$1 billion from China amid debt woes

Sri Lanka is negotiating a US$1 billion loan from China to construct a highway linking the capital Colombo to the hilly resort city of Kandy, even as the heavily-indebted nation makes arrangements to pay down US$5.9 billion in foreign loans this year

Detained Australian citizen and writer Yang Hengjun’s lawyers blocked from meeting him

Two lawyers appointed by the wife of an Australian citizen detained in China have been denied access to him, with Chinese authorities claiming it is at the detainee’s request


Asia Bibi reunites with family in Canada: reports

The lawyer of the Pakistani Christian accused of blasphemy, said Bibi and her husband had arrived in Canada. He did not disclose the exact time of her departure and how she had left Pakistan, citing security reasons

Japan-EU free trade pact enters into force

Japan’s economic partnership agreement with the European Union entered into force on Friday, creating a free trade area covering about a third of the world’s economy

Japan-China Security Dialogue held in Beijing

Senior diplomats and defense officials from Japan and China have held their first security dialogue in 15 months

Human Rights Watch says Myanmar government using ‘abusive laws’ to punish critics

Rights group says freedom of expression deteriorating since Aung San Suu Kyi’s government took office in 2016

31 JANUARY 2019

Malaysia crowns Pahang state’s Sultan Abdullah as 16th king

Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah of central Pahang state was crowned on Thursday as Malaysia’s 16th king under a unique rotating monarchy system, nearly a month after the sudden abdication of Sultan Muhammad V

Uyghur academic Ilham Tohti nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Uyghur academic Ilham Tohti, sentenced to life imprisonment by the Chinese government, was nominated as a candidate to receive the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. The proposal comes from a group of 13 US lawmakers, who want to push China to stop what many call the « genocide » of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region

India’s jobless rate hits 45-year high, report says, in blow for Modi

An official survey that has been withheld by the government shows India’s unemployment rate rose to a 45-year high during 2017-2018, the Business Standard newspaper reported on Thursday (Jan 31), delivering a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi just months before what is expected to be a closely fought general election

Thai party ousted in 2014 coup picks Thaksin loyalist for main PM candidate in elections

Thailand’s Pheu Thai Party, which was ousted from power by the military in a 2014 coup, on Thursday (Jan 31) picked a close ally of fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra as its main candidate for prime minister in elections set for March 24

UN allows humanitarian aid to be sent to North Korea

The United Nations Security Council has approved the request of an organization that works to prevent child disability. The sanctions passed after the nuclear tests do not prohibit humanitarian activities but prohibit the entry of medicines and goods useful for public health. The situation in the Asian country is « disastrous »

30 JANUARY 2019

Thai junta chief gets party nod as possible PM candidate

A political party closely associated with Thailand’s military government on Wednesday named Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as a possible candidate to become the next premier if it forms a government after next month’s election

Taliban not seeking to rule Afghanistan alone – spokesman

Taliban members want to live with other Afghans and « tolerate one another and start life like brothers, » Shaheen Suhail, spokesman for the group’s political office in Qatar says

29 JANUARY 2019

Pakistan’s top court upholds Asia Bibi blasphemy acquittal; Christian woman expected to seek asylum abroad

Aasia Bibi was ordered released eight years after she was sentenced to death in 2010 on blasphemy charges – a landmark ruling that sparked widespread protests around Pakistan by hard-line Islamists and even led to the murder of a local governor

Nearly 5,000 garment workers sacked over Bangladesh strikes

Nearly 5,000 low-paid Bangladeshi garment workers stitching clothes for global brands have been sacked by factory bosses for joining strikes over wages this month that turned violent, police said on Tuesday (Jan 29)

Aung San Suu Kyi’s party clashes with military over proposal to change Myanmar’s charter

Myanmar’s ruling party clashed with military lawmakers on Tuesday as it proposed steps towards changing the constitution, its biggest challenge in nearly three years to the army’s power over politics as enshrined in the charter

28 JANUARY 2019

Japan: Shinzo Abe vows to restore relations with North Korea

Japan’s prime minister says he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un face-to-face and restore diplomatic relations between the two long-time foes

China releases footage of ‘Guam killer’ DF-26 ballistic missile in ‘clear message to the US’

China has revealed footage of its next-generation Dongfeng-26 ballistic missile showing improved stability and accuracy, a move analysts say aims to send a message to the United States about its military strength

US and Taliban agree to framework peace deal, envoy says

US and Taliban negotiators have agreed on a draft framework for a peace deal seeking to put an end to the 17-year conflict in Afghanistan, Washington’s top negotiator has said

India politician jailed over Facebook picture of PM Narendra Modi with begging bowl

An Indian politician who posted a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a begging bowl on Facebook has been arrested, police said on Monday, in the latest example of what critics say is a clampdown on free speech

Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang sentenced to more than 4 years in prison

Wang was arrested in 2015 as part of a mass incarceration of legal activists. Most of the other activists detained in what’s known as the « 709 crackdown » — for July 9, the date most of them were taken — have since been sentenced or released. Wang was the last to be sentenced

27 JANUARY 2019

Malaysia stripped of right to host world para swimming championships after Israeli ban

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Sunday (Jan 27) stripped Malaysia of the right to host the 2019 world para swimming championships after the country banned Israeli athletes from participating

Deadly bombs target Jolo cathedral in south Philippines

At least 27 people have been killed in two explosions outside a church during Sunday Mass in the southern Philippines. The government has vowed to hunt down the « terrorists » responsible in the mainly Muslim region

26 JANUARY 2019

Asia Bibi’s daughters take refuge in Canada ahead of court blasphemy ruling

The daughters of a Christian woman who spent eight years on death row for blasphemy have been taken to Canada for safety ahead of a court hearing next week that could see her finally freed

Malaysia scraps China-backed East Coast Rail Link plan over price

Malaysia’s government has decided to cancel a US$20 billion rail project being built and financed by China after failed attempts to lower the price, a minister said on Saturday, ending months of speculation about the future of the controversial project

25 JANUARY 2019

Southern Philippines backs Muslim self-rule in landslide result

On Friday, the election commission declared the Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite “ratified”, four days after the vote was held. Almost 1.6 million voted yes, while 250,000 voted no

UN rights envoy Lee calls for Myanmar army chief prosecution

Myanmar’s army chief should be prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority, a UN human rights investigator said, adding that holding perpetrators to account for crimes was necessary before refugees who fled the country could return

Beijing tells Washington to abide by ‘one-China’ principle after US Navy’s Taiwan passage

The Chinese foreign ministry on Friday urged Washington to abide by its “one China” principle after two US warships passed through the Taiwan Strait the previous day

Chau Van Kham, Australian citizen and pro-democracy activist, detained in Vietnam

Australian authorities have confirmed Australian citizen and pro-democracy activist Chau Van Kham has been detained in Vietnam

Foreign workers in Japan double in 5 years, hitting record

The number of foreigners working in Japan reached a record high of 1.46 million, rising twofold over the past five years as the country grapples with a labor shortage, government data showed on Friday

Tibetan leader calls for dialogue with China

The prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile Lobsang Sangay gave an exclusive interview to NHK

24 JANUARY 2019

Hun Sen calls on military to ‘destroy’ opponents

Cambodia’s strongman premier Hun Sen on Thursday (Jan 24) called on his country’s military to « destroy » opponents if the government comes under threat, in a tirade in which he described himself as the « the one who steers the wheel » of the army–destroy–opponents-11162142

Malaysia elects new king after shock abdication

Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, the ruler of the Malaysia state of Pahang, was named the country’s new king Thursday following the shock abdication of Sultan Muhammad V earlier this month

Ex-Jakarta Governor Ahok, jailed for blasphemy, freed

Former Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, has been released from an Indonesian prison nearly two years after being found guilty of blasphemy against Islam

Taiwan unveils new drone as China tensions mount

Taiwan’s navy showed off its latest long-range surveillance drone on Thursday (Jan 24) as the island’s outgunned armed forces push to counter China’s increasingly muscular rhetoric and military exercises

23 JANUARY 2019

Thai king signs decree approving first election since coup

The general election will be held on March 24, the Election Commission (EC) announced Wednesday, just hours after publication of a long-awaited royal decree calling for national polls

China confirms detention of dissident Australian dual national Yang Hengjun

Yang Hengjun, a novelist and former Chinese diplomat, went missing on Saturday after arriving in Guangzhou on a flight from New York

U.S. known to have asked for US$ 1.2 billion of defense contributions from South Korea

Washington is pushing Seoul to pay at least $1 billion annually to host American troops in South Korea – and threatening to withdraw U.S. forces if it refuses

22 JANUARY 2019

Abe meets Putin to advance talks on postwar peace treaty

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to seek progress on a decades-old territorial dispute over a group of islands that have remained under Russian control since the end of World War II

Cambodian leader Hun Sen, in Beijing, says China pledges S$800m in aid

China has pledged four billion yuan (S$800 million) in aid to Cambodia from 2019 to 2021, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Tuesday (Jan 22), highlighting strong ties between Beijing and Phnom Penh amid a European Union threat of trade sanctions

21 JANUARY 2019

Southern Philippines Stages Historic Vote on Muslim Autonomy

Hundreds of thousands of voters trooped to polling centers in the southern Philippines on Monday amid some reports of delays and harassment, in a historic referendum on ratifying a law to give autonomy to Muslims in the violence-plagued Mindanao region

China’s economy grew at slowest pace in 28 years in 2018

The 6.6 per cent growth comes in above the official target of around 6.5 per cent and matches a forecast by analysts polled by AFP, but is down from the 6.8 per cent chalked up in 2017, according to the National Bureau of Statistics

China’s population growth slows despite two-child policy

China’s population grew at a slower rate last year despite the abolition of the one-child policy, official data showed on Monday (Jan 21), raising fears an ageing society will pile further pressure on an already slowing economy

Taliban kill ‘more than 100 people’ in attack on Afghan military base

Afghan defence ministry sources said a suicide car bomber struck a military base, followed by an assault by Taliban militants who opened fire on Afghan forces at the army post in eastern Maidan Wardak province, killing over 100 security personnel

20 JANUARY 2019

Bangladesh arrests Islamist extremist over deadly 2016 cafe attack

Police said Mamunur Rashid supplied money, weapons, ammunition and explosives for the attack and hostage taking at a popular tourist spot

19 JANUARY 2019

Jokowi approves release of firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir

President Joko Widodo uses his authority to release Bashir for humanitarian reasons, over the objections of some of the survivors and families of the victims

Former Afghan warlord Hekmatyar enters presidential race

A former warlord accused of historic war crimes entered Afghanistan’s presidential race on Saturday in a new challenge to President Ashraf Gani who allowed him to return from exile two decades he was forced out by the Taliban

Trump and Kim to hold second summit in late February: White House

Kim Yong-chol, the vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, held talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Trump earlier that day

Cambodia opposition member Kong Mas charged with ‘incitement’

Kong Mas, an activist from the Supreme Court dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was arrested in Phnom Penh on Wednesday for incitement and allegedly disseminating fake news

18 JANUARY 2019

Grace Meng, wife of Chinese ex-Interpol chief seeks asylum in France

The wife of the former Chinese Interpol chief being held in his home country on corruption charges has applied for asylum in France, media reports said on Friday (Jan 18)

Singapore former presidency candidate Tan Cheng Bock files application to form new political party

Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock on Friday (Jan 18) announced his return to politics, saying he has filed an application to form a new political party

Philippines: Duterte Joins Rally to Push for Muslim Autonomy Law

President Rodrigo Duterte traveled to the southern Philippines on Friday to push for the ratification of a law designed to give former Muslim rebels in the region control over an autonomous homeland ahead of Monday’s vote

17 JANUARY 2019

Taiwan holds military drills to halt invasion amid rising China tensions

Taiwan’s military held large-scale drills on its west coast Thursday amid growing tensions between the self-governed island and an increasingly belligerent Beijing

Kim invited to meet Moon in Seoul on March 1, says report

The Blue House, the South Korean Presidency, wants North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit Seoul for a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the highly symbolic date of March 1, the Seoul Daily newspaper reported on Wednesday evening

16 JANUARY 2019

Yu Min, the father of China’s hydrogen bomb dies

Chinese nuclear physicist Yu Min, who was credited with developing China’s first successful hydrogen bomb, died Wednesday in Beijing at the age of 93

Mahathir’s Malaysia bans all Israeli nationals from events it hosts

Malaysia’s foreign minister said Wednesday that the government will not budge over a ban on Israeli athletes in a para swimming competition and has decided that the country will not host any events in the future involving Israel

15 JANUARY 2019

Philippines Drops Case Against Senior Communist Rebel Rafael Baylosis

A Philippine court threw out charges Tuesday against a 69-year-old Filipino accused by the military of being a top leader of the country’s long-running communist insurgency, and ordered the government to free him

Detained Chinese lawyer Yu Wensheng wins Franco-German human rights award

The French and German ambassadors to Beijing have granted a human rights award to a detained Chinese lawyer, with his wife picking up the prize on his behalf

Ex-Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang released after completing 12-month jail term for misconduct in public office

Former Chief Executive Donald Tsang has vowed to clear his name after he completed a 12-month prison sentence for misconduct while in office

14 JANUARY 2019

Influential Japanese philosopher Takeshi Umehara dies at age 93

Influential Japanese philosopher Takeshi Umehara died of pneumonia at his home in Kyoto on Saturday. He was 93

Cambodia’s Hun Sen marks 34 years in power with opposition threat

Cambodian premier Hun Sen on Monday (Jan 14) marked 34 years in power with a threat « to step on the throat » of his rivals if the EU ends trade preferences over the kingdom’s slide into one-party rule

Japan, Russia hold talks on peace treaty

The foreign ministers of Japan and Russia have discussed signing a peace treaty that would include solving the issue of four Russian-held islands

13 JANUARY 2019

Veteran Japanese actress Etsuko Ichihara dies at 82

Etsuko Ichihara, a veteran Japanese actress known for her role in a popular long-running TV drama series, has died of heart failure at a Tokyo hospital, her office said Sunday. She was 82

Human Rights Watch calls for sanctions against new Afghan defence minister Asadullah Khalid

International rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged major donors to impose sanctions on Afghanistan’s newly appointed acting defence minister over alleged war crimes and human rights abuses

Trump suggests Vietnam for US-NK summit: report

US President Donald Trump suggested holding the anticipated second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam in mid-February, a Japanese newspaper reported Sunday

South Korean defense budget to be increased 7.5% per year until 2023

The South Korean national defense budget is to be increased by an average of 7.5% each year between 2019 and 2023, for a total investment of 270.7 trillion won (US$242 billion) over the five-year period

12 JANUARY 2019

Pahang Regent to be sworn in as Sultan, paving way to be Malaysia king

Pahang Regent Tengku Abdullah is set to be sworn in as Sultan next week, paving the way for him to be named as Malaysia’s new king

11 JANUARY 2019

Philippines’ Duterte launches new tirade against Catholic Church

President Rodrigo Duterte has denounced bishops in the Catholic-majority country as « sons of b*****s », renewing his attacks on the church that has criticised him over his bloody war on drugs

Russia condemns UK foreign army base plans, says ready to defend interests

Russia on Friday condemned British plans to open military bases in south-east Asia and the Caribbean and said it stood ready to take retaliatory measures if its own interests or those of its allies were threatened

France to join North Korea surveillance at sea with Japanese navy

France Friday (Jan 11) agree to join Japanese navy patrols off North Korea in a fresh sign of efforts to deepen ties and military links between Tokyo and Paris, officials said–11111648

Taiwan names Su Tseng-chang as new premier

Following Premier William Lai’s (賴清德) announcement of a cabinet reshuffle, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) officially introduced former Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), as long predicted, as Lai’s successor at a press conference on Friday

Burmese Reuters journalists lose appeal against seven year jail term

Two Reuters journalists jailed for seven years after investigating atrocities committed against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Burma had their appeal dismissed Friday, crushing their families’ hopes that they would walk free

10 JANUARY 2019

Russia says Japan distorting Nov. accord

Russia on Wednesday protested that Japan is distorting the essence of an agreement between the two countries’ leaders in November to accelerate their territorial talks

Pres. Moon says Japan must adopt ‘humbler’ attitude to historical issues

President Moon Jae-in insisted that Japan needs to take a humbler approach in dealing with the bad blood caused by the two countries’ (quote) « unfortunate history, » referring to Japan’s colonization of Korea in the early 20th century

Accused Sri Lanka war criminal Major General Shavendra Silva named army’s second-in-command

Major General Shavendra Silva, who commanded an army division accused of gross abuses against civilians during Sri Lanka’s civil war, formally assumed duties as Chief of Staff of the army on Thursday

9 JANUARY 2019

New law will give authorities two years to prosecute anyone in Hong Kong who insults Chinese national anthem – and doing so could land you in jail for three

The controversial national anthem law would have a two-year time limit for prosecution, the Hong Kong government revealed on Wednesday in its proposed draft. For crimes of a similar level of seriousness, the time limit is normally six months

8 JANUARY 2019

Kim Jong Un visits China ahead of possible Trump summit

Kim Jong Un is making his fourth visit to China, in a sign that the North Korean leader is seeking Chinese President Xi Jinping’s counsel ahead of a possible second summit with Donald Trump

India’s lower house passes citizenship bill that excludes Muslims

India’s lower house of parliament has approved a bill that would grant residency and citizenship rights to non-Muslim immigrants, sparking protests that brought the country’s populous northeast to a near standstill

Sri Lanka marks decade since journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge killing amid justice calls

Lasantha Wickrematunge was killed just days before he was due to give evidence against the Rajapaksa family

7 JANUARY 2019

Sheikh Hasina takes oath for third consecutive term as Bangladesh’s prime minister

Sheikh Hasina was sworn in as Bangladesh’s prime minister for a record fourth term on Monday (Jan 7) after a crushing election victory marred by deadly violence and claims of widespread rigging

In rare move, Hong Kong’s Catholic Church appoints ex-bishop John Tong as acting head

Shock as Vatican brings Cardinal John Tong out of retirement to be acting head of Hong Kong diocese after death of bishop – blocking Occupy supporter Joseph Ha Chi-shing

6 JANUARY 2019

Taiwan’s ruling party DPP elects Cho Jung-tai as new chairman

Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) elected former Cabinet Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai as its new chairman on Sunday (Jan 6)

Malaysia’s king Muhammad V abdicates in unexpected and rare move

Malaysia’s king Muhammad V has abdicated, becoming the first ruling monarch to resign from the throne in the country’s history

5 JANUARY 2019

Taiwan president calls for international support to defend democracy

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called on Saturday (Jan 5) for international support to defend the self-ruled island’s democracy and way of life in the face of renewed threats from China

4 JANUARY 2019

Rakhine rebels kill 13 Myanmar police in brazen raids

Thirteen Myanmar police officers were killed in raids on Friday (Jan 4) by ethnic Rakhine rebels, the army said, in a brazen, co-ordinated attack on the country’s Independence Day which adds a dangerous new dimension to conflict in the restive western state

Philippine Police Gun Down Ex-Mayor Accused by Duterte of Drug Trafficking

Talib Abo Sr., ex-mayor of Parang town in Maguindanao province, was killed after he pulled a gun on members of the anti-narcotics team who were searching his home in the southern city of Cotabato, according to Juvinal Azurin, regional director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency

New North Korean diplomat defector Jo Song-gil was part of Pyongyang’s elite

North Korean acting ambassador said to be seeking asylum in Italy is from a “prestigious diplomatic family” with both his father and father-in-law having worked in Pyongyang’s foreign ministry, according to a senior defector

3 JANUARY 2019

China lands spacecraft in world’s first mission to far side of moon

China reached a milestone in space exploration on Thursday (Jan 3), landing a vehicle on the far side of the moon for the first time in history, state media announced

Hong Kong bishop Michael Yeung Ming-Cheung has died

Msgr Michael Yeung Ming-Cheung, bishop of Hong Kong, died this morning at the age of 73. He was hospitalized at Canossa Hospital on December 27th. Yesterday he was taken to intensive care and received a visit from various personalities of the diocese, including Cardinals Joseph Zen and John Tong

2 JANUARY 2019

Bangladeshi journalist arrested and another on run after writing about voting irregularities in election

A Bangladeshi journalist has been arrested and another is on the run after they wrote about voting irregularities in the country’s general election

China’s Xi Jinping clashes with Taiwan’s Tsai over unity call

The presidents of China and Taiwan ramped up the rhetoric Wednesday over the status of the self-ruled island, marking their positions in separate speeches that underscore escalating tensions across the Taiwan Strait

Tears as Japan’s Emperor Akihito gives last New Year’s address

Japan’s Emperor Akihito delivered his final New Year’s address on Wednesday (Jan 2) before his abdication later this year, telling tens of thousands of well-wishers he was praying for peace

1 JANUARY 2019

Thousands march in Hong Kong for democracy and independence from China

 Thousands of demonstrators marched in Hong Kong on Tuesday to demand full democracy, fundamental rights, and even independence from China in the face of what many see as a marked clampdown by the Communist Party on local freedoms

Veteran Bollywood actor Kader Khan dies at 81, Bollywood loses a gem

Legendary actor, comedian, and screenwriter Kader Khan breathed his last on Tuesday after a prolonged illness at a hospital in Toronto in Canada, creating a huge void in the hearts of people who adored watching him on screen


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