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Top Asian News 4:49 a.m. GMT

January 11, 2023 GMT

Cardinal Pell, whose convictions were overturned, dies at 81

ROME (AP) — Cardinal George Pell, a onetime financial adviser to Pope Francis who spent 404 days in solitary confinement in his native Australia on child sex abuse charges before his convictions were overturned, died Tuesday in Rome. He was 81. Pell suffered fatal heart complications following hip surgery, said Archbishop Peter Comensoli, Pell’s successor as archbishop of Melbourne. Pell had been in Rome to attend the funeral last week of Pope Benedict XVI. “For many people, particularly of the Catholic faith, this will be a difficult day and I express my condolences to all those who are mourning today,” said Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

The AP Interview: Korean leader cites North’s serious threat

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea’s spike in missile tests, growing nuclear ambitions and other provocative acts pose a “serious threat” that could lead to a dangerous miscalculation and spark a wider conflict, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said Tuesday. Speaking with The Associated Press at the presidential office in Seoul, the conservative leader reiterated his call for closer security cooperation with the United States and Japan to counter the “dangerous situation” being created by North Korea as he played down the prospect for direct negotiations like those pursued by his liberal predecessor. “We’ve seen a miscalculation leading to serious wars many times in history,” Yoon said, adding that the North’s advancing nuclear arsenal poses a direct threat to the U.S.


US, Japan poised to agree on shift in Marine unit on Okinawa

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top national security officials from the United States and Japan are expected to agree to changes in the joint defense posture this week as the two nations confront rising threats from North Korea and increasing aggressiveness from China. U.S. officials say Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will meet on Wednesday with their Japanese counterparts and plan to issue a joint statement that will adjust, but not increase, the American troop presence on the island of Okinawa. It also will add a formal mention of space in the longstanding mutual defense treaty the two countries have held, in a nod to the Pentagon’s creation of the Space Force and Space Command.


China halts visas for Japan, South Korea in COVID-19 spat

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese embassies stopped issuing new visas for South Koreans and Japanese on Tuesday in apparent retaliation for COVID-19 measures recently imposed by those countries on travelers from China. It wasn’t clear whether China would expand the visa suspensions to other countries that have imposed virus testing on passengers from China following its COVID-19 surge. The embassies in Tokyo and Seoul announced the suspensions in brief online notices. The Seoul notice, posted on the embassy’s WeChat social media account, said the ban would continue until South Korea lifts its “discriminatory entry measures” against China. The announcement covered tourist, business and some other visas.


China economy recovering but hampered by virus outbreaks

BEIJING (AP) — Wang Jian is anxious to get back to work teaching basketball to children now that China has lifted anti-COVID-19 restrictions. But his gym in the eastern city of Shenyang has been closed for a month because all its coaches are infected. The most optimistic forecasts say China’s business and consumer activity might revive as early as the first quarter of this year. But before that happens, entrepreneurs and families face a painful squeeze from a surge in virus cases that has left employers without enough healthy workers and kept wary customers away from shopping malls, restaurants, hair salons and gyms.

House Republicans launch investigations into FBI, China

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans moved Tuesday to swiftly establish the marquee investigations of their new majority, voting to create panels focused on China and what they assert is rampant abuse of power in the federal government. Newly empowered, GOP lawmakers are vowing to bring accountability to the Biden administration, pledging to investigate federal law enforcement agencies, including those that are conducting probes into former President Donald Trump. Republicans also established a committee, with broad bipartisan support, to investigate “strategic competition” between the U.S. and China, in line with the party’s push for a more hardline approach to the Asian nation.


Lawyers for jailed Hong Kong publisher Lai ask to meet UK PM

HONG KONG (AP) — Lawyers for a jailed Hong Kong pro-democracy publisher have asked for an urgent meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a leading member of his international legal team said Tuesday. Jimmy Lai, the 75-year-old founder of the now-defunct newspaper Apple Daily, was arrested in 2020 during a crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy movement. He is fighting collusion charges under a Beijing-imposed national security law and faces up to life in prison if convicted. Last month, the team called for the U.K. government to take immediate action to secure Lai’s release ahead of his national security trial after he was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison on fraud charges linked to lease violations.


German, Lithuanian lawmakers show support in Taiwan visit

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Lithuanian lawmakers on a visit to Taiwan took aim at China Tuesday, saying the world’s second largest economy tried to use all sorts of measures to change Lithuania’s decision to break diplomatic norms in warming up relations with the self-ruled island democracy. Taiwan is hosting German and Lithuanian lawmakers this week. China, which objects to diplomatic contacts between the island it claims as its own and other nations, held large-scale military exercises aimed at Taiwan over the weekend and into Monday. The Lithuanian visit is focused on national security and defense as well as economic ties, lawmakers said.

Nepal’s new PM secures vote of confidence in parliament

KATHMADU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal’s newly appointed prime minister secured a decisive vote of confidence in parliament on Tuesday with support from both his seven-party coalition and the opposition. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal received the support of 268 of the 270 members who were present in the House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament, in the voting Tuesday. House Speaker Pashupati Rana announced that Dahal had secured the backing of a majority of lawmakers needed to win the vote of confidence. Dahal was able to convince the opposition Nepali Congress party, once his coalition partner and now the largest political party, to support him in the voting.

Philippine court voids oil exploration pact involving China

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine Supreme Court on Tuesday declared unconstitutional a 2005 pact by China, the Philippines and Vietnam to jointly explore for oil in the disputed South China Sea, a decision that also brings other proposed agreements into doubt. The decision by 12 of the court’s 15 justices voided the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking agreement by state-owned companies in the three nations, which are among Asian countries locked in decades-long territorial disputes in the busy waterway. Two justices dissented and one was on leave and did not vote. The court did not immediately make public the full decision and only released highlights in a statement.