Related topics

Top Asian News 4:32 a.m. GMT

January 2, 2023 GMT

Macao eases COVID rules, but tourism, casinos yet to rebound

MACAO (AP) — Only a few tourists crisscrossed the wavy black and white paving of Macao’s historic Senado Square on a recent weekday and many of the shops were shuttered. The gaming hub on China’s south coast near Hong Kong has endured some of the world’s strictest anti-virus controls for nearly three years, and a loosening of border restrictions after China rolled back its “zero-COVID” strategy in early December is widely expected to boost its tourism-driven economy. But for now, China’s worst wave of infections so far is keeping away the hoards of high rollers who usually fill its casinos. From Dec.

Japanese emperor greets crowd at palace after COVID hiatus

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and his family waved to throngs of New Year’s well-wishers from the balcony at the Imperial Palace on Monday in the return of a celebration halted for the past two years by the pandemic. Naruhito offered prayers for people’s happiness and world peace in the appearance Monday beside his wife, Empress Masako, and their daughter. Princess Aiko, who turned 21 in December, was appearing in her first New Year’s public greeting. Legal adulthood is 20 in Japan and a condition for taking part in some events featuring the emperor’s family. Also standing by was Emperor Emeritus Akihito, who abdicated in favor of his son in 2019, and his wife, Empress Emerita Michiko.


NKorea’s Kim orders ‘exponential’ expansion of nuke arsenal

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the “exponential” expansion of his country’s nuclear arsenal and the development of a more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile, state media reported Sunday, after he entered 2023 with another weapons launch following a record number of testing activities last year. Kim’s moves are in line with the broad direction of his nuclear program. He has repeatedly vowed to boost both the quality and quantity of his arsenal to cope with what he calls U.S. hostility. Some experts say Kim’s push to produce more nuclear and other weapons signals his intention to continue a run of weapons tests and ultimately solidify his future negotiating power and win greater outside concessions.


Canada, Australia impose COVID rules on travelers from China

BEIJING (AP) — Australia and Canada have joined a growing list of countries requiring travelers from China to take a COVID-19 test prior to boarding their flight, as China battles a nationwide outbreak of the coronavirus after abruptly easing restrictions that were in place for much of the pandemic. Australian health authorities said Sunday that from Jan 5. all air travelers from mainland China, Hong Kong or Macao will need to show a negative COVID-19 test taken within two days of their departure. Canadian authorities announced similar measures that will also come into effect Jan. 5 in a statement dated Saturday — a move experts say isn’t very effective.

Air traffic outage in Philippines causes long flight delays


MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Nearly 300 domestic and international flights at the Manila airport in the Philippines were either delayed, canceled or diverted Sunday, causing misery for over 65,000 passengers during the New Year holiday after a power outage hampered air traffic operations. Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista in an evening news conference apologized for the inconvenience and said authorities are working to assist all affected passengers. Bautista said the problem started in the morning, when the Air Traffic Management Center, which oversees all flights in Philippine airspace, lost communication, radio, radar, and internet because of the power outage. The air traffic system was restored in late afternoon and flights resumed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.

Taliban: Kabul checkpoint bomb blast kills, wounds several

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A bomb exploded near a checkpoint at Kabul’s military airport Sunday morning killing and wounding “several” people, a Taliban official said, the first deadly blast of 2023 in Afghanistan. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the regional affiliate of the Islamic State group — known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province — has increased its attacks since the Taliban takeover in 2021. Targets have included Taliban patrols and members of Afghanistan’s Shiite minority. The military airport is around 200 meters (219 yards) from the civilian airport and close to the Interior Ministry, itself the site of a suicide bombing last October that killed at least four people.


UN official meets Taliban deputy premier over women NGO ban

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A senior U.N. official in Afghanistan met on Sunday the deputy prime minister of the Taliban-led government to discuss a ban on women working for non-governmental groups that Afghan authorities have announced in a series of measures rolling back women’s rights. The decision by the Taliban government to bar women from NGO work has prompted major international aid agencies to suspend operations in the country. The ban has raised fears that people will be deprived of food, education, healthcare and other critical services, as over half of Afghanistan’s population needs urgent humanitarian assistance. Aid agencies have warned the ban will have catastrophic consequences and “hundreds and thousands” of Afghans will die because of the Taliban decision.


Pakistan, India exchange lists of nuclear assets, inmates

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan and neighboring India exchanged lists of their nuclear facilities on Sunday as part of a 1988 pact that bars them from attacking each other’s nuclear installations, according to official statements from both sides. Pakistan and India have had strained relations since their independence from colonial British rule in 1947 over the Himalayan region of Kashmir. They have fought three wars, built up their armies and developed nuclear weapons. India conducted its first nuclear test in 1974, with Pakistan carrying out its first test in 1988. The lists were simultaneously handed over through their respective diplomats in Islamabad and New Delhi.

Army in strife-torn Myanmar lifts curfew for New Year’s Eve

BANGKOK (AP) — Authorities in military-ruled Myanmar announced a suspension of the normal four-hour curfew to allow New Year’s celebrations in three biggest cities, but opponents of army rule urge people to stay away and claimed security forces might stage an attack and blame it on them. A leaked official letter that circulated on social media said the Yangon regional government was lifting the curfew from midnight to 4 a.m. for one night, when it would host a New Year’s countdown party with fireworks and music at the city’s People’s Park. Residents of the country’s capital, Naypyidaw, and the second largest city, Mandalay, confirmed that the curfew had also been lifted in their cities, which would also host official celebrations.

South Asian eateries try ‘going local’ as recovery strategy

NEW DELHI (AP) — Hotels and restaurants across South Asia have had to adapt and reimagine dining out since the pandemic ripped through the region, forcing many out of business. Those that have survived are tapping local sources and going online. In India, from hole-in-the-wall casual eateries to fine dining, restaurants were devastated by lockdowns and virus outbreaks, with millions losing their jobs since COVID-19 hit in early 2020. In neighboring Sri Lanka, where the tourism-driven economy also has been hammered by political upheavals and shortages, the situation remains dire. Saman Nayanananda, a food and beverage manager at a hotel chain in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, says going local for food sourcing and menu offerings is vital.