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Top Asian News 4:54 a.m. GMT

December 31, 2022 GMT

N Korea fires 3 missiles amid tensions over drone flights

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters in its latest weapons display on Saturday, a day after rival South Korea launched a solid-fueled rocket as part of its efforts to build a space-based surveillance capability to better monitor the North. Tensions between the rival Koreas rose earlier this week when South Korea accused North Korea of flying five drones across the rivals’ tense border for the first time in five years and responded by sending its own drones toward the North. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement it detected the three launches from an inland area south of Pyongyang, the North’s capital, on Saturday morning.

Troops join search for missing in northern Japan landslide

TOKYO (AP) — A landslide destroyed about a dozen homes in northern Japan on Saturday, leaving at least two people missing, and troops were on their way to help in the rescue effort, officials said. Two people, a man and a woman, were rescued from homes that were buried in dirt that had tumbled down a nearby mountain in Tsuruoka city in Yamagata Prefecture in northwestern Japan. But more residents were feared still caught beneath the rubble. A rescue operation involving 80 firefighters and police officers began after a call came in asking for help shortly after midnight, according to police.


Court in Myanmar again finds Suu Kyi guilty of corruption

BANGKOK (AP) — A court in military-ruled Myanmar convicted the country’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi of corruption Friday, sentencing her to seven years in prison in the last of a string of criminal cases against her, a legal official said. The court’s action leaves her with a total of 33 years to serve in prison after a series of politically tinged prosecutions since the army toppled her elected government in February 2021. The case that ended Friday involved five offenses under the anti-corruption law and followed earlier convictions on seven other corruption counts, each of which was punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine.

South Korea’s unannounced rocket launch causes UFO scare


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s military confirmed it test-fired a solid-fueled rocket Friday after its unannounced launch triggered brief public scare of a suspected UFO appearance or a North Korean missile launch. The Defense Ministry said in a statement that the rocket launch was part of its efforts to build a space-based surveillance capability and bolster its defense posture. It said it didn’t notify the general public of the launch in advance because it involved sensitive military security issues. A twisty tendril of vapor in white-to-red ombre could be seen snaking behind a bright white light in parts of South Korea’s sky Friday evening.

26 bodies found as search ends at Cambodian hotel fire site

POIPET, Cambodia (AP) — The search for bodies in the wreckage of a burned-out casino hotel complex in western Cambodia has concluded with 26 people confirmed dead, a senior official said late Friday. Banteay Meanchey province Governor Um Reatrey told The Associated Press by phone that after 39 hours of rescue and search operations, there were also 57 injured survivors from the Wednesday night fire at the Grand Diamond City casino and hotel in the town of Poipet. Seventeen of the dead were from Thailand, one each from Nepal, Malaysia and China, and six bodies were yet to be identified, he said.


Cristiano Ronaldo makes big-money move to Saudi Arabian club

LONDON (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo completed a lucrative move to Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr on Friday in a deal that is a landmark moment for Middle Eastern soccer but will see one of Europe’s biggest stars disappear from the sport’s elite stage. Al Nassr posted a picture on social media of the five-time Ballon d’Or holding up the team’s jersey after Ronaldo signed a deal until June 2025, with the club hailing the move as “history in the making.” “This is a signing that will not only inspire our club to achieve even greater success but inspire our league, our nation and future generations, boys and girls to be the best version of themselves,” the club wrote.


Beijing gives Hong Kong leader more power in security cases

HONG KONG (AP) — Beijing ruled Friday that Hong Kong’s leader has the power to decide whether foreign lawyers can be involved in national security cases in the city — a decision that could effectively block a prominent pro-democracy publisher from hiring a British barrister for his high-profile trial. China’s top legislative body made a legal interpretation that targets overseas lawyers who do not normally practice in the city, according to China’s Xinhua news agency. Its decision could overturn an earlier ruling by Hong Kong’s top court to let Jimmy Lai, the founder of the now-defunct Apple Daily, employ Timothy Owen to defend him against collusion charges under a Beijing-imposed National Security Law.


US says Chinese intercept could have caused air collision

BEIJING (AP) — The U.S. military says a Chinese fighter jet flew dangerously close to an Air Force plane over the South China Sea, forcing the American pilot to maneuver to avoid a collision. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement Thursday that the incident occurred Dec. 21 when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy J-11 flew in front of and within 6 meters (20 feet) of the nose of an RC-135, a type of large reconnaissance plane operated by the U.S. Air Force. The U.S. plane was “lawfully conducting routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace,” the statement said.

China faces bumpy road to normal as infections surge

BEIJING (AP) — After three years of quarantines pushed them close to shutting down, restaurant owner Li Meng and his wife are hoping for business to rebound after China rolled back severe anti-virus controls. As sales slowly revive, they face a new challenge: Diners are wary about the country’s wave of infections. On Wednesday night at 8 p.m., only three of their 20 tables were filled. China is on a bumpy road back to normal life as people return to schools, shopping malls and restaurants following the abrupt end of some of the world’s most severe restrictions even as hospitals are swamped with feverish, wheezing COVID-19 patients.

More European nations tighten COVID rules for China flights

PARIS (AP) — France, Spain and England will implement tougher COVID-19 measures for passengers arriving from China, authorities said Friday. France’s government is requiring negative tests, and is urging French citizens to avoid nonessential travel to China. France is also reintroducing mask requirements on flights from China to France. French health authorities will carry out random PCR tests at airports on passengers arriving from China to identify potential new coronavirus variants. The new rules take effect on Sunday, but officials said it would be a few days before they are fully in place. The U.K. government announced that anyone traveling to England on direct flights from China would be required to take a pre-departure test from Jan.