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Top Asian News 4:59 a.m. GMT

December 15, 2022 GMT

Diplomats: UN blocks Myanmar military from taking UN seat

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A key U.N. committee has again blocked Myanmar’s military junta from taking the country’s seat at the United Nations, two well-informed U.N. diplomats said Wednesday. The General Assembly’s credentials committee met Monday and deferred action on the junta’s request, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity before a formal announcement likely later this week. The decision means that Kyaw Moe Tun, who was Myanmar’s ambassador at the United Nations when the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, 2021, will remain on the job. Last December, Myanmar’s military rulers also failed in their effort to replace Tun, who remains a supporter of the previous government and the opposition National Unity Government, which opposes the junta.

China won’t report asymptomatic COVID cases in further shift


BEIJING (AP) — China said Wednesday that it would stop reporting asymptomatic COVID-19 cases since they’ve become impossible to track with mass testing no longer required, another step in the country’s departure from some of the world’s strictest antivirus policies. The change in reporting practices comes the week after the country announced its most significant easing yet of antivirus measures. Meanwhile, China has begun to see what appears to be a rapid increase in new infections, raising concerns that its health system could be overwhelmed just as those in other countries were during early COVID waves. So far, many of those newly sick are staying home, and there has been little evidence of a surge in patient numbers.

China removes 6 diplomats from UK after protester assaulted

LONDON (AP) — China’s government has removed a Chinese consul general and five of his staff following the assault on a Hong Kong pro-democracy protester at the Chinese consulate in Manchester, Britain’s foreign secretary said Thursday. James Cleverly said British police wanted to question the six officials over the assault on protester Bob Chan, who said masked men came out from the consulate building during a peaceful protest in October, dragged him into the consulate grounds and beat him up. Police said officers at the scene had to intervene and remove Chan, who suffered injuries to his face and back. Cleverly said Britain’s Foreign Office requested Beijing waive the diplomatic immunity of the six officials to allow police investigating the matter to question them.


Suspected tainted liquor kills 17 in eastern India

PATNA, India (AP) — At least 17 people died and 20 others were hospitalized in serious condition after allegedly drinking tainted liquor sold without authorization in eastern India, a doctor said Thursday. The deaths occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday in three villages in Saran district of Bihar state where the manufacturing, sale and consumption of liquor are prohibited. Sale and consumption of liquor were prohibited in Bihar state in 2016 after women’s groups campaigned against poor workers splurging their meager incomes on drinking. Police officer Santosh Kumar said several of the 20 hospitalized have lost their eyesight. Three people have been detained for questioning for allegedly selling spiked alcohol in the area, he said.


6.2 magnitude earthquake shakes Taiwan’s east coast

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A 6.2 magnitude earthquake originating in the waters off Taiwan’s eastern coast shook the island Wednesday, but no injuries or major damage were immediately reported. The earthquake struck 29 kilometers (18 miles) southeast of Hualien, a city on Taiwan’s east coast, the island’s Central Weather Bureau said. The depth was 5.7 kilometers (3.5 miles). Buildings in the capital, Taipei, shook for about a minute and the subway briefly paused operations to ensure passenger safety. Taiwan sits directly on a fault line as part of the Ring of Fire, a region in the Pacific Ocean that is seismologically active.

Europe hosts southeast Asian leaders as own crises mount


BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union and southeast Asian countries commemorated 45 years of diplomatic ties Wednesday at a summit overshadowed by political distractions in Europe, ranging from the war in Ukraine to a bribery scandal. EU leaders hosted counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, in a nod to Asia’s economic rise. But the meeting took place amid increasing challenges for the 27-nation European bloc and a day before its own final summit of the year. “We have to make sure that we have a strong position in our relationship with ASEAN,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters in Brussels.

US military creates space unit in S. Korea to watch North

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The U.S. military formally launched a space force unit in South Korea on Wednesday, its first such facility on foreign territory that will likely enable Washington to better monitor its rivals North Korea, China and Russia. The activation of the U.S. Space Forces Korea at Osan Air Base near Seoul came after North Korea test-fired a barrage of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles designed to strike the U.S. mainland and its allies South Korea and Japan in recent months. “Just 48 miles north of us exists an existential threat; a threat that we must be prepared to deter, defend against, and – if required – defeat,” Lt.


Police detain 4 in Guangzhou after COVID protests

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Police in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou have detained at least four people for more than a week after they attended protests against COVID-19 restrictions in late November, according to activists, family members and friends of the detained. While many who attended protests in cities across China last month were released after being held for 24 hours — the legal limit on detention before police must file charges — the four Guangzhou residents as of Wednesday have been held for a week and a half. The detentions came a week after a burst of nationwide protests in the last weekend in November where people demanded freedom from China’s strict pandemic restrictions across several cities in a rare display of direct defiance against the central government.

Music student from China charged with stalking over flyer

BOSTON (AP) — A Berklee College of Music student who is a citizen of China was arrested Wednesday for allegedly threatening and harassing an individual who posted a flyer in support of democracy in China, according to federal investigators. Xiaolei Wu, 25, was charged with one count of stalking. According to Department of Justice investigators, an individual posted a flyer on Oct. 22 near the Berklee College of Music campus in Boston which said, “Stand with Chinese People,” as well as, “We Want Freedom,” “We Want Democracy,” and “We Want Food on Our Tables.” Investigators said that over the next few days, Wu made a series of communications via WeChat, email and Instagram directed at the individual who posted the flyer.

Relaxed COVID rules, deadly crowd crushes mark year in Asia

Natural disasters and crowd-related tragedies claimed hundreds of lives in Asia and overshadowed the COVID-19 pandemic, with most countries easing or completely lifting the tough restrictions of the previous two years. Even China, the last major country to try to control virus transmission through a “zero-COVID” strategy, relaxed the rigorous rules that triggered rare public protests. Political turmoil hit debt-laden Sri Lanka, where protesters broke into President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence and forced him into resigning after fleeing abroad. He later returned to the country headed by a new leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, who negotiated a bailout package with international lenders contingent on sweeping economic reforms.