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Top Asian News 4:23 a.m. GMT

January 1, 2023 GMT

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, the development of a more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile and the launch of its first spy satellite, state media reported Sunday, after he entered 2023 with another weapons firing following a record number of testing activities last year. Kim’s moves are in line with the broad direction of his nuclear weapons development program as 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 nukes and new weapons systems reflects his hopes to solidify his future negotiating power as he heads into prolonged tensions with the U.S.

Time zone by time zone, another new year sweeps into view

NEW YORK (AP) — New Year’s celebrations swept across the globe, ushering in 2023 with countdowns and fireworks — and marking an end to a year that brought war in Europe, a new chapter in the British monarchy and global worries over inflation. The new year began in the tiny atoll nation of Kiribati in the central Pacific, then moved across Russia and New Zealand before heading deeper, time zone by time zone, through Asia and Europe and into the Americas. At least for a day, thoughts focused on possibilities, even elusive ones like world peace, and mustering — finally — a resolve to keep the next array of resolutions.

Troubles aside, Xi says China on ‘right side of history’

BEIJING (AP) — China “stands on the right side of history,” the country’s leader Xi Jinping said Saturday in a New Year’s address that came as questions swirl over his government’s handling of COVID-19 and economic and political challenges at home and abroad. Speaking on national television from behind a desk in a wood-paneled office, Xi largely avoided directly addressing issues confronting the country, pointing instead to successes in agricultural production, poverty elimination and its hosting of the Winter Olympics in February. However, he later turned somewhat obliquely to the challenges facing the world’s most populous country and second-largest economy, saying, “The world is not at peace.” China will “always steadfastly advocate for peace and development ...

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.

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.

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.

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.

Canada to require COVID tests for passengers from China

OTTAWA, Canada (AP) — Canada plans to temporarily require people flying from China, Hong Kong and Macao to test negative for COVID-19 before leaving for Canada. The requirement will apply to all air travelers aged two and older from the three countries and will begin on Jan. 5, the federal government said in a news release Saturday. “These planned health measures will apply to air travelers, regardless of nationality and vaccination status,” the release said. “They are temporary measures, in place for 30 days, that will be reassessed as more data and evidence becomes available.” The United States announced on Wednesday it would require all travelers from China to show a negative COVID-19 test result before flying to the country as Beijing’s rapid easing of COVID-19 restrictions leads to a surge in cases.