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Top Asian News 4:12 a.m. GMT

December 18, 2022 GMT

N Korea fires 2 ballistic missiles in resumption of testing

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired a pair of ballistic missiles on Sunday toward its eastern waters, its first weapons test in a month and coming two days after it claimed to have performed a key test needed to build a more mobile, powerful intercontinental ballistic missile designed to strike the U.S. mainland. South Korea’s military detected the launch of two North Korean ballistic missiles from its northwest Tongchangri area. The missiles flew across the country toward its eastern waters, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. It said the missiles were fired about 50 minutes apart but gave no further details, like precisely what type of weapons North Korea fired and how far they flew.

COVID-linked deaths seen in Beijing after virus rules eased

BEIJING (AP) — Outside a funeral home in eastern Beijing, dozens of people were bundled up in parkas and hats against the freezing temperatures Friday evening as workers in full protective suits wheeled out coffins one by one. When an employee with a clipboard shouted the name of the dead, a relative trundled up to the coffin to examine the body. One of the relatives told The Associated Press their loved one had been infected with COVID-19. Deaths linked to the coronavirus are appearing in Beijing after weeks of China reporting no fatalities, even as the country is seeing a surge of cases.


Vote counting finishes in Fiji election with no clear winner

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Vote counting finished in Fiji’s general election Sunday but there was no clear winner, and various political parties are now negotiating to form a coalition government. The election had pitted two former coup leaders against each other. Sitiveni Rabuka, who led a coup back in 1987 and later served as an elected prime minister in the 1990s, emerged as the main challenger to Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who has held power for the past 16 years. Rabuka’s People’s Alliance Party and allies the National Federation Party won about 45% of the vote combined. Bainimarama’s Fiji’s First party, meanwhile, won about 43%.

Malaysia landslide death toll rises to 24, 9 more missing


BATANG KALI, Malaysia (AP) — Rescuers on Saturday found the bodies of a woman and two children, raising the death toll from a landslide on an unlicensed campground in Malaysia to 24 with nine others still missing. Selangor state fire chief Norazam Khamis told reporters the bodies of a mother and son were found buried under a meter (3 feet) of mud and debris. The body of a little girl was discovered later. He said there was hope of finding survivors if they clung on to piles or branches or rocks with pockets of air but that chances were slim.

Philippine Communist Party founder Sison dies in exile at 83

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Jose Maria Sison, the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, whose armed wing has been waging one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies, has died. He was 83. Sison died peacefully late Friday after two weeks of confinement in a hospital in Utrecht, the Netherlands, the party’s spokesman, Marco Valbuena, said in a statement on Saturday. The cause of death was not disclosed. Sison had lived in self-exile in The Netherlands since then-President Corazon Aquino released him from detention in 1986, shortly after the “People Power” revolt overthrew dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the father and namesake of the current Philippine president.


Thailand’s king, queen test positive for COVID-19

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s king and queen have tested positive for COVID-19, and so far have only mild symptoms, the royal palace said Saturday. Doctors prescribed treatment for King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 70, and Queen Suthida, 44, and requested them to refrain from duties for a while, the Royal Household Bureau said in a statement. Their symptoms are “very mild,” the statement said. Earlier Friday and Thursday, the couple visited Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol at Chulalongkorn Hospital in Bangkok, where she was admitted after she fell unconscious due to a heart problem on Wednesday. The number of infections spread by the dominant omicron subvariants has increased in Bangkok and Thailand’s tourist destinations after the country relaxed restrictions that were in place since 2020, according to the Department of Disease Control.


EXPLAINER: Why Japan is boosting its arms capability, budget

TOKYO (AP) — Japan this week adopted a new national security strategy that includes determination to possess “counterstrike” capability to preempt enemy attacks and double its spending to gain a more offensive footing and improve its resilience to protect itself from growing risks from China, North Korea and Russia. The new strategy marks a historic change to Japan’s exclusively self-defense policy since the end of World War II. Here is a look at Japan’s new security and defense strategies and how they will change the country’s defense posture. ___ COUNTERSTRIKE CAPABILITY The biggest change in the National Security Strategy is possession of “counterstrike capability” that Japan calls “indispensable.” Japan aims to achieve capabilities ”to disrupt and defeat invasions against its nation much earlier and at a further distance” within about 10 years.


India’s visa temples attract devotees aspiring to go abroad

CHENNAI, India (AP) — Arjun Viswanathan stood on the street, his hands folded, eyes fixed on the idol of the Hindu deity Ganesh. On a humid morning, the information technology professional was waiting outside the temple, the size of a small closet – barely enough room for the lone priest to stand and perform puja or rituals for the beloved elephant-headed deity, believed to be the remover of obstacles. Viswanathan was among about a dozen visitors, most of them there for the same purpose: To offer prayers so their U.S. visa interviews would go smoothly and successfully. Viswanathan came the day before his interview for an employment visa.

As regional threats rise, Japan eases defense-only strategy

TOKYO (AP) — In a major break from its strictly self-defense-only postwar principle, Japan adopted a national security strategy Friday declaring plans to possess preemptive strike capability and cruise missiles within years to give itself more offensive footing against threats from neighboring China and North Korea. With China, North Korea and Russia directly to its west and north, Japan “faces the severest and most complicated national security environment since the end of the war,” the strategy said, referring to World War II. It named China as “the biggest strategic challenge” — before North Korea and Russia — to Japan’s effort toward ensuring the peace, safety and stability for itself and the international society.

Youngkin executive order bans TikTok from state computers

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin banned the use of several Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok and WeChat, on state government devices and wireless networks on Friday, calling them a threat to national security. Youngkin’s executive order covers apps developed by ByteDance and Tencent. Businesses who contract with Virginia must also prohibit their use on state-owned devices or IT infrastructure. “TikTok and WeChat data are a channel to the Chinese Communist Party, and their continued presence represents a threat to national security, the intelligence community, and the personal privacy of every single American,” Youngkin, a Republican, said in a statement.