Myanmar’s post-coup civilian death toll climbs past 700

YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — A security guard was wounded in a bomb blast outside a military-owned bank in Myanmar’s second-biggest city Sunday morning, as the civilian death toll from the junta’s brutal crackdown on dissent topped more than 700 at the weekend. The country has been in turmoil since the military removed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1. Myawaddy Bank’s biggest branch in Mandalay was targeted on Sunday morning and a security […]

Seven killed after quake rocks Indonesia’s Java island

  JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — At least seven people were killed after a 6.0 magnitude quake struck off the coast of Indonesia’s main Java island Saturday, as the country reels from a cyclone disaster in another part of the archipelago. The afternoon quake hit offshore about 45 kilometres southwest of Malang city in East Java, damaging hundreds of homes as well as schools, government offices and mosques across the region. “Our latest data shows that […]

Hong Kong suspends its order of AstraZeneca jabs

HONG KONG, China (AFP) — Hong Kong on Friday confirmed it has requested AstraZeneca suspend delivery of its Covid-19 vaccine amid fears of severe side effects and concerns over its efficacy against new variants of the coronavirus. Europe’s medicines regulator said this week the AstraZeneca vaccine could cause very rare blood clots in some recipients, prompting a cascade of countries to pull the plug on giving it to people under a certain age. Britain sought […]

Tokyo tightens virus measures nearly 100 days before Olympics

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Japan’s government approved tighter coronavirus measures for the capital and other areas on Friday, weeks after lifting a state of emergency and with just over 100 days until the postponed Tokyo Olympics. The new restrictions are far less severe than the blanket lockdowns seen in other countries and mainly call for restaurants and bars to close at 8 pm, with the threat of fines for those that do not. They are […]

Myanmar actor arrested as junta hunts 120 celebrities

  YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — A leading Myanmar actor, singer and model who has backed the country’s anti-coup protests was arrested on Thursday, his sister said, as the junta hunts more than 100 celebrities for supporting the movement. The country has been rocked by daily protests since the military seized power on February 1, and the authorities have launched a bloody crackdown on dissent, with hundreds killed and more than 2,500 arrested. Paing Takhon, 24 […]

Singapore PM-in-waiting bows out, upending succession

SINGAPORE, Singapore (AFP) — A prominent Singapore minister stepped aside on Thursday as the successor to the premier, in a shock move that upended the tightly-controlled country’s carefully planned power transfer. Finance minister Heng Swee Keat was in 2018 named to a key post in the ruling party that put him in pole position to take over when Singapore’s founding family hands over the premiership. He was expected to replace Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, […]

China hits out at US over Beijing Olympics boycott row

BEIJING, China (AFP) — China accused the United States of “politicizing sports” on Wednesday, after Washington said it would discuss calls to boycott the Beijing Olympics with its allies after growing pressure to shun the Winter Games on human rights grounds. Republican politicians in the US have led calls for a boycott of the Olympics, in part over what rights monitors say is the mass incarceration and indoctrination of more than a million Uyghurs and […]

Taiwan imposes water rationing as drought worsens

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AFP) — More than one million households and businesses in Taiwan’s heavily industrialized central regions were put on water rationing Tuesday, as the island battles its worst drought in 56 years. The shortage is expected to particularly impact the water-intensive microchip manufacturing sector during a global shortage of semiconductors that power everything from cars to iPhones and computers. The state water company is now cutting supplies in Taichung, Miaoli and northern Changhua county […]

India suffers vaccine shortages as virus surges

by Ammu KANNAMPILLY MUMBAI, India (AFP) — More than 700 million people across India were facing coronavirus vaccine shortages Thursday, local media reported, as infection numbers hit yet another daily record. Case numbers had eased in India but a second wave of the virus has since returned with a vengeance, with more than 126,000 new infections recorded in the past 24 hours, a new record. Several regions have tightened curbs on activity while Maharashtra, the […]

Taiwan blasts ‘self-defeating’ China jet incursions

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AFP) — Taiwan blasted China’s fighter jet incursions as “self-defeating” on Wednesday as 15 more of Beijing’s planes crossed into the island’s air defence zone. Taipei’s defence ministry said it scrambled aircraft to broadcast warning messages to the latest incursion, which included 12 Chinese fighters. China has ramped up the use of such drills to record levels over the past year as a way to pile pressure on self-ruled Taiwan which it regards […]

US warns China over moves on Philippines, Taiwan

Armed attack on PHL to “trigger our obligation” to defend PHL under US-PHL Mutual Defense Treaty, says US State Dep’t spokesman   WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The United States on Wednesday warned China against what the Philippines and Taiwan see as increasingly aggressive moves, reminding Beijing of Washington’s obligations to its partners. “An armed attack against the Philippines’ armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, will […]

‘It’s the tone’: Palau president explains his China mistrust

  by Jerome TAYLOR Agence France Presse He leads one of the world’s smallest nations, but Surangel Whipps says Palau will not be bullied by anyone into deciding its future — least of all by China. Whipps, 52, became Palau’s president after last year defeating an opponent who favoured closer ties with Beijing. The Pacific nation of around 21,000 people is one of just 15 countries that still recognise Taiwan over China, something Whipps is […]