ASIA NEWS BITES: Russia Blocks WeChat; Self-Immolation in Tibet; Fourth American Detained in North Korea; Xinjiang Tourism Crackdown

ASIA NEWS BITES: Russia Blocks WeChat; Self-Immolation in Tibet; Fourth American Detained in North Korea; Xinjiang Tourism Crackdown
Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

What you need to know

A quick roundup of the most important news from around the region.


Chinese internet giant Tencent said Saturday its messaging app WeChat had been blocked in Russia, adding it was in touch with authorities to resolve the issue. – AFP via Hong Kong Free Press

Chinese authorities in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang have issued a region-wide clampdown on the tourism industry, asking tour guides to monitor the behavior of visitors ahead of the ruling Chinese Communist Party's regional economic cooperation summit next week. – Radio Free Asia

A low-key civilian group headed by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s former deputy may take a more prominent role in driving Beijing’s new strategy to engage the Taiwanese public, as mainland China continues to shake up senior members of its Taiwan policy team. - South China Morning Post

Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang have banned dozens of baby names with religious meanings that are widely used by Muslims elsewhere in the world. - Radio Free Asia


The Taiwan government is set to hold a news conference today to explain its response measures if the nation does not receive an invitation to attend the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) after the deadline for online registration ends, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-Chung (陳時中). – Taipei Times with Central News Agency

Hong Kong:

Hong Kong's Causeway Bay Books will reopen in Taiwan. - Nikkei Asian Review


A 16-year-old student in a Tibetan region of Gansu staged a self-immolation protest on May 2 against Chinese rule, RFA's Tibetan service has learned. – Radio Free Asia

North Korea:

North Korea has detained another American who worked at a private university in Pyongyang, taking to four the number of U.S. citizens being held by Kim Jong Un’s regime.- The Washington Post


Vietnamese companies are violating a Cambodian ban on timber exports on a massive scale with help from complicit government officials and military personnel, according to a new investigative report.- The Straits Times


After Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi met Pope Francis at the Vatican on May 4, the Vatican and Myanmar formally agreed to establish full diplomatic relations. - Union of Catholic Asian News

South Korea:

South Korea is set to hold a presidential by-election Tuesday amid escalated hopes for a new society following the impeachment of former President Park Geun-Hye over corruption allegations. - Xinhua


The Royal Thai Navy's 13.5-billion-baht submarine procurement scheme is facing yet another hurdle after an activist asked the Administrative Court to halt the process. - Bangkok Post

Environmental activists in Thailand have been staging a series of protests against the Chinese exploration team whose role is to survey the rocks and islets in Chiang Rai’s Mekong downstream. - Saignoeer via Reuters


The Indonesian government is suing Thailand's state-owned PTT and PTT Exploration and Production for around $2 billion for alleged damage to the environment from an oil spill in the Timor Sea eight years ago. - Jakrta Globe via Reuters


President Rodrigo Duterte still enjoys an "excellent" trust rating from the public overall, but trust in him is eroding among the poor, according to the March 2017 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey. - Rappler