ASIA NEWS BITES: China's Dog Eating Festival Goes Dog Free; Duterte's Smoking Ban; North Korean Scientists on the Rise

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

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China:

The Chinese government has released the first draft of a new intelligence law aimed at formalizing its sweeping security powers, with broad authority to engage in surveillance at home and abroad. - AFP via Hong Kong Free Press

The Yulin dog eating festival in China, notorious for its animal cruelty, will this year be banned from selling dog meat, According to US campaigners. Yet doubts remain over what has been said, some vendors told the BBC they had heard nothing about a ban. - BBC

Video: Changsha police deny accusations that Chinese activist Jiang Tianyong was tortured. - Hong Kong Free Press

A 17-year-old student in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, has been arrested and charged with “spreading extremism” over a chat group he ran about the Blue Whale online game that encourages players to harm themselves or even commit suicide. - South China Morning Post

Tibet:

Authorities in northwestern China’s Gansu province have detained the parents of a Tibetan self-immolation protester after briefly holding and then releasing them once before, a source in the region says. - Radio Free Asia

Hong Kong:

Hong Kong’s biggest trade body has called on the next administration to focus on economic development, warning that the rising political tension in recent years has hindered the city’s competitiveness in the region. - South China Morning Post

Taiwan:

Twenty-one US senators signed a letter to the US secretary of health and human services to ‘express profound concern’ over Taiwan’s exclusion from the WHA. - The Taipei Times

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Thursday that even though all official statistics indicate Taiwan's economic performance is improving, her approval rate is falling. - Focus Taiwan

Indonesia:

Aggravating religious intolerance is raising concerns over Indonesia's future, say the University of Indonesia students and alumni, many of whom participated in the 1998 movement to end Suharto's regime and lead the country towards open democracy that is free from discrimination. - The Jarkata Globe

Four Indonesian soldiers were killed and eight wounded on Wednesday (17/05) after they were hit by artillery fire during a rapid response training exercise in the Natuna islands north of Borneo in the South China Sea, a military spokesman said. - The Jarkata Globe

The construction of Jakarta's first underground railway system goes as planned, the company behind the project, Mass Rapid Transit Jakarta, said on Wednesday. - The Jarkata Globe

Philippines:

President Rodrigo Duterte, who has overseen a deadly campaign to eradicate drug use in the Philippines, has now ordered a strict public ban on smoking and called on citizens to help the local authorities apprehend smokers. - The New York Times

Rejecting aid from the European Union could cut support to peace-building programs in Mindanao like livelihood assistance in Moro Islamic Liberation Front camps and the delivery of basic services to conflict-affected communities. - The Philippine Star

Cambodia:

Cambodia’s government on Thursday rejected a report by a U.K.-based watchdog that warned of large-scale deforestation and illegal sales of timber across the border to buyers in Vietnam, saying its findings do not present an accurate portrayal of the situation. - Radio Free Asia

India:

The International Court of Justice ordered Pakistan on Thursday to stay the execution of an Indian naval officer convicted of espionage, the latest development in a high-profile case that has further strained relations in an already tense region. - The New York Times

North Korea:

The United States wants North Korea to trust its promise of no hostility and conduct no more nuclear or missile tests before Washington can consider opening talks with the communist nation, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was quoted as saying Thursday. - The Korea Times

More North Koreans become scientists to reap privileges from the regime. - Radio Free Asia

South Korea:

Interest in gender issues has surged among Koreans since the Gangnam Station murder that took the life of a woman, in what many believe to be a hate crime. Since the incident, one year ago, gender issues have become a hot, although controversial, topic in Korean society. - The Korea Times

Japan:

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a special envoy of new South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed Thursday to resume the “shuttle diplomacy” initiative, the envoy said. - The Japan Times

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