ASIA NEWS BITES: 20 Tiananmen Activists Still Behind Bars; Philippines Priest Seized by ISIS-Linked Militants; Fears Rise Before Cambodia Election; Nordic Banks Funding Palm Oil

ASIA NEWS BITES: 20 Tiananmen Activists Still Behind Bars; Philippines Priest Seized by ISIS-Linked Militants; Fears Rise Before Cambodia Election; Nordic Banks Funding Palm Oil
Photo Credit:AP/達志影像

What you need to know

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


As China moves to start enforcing a new cybersecurity law, foreign companies face a major problem: They know very little about it. - The New York Times

Twenty-eight years after People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops put an end to weeks of student-led pro-democracy protests on Tiananmen Square with tanks and machine guns, more than 20 dissidents remain in jail for campaigning over the massacre, rights activists said ahead of Sunday's anniversary. - Radio Free Asia

Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have detained a rights activist for selling T-shirts carrying a quotation from exiled billionaire property tycoon Guo Wengui. - Radio Free Asia

LGBT conference in China forced to cancel. Organizers say they were detained for 8 hours. - Hong Kong Free Press

Hong Kong:

Today marks the one-month countdown to July 1, the 20th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to China. In the start of a weekly series on the handover, we focus on the rule of law in an interview with former chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang. - South China Morning Post

More than one million Uber riders in Hong Kong have been invited to show their support for the ride-hailing firm in a territory-wide online campaign starting on Wednesday as it fights for legalization in the city. - South China Morning Post


A Roman Catholic priest seized by militants loyal to the Islamic State has been shown in a video making an appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte to halt a weeklong military offensive that has devastated this southern Philippine city. - The New York Times

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) yesterday expressed concern for the safety and well-being of at least 50,000 children affected by the clashes between government security forces and Maute terrorists in Marawi City. - The Phillippine Star


A human rights intervention group of parliamentarians from Southeast Asia and members of the diplomatic community called on Cambodia’s ruling party on Wednesday to stop threatening violence ahead of nationwide commune council elections and expressed concern about the government’s plan to deploy armed forces on election day. - Radio Free Asia

Labor rights activists urged the government on Wednesday to help hundreds of thousands of workers who have migrated within the country to vote on Sunday, with a political analyst saying their potential disenfranchisement could swing the elections to the ruling party. - The Cambodia Daily


While Nordic countries are on the forefront of global environmental initiatives, their asset managers have invested more than $2 billion in six Indonesian and Singaporean banks that finance environmentally damaging palm oil companies, says a report released by Rainforest Foundation Norway, AidEnvironment Asia and Fair Finance Guide Sweden on Tuesday. - The Jakarta Globe


Hanoi and Washington called for refrain from any tension escalation in the East Vietnam Sea, including “the militarization of disputed features,” had “frank and constructive dialogue” to narrow differences on human rights, agreed to promote bilateral trade, and shared concern over ballistic missile tests by North Korea in a joint statement following Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc's visit to the White House on May 31. - Tuoi Tre News

An explosion has occurred at Taiwanese-owned Formosa Plastics Group’s steel mill in central Vietnam’s Ha Tinh province, one day after the facility came online for the first time since causing a catastrophic toxic waste spill in April 2016. - Radio Free Asia


The government will increase the tobacco tax from July 4 in an effort to curb smoking, particularly among low-income smokers, according to the Public Health Ministry. - The Bangkok Post

North Korea:

This week's successful ICBM intercept test by the United States sends a clear message to North Korea that the U.S. is capable of shooting down any oncoming missile from the communist nation, a senator said Wednesday. - The Korea Times

The extreme stockpiling of fuel in North Korea has caused oil prices there to skyrocket, raising suspicions that wealthy people and businesses that generate foreign currency are manipulating prices by hoarding gasoline and diesel supplies. - Radio Free Asia

South Korea:

One of the most notorious figures in the corruption scandal in South Korea that led to the impeachment and ouster of former President Park Geun-hye was extradited home from Denmark on Wednesday. - The New York Times

The South Korean defense minister deliberately withheld from a report to President Moon Jae-in the fact that additional components of a controversial U.S. missile-defense system had arrived in the country, the president’s office said Wednesday. - The Wall Street Journal


The launch of a rocket carrying a satellite that's part of Japan's version of a global positioning system was a success. - NHK World

The government plans to ease passport regulations that allow married women to have both their maiden name and legal family name included on their passports starting as early as fiscal 2019 — a move intended to promote more female participation in the workforce. - The Japan Times

A senior Japanese government official has called a UN Human Rights Council report criticizing the government's handling of the media "deeply regrettable." He says that Japanese media face direct and indirect pressure from government officials. He recommends strengthening media independence by removing from Japan's Broadcast Act the legal basis for government interference. - NHK World


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is planning a visit by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to Taiwan's diplomatic allies in the South Pacific in July, Deputy Foreign Minister Chang Wen-liang (章文樑) said on Wednesday. - Central News Agency