ASIA NEWS BITES: WhatsApp Becomes Victim of China's Internet Clampdown; Reports Reveal NK's Public Executions; Japan Space Drone Sends First Pictures

ASIA NEWS BITES: WhatsApp Becomes Victim of China's Internet Clampdown; Reports Reveal NK's Public Executions; Japan Space Drone Sends First Pictures
Photo Credit: Jaap Arriens / NurPhoto / AP / 達志影像

What you need to know

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


Singaporean banking group DBS on Tuesday projected Taiwan's 2018 gross domestic product (GDP) growth at 2.3 percent and said its forecast may be upgraded based on the effects of the next generation iPhones on the economy. - Central News Agency

Cambodian authorities have arrested seven Taiwanese nationals for suspected involvement in telecom fraud and are likely to deport them to China, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday. - Central News Agency


WhatsApp, a messaging app used across the globe, has been partly blocked by Chinese filters, leaving many unable to send videos and photos and some unable to send text-based messages. - The New York Times

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged on Tuesday to make "unremitting" efforts towards promoting peace in the Middle East, following a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. - Channel NewsAsia

The Pompidou Centre in Paris, which houses the world’s second biggest collection of modern art, is close to signing a deal for a franchise gallery in Shanghai. - The Guardian

U.S. wants "direct dialogue" between India and China to defuse Doklam tensions. The U.S. State Department said both sides should “come up with a better arrangement for peace.” China and India have been engaged in a standoff in the Dokalam area in the Sikkim sector, where Indian troops stopped road construction by Chinese soldiers on June 16. - News 18

AMC said Tuesday it never received financial help from Chinese parent company Dalian Wanda Group for the acquisitions of four cinema chains in the U.S. and Europe. The announcement follows warnings by Chinese regulators that Wanda’s recent foreign deals violated government capital rules. - The Wall Street Journal

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for an increase in imports and fewer restrictions for foreign investors as Beijing comes under pressure from the U.S. and Europe to provide a more level playing field for companies in the country.- AFP via Hong Kong Free Press


Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's security adviser told diplomats on Tuesday that a U.N. mission looking into allegations of rape, torture and killings of Rohingya Muslims would only "aggravate" troubles in the western state of Rakhine. - Channel NewsAsia


Tibetans opening a three-day summer festival this week in northwestern China’s Gansu province were forced by authorities to parade on horseback with Chinese national flags, angering Tibetan onlookers and participants, a source in the region says. - Radio Free Asia


Dozens of police officers wearing bulletproof vests and toting assault rifles guard the camp of an international off-road race across China’s troubled far-western region of Xinjiang. - AFP via Hong Kong Free Press


The death toll from severe monsoon flooding across India rose to at least 83 with seven more fatalities confirmed in western Gujarat state in the last twenty-four hours, officials said on Tuesday. - Channel NewsAsia

Hong Kong:

A Hong Kong court has disqualified four opposition legislators for failing to take the oath of office, though the president of the Legislative Council accepted the oaths in October. The decision means that pro-democracy legislators no longer have sufficient votes to block legislation, which may allow Beijing and its local supporters to pass laws to restrict civil liberties. - The Wall Street Journal

The new owner of Hong Kong’s pioneering tabloid Next Magazine has said that employees who are biased against him cannot remain at the publication. - Hong Kong Free Press

Legal experts have raised concerns over Beijing’s interpretation of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution amid the oath row in the legislature, arguing that it damaged Hong Kong’s rule of law and potentially violated human rights. - Hong Kong Free Press


Japan thought it was on track to beat deflation. Then came the Amazon effect. The country’s retailers have been cutting prices in response to the rise of online rivals like Inc., disrupting what had seemed like perfect conditions for Japan to get the stable dose of inflation it has long been looking for. - The Wall Street Journal

Doctors have come up with a novel idea to help Japan keep pace with its rapidly aging population: raising the definition of senior citizen to those aged 75 years and older. - The Guardian

Japan's space agency has released the first images taken by a drone it operates on the International Space Station (ISS). - BBC

Bleaching has damaged the world’s northernmost coral reef in Japan, a researcher said Tuesday, the latest example of a global phenomenon scientists have attributed to high ocean temperatures. - The Japan Times

North Korea:

Suspicions that a prominent North Korean defector has been kidnapped and forced to return to the totalitarian state after she appeared in a propaganda video that surfaced online. -

North Korea carries out public executions on river banks and at school grounds and marketplaces for charges such as stealing copper from factory machines, distributing media from South Korea and prostitution, a report issued on Wednesday said. - Reuters

North Korea’s latest missile test-launch showed that the rogue regime now has the range to hit the U.S. — although Pyongyang doesn’t yet have the guidance technology to ensure such an attempted strike would be aimed accurately, a top U.S. military officer said Tuesday. - NBC

The Philippines:

With Islamic militants holding a stubborn grip on the southern Philippine city of Marawi, President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Congress to extend martial law on the island of Mindanao through the end of the year to quell the rebellion, his government said on Tuesday. - The New York Times


An American expat in Thailand, who is a YouTube star with 3.29 million subscribers, is in hot water for posting a video of an age-old practice among kids: flattening coins on railroad tracks. - Fox News

A judge began handing down verdicts in Thailand's biggest human trafficking trial on Wednesday before dozens of defendants, including a Thai army general, accused of smuggling and trafficking migrants on the Thai-Malaysia border. - Channel NewsAsia


At least 14 people have died in a tropical storm that hit Vietnam after pummelling China. - The Bangkok Post


French investigators have indicted two former top executives in a long-running probe into alleged kickbacks from the 2002 sale of submarines to Malaysia, sources close to the inquiry said on Tuesday. - Channel NewsAsia

A Malaysian rights group on Tuesday lamented the lack of action taken by Malaysian authorities to crack down on human trafficking following the discovery of death camps at the Thai-Malaysian border in 2015. - Channel News Asia

Editor: Olivia Yang