ASIA NEWS BITES: Beijing Touts AI Plans; Casino Kidnappings in Manila; North Korea's Savage Drought; Taiwan Extends Plastic Bag Ban

ASIA NEWS BITES: Beijing Touts AI Plans; Casino Kidnappings in Manila; North Korea's Savage Drought; Taiwan Extends Plastic Bag Ban
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What you need to know

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

Hong Kong:

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) has retracted a commentary piece alleging links between a Singaporean investor and Chinese President Xi Jinping. At 3:58 am on Thursday, it was replaced with a clarification stating that Shirley Yam’s piece was deleted as it included “multiple unverifiable insinuations.” - Hong Kong Free Press

By next summer, Hong Kong could be helping internet users stream 80 million high-definition video calls all at the same time. Latest fiber optic technology in Hong Kong to vault the Pacific Ocean. the leap in technology testament to how Hong Kong has developed into a fibre optic telecommunications hub, expert says. - South China Morning Post

Let Hongkongers have Chinese identity cards, says Carrie Lam’s advisor. - South China Morning Post

Hong Kong is expected to lease space inside the future high-speed rail terminus at West Kowloon to mainland Chinese authorities to implement a plan for a joint immigration checkpoint, under a deal to be announced as early as next week. - South China Morning Post

Taiwan:

Beginning next year, Taiwan will ban 80,000 more stores from offering free plastic shopping bags to customers, to further reduce the use of plastic, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said Thursday. - Central News Agency

Taiwan's first domestically developed satellite, Formosat-5, arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday and is being transported to its launch site. - Central News Agency

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications reiterated on Thursday that it continues to offer members of the public rewards who report activities by ride-hailing company Uber's food delivery app, UberEATS, which is illegal in Taiwan, as part of an effort to clamp down on the company. - Central News Agency

Taiwan's top China policy agency called on Beijing Thursday to "respect facts" after the Chinese authorities banned the Chinese media from using the name "Republic of China" - the official title of Taiwan. - Central News Agency

After a famed prisoner dies in China, Taiwan fears for another. For many in Taiwan, the death in custody last week of the Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo had double relevance. - The New York Times

A university in northern China has issued a public apology after it was accused of forcing students to do internships at the electronics manufacturer Foxconn. - South China Morning Post

Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Wednesday that it will not ban beef imports from the United States, where the fifth case of mad cow disease was confirmed the previous day.- Central News Agency

South Korea:

The government said Thursday it has strengthened inspections on U.S. beef imports following the detection of mad cow disease in the United States. - The Korea Times

South Korea's proposed military talks aimed at easing tensions between the two Koreas planned for Friday failed to take place after the North snubbed a call by the South, a setback for new President Moon Jae-in's hope of engaging Pyongyang in dialogue. - Channel NewsAsia

China:

China laid out a development plan on Thursday to become the world leader in A.I. by 2030, aiming to surpass its rivals technologically and build a domestic industry worth almost $150 billion. - The New York Times

The annual Hong Kong book fair has always been a source of politically sensitive titles banned in China, but this year fewer were on display as the city faces growing pressure under an increasingly assertive Beijing. - Channel NewsAsia

Internet censors target foreign movies and TV shows popular with young Chinese as it tries to reinsert Communist ideology into public life. - The Wall Street Journal

Chinese cities had fewer “good air” days in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period last year despite government efforts to curb incessant smog, according to official data. - Hong Kong Free Press via AFP

Millions of migrant workers who travel to work in China's richest cities are increasingly raising their voices in protest over discriminatory practices by local schools, using legal channels to argue that their children should be able to come along too. - Radio Free Asia

The standoff involving hundreds of PLA and Indian troops, near where the borders of Tibet, Bhutan and India’s Sikkim state meet, has successfully halted the Chinese construction of the highway in Doklam, which Beijing claims as a “traditional pasture for Tibetans." - The Wall Street Journal

High-level economic talks between the U.S. and China ended Wednesday without any concrete agreement or future agenda, leaving the Trump administration’s efforts to recast trade ties with Beijing in limbo. - The Wall Street Journal

India:

A Dalit was elected India’s 14th president on Thursday, a rare achievement for a member of a community once known as “untouchables” and one of the most deprived groups in India. - The New York Times

North Korea:

CIA chief signals desire for regime change in North Korea: Although Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has in the past said the US was against forcing Kim out of power or the collapse of his government, Pompeo said that the administration needed to find a way to separate Kim from his growing nuclear stockpile. - CNN

North Korean authorities are forcing all workers in factories and firms to obtain cash cards as a measure of convenience for receiving their salaries or purchasing items, though the cards will not likely replace the widespread use of cash in the isolated country, source said .- Radio Free Asia

North Korea hit by worst drought in 16 years, threatening food supplies in the country. - South China Morning Post via Thomson Reuters Foundation

Myanmar:

Growing tension between government soldiers and Ta’ang National Liberation Army troops in northern Shan state has forced hundreds of people from seven villages in Hseni township of Lashio district to preemptively flee to safety to the town of Theinni, a local lawmaker said on Thursday.- Radio Free Asia

Xinjiang:

Ethnic Uyghur students detained in Egypt for deportation to China are being held by the country’s national intelligence service, according to an activist, as a human rights group said the agency’s involvement is a clear indication that Beijing had ordered the roundup. - Radio Free Asia

Japan:

Defense Minister Tomomi Inada may be questioned over her alleged role in a suspected cover-up of the activity logs of Ground Self-Defense Force troops during a U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, the top government spokesman said Thursday. - The Japan Times

Japan has lodged a protest with South Korea over the Seoul’s plan to create a memorial day to commemorate former Korean women forced into Japanese wartime brothels, a government source said Thursday. - The Japan Times

The young, good-looking "Japan's Macron", Shinjiro Koizumi may be offered a post when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffles his cabinet next month in a bid to revive sagging public support. - Channel NewsAsia

Government to alert public to fire ant dangers as Japan’s summer holidays start. - The Japan Times

Philippines:

Police in the Philippines have arrested dozens of suspects in a major crackdown on kidnapping gangs targeting rich foreigners in Manila. - CNN

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made a surprise visit to the war-torn city of Marawi on Thursday (Jul 20) where troops are still engaged in a brutal fight to crush Islamic State group-inspired militants. - Channel NewsAsia

During the US Congress Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing on the Philippines' so-called war on drugs, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) said that she was disgusted that Trump invited Duterte to the White House. - The Philippine Star

Singapore:

The value of Singapore to the United States is more than just a bilateral relationship, but about "location, location, location", said KT McFarland, President Donald Trump's nominee for US ambassador to Singapore on Thursday. - Channel NewsAsia

Indonesia:

Bank Indonesia on Thursday decided to extend its neutral policy stance to nurture the fragile growth recovery while the uptick in inflation is expected to recede in coming months. - The Wall Street Journal

Indonesia on Wednesday (19/07) condemned the escalation of tensions in East Jerusalem, following reports saying that Al-Aqsa Mosque imam Sheikh Ikrima Sabri has been injured by a rubber bullet shot by Israeli police. The Jakarta Globe

Thailand:

Thai general is jailed for 27 years in human-trafficking case, as rights groups press for justice. - South China Morning Post via Reuters

Malaysia:

Despite the ongoing crackdown against human trafficking in Thailand, the people smuggling network is still very much alive. Scores from Rohingya from north west of Myanmar were still being smuggled into the Malaysia each month, seeking better lives for themselves and their families back home. - Channel NewsAsia

Malaysia has banned state broadcasters from playing the hit single Despacito following complaints about the song's "steamy" lyrics, officials say. - BBC



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