ASIA NEWS BITES: China Extends Reach into Hong Kong; Duterte’s $200k Troll Army; Rare Standoff in Vietnam; US Expects New NK Tests

ASIA NEWS BITES: China Extends Reach into Hong Kong; Duterte’s $200k Troll Army; Rare Standoff in Vietnam; US Expects New NK Tests
Photo Credit:AP/達志影像

What you need to know

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

Hong Kong:

A proposal to lease part of a new Hong Kong rail terminal to mainland China and to allow Chinese officers to enforce mainland law there has raised concerns the plan would undermine this city’s legal autonomy. - The New York Times

The government has said mainland laws will be implemented in train cabins of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link while they are in Hong Kong – suggesting passengers may not able to access websites censored in China whilst aboard the train. - Hong Kong Free Press


A University of Oxford study found that $200,000 was spent to hire trolls who would spread propaganda for President Rodrigo Duterte and target his opposition. - The Philippine Star

Duterte called the renowned British institution a “school for stupid people” in reaction to findings presented in the university’s study “Troops, Trolls, and Troublemakers: A Global Inventory of Organized Social Media Manipulation,” Rappler reported. - Fox News

President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to abolish the Commission on Human Rights, which has been critical of his sexist jokes and the killings associated with his brutal war on drugs.- The Philippine Star

President Duterte has threatened to bomb lumad schools that have proliferated mostly in the hinterlands of Mindanao and are believed to be run by communists to influence the youth to rebel against the government.- The Philippine Star


Panama announced Tuesday (Jul 25) it has opened an embassy in China after cutting diplomatic ties with Taiwan in June. - Channel NewsAsia

Using routes along the western side of the Taiwan Strait's mid-line or passing through the Miyako Strait south of Okinawa could become a regular part of the Chinese military's long-distance sea training involving warships and aircraft, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Tuesday.- Channel NewsAsia

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has officially confirmed that the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N6 virus -- which can be transmitted from birds to humans -- in Taiwan has ended, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said Tuesday. - Central News Agency


A Chinese Echo of 1980s Japan: Chinese leaders recoil at any comparison between their economy and 1980s Japan before Tokyo’s bubble burst. But one sign of similar irrational exuberance has them spooked: Since 2015 Chinese companies have gone on a buying spree for trophy assets much like the Japanese did three decades ago. - The Wall Street Journal

China on Tuesday called on the United States to stop “unfriendly” and “dangerous” military flights after two Chinese fighter jets intercepted an American surveillance plane over the East China Sea. - Hong Kong Free Press via AFP

China's foreign minister on Tuesday said he supported the idea of joint energy ventures with the Philippines in the disputed South China Sea, warning that unilateral action could cause problems and damage both sides. - Channel NewsAsia

Botswana on Tuesday (Jul 25) confirmed it will allow the Dalai Lama to visit next month as "a foreign dignitary" in the face of China's fierce opposition to the Tibetan spiritual leader. - Channel NewsAsia

China is further fortifying its border with North Korea, new reports show, amid continued tensions on the peninsula and concerns over potential US military action against Pyongyang. - CNN

As China's vice minister of public security Meng Hongwei takes the presidency of international police organization Interpol, which issued a "red notice" for wanted billionaire Guo Wengui earlier this year, dissidents in exile have voiced fears that they could be next in line. - Radio Free Asia


Myanmar health officials said on Tuesday that two more people had died after contracting H1N1 influenza in the largest city, Yangon, a day after the government said more than a dozen people had contracted the virus known as swine flu. - Channel News Asia

Myanmar’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved a motion rejecting a statement by the United Nations human rights envoy to the Southeast Asian nation that was critical of the government’s handling of security issues and human rights. - Radio Free Asia


The news in Mumbai, an economic driver of India, was horrifying but sadly familiar. A five-story apartment building collapsed Tuesday morning, burying many residents under tons of concrete and debris. - The New York Times

As crops and farmers die, experts blame a man-made “drought of common sense” for the drying up of Southern India’s Cauvery River, once a lifeline to millions. Insight investigates. - Channel NewsAsia

Worsening floods killed another eight people in 24 hours in India's Gujarat state as rescue teams raced on Tuesday (Jul 25) to reach hundreds of people marooned in stricken towns and villages. - Channel NewsAsia


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stumbled in an attempt to pull out of a career-threatening slump in popularity, reversing part of his response to allegations of cronyism and apologizing for what he called a mistake.- The Wall Street Journal

Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it was nearing a major technological breakthrough in electric-car batteries, as the world’s second-largest car maker by sales accelerates its push to build all-electric vehicles.- The Wall Street Journal

North Korea:

The Pentagon has picked up signs that North Korea is preparing for another missile test, a US defense official said on Tuesday, as the US cited progress in pushing China to impose tough new UN sanctions. - The Guardian

Washington's ban on US citizens travelling to North Korea will have no effect on the country's tourism industry and Pyongyang does not care about it "at all", a senior development official insisted on Tuesday (Jul 24).- Channel NewsAsia


Authorities in the Indonesian capital Jakarta have pulled the plug on a popular “party bus”, Kompas reported. - Channel NewsAsia

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has warned of an escalating threat of forest fires with the dry season expected to peak in coming months, while hot spots detected in the province of Aceh have already been causing choking smoke. The Jakarta Globe


Cambodia’s health ministry on Monday expressed concern about the latest strain of avian influenza, urging the public to take precautions and maintain good hygiene when handling poultry. - Radio Free Asia


An investigation into a land dispute in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi that sparked a rare standoff between farmers and authorities in April has determined that the site belongs to the military, a municipal body said Tuesday, prompting residents to demand a review of the findings. - Radio Free Asia


As the standoff in the Philippine city of Marawi entered its third month, Malaysia is sending more aid to southern Philippines to ensure the internally displaced people do not easily fall prey to pro-Islamic State (IS) militants. - Channel NewsAsia

Malaysia’s state-owned energy company said Tuesday it was ending its multibillion-dollar plan to build a natural-gas export terminal on Canada’s west coast, saying prolonged low natural-gas prices doomed the project. - The Wall Street Journal