ASIA NEWS BITES: Deadly Earthquake Strikes Sichuan; North Korea Threatens to Launch Missiles at Guam; Japan Warns North Korea Nuclear Threat Has Entered ‘New Stage’

Photo credit: Reuters /達志影像
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A quick roundup of the most important news from around the region.

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Taiwan:

The online publication of the official guide to the Taipei Summer Universiade in English has come under fire from New Power Party (NPP) legislators for using the name “Chinese Taipei” rather than Taiwan, resulting in “absurd” descriptions of the nation, such as “Chinese Taipei is a special island.” - The Taipei Times

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday told an international forum in Taipei that her administration is committed to maintaining the “status quo” in cross-strait relations and regional stability, while former US vice president Dick Cheney told a separate gathering that the cross-strait “status quo” was vital to maintaining peace in the region.- The Taipei Times

The government has no plans to restart several nuclear power reactors that have gone offline, despite the current electricity shortages, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said Tuesday. - Central News Agency

China:

A magnitude-7 earthquake in China’s southwestern Sichuan province on Tuesday night has claimed at least 12 lives and caused 175 injuries, state media reported. - South China Morning Post

A landslide triggered by heavy rain killed at least 24 people in China's mountainous southwestern province of Sichuan on Tuesday (Aug 8), state media reported. - Channel NewsAsia

In northern China, levels of the notorious PM2.5 particulate have gone down in tandem with reduced coal use in recent years, but now another hazardous air pollutant is on the rise. - South China Morning Post

Authorities in the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen have ordered small guesthouses to stop taking in guests in a city-wide security operation ahead of a new Silk Road summit in September, local residents told RFA on Tuesday. - Radio Free Asia

Fiji has deported 77 Chinese nationals accused of running a phone and online scam targeting victims in mainland China, the latest in a series of overseas crackdowns orchestrated by Beijing. - The Guardian

Visa has become the first overseas card payment company to apply for a bank-card clearing operation in China, reflecting growing challenges to domestic behemoth China UnionPay after deregulation. - South China Morning Post

Copper prices rose to their highest level in more than two years Tuesday, as data showed Chinese demand for the metal remained steady last month. - The Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong:

Hong Kong has scooped up over 90 tonnes of palm oil and closed more than a dozen beaches after a ship spill washed foul-smelling, Styrofoam-like clumps ashore, the latest major environmental disaster to blight the territory's waters. - The Star

India:

India's diplomatic efforts to end a seven-week military standoff with China have hit a roadblock, people briefed on the talks said, prompting Chinese state-run media to trumpet rhetoric of "unavoidable countermeasures" on the unmarked border. - Channel NewsAsia

North Korea:

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered his military to examine a plan for a missile strike on the U.S. military base on Guam, making an unusually explicit threat to attack the U.S. - The Wall Street Journal

North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear program has prompted politicians in Japan and South Korea to push for the deployment of more powerful weapons, in what could lead to a regional arms race.- The Wall Street Journal

Japan:

Japan says it is possible North Korea has already developed nuclear warheads and may have achieved the miniaturisation of the weapons. - ABC News

Cambodia:

Human rights observers in Cambodia and abroad on Tuesday decried the court’s continued incarceration of leading grassroots activist Tep Vanny after the Court of Appeal upheld her 30-month prison sentence for an intentional violence charge. - The Cambodia Daily

Phnom Penh is set to repatriate 13 Montagnard asylum-seekers to their native Vietnam after they failed to meet requirements for gaining refugee status in Cambodia, a nongovernmental organization that monitors hill tribes said Tuesday. - Radio Free Asia

The government’s human rights chief, following a meeting on Tuesday with the U.N.’s visiting human rights envoy, defended as “education” the violent threats officials have been making against would-be protesters in recent months. - The Cambodia Daily

Malaysia:

Malaysia’s government on Tuesday launched an inquiry into massive foreign-exchange losses by the central bank more than two decades ago, in a probe that could lead to criminal prosecution of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. - The Wall Street Journal

Philippines:

China pushed for a maritime code of conduct with Southeast Asian countries that would not be legally binding, the Philippine foreign minister said on Tuesday. - Channel NewsAsia

President Duterte has vowed to use the full force of government against drug lords and even threatened to bomb them using the military jets recently acquired from South Korea. - The Philippine Star

Japan yesterday vowed to continue supporting the Philippines’ anti-terrorism campaign and expressed readiness to assist the country in other areas of cooperation. - The Philippine Star

Thailand:

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday pressed Thai leaders for more action on North Korea during the highest level visit to Thailand by a U.S. official since a military coup in 2014 soured relations with the United States. - Reuters

Vietnam:

A scheduled meeting between the foreign ministers of China and Vietnam was canceled on the sidelines of a regional gathering, Chinese embassy officials said, amid growing tension between the two countries over the South China Sea. - Reuters

Statistics released by the Ministry of Health show that more than 78,000 patients have come down with dengue fever since early 2017, with 20 deaths recorded, including the latest case of a woman in Hanoi who died on Monday during the outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease, which has been battering localities across the country. - Tuoi Tre News

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