Week in Focus: Xi Renews Vow to Open Markets with U.S, Japan Discovers Rare Minerals

Week in Focus:  Xi Renews Vow to Open Markets with U.S, Japan Discovers Rare Minerals
Photo Credit: Stellina Chen

What you need to know

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


President Xi Jinping renewed a pledge Tuesday to open China’s markets further for trade and investment, including its automobile sector and said he would also work harder to boost imports, in what was seen as a conciliatory speech amid an escalating trade conflict with the United States. - The Washington Post

Photo credit: Reuters / 達志影像

A purged Communist Party politician once regarded as a future Chinese leader stood trial on corruption charges in a case seen as part of an effort by President Xi Jinping to neutralize potential political rivals.- The Wall Street Journal

China staged a show of force in the disputed South China Sea, with President Xi Jinping presiding over the country’s biggest ever parade of naval ships, submarines, and aircraft. - The Wall Street Journal

Australia's prime minister admitted Thursday (Apr 12) bubbling tensions with China over allegations of Beijing meddling in domestic politics, but denied there was a 'deep chill' in relations after reports ministers were being refused visas. - Channel News Asia

A major smog indicator in China’s heavy industrial Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region rose by more than a quarter in March, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment said on Friday, raising concerns that pollution is increasing with the end of winter output restrictions. - Reuters


As President Trump battles it out with China over trade and the mood in Washington sours toward Beijing, there is a growing fear that Taiwan will end up suffering the consequences. - The Washington Post

TSAI XI_蔡英文_習近平
Photo Credit: AP/達志影像;Edited Image: The News Lens關鍵評論網

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen presided over a military drill by the self-ruled island’s navy on Friday for the first time since she took office in 2016, a day after diplomatic rival China held a large-scale naval display. - Reuters


Japan has found a ‘semi-infinite’ deposit of rare earth minerals, enough to supply the world for centuries to come. - Financial Post

Japan welcomed news that the U.S. was looking at rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed as a counterweight against Chinese economic influence. - The Wall Street Journal

Photo Credit: AP/達志影像

More than 1,000 Japanese police were on the hunt Friday for a 'model' inmate who fled an open prison, officials said. - Channel News Asia

An Indian man died on Friday at a Japanese immigration detention center in an apparent suicide, the latest death in a system widely criticised over medical standards, monitoring of detainees and mental health care. - Channel News Asia

From January 2019, travelers leaving Japan will have to pay a departure tax of ¥1,000 (US$9.40), Japanese media reported on Wednesday (Apr 11). - Channel News Asia


Floggings carried out under Islamic law will no longer be held in public or be allowed to be recorded in an Indonesian province where Christians, homosexuals, and unmarried couples have increasingly been whipped in front of jeering crowds, provincial authorities said Thursday. - The Wall Street Journal

Photo Credit:Reuters/達志影像

The toxic waste that enters Indonesia’s Citarum River, one of the world's most polluted. - Channel News Asia

Indonesia seized an alleged 'slave ship' following a dramatic high seas chase sparked by an Interpol alert after the vessel escaped capture in China and Mozambique, authorities said Tuesday (Apr 10). - Channel News Asia


President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to block Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. from building a $500 million resort on the Philippine island of Boracay amid an environmental crisis, a spokesman for the president said Wednesday. - The Wall Street Journal

Philippine troops killed about a dozen members of a pro-Islamic State group in air and ground assaults this week on the southern island of Mindanao, the army said on Wednesday, in what it called preemptive moves to thwart militant attacks on cities. - Channel News Asia

Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte apologized to Myanmar counterpart Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday for saying genocide was taking place in her country, saying his remark was a satirical barb at the West for not taking in Rohingya Muslims. - Reuters

Photo Credit:AP/達志影像

President Rodrigo Duterte apologized for the 2010 hostage-taking that killed 8 Hong Kong tourists, during an event in Hong Kong on Thursday, April 12. - Rappler

South Korea:

The U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies — the only think tank in Washington devoted to Korean Peninsula issues — will close next month after a dispute over funding and academic independence with the government in Seoul. - The Washington Post

North Korea:

The United Nations issued an urgent call for humanitarian aid in North Korea, as international donors to the country shy away in response to concerns about Pyongyang’s spending on its nuclear-weapons program. - The Wall Street Journal

North Korea’s definition of ‘denuclearization’ is very different from Trump’s. - The Washington Post

Photo Credit:Reuters/達志影像


The United States embassy in Cambodia has fired 32 people after they were allegedly caught sharing pornographic material in a non-official chat group, several sources familiar with the matter said on Friday (Apr 13). - Channel News Asia


In January last year, Ko Ni, a prominent adviser to leader Aung San Suu Kyi and vocal advocate for a diminished military role in an evolving Myanmar, was fatally shot in the head at Yangon International Airport. - The Wall Street Journal

Last week, after frustrated activists from Myanmar sent an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, they got something unexpected: a reply. - The New York Times

Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

The government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi expressed 'serious concern' on Friday over a move by the International Criminal Court prosecutor seeking jurisdiction over alleged deportations of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to Bangladesh.- Channel News Asia

Myanmar court refuses to drop the case against Reuters journalists. - Reuters


India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday (Apr 13) promised justice after nationwide outrage mounted over the brutal gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl. - Channel News Asia

Photo: AFP

India’s actresses are starting to seize their own #MeToo moment. - The Washington Post

India's federal Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday took over an investigation into allegations that a state legislator from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party raped a teenager nine months ago, police said. - Reuters

In the run-down neighborhood of Bhatnagar in this sleepy Indian city, a small rebellion is underway. The new generation of the close-knit Kanjarbhat community is staging protests at weddings to end the centuries-old practice of virginity tests. - The Washington Post

Editor: Morley J Weston