Week in Focus: Singapore Summit Back On, Malaysia Cancels HSR Deal

Week in Focus: Singapore Summit Back On, Malaysia Cancels HSR Deal
Photo credit: 達志影像/Reuters

What you need to know

A weekly roundup of the region's most important news.

North Korea:

President Donald Trump conceded that North Korea won’t agree to immediately give up its nuclear weapons as he confirmed his June 12 summit with Kim Jong Un will go ahead. — Bloomberg

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Photo Credit:AP/達志影像

The two Koreas agreed during a high-level meeting on Friday (June 1) to hold talks later this month on military issues and reunions of families separated by the Korean War, a joint statement said. — Channel News Asia

Malaysia:

Malaysia is canceling a project to build a high-speed rail link between its capital, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore, and will talk with its southern neighbor about any compensation Malaysia has to pay, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday. — Reuters

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Malaysia’s scrappy media newspapers and broadcasters have discovered a more independent voice after long-ruling coalition lost power. — The Wall Street Journal

Malaysian anti-terror police arrested 15 terror suspects, including a housewife who was planning to attack non-Muslim voters at a polling station during last month's general election, inspector-general of police Mohd Fuzi Harun said on Friday (June 1). — Channel News Asia

In just 24 hours after it was launched by the government, Malaysia’s Hope Fund, or Tabung Harapan Malaysia, has collected more than RM7 million (US$1.76 million) as of 3 pm on Thursday (May 31). — Channel News Asia

China:

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis harshly criticized the Chinese government on Saturday (June 1) for its continuing militarization of a string of islands in the South China Sea, calling the new presence of advanced military equipment and missiles there a flagrant show of military power. — The New York Times

A rainbow is seen from the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) in Sao Sebastiao do Uatuma
Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

When two women wearing rainbow badges were beaten up by security guards in an arty part of Beijing last month, social media users quickly jumped in to fight their corner. — Channel News Asia

Alphabet Inc’s Google has launched a file managing tool in several Chinese app stores as it looks for fresh inroads into the world’s biggest smartphone market, where most of the internet giant’s top products remain banned. — Reuters

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Photo Credit: Morris Mac Matzen / REUTERS / 達志影像

China hopes self-ruled Taiwan's only remaining African ally, Swaziland, will sever ties with Taipei before China hosts a summit of African leaders this year, the foreign ministry said on Friday (June 1), keeping up the pressure on Taiwan. — Channel News Asia

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Photo Credit:Reuters/達志影像

Ivanka Trump was granted five business trademarks in China earlier in May, just days before her father suddenly scrapped a US technology ban imposed on Chinese telecom firm ZTE, according to government documents. — Channel News Asia

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REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Hong Kong:

A Hong Kong court ruled on Friday that the husband of a male civil servant was not entitled to spousal benefits, overturning a landmark lower court ruling in a setback for the city's LGBT community. — Channel News Asia

Taiwan:

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Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

In a move likely to anger Beijing, a sculpture commemorating Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner, will be unveiled in Taiwan’s capital in July to honor the democracy activist, who died last year in a Chinese prison. — The New York Times

On June 12, in a leafy, middle-class neighborhood in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, the unofficial, Cold War-era relationship between this island and the United States is getting a major upgrade, when the American Institute in Taiwan, the United States’ embassy here in all but name, will hold a ceremony to formally unveil a $250 million office complex that resembles a university research center, just with guarded gates and blast walls. — The New York Times

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen welcomed the leader of the Caribbean nation of Haiti with a military salute on Tuesday (May 29) on his first official trip to Taipei, as China ramps up the pressure to lure away Taiwan's friends. — Reuters

Japan:

More than 120 pregnant whales were killed during Japan’s annual “research” hunt in the Southern Ocean last summer, a new report has revealed. — MSN News Via The Guardian

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Photo Credit: Sea Shepherd Global

Japan plans to ease restrictions on unskilled foreign workers in five sectors hit hard by labor shortfalls, the Nikkei business daily said on Wednesday (May 30), as the country confronts the challenges of a shrinking and aging population. — Reuters

Myanmar:

Myanmar’s military, fresh off a bloody campaign that drove most of the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority into neighboring Bangladesh, has launched a new offensive against the armed forces of an ethnic group along the northern border with China using helicopter gunships, jet fighters, and heavy artillery. — The Wall Street Journal

India:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi set out his vision for a “new Indo-Pacific”—widely seen as a framework for closer ties between the U.S., India and regional powers wary of China’s rise—but sought to dispel the view that it was aimed at containing Beijing. — The Wall Street Journal

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Credit: Reuters / TPG

In March 1949, the government in India's southern state of Tamil Nadu acquired the work of one of India's greatest poets. It was the first time in the world that the state had taken over the copyright of a writer and put his writings in the public domain. — BBC

Around one million bank employees went on strike across India on Wednesday (May 30), a union representative said, demanding better pay and a government crackdown on companies who willfully default on loan payments. — Channel News Asia

Indonesia:

Anniesa Hasibuan, Indonesia’s most celebrated Islamic fashion designer, made her living at the intersection of faith and commerce. Her downfall came at the same crossroads. — The New York Times

Nine militants from a group that helped the Philippine Army hunt down Islamic State-linked fighters in the country’s south have been killed in a firefight with the police, their colleagues said Monday (May 28). — The New York Times

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Photo Credit:AP/ 達志影像

Uber Technologies has agreed to sell its Southeast Asian operations to Grab, withdrawing from yet another fast-growing region to end a war of attrition with a fierce local rival. — Bloomberg

Philippines:

In hundreds of hours of speeches during his nearly two years in office, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has rarely talked about the economy, something he says is best left to the "clever guys" in his cabinet. — Channel News Asia

Thailand:

Thailand is a new dumping ground for scrap electronics from around the world, said police and environmentalists, the latest country to feel the impact of China's crackdown on imports of high-tech trash. — Reuters

Editor: Morley J Weston


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