Asia Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:18:30 +0000 en-gb Human rights issue US tool to meddle in China affairs: Official China has sharply slammed the US-led criticism of its human rights record at the United Nations, saying Washington is using the issue of human rights as a pretext to meddle in Beijing’s internal affairs.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Long Lei was reacting on Friday to a recent joint statement at the UN Human Rights Council by the US and 11 other countries, criticizing China’s human rights record.

The statement also called on Beijing to release all detained activists and lawyers.

Lei further rejected the claims in the statement and said the Chinese constitution and institutions protect legal rights of suspects.

“China is a country ruled by law, the legal institutions handle cases in accordance with the law and guarantee the legal rights of suspects in accordance with the law, the US and other countries are using human rights as an excuse to interfere with related events in China, it’s an interference with China’s sovereignty and legal sovereignty,” he said.

Chinese UN diplomat Fu Cong had already lashed out at the US, in particular, and blamed it for crimes including “rape and murder” of civilians.

“The United States conducts large-scale extra-territorial eavesdropping, uses drones to attack other countries’ innocent civilians, its troops on foreign soil commit rape and murder of local people,” Chinese diplomat told the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday.

Fu said UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein should refrain from making subjective comments that are not backed up by real facts.


Asia Fri, 11 Mar 2016 14:27:17 +0000
Japan marks disastrous tsunami five years on Japan has marked the fifth year since a tsunami caused by an earthquake killed thousands of people and caused the world’s worst nuclear disaster in nearly three decades.

According to the report, bells rang out in the capital, Tokyo, at the exact moment the quake hit the country, with people bowing their heads in silence around the nation.

All the trains on Tokyo’s underground also paused at the aforementioned time.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Emperor Akihito attended a memorial ceremony in the capital.

Abe said “these five years must have been days of hardship and pain” for all those affected by the disaster. He vowed to “secure an ample budget to launch support measures to help disaster-hit areas stand on their feet again.”

Protesters denouncing the use of nuclear energy also attended the memorial.

The nine-magnitude earthquake hit Japan’s northeast on March 11, 2011, creating a vast water surge. The tsunami sent huge waves along a vast swathe of coastline. Some 18,000 were killed or went missing.

The tsunami also crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The cooling systems of the plant’s reactors were knocked out, leading to meltdowns and the release of radioactive radiation into the air, soil and sea.

The incident, considered the world’s worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, also led to the evacuation of 160,000 people from areas near the power plant.


Asia Fri, 11 Mar 2016 14:24:45 +0000
FM: Iran ready to host Asian tourism ministers Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran is all set to host the first meeting of the tourism minsters of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) in September 2016.

Addressing the 4th ACD Summit of Ministers in Bangkok on Thursday, Zarif said high priority for Iran is multilateral cooperation in the region, adding that regional cooperation among the states and within the framework of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) could help render greater regional solidarity, dialogue, and development.

“I would like to propose a barter union with Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka on board,” the Iranian foreign minister said, adding that this could help transform the Asian continent into an Asian community.

He noted that a regional cooperation center in Iran has been set up to help promote trade and financial market within Asia and increase the bargaining power of the Asian countries in lieu of competition and, in turn, enhance Asia's economic competitiveness in the global market.

The Asia Cooperation Dialogue is an intergovernmental organization created on 18 June 2002 to promote Asian cooperation at a continental level and to help integrate separate regional organizations such as ASEAN, ECO, and SAARC.

Earlier this week, Zarif began his official visit to six Southeastern Asian and Pacific countries.


Asia Thu, 10 Mar 2016 14:27:38 +0000
China warns Japan over territorial dispute Beijing has accused Tokyo of interfering in disputes over the South China Sea after the Philippines said it would lease five planes from Japan to help patrol the contested waters.

On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Beijing was “resolutely opposed” to challenges to its sovereignty and security and would “remain on high alert.”

China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea, which is also claimed in part by Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

"We urge the Japanese side to mind its words and actions and refrain from undermining the peace and stability of the region," Lei said.

Last week, defense ministers from the Philippines and Japan signed a defense equipment and technology agreement, formalizing an arrangement already approved in principle in November 2015.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino confirmed that the Southeast Asian state would lease “from Japan five TC-90 training aircraft to assist our navy in patrolling” what the Philippines views as its territory.

Aquino did not say when the Japanese aircraft would arrive.

The US and South Korea, both allies of the Philippines, have already offered help to bolster the Philippines' air capabilities.


Asia Thu, 10 Mar 2016 12:40:31 +0000
Party nominates Suu Kyi’s ex-driver for Myanmar president The party of Myanmar’s democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has nominated her former driver and close friend for president.

Myanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD) announced 69-year-old Htin Kyaw as the party’s nominee for the post on Thursday.

Under Myanmar’s constitution, Suu Kyi herself is banned from holding the executive office because her children are foreign nationals and not Myanmarese citizens.

For the past several weeks, Suu Kyi is believed to have held closed door talks with the powerful military generals to suspend a constitutional clause that bars her from presidency.

The Thursday announcement signals the end, at least for now, of Suu Kyi's longtime ambition to be Myanmar's leader but many analysts say Kyaw will act as her proxy.


Asia Thu, 10 Mar 2016 12:11:43 +0000
Pyongyang fires missiles amid Seoul-Washington war games North Korea has fired short-range ballistic missiles into the sea in response to the ongoing war games between the United States and South Korea.

According to Press TV, the ballistic missiles, fired from North Hwanghae Province on Thursday, flew about 500 kilometers (310 miles) and fell into the water off the country’s east coast, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry.

Ministry Spokesman Moon Sang Gyun said the missiles are believed to be Scud-type missiles.

South Korea and the US started large-scale military drills Monday with about 17,000 American troops and more than 300,000 South Koreans taking part in the two sets of war games which are to continue until the end of April.

Pyongyang said the exercises are “undisguised nuclear war drills,” which threaten the North’s national sovereignty.

It warned of “indiscriminate” nuclear attacks against the US and South Korea in response to “even the slightest military action.”

The Korean Peninsula has been locked in a cycle of military tensions since the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in an armistice. No peace deal has been signed, meaning the two Koreas remain technically at war.


Asia Thu, 10 Mar 2016 08:29:56 +0000
Taliban attack in South Afghanistan kills 8 At least eight people have been killed in Afghanistan in a string of coordinated attacks by the Taliban terrorist group against government offices in the country’s southern province of Helmand.

Abdul Jabar Qahraman, a senior provincial security official, said 10 men armed with assault rifles and wearing in explosive-laden jackets arrived on board vehicles in the town of Gereshk, 600 km southwest of the capital, Kabul, at around 6:00 a.m. local time (0130 GMT) on Wednesday.

He added that the militants seized a building and fired on the district governor’s office, a police station and the nearby educational department, before security forces pushed them back.

Those killed in the exchange of gunfire between Taliban terrorists and Afghan security personnel included seven attackers and one policeman, Qahraman said.

He didn't say whether any explosions took place as well.

The top security official went on to say that three security force members were also wounded during the clashes.


Asia Wed, 09 Mar 2016 13:30:47 +0000
Japan court orders two nuclear reactors to close A court in Japan has ordered two nuclear reactors in the country’s west to shut down, siding with local residents concerned about safety issues.

According to the reports, the Otsu District Court issued the order on Wednesday, two days before the fifth anniversary of the country’s Fukushima disaster, Japan’s national broadcaster, NHK, said.

The closed nuclear reactors are Kansai Electric's No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at Takahama plant on the coast of Fukui prefecture.

The court sided with residents who filed a lawsuit against the operation of the two reactors over safety reasons.

The No.4 reactor halted its operations last month due to technical problems days after restarted, but No.3 is now operating.

It is the first ruling that requires the closure of reactors that were restarted under beefed-up safety standards adopted by Japan’s nuclear regulator after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.


Asia Wed, 09 Mar 2016 12:46:55 +0000
N Korea claims successful miniaturization of nuclear warheads North Korea says it has successfully miniaturized nuclear warheads so they can be fit on ballistic missiles.

"The nuclear warheads have been standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles by miniaturizing them," the KCNA official news agency quoted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as saying on Wednesday.

“This can be called a true nuclear deterrent," he added.

Kim made the claim while supposedly inspecting a series of warheads designed for thermo-nuclear reaction - the process used in a hydrogen bomb which the North claims to have recently successfully tested.

The remarks were Kim’s first direct reference to claims made repeatedly on Korean state media concerning miniaturizing nuclear warheads, a process that has been met with skepticism from the US and South Korea.


Asia Wed, 09 Mar 2016 09:04:41 +0000
China to start inspecting North Korean ships China will start inspecting the North Korean ships that dock at its ports for banned cargo as part of new international sanctions against Pyongyang.

The move, which Beijing would start taking against the vessels as of Thursday, corresponds to its commitments under a raft of sanctions adopted against Pyongyang at the United Nations Security Council earlier in the month, Japanese paper Sankei Shimbun reported on Wednesday.

The sanctions, which were cleared by the Council on March 2, impose trade restrictions on North Korea, require UN member states to inspect all cargoes to and from North Korea, and bar vessels suspected of carrying illegal goods to the country from leaving ports.

Accordingly, North Korean general cargo ship Grand Karo was also barred recently from berthing at the Rizhao port in northeastern China, according to Reuters. The ship is among the 31 vessels blacklisted by China’s Ministry of Transport in line with the sanctions regime

Authorities in China are also more watchful of the remittances the country makes to North Korea as all existing branches of North Korean banks in UN member states are to be closed within 90 days of the imposition of the sanctions.


Asia Wed, 09 Mar 2016 09:00:27 +0000