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Top Asian News 4:01 a.m. GMT

March 22, 2021 GMT

2nd Canadian goes on trial in China on spying charges

BEIJING (AP) — A second Canadian citizen held for more than two years on spying charges in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of a senior executive of the telecoms giant Huawei went on trial in Beijing on Monday. The trial Monday of analyst and former diplomat Michael Kovrig in Beijing follows an initial hearing in the case of entrepreneur Michael Spavor in the northeastern city of Dandong on Friday. Canadian diplomats have been refused access to trials and been told hearings would be held behind closed doors because of alleged national security concerns. Diplomats and journalists have showed up nonetheless to seek information and show support.

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Doctors protest in Myanmar as crackdown claims more lives

MANDALAY, Myanmar (AP) — Health care workers marched through Myanmar’s second-biggest city Sunday as part of a broad civil disobedience movement against last month’s coup. While their protest was left alone, security forces used violence elsewhere and shot dead at least one person. About 100 doctors, nurses, medical students and pharmacists, wearing long white coats, lined up on a main road in Mandalay to chant slogans and voice their opposition to the Feb. 1 coup that toppled the elected civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Mandalay has been a major center of opposition to the takeover, and later in the day engineers there held what has been dubbed a “no-human strike,” an increasingly popular tactic that involves lining up signboards in streets or other public areas as proxies for human protesters.

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In Myanmar’s hinterland, army uproots ethnic Karen villagers

BANGKOK (AP) — In the jungles of southeast Myanmar, the army was shooting and otherwise tyrannizing civilians long before last month’s military coup. This largely unseen oppression continues even now. In the country’s remote southeast, an army offensive has driven as many as 8,000 ethnic Karen people to flee their homes in what aid groups say is the worst upheaval there for nearly 10 years. They’re now living in the jungle, with fears growing for their health and security, and no prospect of an early return. This crisis in the borderlands has been overshadowed by the deadly crackdown on the mass movement protesting the military’s takeover of power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Taiwan kicks off vaccination drive with AstraZeneca shot

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Health care workers received the first shots in Taiwan’s COVID-19 vaccination drive Monday, beginning a campaign that won’t use supplies from China amid uneven distribution of the vaccines globally. Taiwan has on hand 117,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which it is distributing to healthcare workers across 57 hospitals. Taiwanese premier Su Tseng-chang launched the drive by receiving the first shot at National Taiwan University Hospital in the capital Taipei. “After 30 minutes of rest, there’s no signs of any discomfort,” he said. The rest period is for monitoring recipients for any adverse reactions. Last week, more than a dozen nations suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a few dozen people among the millions who’ve received the vaccine developed blood clots.

In Kabul, Pentagon chief speaks of ‘responsible end’ to war

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, on his first visit to Afghanistan as Pentagon chief, said Sunday that the Biden administration wants to see “a responsible end” to America’s longest war, but the level of violence must decrease for “fruitful” diplomacy to have a chance. With questions swirling about how long U.S. troops will remain in the country, Austin said that “in terms of an end date or setting a specific date for withdrawal, that’s the domain of my boss.” He said his stop in Kabul, the capital, where he met with military commanders and senior Afghan government officials, including President Ashraf Ghani, was intended to let him “listen and learn” and “inform my participation” in reviewing the future of the American force.

Slain spa workers and customers mourned by families

ATLANTA (AP) — Mothers, grandmothers and a brother. They loved to cook, dance, sing and travel. They worked long hours, sometimes in settings their children little understood. These are the eight people killed by gunfire at three Atlanta-area massage businesses. Seven of the slain were women, and six of them were of Asian descent. Police charged a 21-year-old white man with the killings, saying he was solely responsible for the deadliest U.S. mass shooting since 2019. In the days since the shooting, fuller pictures of almost all the victims have emerged. The exception is 44-year-old Daoyou Feng, an employee at Youngs Asian Massage near Woodstock about whom little is known.

Supply bottlenecks leave ships stranded, businesses stymied

NEW YORK (AP) — A trade bottleneck born of the COVID-19 outbreak has U.S. businesses anxiously awaiting goods from Asia — while off the coast of California, dozens of container ships sit anchored, unable to unload their cargo. The pandemic has wreaked havoc with the supply chain since early 2020, when it forced the closure of factories throughout China. The seeds of the current problems were sown last March, when Americans stayed home and dramatically changed their buying habits — instead of clothes, they bought electronics, fitness equipment and home improvement products. U.S. companies responded by flooding reopened Asian factories with orders, leading to a chain reaction of congestion and snags at ports and freight hubs across the country as the goods began arriving.

North Korean man extradited to US in sanctions case

WASHINGTON (AP) — A North Korean citizen was taken into U.S. custody on Saturday after being extradited from Malaysia to face money laundering charges, making him the first North Korean extradited to the U.S. to face trial. Mun Chol Myong was in the custody of the FBI in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. His extradition came after a Malaysian court rejected his assertion that the charges were politically motivated. The Justice Department declined comment on Sunday. A federal judge in Washington had issued a warrant for Mun’s arrest on May 2, 2019 on money laundering and conspiracy charges.

N. Korean diplomats leaving Malaysia after ties are severed

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — North Korean diplomats vacated their embassy in Malaysia and were expelled Sunday, after the two nations cut diplomatic relations in a spat over the extradition of a North Korean criminal suspect to the United States. The North Korean flag and embassy signage were removed from the premise in a Kuala Lumpur suburb. Two buses ferried the diplomats and their families to the airport, where they were seen checking in for a flight to Shanghai. Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the expulsion was in response to Pyongyang’s “unilateral and utterly irresponsible decision” on Friday to sever diplomatic ties.

China urges unhurried public to get vaccinated against COVID

BEIJING (AP) — In China, the problem doesn’t seem to be a shortage of vaccine. Rather, with the COVID-19 outbreak largely under control at home, not enough people want to get the shot. Chinese health officials appealed to the public Sunday to get inoculated. They also said that with vaccination not a guarantee against infection they would still require anyone arriving in China to quarantine for 14 days, even if they have received a vaccine. “China will continue the current prevention control measures to prevent imported cases and rebound of domestic cases,” Feng Zijian, the deputy director general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news conference.