Top Asian News 4:43 a.m. GMT
BEIJING (AP) — A top Chinese diplomat said Friday that U.S. policy toward China is “too negative” and that cooperation could be critically important as the Biden administration focuses on combatting COVID-19 and promoting economic recovery. The U.S. appears to be highlighting confrontation and playing down cooperation, Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press. “Such an approach, I must say, is too negative,” he said, adding that it lacks “a forward-looking spirit.” China could be a partner as Biden tackles the coronavirus and the economy, he said. “To me it is hard to imagine the two priorities can be resolved without a cooperative and healthy China-U.S.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga showcased the alliance between their two countries as well as their shared resolve in dealing with China as they met at the White House on Friday in Biden’s first face-to-face talks with a foreign leader as president. Suga and Biden, who wore masks for their meeting in a visit modified by precautions against the coronavirus, were seeking to challenge messaging from Chinese President Xi Jinping that America and democracies in general are on the decline following the political turmoil and international withdrawal that marked Donald Trump’s presidency. At a press conference in the Rose Garden after their meeting, Biden stressed U.S.
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar’s junta on Saturday announced it pardoned and released more than 23,000 prisoners to mark the new year holiday, but it wasn’t immediately clear if they included pro-democracy activists who were detained in the wake of the February coup. The release was announced on state broadcaster MRTV, which said that the military leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing pardoned the 23,047 prisoners, including 137 foreigners who will be deported from Myanmar. He also reduced sentences for others. Early prisoner releases are customary during major holidays, but this is the second time the ruling junta has done so since it overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, triggering daily protests, arrests and deaths by security forces.
HONG KONG (AP) — A Hong Kong court on Friday sentenced five leading pro-democracy advocates, including media tycoon Jimmy Lai, to up to 18 months in prison for organizing and participating in a massive march during 2019 anti-government protests that triggered an overwhelming crackdown from Beijing. A total of nine advocates were given jail terms, but four of them, including 82-year-old lawyer and former lawmaker Martin Lee, had their sentences suspended after their age and accomplishments were taken into consideration. They were found guilty earlier this month of organizing and participating in a massive protest in August 2019, where an estimated 1.7 million people marched in opposition to a bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to mainland China.
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Opponents of Myanmar’s ruling junta went on the political offensive Friday, declaring they have formed an interim national unity government with members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s ousted cabinet and major ethnic minority groups. The move comes on the eve of a diplomatic initiative to solve Myanmar’s crisis by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is expected to hold a summit next week. A violent crackdown by the junta has failed to stem opposition to the coup, and as the army has spread the fight to ethnic minorities in border areas, some ASEAN members believe the crisis threatens regional stability.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine troops killed a suspected Egyptian would-be suicide bomber and two local Abu Sayyaf militants in what military officials said Saturday was a setback that would make it harder for gunmen linked to the Islamic State group to stage suicide attacks. Army troops gunned down the three militants in a 10-minute firefight Friday night near a hinterland village off mountainous Patikul town in southern Sulu province. They also recovered three assault rifles and bandoliers of ammunition, army brigade commander Col. Benjamin Batara Jr. said. Military officials did not indicate how the three were tracked down but military chief Gen.
MUMBAI, India (AP) — Migrant workers are piling into rail stations in India’s financial capital Mumbai to head back to their home villages now that virus-control measures have dried up work in the hard-hit region. “What do I do now?” asked Ramzan Ali, who’d been earning up to 500 rupees ($7) per day as a laborer but has been out of work for two weeks. He arrived at Kurla railroad station on Friday morning and joined a long line to buy a ticket to board a train for Balrampur, his village in northern Uttar Pradesh state. Ali, 47, hopes to find some work in the village to feed his wife and four children.
NEW DELHI (AP) — The chief executive of Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest maker of vaccines and a critical supplier of the U.N.-backed COVAX facility, asked President Joe Biden on Twitter to lift the U.S. embargo on exporting raw materials needed to make the jabs. Vaccine makers and experts in India have been concerned that the use of the Defense Production Act by the U.S. to boost it own vaccine production was resulting in exports of critical raw materials being stopped. This was hobbling vaccine production in other parts of the world. Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer for Moderna, said Tuesday in an online event that export embargoes were also preventing American vaccine makers from exporting shots globally and resulting in shortages.
SEATTLE (AP) — A lawsuit filed in Seattle against Boeing alleges that a malfunctioning autothrottle system on an older 737 jet led to the crash of the Sriwijaya Air plane into the Java Sea in Indonesia last January, killing all 62 people on board. The Seattle Times reported that the lawsuit, filed Thursday in King County Superior Court on behalf of 16 families of crash victims, cited previous incidents involving malfunctions of the 737 autothrottle system, arguing the history suggests the system should have been redesigned. Boeing in a statement extended sympathy to the families and loved ones of people who died in the Jan.
BEIJING (AP) — China said Friday it has expressed “serious concerns” to the United States and Japan over what it calls negative moves and collusion between the two countries against China. The statement from Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian came just before President Joe Biden welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to the White House on Friday in his first face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader. That meeting is seen as reflecting Biden’s emphasis on strengthening alliances to deal with a more assertive China and other global challenges. Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing that Japan and the United States should “take China’s concerns and demands seriously, avoid words and actions that interfere in China’s internal affairs and harm China’s interests.” “China has no objection to the development of normal bilateral relations between Japan and the United States, but such relations should help enhance mutual understanding and trust among regional countries and contribute to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, and should not target or harm the interests of third parties,” Zhao said.