Top Asian News 5:01 a.m. GMT
It was the same every night. A list of names was posted on the Rev. Richard Daschbach’s bedroom door. The child at the top of the roster knew it was her turn to share the lower bunk with the elderly priest and another elementary school-aged girl. Daschbach was idolized in the remote enclave of East Timor where he lived, largely for his role in helping save lives during the tiny nation’s bloody struggle for independence. So, the girls never spoke about the abuse they suffered. They said they were afraid they would be banished from the shelter the 84-year-old from Pennsylvania established decades ago for abused women, orphans, and other destitute children.
NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s prime minister received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as the country hit another peak Thursday with 126,789 new cases reported in the past 24 hours. “Vaccination is among the few ways we have, to defeat the virus. If you are eligible for the vaccine, get your shot soon,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted. He received his first vaccine shot on March 1. India started its vaccination drive in January. So far, more than 90 million health workers and Indians older than 45 have received at least one shot. Only 11 million of them have received both doses as India tries to build immunity to protect its nearly 1.4 billion people.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The American military is warning that China is probably accelerating its timetable for capturing control of Taiwan, the island democracy that has been the chief source of tension between Washington and Beijing for decades and is widely seen as the most likely trigger for a potentially catastrophic U.S.-China war. The worry about Taiwan comes as China wields new strength from years of military buildup. It has become more aggressive with Taiwan and more assertive in sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea. Beijing also has become more confrontational with Washington; senior Chinese officials traded sharp and unusually public barbs with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in talks in Alaska last month.
BEIJING (AP) — China on Thursday protested the passage of a U.S. destroyer through the Taiwan Strait in the latest move as both nations increase their naval activity in the region. China tracked and monitored the USS John S. McCain throughout its passage on Wednesday, Zhang Chunhui, spokesperson for the Chinese military’s eastern theater command, said in a statement. The U.S. move sent the “wrong signal” to Taiwan’s government and “willfully disrupted the regional situation by endangering peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” he said. China firmly opposed the move and Chinese forces will respond with “strict precautions and vigilance,” he added.
BEIJING (AP) — China’s government warned Washington on Wednesday not to boycott next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing after the Biden administration said it was talking with allies about a joint approach to complaints of human rights abuses. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson rejected accusations of abuses against ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. He warned of an unspecified “robust Chinese response” to a potential Olympics boycott. “The politicization of sports will damage the spirit of the Olympic Charter and the interests of athletes from all countries,” said the spokesperson, Zhao Lijian. “The international community including the U.S. Olympic Committee will not accept it.” Human rights groups are protesting China’s hosting of the games, due to start in February 2022.
NEW DELHI (AP) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi told U.S. climate envoy John Kerry that India was committed to meeting its climate change pledges, and Kerry said the U.S. would support those goals with affordable access to green technologies and financing. India’s External Affairs Ministry disclosed their comments after the two met Wednesday in New Delhi. Kerry is visiting the United Arab Emirates, India and Bangladesh before President Joe Biden holds a virtual summit on climate change on April 22-23. Modi said cooperation between India and the U.S., particularly on financing innovation and faster deployment of green technologies, would have a positive impact on other countries, according to the statement.
MOSCOW (AP) — They’re not leaders for life — not technically, at least. But in political reality, the powerful tenures of China’s Xi Jinping and, as of this week, Russia’s Vladimir Putin are looking as if they will extend much deeper into the 21st century — even as the two superpowers whose destinies they steer gather more clout with each passing year. What’s more, as they consolidate political control at home, sometimes with harsh measures, they’re working together more substantively than ever in a growing challenge to the West and the world’s other superpower, the United States, which elects its leader every four years.
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Security forces on Wednesday stormed a town in northwestern Myanmar where some residents had used homemade hunting rifles to resist the military’s February seizure of power, killing at least 11 civilians and injuring many others, local news reports said. If the 11 deaths are confirmed, it would be one of the highest single-day death tolls outside the country’s two largest cities, Yangon and Mandalay. The online news site Khonumthung Burmese said the attack on Kalay began before dawn. Videos on the site included what appeared to be sounds of rifle fire, high-caliber weapons and grenade explosions. Posts on social media said rocket-propelled grenades were used in the attack, but provided no evidence.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani rights groups are criticizing Prime Minister Imran Khan after he claimed in an online show that wearing the veil — the traditional Islamic head covering — will protect women from sexual assault and not lead men into temptation. The Pakistani leader made the comments on Sunday in a live tele-chat dubbed “Prime Minister On Call With You” streamed by state-owned Pakistan Television in which he answers questions from the public. A cricket star who had a reputation of a womanizer before he turned to politics and became devoutly religious, Khan said women who wear the veil would not tempt men into attacks — remarks that women’s rights activists say excuse rapists and put the blame on women.
BANGKOK (AP) — A Buddhist monk who was trapped by floodwaters inside a cave in northern Thailand for four days has been rescued by divers, a provincial official said Wednesday. The 46-year-old monk, Phra Manas, entered Tham Phra Sai Ngam cave in Phitsanulok province on Saturday to meditate, said Therayuth Chandithawong, chief of the provincial Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation. Many caves in Thailand have shrines in spots considered holy. While the monk was inside, heavy rain from a summer thunderstorm raised water levels inside the cave significantly, blocking the entrance and stranding the monk on high ground inside, Therayuth said.