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Top Asian News 3:47 a.m. GMT

November 1, 2021 GMT

Australians reunite as border reopens after 20-month ban

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Sydney’s international airport came alive with tears, embraces and laughter on Monday as Australia’s border opened for the first time in 20 months, with some arriving travelers tearing away mandatory masks to see faces of loved ones they’ve been separated from for so long. “Just being able to come home without having to go to quarantine is huge,” arriving passenger Carly Boyd told reporters at Sydney’s Kingsford-Smith Airport, where Peter Allen’s unofficial national anthem “I Still Call Australia Home” was playing. “There’s a lot of people on that flight who have loved ones who are about to die or have people who died this week so.

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Japan PM Kishida’s coalition keeps majority with fewer seats

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s coalition kept a comfortable majority in Sunday’s parliamentary election despite losing some seats as his weeks-old government grapples with a coronavirus-battered economy and regional security challenges. Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner Komeito together won 293 seats, according to final but not yet official results. That’s well above the majority of 233 in the 465-member lower house, the more powerful of Japan’s two-chamber Diet, where they previously had 305 seats. The LDP lost 15 seats from its pre-election share, but the 261 seats it won are “an absolute majority” — a level that allows the party and its ruling bloc to control all parliamentary committees and easily ram through legislation.

Blinken raised concerns about Taiwan with China

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ROME (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as part of the Group of 20 summit on Sunday — an outreach designed to ensure that the intensely competitive relationship between the world’s two largest economies doesn’t veer into open conflicts. Senior State Department officials described the conversations as candid, constructive and productive, saying that Blinken was clear about U.S. concerns during the roughly hourlong meeting. The officials insisted on anonymity to discuss the exchanges. One of the U.S. goals is to maintain an open line of communication with China and set a virtual meeting later this year between U.S.

Thais launch campaign for repeal of royal defamation law

BANGKOK (AP) — Pro-democracy activists in Thailand on Sunday announced a campaign to gather 1 million signatures to support the abolition of the law that makes defaming the monarchy a crime. About 3,000 people turned out in central Bangkok for a rally urging the end of the lese majeste law -- also known as Article 112 -- which makes even constructive criticism of the royal institution risky. They also called for dropping charges and releasing those arrested under the law. The law makes defaming, insulting, or threatening the king, queen, heir apparent, heir presumptive, or regent punishable by three to 15 years in prison.

China’s economy slows as Beijing wrestles with debt

BEIJING (AP) — China’s economic rebound from the coronavirus pandemic is stalling as President Xi Jinping’s government cracks down on surging corporate debt. For a decade, the ruling Communist Party has talked about shifting to economy based on spending by 1.4 billion consumers instead of on building factories and apartments. But with each slowdown, Beijing fell back on pepping up growth with more construction and borrowing. Finally, Xi’s government is confronting the problem by clamping down on borrowing by a real estate industry that supports millions of jobs. That is sending shockwaves through the economy. Businesses and households are jittery as housing sales and construction slump.

Man with knife injures 17 people on Tokyo train, starts fire

TOKYO (AP) — A man dressed in a Joker costume and brandishing a knife stabbed at least one passenger on a Tokyo commuter train before starting a fire, injuring passengers and sending people scrambling to escape and jumping from windows, police and witnesses said. The Tokyo Fire Department said 17 passengers were injured, including three seriously. Not all of them were stabbed and most of the other injuries were not serious, the fire department said. The attacker, whom police identified as 24-year-old Kyota Hattori, was arrested on the spot after Sunday’s attack and was being investigated on suspicion of attempted murder, the Tokyo metropolitan police department said Monday.

India, UK to launch global solar grid project at COP26

NEW DELHI (AP) — India and the U.K. will launch a project that aims to create a solar grid connecting countries in different parts of the world at the upcoming U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland. The project, known as the “Green Grids Initiative,” is being initiated by the International Solar Alliance, which was launched by India and France at the 2015 Paris climate conference to promote solar energy. The U.K. and India agreed to join forces in the initiative in May this year. Although solar energy is becoming cheaper than dirtier alternatives, countries cannot rely on it at night and must fall back on fossil fuels that produce earth-warming greenhouse gases.

Japan’s Kishida wins mandate, though economic agenda unclear

TOKYO (AP) — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says Japan should revitalize its economy through “new capitalism.” Many in this avidly capitalist country are puzzled over exactly what he has in mind. Kishida has said he believes a more equal distribution of wealth is needed to prevent the world’s third largest economy from sinking into stagnation. That sounds dramatic, but analysts say he doesn’t stand for drastic change. The conservative, pro-U.S. and pro-business Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled Japan almost continuously since World War II, won a better-than-expected 261 seats Sunday in the lower house of Parliament, comfortably exceeding the 233 seats needed and giving Kishida a mandate, at least for now.

Pakistan, Islamists reach agreement to end violent rally

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s government and an outlawed radical Islamist party Sunday reached an agreement to end a 10-day long — and at times deadly violent — rally calling for the closure of France’s embassy and the release of the party’s leader. Neither Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi nor religious leader Mufti Muneebur Rehman, who took part in the talks, gave any details of the agreement at a news conference in the capital Islamabad. Thousands of supporters of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan party marched from Lahore on Oct. 22 toward the capital Islamabad. They demanded the expulsion of France’s envoy to Pakistan over publication of caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in France.

Army shelling in Myanmar blamed for setting 160 homes ablaze

BANGKOK (AP) — More than 160 buildings in a town in northwestern Myanmar, including at least two churches, have been destroyed by fires caused by shelling by government troops, local media and activists reported Saturday. The destruction of parts of the town of Thantlang in Chin state appeared to be another escalation in the ongoing struggle between Myanmar’s military-installed government and forces opposed to it. The army seized power in February from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, but has failed to quell the widespread resistance. A government spokesman denied “nonsense allegations being reported in the country-destroying media,” and blamed insurgents for instigating the fighting and setting the fires.