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Top Asian News 3:14 a.m. GMT

September 22, 2021 GMT

China, US unveil separate big steps to fight climate change

The two biggest economies and largest carbon polluters in the world announced separate financial attacks on climate change Tuesday. Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country will no longer fund coal-fired power plants abroad, surprising the world on climate for the second straight year at the U.N. General Assembly. That came hours after U.S. President Joe Biden announced a plan to double financial aid to poorer nations to $11.4 billion by 2024 so those countries could switch to cleaner energy and cope with global warming’s worsening impacts. That puts rich nations close to within reach of its long-promised but not realized goal of $100 billion a year in climate help for developing nations.

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‘The world must wake up’: Tasks daunting as UN meeting opens

NEW YORK (AP) — In person and on screen, world leaders returned to the United Nations’ foremost gathering for the first time in the pandemic era on Tuesday with a formidable, diplomacy-packed agenda and a sharply worded warning from the international organization’s leader: “We face the greatest cascade of crises in our lifetime.” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres rang the alarm in his annual state-of-the-world speech at the opening of the U.N. General Assembly’s high-level meeting for leaders of its 193 member nations. More than 100 heads of state and government kept away by COVID-19 are returning to the U.N. in person for the first time in two years.

China’s Xi, like Biden hours earlier, turns to calm language

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NEW YORK (AP) — Choosing calm language as tensions with the United States grow, Chinese leader Xi Jinping reiterated his nation’s longtime policy of multilateralism on Tuesday, telling world leaders at the United Nations that disputes among countries “need to be handled through dialogue and cooperation.” His remarks came hours after U.S. President Joe Biden said he didn’t have any intention of starting a “new Cold War” — itself a response to criticism from the U.N. chief this weekend that both Washington and Beijing need to make sure their differences and tensions don’t derail their 42-year-old relationship and cause problems for the rest of the planet.

NATO leader: Allies need to stand together amid sub flap

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — With some powerful NATO allies at odds over a submarine sale, the alliance’s leader suggested Tuesday that members need to focus on “the big picture” and not let the dispute between France and the U.S. and Britain open an ongoing rift. During an interview on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also was cool to the notion of developing a separate European military force and said NATO needs to give careful consideration to any future deployments to fight terrorism after the 20-year war in Afghanistan. A U.S. and British deal to supply nuclear-powered subs to Australia — which had been set to buy diesel-powered ones from a French company instead — has France crying foul, with support from European Union diplomats.

5.9 earthquake causes some damage in Australia, no injuries

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A magnitude 5.9 earthquake caused some damage in suburban Melbourne on Wednesday in an unusually powerful temblor for Australia. The quake hit about 130 kilometers (80 miles) northeast of Australia’s second-most populous city near the town of Mansfield at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles), Geoscience Australia said. Victoria state Deputy Premier James Merlino cited some damage reports, including a hospital that lost power. Media showed images of fallen bricks from a building in Melbourne’s inner suburb of South Yarra. Seismology Research Centre Chief Scientist Adam Pascale said it was the largest onshore quake in Victoria’s recorded history.

Manila mayor, ex-scavenger and actor, to seek presidency

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The popular mayor of the Philippine capital said Wednesday he will run for president in next year’s elections, the latest aspirant in what is expected to be a crowded race to succeed controversial leader Rodrigo Duterte. Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, a child scavenger before becoming an actor then entering politics, told The Associated Press that he would fight still-raging coronavirus outbreaks and long-entrenched poverty and promote democracy if he triumphs in the May 9 elections. While the 46-year-old mayor is expected to bank on his rags-to-power life story, movie star looks and widely praised projects in Manila, including cleaning up its filthy main roads and restoring order in its chaotic streets and public markets, Moreno will be up against formidable national politicians and celebrities.

AP PHOTOS: Behind barricades, Vietnam battles ‘enemy’ virus

VUNG TAU, Vietnam (AP) — The roadblocks and barricades make the streets of this southern Vietnamese city look like they did during the war that ended almost 50 years ago. But this time, the battle is being fought against the rampaging coronavirus. In Vung Tau, just outside Ho Chi Minh city, streets are sealed and checkpoints are set up to control the movement of people. Barbed wire, door panels, steel sheets, chairs and tables are among materials being used to fence up alleys and isolate neighborhoods. A coastal city with half a million people, Vung Tau was untouched by COVID-19 for most of the pandemic.

Taliban name deputy ministers, double down on all-male team

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban expanded their interim Cabinet by naming more ministers and deputies on Tuesday, but failed to appoint any women, doubling down on a hard-line course despite the international outcry that followed their initial presentation of an all-male government lineup earlier this month. The international community has said that it will judge the Taliban by their actions, and that recognition of a Taliban-led government would be linked to the treatment of women and minorities. In their previous rule of Afghanistan in the late 1990s, the Taliban, who adhere to a harsh interpretation of Islam, had barred girls and women from schools, work and public life.

After Afghans fell from plane, families live with horror

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — It’s a scene that has come to symbolize the chaotic end to America’s 20 years of war in Afghanistan: A lumbering U.S. Air Force cargo plane takes off from Kabul airport, chased by hundreds of desperate Afghan men scrambling to get on the aircraft. As the C-17 transporter gains altitude, shaky mobile phone video captures two tiny dots dropping from the plane. Footage from another angle shows many in the crowd on the tarmac stopping in their tracks and pointing. The full extent of the horror becomes apparent only later. The dots, it turns out, were desperate Afghans hidden in the wheel well.

Afghanistan girls soccer team given asylum in Portugal

The girls on Afghanistan’s national soccer team were anxious. For weeks, they had been moving around the country, waiting for word that they could leave. One wants to be a doctor, another a movie producer, others engineers. All dream of growing up to be professional soccer players. The message finally came early Sunday: A charter flight would carry the girls and their families from Afghanistan — to where they didn’t know. The buses that would take them to the airport were already on their way. “They left their homes and left everything behind,” Farkhunda Muhtaj, the captain of the Afghanistan women’s national team who from her home in Canada had spent the last few weeks communicating with the girls and working to help arrange their rescue, told The Associated Press.