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Top Asian News 4:58 a.m. GMT

November 23, 2021 GMT

Ex-South Korean strongman Chun Doo-hwan dies at age 90

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Former South Korean military strongman Chun Doo-hwan, who took power in a 1979 coup and brutally crushed pro-democracy protests before going to prison for misdeeds in office, died on Tuesday. He was 90. Emergency officials said Chun died at his home. Police earlier said Chun suffered a cardiac arrest and emergency officials rushed to his Seoul residence. Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters were killed and tens of thousands were imprisoned during Chun’s presidency in the 1980s, but he allowed some liberalization after years of authoritarian rule. Under public pressure, he allowed the first direct and free election in the nation’s history.

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Hong Kong to allow residents of mainland to vote in election

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong authorities will set up polling stations at the border with mainland China to allow Hong Kongers living there to vote during upcoming legislative elections, the city’s leader said Tuesday. During the Dec. 19 legislative elections, registered Hong Kong permanent residents living in the mainland will be able to cross the border into the city to vote at the special polling stations, Carrie Lam said. After voting, they must return immediately and will not need to undergo coronavirus quarantines in mainland China, Lam said at a regular news conference. “Currently, there are still people stranded on the mainland, they can’t come back to work or study, and they won’t be able to come back to Hong Kong to vote (without these measures),” she said.

At least 4 killed in southern China dormitory collapse

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BEIJING (AP) — At least four people have died in the collapse of a workers’ dormitory in the southern Chinese province of Jiangxi, state media report. The six-story building in the province’s Ganjiang New District tumbled down Monday evening, they said. The building housed workers who had originally worked at a local pharmaceutical plant and most of the residents were elderly, according to state broadcaster CCTV and other outlets. The building was constructed in 1995 mainly out of prefabricated slabs and was considered to be poor quality, they said. Photos and video showed rescue crews searching through a pile of rubble under floodlights.

Xi says China will not seek dominance over Southeast Asia

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday said his country will not seek dominance over Southeast Asia or bully its smaller neighbors, amid ongoing friction over the South China Sea. Xi made the remarks during a virtual conference with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, held to mark the 30th anniversary of relations between China and the grouping. Two diplomats said ASEAN member Myanmar was not represented at Monday’s meeting after its military-installed government refused to allow an ASEAN envoy to meet with ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other arrested politicians. Military ruler Gen.

IOC call with Chinese tennis star Peng raises more questions

A video call between the head of the International Olympic Committee and Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, whose nearly three-week disappearance from public view sparked an outcry, was meant to reassure the world that she was safe — but instead has raised more questions. Concern grew in the last week for the former No. 1-ranked doubles player — who hadn’t been seen since accusing a senior Chinese official of sexual assault on Nov. 2. Tennis stars and fans alike demanded to know #WhereIsPengShuai, and the head of the Women’s Tennis Association threatened to pull lucrative events from China. On Sunday, the IOC said Peng spoke to its president, Thomas Bach, and other officials in a 30-minute video call from Beijing.

Philippines redeploys boats to shoal after Chinese blockade

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine military defiantly redeployed two supply boats on Monday to provide food to Filipino marines guarding a disputed shoal in the South China Sea after the Chinese coast guard used water cannons to forcibly turn the boats away in an assault last week that drew angry condemnation and warnings from Manila. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the two civilian wooden-hulled boats carrying navy personnel left western Palawan province and should reach the marines stationed on a navy ship at Second Thomas Shoal after an overnight trip. Lorenzana said the boats aren’t being escorted by the navy or coast guard in accordance with a request by China’s ambassador to Manila, who, he said, assured him in talks over the weekend that the boats would not be blocked again.

China demands Lithuania mend rift over Taiwan relations

BEIJING (AP) — China on Monday demanded Lithuania end its newly enhanced relationship with Taiwan that has already prompted Beijing to downgrade diplomatic ties from the ambassadorial level with the EU-member nation. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Lithuania should “immediately put right its mistake” of allowing the self-governing island that China claims as its own territory to open a de-facto embassy in the Baltic nation under the name Taiwanese Representative Office. Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing that the EU member-state should not “underestimate the Chinese people’s strong resolve, will and capability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” China and Taiwan split amidst civil war in 1949 and Beijing threatens to use force to bring the island under its control.

Trial opens against accused elephant poachers in Indonesia

CALANG, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian court on Monday began a trial against a group of men accused of poaching endangered Sumatran elephants and trading in illegal ivory, in a case that wildlife conservation officials have hailed as a milestone. The case includes nine men accused of killing wild elephants by setting electrified wire traps on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and two others accused of buying ivory from the elephant killings. The charges follow on the discovery by Indonesian authorities of five elephant skeletons in a village of the Aceh Jaya district in January 2020. The Aceh province’s conservation agency estimated that the group of elephants had been dead for more than two months before being found.

IMF deal with Pakistan would revive $6 billion bailout

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The International Monetary Fund said Monday that weeks of talks with Pakistan have produced a preliminary agreement toward reviving a $6 billion economic bailout for the Islamic nation. Pakistan and IMF originally signed the accord in 2019, but the release of a key installment had been on the hold since earlier this year. That’s when the fund expressed reservations about a delay in Pakistan’s compliance with conditions of the bailout. The IMF statement Monday said that under latest proposal, IMF would disburse about $1 billion to Pakistan, bringing the total disbursement out of the $6 billion bailout to about $3 billion since 2019, according to the statement.

Interpol election raises rights concerns about fair policing

PARIS (AP) — Human rights groups and Western lawmakers are warning that Interpol’s powerful network of global police officers could end up under the sway of authoritarian governments, as the world police agency meets in Istanbul this week to elect new leadership. Representatives of countries like China and the United Arab Emirates are bidding for top posts in the France-based policing body when its general assembly convenes in Turkey on Tuesday. Interpol says it refuses to be used for political ends. Critics contend that if these candidates win, instead of hunting down drug smugglers, human traffickers, war crimes suspects and alleged extremists, their countries would use Interpol’s global reach to apprehend exiled dissidents and even political opponents at home.