Top Asian News 3:58 a.m. GMT
BEIJING (AP) — For China’s Communist Party, celebrating its 100th birthday on Thursday is not just about glorifying its past. It’s also about cementing its future and that of its leader, Chinese President Xi Jinping. In the build-up to the July 1 anniversary, Xi and the party have exhorted its members and the nation to remember the early days of struggle in the hills of the inland city of Yan’an, where Mao Zedong established himself as party leader in the 1930s. Dug into earthen cliffs, the primitive homes where Mao and his followers lived are now tourist sites for the party faithful and schoolteachers encouraged to spread the word.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un berated top officials for failures in coronavirus prevention that caused a “great crisis,” using strong language that raised the specter of a mass outbreak in a country that would be scarcely able to handle it. The state media report Wednesday did not specify what “crucial” lapse had prompted Kim to call the Politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party, but experts said the North could be wrestling with a significant setback in its pandemic fight. So far, North Korea has claimed to have had no coronavirus infections, despite testing thousands of people and sharing a porous border with China.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.S.’s top general in Afghanistan on Tuesday gave a sobering assessment of the country’s deteriorating security situation as America winds down its so-called “forever war.” Gen. Austin S. Miller said the rapid loss of districts around the country to the Taliban — several with significant strategic value — is worrisome. He also cautioned that the militias deployed to help the beleaguered national security forces could lead the country into civil war. “A civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized if this continues on the trajectory it’s on right now, that should be of concern to the world,” he said.
BAGRAM, Afghanistan (AP) — For nearly 20 years, Bagram Airfield was the heart of American military power in Afghanistan, a sprawling mini-city behind fences and blast walls just an hour’s drive north of Kabul. Initially, it was a symbol of the U.S. drive to avenge the 9/11 attacks, then of its struggle for a way through the ensuing war with the Taliban. In just a matter of days, the last U.S. soldiers will depart Bagram. They are leaving what probably everyone connected to the base, whether American or Afghan, considers a mixed legacy. “Bagram grew into such a massive military installation that, as with few other bases in Afghanistan and even Iraq, it came to symbolize and epitomize the phrase ‘mission creep’,” said Andrew Watkins, Afghanistan senior analyst for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.
DENPASAR, Indonesia (AP) — Rescuers on Wednesday were searching for 11 people missing in rough seas overnight after a ferry sank near Indonesia’s resort island of Bali. Seven bodies have been recovered and 39 people were rescued, many of them unconscious after drifting in choppy waters for hours. The KMP Yunice sank about half an hour after leaving East Java’s Ketapang port late Tuesday, Bali Search and Rescue Agency chief Gede Darmada said. It was bound for Bali’s Gilimanuk port, a 50-kilometer (30-mile) trip. It carried 41 passengers, 13 crew members and 3 canteen waiters, the National Search and Rescue Agency said Wednesday, revising earlier numbers.
SYDNEY (AP) — China’s government and its supporters have monitored, harassed and intimidated pro-democracy Chinese students living in Australia, and Australian universities have failed to protect the students’ academic freedoms, Human Rights Watch said in a report published Wednesday. The fear caused by the intimidation — which includes classmates reporting the students’ activities to Chinese officials — has intensified in recent years, according to the report. Terrified of reprisals against their families in China, many Chinese students and academics in Australia now censor their behavior, despite being thousands of kilometers (miles) from Beijing. “It was really heartbreaking how alone these students were and how vulnerable they are so far from home and feeling this lack of protection from the university,” said Sophie McNeill, Australia researcher for Human Rights Watch and the report’s author.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s former top prosecutor launched a bid to run in next year’s presidential election Tuesday, vowing to unseat the current liberal government that he once worked for and that he also investigated for possible corruption. Yoon Suk Yeol tops surveys on the South Korean public’s preferred future leader, and his announcement will likely heat up the race to find a successor for President Moon Jae-in, whose single five-year term has been marked by roller-coaster diplomacy with North Korea, a deepening domestic divide and varied economic woes. “I’m stepping forward with a determination to change the government,” Yoon said at a news conference.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he may consider running for vice president next year when his term ends “if there is a space for me,” although opponents have described such a prospect as “a joke of the worst kind.” Duterte’s televised remarks Monday night were the strongest sign that he is considering calls by governing PDP-Laban party allies for him to run for vice president to continue his government programs. The tough-talking leader also publicly lashed out for the first time at Filipino boxing star Manny Pacquiao, a Philippine senator and a longtime ally, for saying that corruption has worsened under Duterte.
BANGKOK (AP) — Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi suffered a legal setback Tuesday when a judge denied her lawyers’ motion to disqualify prosecution testimony against her on a sedition charge, her defense team said. The court, however, said it would allow the issue to be referred to the High Court and would suspend testimony until a ruling is issued. Ousted President Win Myint and the former mayor of Naypyitaw, Myo Aung, her close political allies, are co-defendants in the charge. The court will continue to hear prosecution testimony on other charges Suu Kyi faces: that she illegally imported walkie-talkies for her bodyguards’ use and used those radios without a license, and violated COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on two occasions during the 2020 election campaign.
BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s last troops left Afghanistan Tuesday after a nearly 20-year deployment in the country, the defense minister said. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer tweeted that the last Bundeswehr soldiers “left Afghanistan safely” Tuesday evening. She thanked the more than 150,000 troops who have served there since 2001 and said that “they can be proud of this mission.” The German military said that the last troops were on their way home via Tbilisi, Georgia, and that Brig. Gen. Ansgar Meyer, the last commander of the German contingent, was on board an Airbus A400M aircraft bringing them home. NATO agreed in April to withdraw its roughly 7,000 non-American forces from Afghanistan to match U.S.