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Top Asian News 4:39 a.m. GMT

February 10, 2023 GMT

US says China balloon could collect intelligence signals

WASHINGTON (AP) — The China balloon shot down by the U.S. was equipped to detect and collect intelligence signals as part of a huge, military-linked aerial surveillance program that targeted more than 40 countries, the Biden administration declared Thursday, citing imagery from American U-2 spy planes. A fleet of balloons operates under the direction of the People’s Liberation Army and is used specifically for spying, outfitted with high-tech equipment designed to gather sensitive information from targets across the globe, the U.S. said. Similar balloons have sailed over five continents, according to the administration. A statement from a senior State Department official offered the most detail to date linking China’s military to the balloon that was shot down by the U.S.

US House votes to condemn China over balloon surveillance

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The House voted unanimously Thursday to condemn China’s balloon surveillance program as a “brazen violation” of U.S. sovereignty, a rare and swift bipartisan rebuke of Beijing as questions mount about the craft the U.S. says was part of a vast aerial spy program. The 419-0 action came as lawmakers clamoring for information about the balloon that flew across American skies were being briefed by U.S. officials in a classified session. The Senate also held a hearing Thursday about the balloon, which was shot down by the U.S. military last weekend. “This resolution, I believe, sends a clear bipartisan signal to the CCP and our adversaries around the world that this action will not be tolerated,” said Rep.

Kim Jong Un shows off daughter, missiles at N. Korean parade

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his young daughter took center stage at a huge military parade, fueling speculation that she is being primed as a future leader of the isolated country as her father showed off his latest, largest nuclear missiles. Wednesday night’s parade in the capital, Pyongyang, featured the newest hardware in Kim’s growing nuclear arsenal, including what experts said was possibly a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile he could test in the coming months. That missile was part of around a dozen ICBMs Kim’s troops rolled out at the event — an unprecedented number that underscored how he continues to expand his military capabilities despite limited resources in the face of deepening tensions with his neighbors and the United States.

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China space station crew completes spacewalk

BEIJING (AP) — The crew of China’s orbiting space station has completed the first of several planned spacewalks of their six-month mission, pushing such activities into the realm of routine for the country’s astronauts. The China Manned Space Agency said that, during Friday’s seven-hour extra-vehicular activity, Fei Junlong and Zhang Lu carried out a number of tasks, including installing extension pumps outside the Mengtian laboratory module. The third member of the Shenzhou-15 mission, Deng Qingming, assisted from inside the station. The three are scheduled to carry out several other spacewalks during their time on board. China completed the Tiangong station in November with the addition of the third of three modules, centered on the Tianhe living and command module.

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Japan, Philippines agree to sharply boost defense ties

TOKYO (AP) — The leaders of Japan and the Philippines agreed Thursday to sharply boost their defense ties, allowing Japanese troops greater access to Philippine territory, as tensions rise in Asia amid China’s growing influence. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is visiting Japan shortly after he and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reached an agreement on allowing the United States more access to Philippine military bases to keep China’s territorial ambitions in check. The defense arrangement signed by Marcos and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will allow Japanese troops to join training exercises to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian needs in the Philippines.

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Australia rejects open-pit coal mine near Great Barrier Reef

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia for the first time has rejected a coal mining application based on environmental law, with the government minister citing the open-pit mine’s potential harm to the nearby Great Barrier Reef. The government is under pressure to curb climate change by blocking all new coal and gas extraction projects. Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of both fossil fuels, which are major sources of the nation’s wealth. But Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said Thursday she would decide individual projects on their merits. “I will make each decision that comes before me on a case-by-case basis according to the law and according to the science that is available,” Plibersek told Parliament.

Seoul lifts visa limits on short-term travelers from China

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea says it will remove the entry restrictions it placed on short-term travelers from China since the start of the year as officials see the COVID-19 situation in that country as stabilizing. South Korea in early January stopped issuing most short-term visas at its consulates in China, citing concerns about a virus surge in the country and the potential for new mutations. China abruptly eased coronavirus restrictions in December, raising the prospect of millions of Chinese traveling abroad again for the first time in three years. South Korea also required all passengers from China, Hong Kong and Macao to submit proofs of negative tests taken with 48 hours before their arrival and put them through tests again once they arrive.

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US general to aggressors: Allies are battle-ready in Asia

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — American forces and their allies in Asia are ready for battle after years of joint combat exercises, a United States general said Wednesday, adding that Russia’s setbacks in Ukraine should serve as a warning to potential Asian aggressors like China and North Korea. U.S. treaty allies like the Philippines, Japan and Australia, among others, “have shown that they will band together, that they will not stand for aggression from these nations that have decided they want to change the world order out here,” Maj. Gen. Joseph Ryan said. Although Asia has no counterpart to NATO, the 30-nation military alliance whose mostly European members vow to defend each other against external attacks, a network of U.S.

AP Week in Pictures: Asia

Feb. 3-9, 2023 This photo gallery highlights some of the most compelling images made or published by Associated Press photographers in Asia and Pacific. The gallery was curated by AP photo editor Masayo Yoshida in Tokyo. Follow AP visual journalism: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/apnews AP Images on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP_Images AP Images blog: http://apimagesblog.com

Australian Defense Department to remove Chinese-made cameras

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s Defense Department will remove surveillance cameras made by Chinese Communist Party-linked companies from its buildings, the government said Thursday after the U.S. and Britain made similar moves. The Australian newspaper reported Thursday that at least 913 cameras, intercoms, electronic entry systems and video recorders developed and manufactured by Chinese companies Hikvision and Dahua are in Australian government and agency offices, including the Defense Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Hikvision and Dahua are partly owned by China’s Communist Party-ruled government. Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said his department is assessing all its surveillance technology.