Top Asian News 3:15 a.m. GMT
BEIJING (AP) — An avalanche of changes launched by China’s ruling Communist Party has jolted everyone from tech billionaires to school kids. Behind them: President Xi Jinping’s vision of making a more powerful, prosperous country by reviving revolutionary ideals, with more economic equality and tighter party control over society and entrepreneurs. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has called for the party to return to its “original mission” as China’s economic, social and cultural leader and carry out the “ rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation.” The party has spent the decade since then silencing dissent and tightening political control. Now, after 40 years of growth that transformed China into the world’s factory but left a gulf between a wealthy elite and the poor majority, the party is promising to spread prosperity more evenly and is pressing private companies to pay for social welfare and Beijing’s ambition to become a global technology competitor.
HONG KONG (AP) — Four leaders of the group that organized annual Tiananmen Square commemorations in Hong Kong were arrested Wednesday after refusing to cooperate in a national security investigation, the group said. The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China had openly challenged the enforcement of a 14-month-old national security law, saying the police are arbitrarily labeling pro-democracy organizations as foreign agents. The alliance organized candlelight vigils in Hong Kong on the anniversary of China’s bloody crackdown on protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989. The event was attended annually by massive crowds, but authorities have banned the vigils for the past two years, saying they violate coronavirus restrictions.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A massive fire raged through an overcrowded prison near Indonesia’s capital early Wednesday, killing at least 41 inmates and injuring 39 others. Authorities are still investigating the cause of fire that started at Block C of Tangerang prison on the outskirts of Jakarta designated for drug offenders, said Rika Aprianti, spokesperson for the corrections department at the Justice Ministry. Hundreds of police and soldiers were deployed to take control of Tangerang prison, which was designed to house 1,225 inmates but has more than 2,000, Aprianti said. Block C was stuffed full of 122 convicts when the fire occurred.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban on Tuesday announced an all-male interim government for Afghanistan stacked with veterans of their hard-line rule from the 1990s and the 20-year battle against the U.S.-led coalition, a move that seems unlikely to win the international support the new leaders desperately need to avoid an economic meltdown. Appointed to the key post of interior minister was Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is on the FBI’s most-wanted list with a $5 million bounty on his head and is believed to still be holding at least one American hostage. He headed the feared Haqqani network that is blamed for many deadly attacks and kidnappings.
BANGKOK (AP) — The main underground group coordinating resistance to Myanmar’s military government issued a sweeping call for a nationwide uprising on Tuesday, raising the prospect of spiraling unrest. The National Unity Government, which views itself as a shadow government, was established by elected legislators who were barred from taking their seats when the military seized power in February. The group’s acting president Duwa Lashi La declared what he called a “state of emergency” and called for revolt “in every village, town and city in the entire country at the same time.” A video of his speech was posted on Facebook.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s highest court on Wednesday made a landmark ruling that media outlets are “publishers” of allegedly defamatory comments posted by third parties on their official Facebook pages. The High Court dismissed an argument by some of Australia’s largest media organizations — Fairfax Media Publications, Nationwide News and Australian News Channel — that for people to be publishers, they must be aware of the defamatory content and intend to convey it. The court found that by facilitating and encouraging the comments, the companies had participated in their communication. The decision opens the media organizations to be sued for defamation by former juvenile detainee Dylan Voller.
TOKYO (AP) — A Tokyo court on Tuesday sentenced to four years in prison a former top government official for taking bribes from a gambling company, in a high-profile case that has added to the political woes of Japan’s outgoing prime minister ahead of elections this year. The Tokyo District Court found Tsukasa Akimoto, who was a vice-minister in charge of tourism and casino promotions, guilty of taking 7.6 million yen ($69,200) in bribes from a Chinese gambling operator that was aiming to start a casino business in Japan. The court also fined Akimoto the amount in bribes he received from the Chinese company.
TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese court has summoned North Korea’s leader to face demands for compensation by several ethnic Korean residents of Japan who say they suffered human rights abuses in North Korea after joining a resettlement program there that promised a “paradise on Earth,” a lawyer and plaintiff said Tuesday. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un isn’t expected to appear in court for the Oct. 14 hearing, but the judge’s decision to summon him is a rare instance in which a foreign leader was not granted sovereign immunity, said Kenji Fukuda, a lawyer representing the five plaintiffs. They are demanding 100 million yen ($900,000) each in compensation from North Korea for human rights violations they say they suffered under the resettlement program.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s military on Tuesday was closely watching North Korea amid signs the country was preparing to hold a new military parade to showcase its growing nuclear and missile capabilities. The South Korean and U.S. militaries were “thoroughly following and monitoring North Korean preparations for large-scale events such as a military parade in connection with the North’s internal schedule,” said Col. Kim Jun-rak, a spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. He didn’t specify in the news conference what the allied militaries have seen or when they expect the parade to take place. North Korea often celebrates major state anniversaries by rolling out thousands of goose-stepping troops and its most advanced military hardware at a square in the capital, Pyongyang.
TOKYO (AP) — Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency asked Japan on Tuesday for full and detailed information about a plan to release treated but still radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean. The three-member team, which is assisting Japan with the planned release, met Tuesday with government officials to discuss technical details before traveling to the Fukushima Daiichi plant for an on-site examination Wednesday. They will meet with Japanese experts through Friday. Lydie Evrard, head of the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, said transparency and a full disclosure about the water and its treatment is key to ensuring safety for the project, which is expected to take decades.