Top Asian News 3:59 a.m. GMT
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s military test-fired a home-grown Babur cruise missile on Tuesday that has a range of more than 900 kilometers (560 miles), twice the distance of an earlier missile of the same model, a statement said. The missile’s extended range further enhances nuclear-armed Pakistan’s military capability. Pakistan and neighbor India, which also has a nuclear arsenal, have a volatile relationship, having fought three wars against each other. The military buildup of both countries is closely watched by a nervous international community as India and Pakistan have come dangerously close to a fourth war at least twice over the last two decades.
BEIJING (AP) — Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam was meeting with top leaders in Beijing on Wednesday to report to them on the territory’s first legislative elections held under new laws ensuring that only “patriots” loyal to the ruling Chinese Communist Party could run as candidates. As expected, Sunday’s elections for the 90-seat Legislative Council were swept by party-backed politicians who beat out the dwindling number of moderates and independents. Leading figures in the pro-democracy opposition have been intimidated into silence, jailed or forced into exile. Just 20 of the seats were directly elected while 40 were filled by members of a Beijing-appointed committee that selects the territory’s chief executive.
OECUSSE, East Timor (AP) — A defrocked American priest accused of sexually abusing orphaned and disadvantaged young girls under his care in East Timor was found guilty Tuesday and sentenced to 12 years in prison, in the first case of its kind in the staunchly Catholic nation. Richard Daschbach, 84, who spent decades as a missionary in the country’s remote enclave of Oecusse, faced charges of child sexual abuse as well as child pornography and domestic violence. The trial began in February but was postponed several times before concluding last month. During the proceedings, victims complained about threats and online attacks.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The governor of a central Philippine province devastated last week by Typhoon Rai pleaded on radio Tuesday for the government to quickly send food and other aid, warning that without outside help, army troops and police would have to be deployed to prevent looting because of growing hunger. Governor Arthur Yap of Bohol province said he could no longer provide rice and other food aid after his contingency fund ran out and that many of the 1.2 million people in his island province, which remained without power and cellphone service five days after the typhoon struck, have become increasingly desperate.
BOSTON (AP) — A Harvard University professor charged with hiding his ties to a Chinese-run recruitment program was found guilty on all counts Tuesday. Charles Lieber, 62, the former chair of Harvard’s department of chemistry and chemical biology, had pleaded not guilty to two counts of filing false tax returns, two counts of making false statements, and two counts of failing to file reports for a foreign bank account in China. The jury deliberated for about two hours and 45 minutes before announcing the verdict following five days of testimony in Boston federal court. Lieber’s defense attorney Marc Mukasey had argued that prosecutors lacked proof of the charges.
BEIJING (AP) — China announced sanctions on Tuesday on four members of the U.S. government’s Commission on International Religious Freedom in retaliation for penalties imposed on Chinese officials over complaints of abuses in the country’s northwestern Xinjiang region. The tit-for-tat sanctions add to spiraling tension over Xinjiang. Washington has banned imports from the region that might be made with forced labor, while activists are calling for a boycott of February’s Winter Olympics in Beijing. China has denied accusations of abuses and earlier retaliated by publicizing calls for boycotts of foreign shoe and clothing brands. The chairwoman and three members of the U.S.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The second year of the pandemic was remarkably tumultuous for Asia, which continued to be gripped by terrible losses while seeing widespread social and political unrest and fragile democratic gains erased by a rise in autocracy. From a military coup to protests and violence, the horror of surging virus fatalities to a crowd-less Olympic Games held in the specter of COVID-19, the photojournalists of The Associated Press in Asia captured the volatility of 2021 with powerful visuals that will be etched in memories. The year began with optimism surrounding the arrival of vaccines and hope that pandemic sufferings are coming to an end.
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — Thailand on Tuesday decided to immediately reimpose a mandatory quarantine for visitors and suspend a “test-and-go” scheme for fully vaccinated arrivals as concerns grow over the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, the government said. The decision is a blow to efforts to revive Thailand’s battered tourism sector ahead of the peak holiday season. Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana also announced the suspension of “sandbox” programs that allow visitors to remain and move around specific locations, except for the resort island of Phuket, where he said it will stay in effect. “This is not to shut off tourists but to temporarily suspend arrivals,” he said.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Hundreds of protesters marched through the streets of Kabul toward the shuttered U.S. Embassy on Tuesday, urging the release of Afghanistan’s frozen assets. Holding banners reading, “Let us eat” and “Give us our frozen money,” the protesters chanted slogans and marched down a central avenue, with the ruling Taliban providing security. International funding to Afghanistan has been suspended and billions of dollars of the country’s assets abroad, mostly in the United States, were frozen after the Taliban took control of the country in mid-August. The lack of funding has battered Afghanistan’s already troubled economy, leading to increasing poverty while aid groups warn of a looming humanitarian catastrophe.
TOKYO (AP) — Japan hanged three death-row inmates on Tuesday, its first executions in two years, amid growing criticism by human rights groups of the country’s use of the death penalty. One of the three, Yasutaka Fujishiro, was convicted of killing seven people and setting fire to their house in 2004, while the other two, Tomoaki Takanezawa and Mitsunori Onogawa, were convicted in the 2003 killings of two pinball parlor employees. Executions are carried out in high secrecy in Japan, where prisoners are not informed of their fate until the morning they are hanged. Since 2007, Japan has begun disclosing the names of those executed and some details of their crimes, but information is still limited.