Top Asian News 4:58 a.m. GMT
BEIJING (AP) — China’s ruling Communist Party has vowed to “resolutely crack down on infiltration and sabotage activities by hostile forces,” following the largest street demonstrations in decades staged by citizens fed up with strict anti-virus restrictions. The statement from the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission released late Tuesday comes amid a massive show of force by security services to deter a reoccurrence of the protests that broke out over the weekend in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and several other cities. While it did not directly address the protests, the statement serves as a reminder of the party’s determination to enforce its rule.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday at Harvard University and near Chinese consulates in New York and Chicago to support protesters who have called for that country’s leader to step down amid severe anti-virus restrictions in the biggest demonstrations against the government in Beijing in decades. About 50 protesters, mostly students at the elite Ivy League school, sang songs in both Chinese and English and chanted slogans in both languages, including, “We are not slaves, we are citizens!” “We don’t want dictatorships, we want elections!” and “Step down, Xi Jinping,” a reference to China’s president. Many who had gathered at the statue of university namesake John Harvard wore masks — not because of COVID-19 but concerned that if they are recognized by Chinese authorities, their families back home would face repercussions.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s former Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday listed his achievements in government including standing up to a “bullying“ China as he unsuccessfully argued against being censured by the Parliament for secretly amassing multiple ministerial powers. The center-left Labor Party government introduced to the House of Representatives a rare censure motion against Morrison, who as a conservative prime minister took the unprecedented steps of appointing himself to five ministerial roles between March 2020 and May 2021, usually without the knowledge of the existing minister. The House passed the motion 86 to 50. It was sure to pass because Labor holds a majority in the House, while most opposition lawmakers dismissed it as “political payback.” Morrison is the first former prime minister to be censured.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A woman who was extradited from South Korea this week after the bodies of her two children were found in abandoned suitcases made her first court appearance in New Zealand on Wednesday. The 42-year-old woman has been charged with two counts of murder. She was not required to enter a plea during the brief procedural hearing at the Manukau District Court. The judge imposed a temporary order that keeps many details of the case secret, including the names of the woman and the victims. The judge allowed it to be reported that the suspect was the children’s mother, according to The New Zealand Herald.
An experimental Alzheimer’s drug modestly slowed the brain disease’s inevitable worsening, researchers reported Tuesday -- but it remains unclear how much difference that might make in people’s lives. Japanese drugmaker Eisai and its U.S. partner Biogen had announced earlier this fall that the drug lecanemab appeared to work, a badly needed bright spot after repeated disappointments in the quest for better Alzheimer’s treatments. Now the companies are providing full results of the study of nearly 1,800 people in the earliest stages of the mind-robbing disease. The data was presented at an Alzheimer’s meeting in San Francisco and published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
BEIJING (AP) — At the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, China set out its “zero-COVID” measures that were harsh, but not out of line with what many other countries were doing to try and contain the virus. While most other nations saw the health and safety regulations as temporary until vaccines were widely available, however, China has stuck steadfastly to its strategy. Weary of the policy that has confined millions of people to their homes in an attempt to isolate every infection, and with an eye on the freedoms now enjoyed elsewhere around the world, protests have broken out around China in recent days.
BERLIN (AP) — It is time for China to move away from massive lockdowns and toward a more targeted approach to COVID-19, the head of the International Monetary Fund said days after widespread protests broke out, a change that would ease the impact to a world economy already struggling with high inflation, an energy crisis and disrupted food supply. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva urged a “recalibration” of China’s tough “zero-COVID” approach aimed at isolating every case “exactly because of the impact it has on both people and on the economy.” Georgieva made the comments in a wide-ranging interview Tuesday with The Associated Press in which she also cautioned it is too early for the U.S.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Finland’s leader says it must give more weapons and support to Ukraine to ensure it wins its war against Russia. Prime Minister Sanna Marin made the comments Wednesday in Auckland on the first-ever visit by a Finnish prime minister to New Zealand and Australia. Among the aims of the visit are improving diplomatic relations and trade ties. “We need hard power when it comes to Ukraine,” Marin told reporters when asked what soft-power influence smaller countries like Finland and New Zealand could exert. “They need weapons, they need financial support, they need humanitarian support, and we need to also make sure that all the refugees fleeing from Ukraine are welcomed to Europe,” Marin said.
BEIJING (AP) — Three Chinese astronauts docked early Wednesday with their country’s space station, where they will overlap for several days with the three-member crew already onboard and expand the facility to its maximum size. Docking with the Tiangong station came at 5:42 a.m. Wednesday, about 6 1/2 hours after the Shenzhou-15 spaceship blasted off atop a Long March-2F carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Tuesday night. The six-month mission, commanded by Fei Junlong and crewed by Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu, will be the last in the station’s construction phase, according to the China Manned Space Agency.
BEIJING (AP) — China is ready to “forge closer partnership” with Russia in energy, a state news agency quoted President Xi Jinping as saying in a letter Tuesday, potentially expanding ties that irk Washington by helping the Kremlin resist sanctions over its war on Ukraine. The announcement gave no details. It said Xi made the comment in a letter to the 4th China-Russia Energy Business Forum. China’s energy-hungry economy is one of the biggest customers for Russian oil and gas. Purchases more than doubled over a year ago in October to $10.2 billion as Chinese importers took advantage of discounts offered by Moscow.