Top Asian News 3:52 a.m. GMT
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea reported a new high in daily coronavirus cases Wednesday, as a surge spreading beyond the capital puts pressure on authorities to extend their toughest distancing rules. New cases have exceeded 1,000 a day for two weeks amid a slow vaccination campaign, lax public vigilance and the spread of more contagious delta variant. A majority of the recent cases have been among people in the Seoul metropolitan area, but the virus is increasingly spreading beyond the capital region. Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said more than 30% of daily cases were outside the capital region for a fourth consecutive day.
BEIJING (AP) — At least 12 people died in severe flooding Tuesday in a Chinese provincial capital that trapped people in subways and schools, washed away vehicles and stranded people in their workplaces overnight. The already drenched city of Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, was hit by 20 centimeters (8 inches) of rain from 4 to 5 p.m., the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing the Henan weather agency. The torrent of rain turned streets into rapidly flowing rivers and inundated subways stations and cars. Videos posted online showed entire neighborhoods covered in waist-deep water and vehicles floating in the muddy mire.
NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s Parliament erupted in protests on Tuesday as opposition lawmakers accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of using military-grade spyware to monitor political opponents, journalists and activists. The session was disrupted repeatedly as opposition lawmakers shouted slogans against Modi’s government and demanded an investigation into how the spyware, known as Pegasus, was used in India. “This is a national security threat,” an opposition Congress party official, Kapil Sibal, said at a news conference. The protests came after an investigation by a global media consortium was published on Sunday. Based on leaked targeting data, the findings provided evidence that the spyware from Israel-based NSO Group, the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire company, was used to allegedly infiltrate devices belonging to a range of targets, including journalists, activists and political opponents in 50 countries.
BEIJING (AP) — China on Tuesday rejected an accusation by Washington and its Western allies that Beijing is to blame for a hack of the Microsoft Exchange email system and complained Chinese entities are victims of damaging U.S. cyberattacks. A foreign ministry spokesman demanded Washington drop charges announced Monday against four Chinese nationals accused of working with the Ministry of State Security to try to steal U.S. trade secrets, technology and disease research. The announcement that the Biden administration and European allies formally blame Chinese government-linked hackers for ransomware attacks increased pressure over long-running complaints against Beijing but included no sanctions.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Myanmar’s military rulers are again seeking to replace the country’s ambassador to the United Nations, who opposed their Feb. 1 ouster of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and takeover of the government. Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin says in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that he has appointed Aung Thurein, who left the military this year after 26 years, as Myanmar’s U.N. ambassador. A copy of the letter was obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press. Lwin said in an accompanying letter that Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s currently recognized U.N. ambassador, “has been terminated on Feb.
NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s excess deaths during the coronavirus pandemic could be a staggering 10 times the official COVID-19 toll, likely making it modern India’s worst human tragedy, according to the most comprehensive research yet on the ravages of the virus in the South Asian country. Most experts believe India’s official toll of more than 414,000 dead is a vast undercount, but the government has dismissed those concerns as exaggerated and misleading. The report released Tuesday estimated excess deaths — the gap between those recorded and those that would have been expected — to be 3.4 million to 4.7 million since the pandemic began through last month.
BANGKOK (AP) — The spokesperson for ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party died Tuesday after being infected with the coronavirus in prison, his lawyer said. Nyan Win had been a member of the National League for Democracy’s Central Executive Committee as well as a confidante of Suu Kyi. Suu Kyi and top members of her party and government, including Nyan Win, were arrested when the military seized power in February. The military-installed government has since arrested thousands of mostly young people who protested its takeover. The death of Nyan Win, 79, came as Myanmar is reeling from soaring numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths that are badly straining the country’s medical infrastructure, already weakened when many state medical workers went on strike to protest the army’s seizure of power.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Muslims across Indonesia marked a grim Eid al-Adha festival for a second year Tuesday as the country struggles to cope with a devastating new wave of coronavirus cases and the government has banned large gatherings and toughened travel restrictions. Indonesia is now Asia’s COVID-19 hot spot with the most confirmed daily cases, as infections and deaths have surged over the past three weeks and India’s massive outbreak has waned. Most of Indonesia’s cases are on the densely populated island of Java, where more than half of the country’s 270 million people live. Authorities in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation have banned many of the crowd-attracting activities that are usually part of Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice that marks the end of the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — At least three rockets hit near the presidential palace on Tuesday shortly before Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was to give an address to mark the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. There were no injuries and the rockets landed outside the heavily fortified palace grounds, said Mirwais Stanikzai, spokesman for the interior minister. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack on its Amaq news channel. Police quickly fanned out across the area. One car parked on a nearby street was completely destroyed; the police said it was used as launching pad for the rockets. The palace is in the middle of a so-called Green Zone that is fortified with giant cement blast walls and barbed wire, and streets near the palace have long been closed off.
BEIJING (AP) — A popular Chinese-Canadian singer, Kris Wu, has lost endorsement and other deals with at least 10 brands including Porsche and Bulgari after a teen-ager accused him of having sex with her while she was drunk. The former member of Korean boy band EXO denied the accusation, which prompted an outpouring of supportive comments for the woman online and criticism of Wu. “There was no ‘groupie sex’! There was no ‘underage’!” Wu said on his social media account, which has 52 million followers. “If there were this kind of thing, please everyone relax, I would put myself in jail!” The backlash after the accusation appeared on the internet portal NetEase reflects the growing willingness of Chinese women to speak up about abuses in a male-dominated society.