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Top Asian News 1:09 a.m. GMT

September 12, 2022 GMT

Australia’s PM says referendum on republic not his priority

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who had started laying the groundwork for an Australian republic after elections in May, said Sunday that now was the time not for a change but for paying tribute to the life of Queen Elizabeth II. Many regarded Australians’ respect and affection for the late monarch as the biggest obstacle to the country becoming a republic with its own head of state. Albanese, who describes himself as the first candidate with a “non-Anglo Celtic name” to run for prime minister in the 121 years that the office has existed, had created a new position of Assistant Minister for the Republic and appointed Matt Thistlethwaite to the role in June.

Okinawa reelects governor opposing heavy US troop presence

TOKYO (AP) — Okinawa’s incumbent governor who opposes an ongoing U.S. Marine base relocation forced by Japan’s central government and calls for a further reduction of American troops on the southern island secured his reelection on Sunday despite concerns of escalating tensions between China and nearby Taiwan. Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki and his supporters declared his victory and celebrated with the chants of “banzai” soon after the exit poll results showed he beat two contenders — Atsushi Sakima, backed by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s governing bloc and supports its base relocation plan, and another opposition-backed candidate Mikio Shimoji. Tamaki, who is backed by opposition parties, won 339,767 votes, or about 51% of the effective votes, over Sakima’s 274,844 votes and Shimoji’s 53,677, according to the final results released Monday by the Okinawa prefecture.

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3 dead after 7.6 quake hits remote part of Papua New Guinea

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — At least three people are dead after a powerful earthquake hit a remote part of Papua New Guinea Sunday morning, authorities say. Others were injured and infrastructure damaged in the magnitude 7.6 jolt that was felt across the Pacific country. The three people died in a landslide in the gold-mining town of Wau, said Morobe Provincial Disaster Director Charley Masange. Other people had been injured from falling structures or debris, and there was damage to some health centers, homes, rural roads and highways, Masange told The Associated Press. Masange said it could take some time to assess the full extent of the injuries and damage in the region.

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China legislator criticizes sanctions on visit to Russia

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese state media say the country’s top legislator decried sanctions against Russia during a recent visit to the country, underscoring China’s backing of Moscow in its war on Ukraine despite claims of neutrality. The official Xinhua News Agency said Li Zhanshu urged greater cooperation on “fighting against external interference, sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction, among others,” in a meeting with Russian lawmakers Thursday. Li also held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of an expected meeting this month between Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a regional gathering in Uzbekistan. That would mark Xi’s first trip outside China since the pandemic began in early 2020.

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USAID head urges crisis-hit Sri Lanka to tackle corruption

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A visiting U.S. diplomat on Sunday urged Sri Lankan authorities to tackle corruption and introduce governance reforms alongside efforts to uplift the country’s economy as a way out of its worst crisis in recent memory. USAID Administrator Samantha Power told reporters that such moves will increase international and local trust in the government’s intentions. “Assistance alone would not put an end to this country’s woes,” Power said. “I stressed to the Sri Lankan president in my meeting earlier today that political reforms and political accountability must go hand in hand with economic reforms and economic accountability.” She said that international investor confidence will increase as the government tackles corruption and proceeds with long sought governance reforms.

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China quarantines college students under strict COVID policy

BEIJING (AP) — Almost 500 students at China’s premier college for broadcast journalists have been sent to a quarantine center after a handful of COVID-19 cases were detected in their dormitory. The 488 students at Communication University of China, along with 19 teachers and five assistants, were transferred by bus beginning Friday night. Quarantining anyone considered to have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus has been a pillar of China’s strict “zero-COVID” policy. The quarantine centers include field hospitals as well as converted stadiums and exhibition centers that have been criticized for overcrowding, poor sanitation and spoiled food.

Aid for flood victims arrives in hard-hit Pakistani province

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Two more U.S. military planes loaded with tons of aid for Pakistanis affected by flooding from deadly monsoon rains landed Sunday in southern Sindh province, one of the worst-affected regions in the impoverished country. Saif Ullah, spokesman for the country’s Civil Aviation Authority, said each plane was loaded with about 35 tons of relief aid that would be distributed in the province by the World Food Program. The aircraft landed at Sukkur Airport in Sindh and Ullah said the U.S. operation that began Thursday would continue until Sept. 16. Pakistan has suffered under extremely heavy monsoon rains that started early this year — in mid-June.

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India observes day of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II

NEW DELHI (AP) — India on Sunday observed a day of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II with flags lowered to half-staff on all government buildings. Official entertainment events were also canceled “as a mark of respect to the departed dignitary,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said. Flags atop Indian Parliament, President House, Red Fort and other government offices in New Delhi were lowered. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday called Elizabeth “a stalwart of our times.” Britain ended two centuries of colonial rule of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. Elizabeth and her late husband, Prince Phillip, had visited India three times — in 1961, 1983 and 1997.

AP PHOTOS: At roving fairs, sellers keep bartering tradition

DHARMSALA, India (AP) — The enterprising sellers move from one small north Indian town to another carrying bags full of colorful wares to sell at local fairs, keeping centuries-old traditions alive when roving fairs were the main vehicle of commerce. Large sheets of tarpaulin, repurposed strings, folding tables, bare-minimum bedding, cooking gas, and a few utensils to cook are all they need for both business and home. Some sell traditional handmade items, such as iron farming implements and cane baskets, that are difficult to find in modern marketplaces. But people also throng their stalls to buy bright battery-operated toys, mobile phone accessories, sunglasses, plastic flowers, bed linen, trendy clothes, and crockery.

Activists blast holiday for Philippine dictator’s birthday

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Human rights activists in the Philippines rejected on Saturday President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s move to proclaim the birthday of his late father, an ousted dictator, a special holiday in their northern home province. Marcos Jr., who took office in June after a landslide election victory, authorized the declaration of the non-working public holiday in Ilocos Norte province on Monday for celebrations marking the 105th birth anniversary of his namesake father. The dictator was ousted in an army-backed pro-democracy revolt in 1986. “It is but fitting and proper that the people of the province of Ilocos Norte be given the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies,” said the presidential proclamation, which was signed by Marcos Jr.’s executive secretary and posted on Facebook.