Top Asian News 3:53 a.m. GMT
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand officials said Thursday they will gradually loosen their border quarantine requirements, which have been among the toughest in the world throughout the pandemic. But while the changes will make it easier for New Zealanders stranded abroad to return home, officials gave no date for when tourists might be welcomed back. That change is likely still months away. COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that from next month, most people arriving in New Zealand would need to spend seven days in a quarantine hotel run by the military, half the previous requirement. He said some new arrivals from low-risk Pacific island countries could skip quarantine altogether and isolate at home.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia on Thursday ruled out promising to cut methane emissions by 30% by the end of the decade in a stance that will add to criticism that the country is a laggard in addressing climate change. Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor announced his government’s decision before he was to fly with Prime Minister Scott Morrison to a U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. The United States and the European Union pledged in September to the 30% methane reduction target. Taylor said the only way Australia could achieve that target would be to reduce numbers of cattle and sheep.
NEW DELHI (AP) — The solution to climate change is not setting net zero carbon emissions targets as dozens of nations have done, India’s federal environment minister said. Instead, rich countries need to acknowledge their “historic responsibility” for emissions and protect the interests of developing nations and those vulnerable to climate change, said the minister, Bhupender Yadav. India — the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States — is committed to “being part of the solution” at the upcoming United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Yadav said. India is among the few countries on course to reach its targets for curbing the release of planet-warming gases.
WASHINGTON (AP) — China recently conducted a “very concerning” test of a hypersonic weapon system as part of its aggressive advance in space and military technologies, the top U.S. military officer says. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the first Pentagon official to confirm on the record the nature of a test this year by the Chinese military that the Financial Times had reported was a nuclear-capable hypersonic weapon that was launched into space and orbited the Earth before re-entering the atmosphere and gliding toward its target in China. Milley said he could not discuss details because aspects involved classified intelligence.
WASHINGTON (AP) — For nine months under President Joe Biden, the U.S. has pursued a diplomatic strategy that could be characterized as about China, without China. On security, trade, climate and COVID-19, the Biden White House has tried to reorient the focus of the U.S. and its allies toward the strategic challenges posed by a rising China — all while there has been little direct engagement between the two rivals. The president is now preparing for a pair of global summits where he again won’t be meeting with China’s Xi Jinping but the tensions and aggravations between the world’s two largest economies will nonetheless be on ready display.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — President Joe Biden told leaders at the East Asia Summit on Wednesday that China’s recent actions in the Taiwan Straits are “coercive” and undermined peace and stability in the region. The comments by Biden, who participated by video in the annual meeting of 18 Asia-Pacific nations, come during a surge in Chinese military activity near the island that China regards as a renegade province and has vowed to reclaim by force if necessary. “The president also reiterated the U.S. commitment to the international rules-based order and expressed concern over threats to that order,” the White House said in a statement.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The outgoing U.N. envoy for Myanmar says “civil war” has spread throughout the country and the international community should consider measures aimed at replacing the military junta’s leaders with people who are more constructive and want to find a peaceful solution to the army’s ouster of the elected government. Christine Schraner Burgener, whose 3 1/2-year term ends Sunday, said in an interview with The Associated Press that the measures could be sanctions imposed by individual countries or by the U.N. Security Council, “but it’s up to them.” She proposed the idea of holding “an all-inclusive dialogue” to the deputy commander-in-chief, Vice Senior Gen.
TOKYO (AP) — Sunao Tsuboi, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing who made opposing nuclear weapons the message of his life, including in a meeting with President Barack Obama in 2016, has died. He was 96. Tsuboi died Oct. 24 in a hospital in Hiroshima in southwestern Japan. The cause of death was given as an irregular heartbeat caused by anemia, Nihon Hidankyo, the nationwide group of atomic bomb survivors he headed until his death, said Wednesday. When Obama made his historic visit to Hiroshima, Obama and Tsuboi held each other’s hand in a long handshake and shared a laugh.
LONDON (AP) — U.S. authorities launched a new battle on Wednesday to make Julian Assange face American justice, telling British judges that if they agree to extradite the WikiLeaks founder on espionage charges, he could serve any U.S. prison sentence he receives in his native Australia. In January, a lower U.K. court refused a U.S. request to extradite Assange over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret American military documents a decade ago. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Assange, who has spent years in hiding and in British prisons as he fights extradition, was likely to kill himself if held under harsh U.S. prison conditions.
NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s top court on Wednesday established a committee of experts to look into accusations that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government used Israeli military-grade spyware to monitor political opponents, journalists and activists. The Supreme Court order came in response to petitions filed by a group of Indian journalists, rights activists and opposition politicians following an investigation by a global media consortium in July. The committee, headed by a retired judge, is expected to give its findings by year-end. India’s opposition has been demanding an investigation into how the Israeli spyware, known as Pegasus, was used in India. Modi’s government has “unequivocally” denied all allegations regarding illegal surveillance.