Top Asian News 4:43 a.m. GMT
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un brought his young daughter to a huge military parade showing off the latest hardware of his fast-growing nuclear arsenal, including intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to reach the United States, state media said Thursday. North Korean photos of Wednesday night’s parade in the capital, Pyongyang, showed Kim, wearing a black coat and fedora, attending the event with his wife and daughter, in the young girl’s latest recent public appearance. Kim was smiling and raising his hand from a balcony as thousands of troops lined up in a brightly illuminated Kim Il Sung Square, named after his grandfather and the nation’s founder.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s Defense Department will remove surveillance cameras made by Chinese Communist Party-linked companies from its buildings, the government said Thursday after the U.S. and Britain made similar moves. The Australian newspaper reported Thursday that at least 913 cameras, intercoms, electronic entry systems and video recorders developed and manufactured by Chinese companies Hikvision and Dahua are in Australian government and agency offices, including the Defense Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Hikvision and Dahua are partly owned by China’s Communist Party-ruled government. China’s Embassy to Australia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Chinese balloon shot down off the South Carolina coast was part of a large surveillance program that China has been conducting for “several years,” the Pentagon said Wednesday. When similar balloons passed over U.S. territory on four occasions during the Trump and Biden administrations, the U.S. did not immediately identify them as Chinese surveillance balloons, said Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary. But he said “subsequent intelligence analysis” allowed the U.S. to confirm they were part of a Chinese spying effort and learn “a lot more” about the program. He refused to provide any new details about those previous balloons.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Chinese balloon that traversed the United States before being shot down last weekend captivated public attention and drew sharp denunciations as a brazen spying effort. But if the vehicle for espionage seemed novel, the concept was anything but. In ways that are far less public, but often more worrisome, U.S. officials say, the Chinese government has been targeting U.S. industry and government agencies with spy operations designed to collect troves of commercial secrets and sensitive personal data — and to generally give the global superpower a competitive edge. It’s been a constant concern for law enforcement and intelligence agencies across administrations.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s opposition-controlled parliament on Wednesday voted to impeach Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang-min holding him responsible for government failures in disaster planning and the response that likely contributed to the high death toll in a crowd crush that killed nearly 160 people in October. The impeachment suspends Lee from his duties and the Constitutional Court has 180 days to rule on whether to unseat him for good or give him back the job. Vice Minister Han Chang-seob will be acting minister until the Constitutional Court decides on Lee’s fate. Lee is seen as a key ally of conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol, whose office issued an irritated response to his impeachment, accusing opposition lawmakers of abandoning legislative principles and creating “shameful history.” Lee expressed regret after lawmakers voted 179-109 to impeach him, and he said he would defend his case in the Constitutional Court.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An international team of investigators said Wednesday it found “strong indications” that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the supply of heavy anti-aircraft weapons to Ukrainian separatists who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014 with a Russian missile. However, members of the Joint Investigation Team said they had insufficient evidence to prosecute Putin or any other suspects and they suspended their 8½-year inquiry into the shooting down that killed all 298 people on board the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Russia has always denied any involvement in the downing of the flight over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, and refused to cooperate with the investigation.
SUBIC BAY, Philippines (AP) — Once-secret ammunition bunkers and barracks lay abandoned, empty and overrun by weeds — vestiges of American firepower in what used to be the United States’ largest overseas naval base at Subic Bay in the northern Philippines. But that may change in the near future. The U.S. has been taking steps to rebuild its military might in the Philippines more than 30 years after the closure of its large bases in the country and reinforcing an arc of military alliances in Asia in a starkly different post-Cold War era when the perceived new regional threat is an increasingly belligerent China.
JAYAPURA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian security forces searched Wednesday for a pilot from New Zealand who was taken hostage by separatist rebels in restive Papua province. The joint team of soldiers and police searching for the pilot, Philip Mark Mehrtens, also managed Wednesday to rescue 15 construction workers who had been building a health center in Paro village in remote Nduga district after separatist rebels threatened to kill them, regional military commander Brig. Gen. J.O. Sembiring said. Mehrtens, from Christchurch, was captured early Tuesday by independence fighters from the West Papua Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Free Papua Organization, who stormed his single-engine plane shortly after it landed at Paro’s small airport.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s new Prime Minister Chris Hipkins on Wednesday said he was axing or delaying many of his government’s more contentious policy plans as he looked to refocus on priorities like the rising cost of living. Hipkins, who was sworn in two weeks ago after the shock resignation of Jacinda Ardern, said his government had been trying to do too much, too fast. Among the plans he has dropped or delayed is legislation that would have outlawed hate speech against religious groups in the wake of the deadly 2019 mosque shootings, a plan to merge the nation’s public television and radio broadcasters, a new insurance scheme to help laid-off workers, and a mandate for fuel suppliers to increase their use of biofuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
OAKLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities believe a Michigan woman fled to Thailand to avoid the consequences of a hit-and-run crash that killed a suburban Detroit college student on New Year’s Day. Tubtim “Sue” Howson, 57, was charged Monday with a federal crime related to her sudden one-way flight to Bangkok on Jan. 3. Benjamin Kable, 22, was struck while walking before dawn on an Oakland County road on Jan. 1. The Michigan State University student, who was home for the holidays, died at the scene. A state charge of failing to stop at a serious accident was filed on Feb.