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Top Asian News 3:07 a.m. GMT

September 18, 2022 GMT

China values UN relationship despite human rights criticism

BEIJING (AP) — As world leaders gather in New York at the annual U.N. General Assembly, rising superpower China is also focusing on another United Nations body that is meeting across the Atlantic Ocean in Geneva. Chinese diplomats are speaking out and lobbying others at an ongoing session of the Human Rights Council to thwart a possible call for further scrutiny of what it calls its anti-extremism campaign in Xinjiang, following a U.N. report on abuses against Uyghurs and other largely Muslim ethnic groups in the western China border region. The concurrent meetings, on opposite sides of the Atlantic, illustrate China’s divided approach to the United Nations and its growing global influence.

Cheetahs make a comeback in India after 70 years

NEW DELHI (AP) — Seven decades after cheetahs died out in India, they’re back. Eight big cats from Namibia made the long trek Saturday in a chartered cargo flight to the northern Indian city of Gwalior, part of an ambitious and hotly contested plan to reintroduce cheetahs to the South Asian country. Then they were moved to their new home: a sprawling national park in the heart of India where scientists hope the world’s fastest land animal will roam again. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the cats into their enclosure Saturday morning. The cats emerged from their cage, tentatively at first while continuously scanning their new surroundings.

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Chinese factory churns out British flags after queen’s death

SHAOXING, China (AP) — Ninety minutes after Queen Elizabeth II died, orders for thousands of British flags started to flood into a factory south of Shanghai. More than 100 employees at Shaoxing Chuangdong Tour Articles Co. set aside other work and put in 14-hour days starting at 7:30 a.m. making nothing but British-themed flags. They turned out at least 500,000 the first week, according to general manager Fan Aiping. Some are British flags to be carried by mourners or hung outside homes. Others show Elizabeth’s portrait and the years of her birth and death. They range from 21 to 150 centimeters (8 to 59 inches) wide and wholesale for about 7 yuan ($1) each.

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For Russia’s Putin, military and diplomatic pressures mount

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin mounted on the battlefield and in the halls of global power as Ukrainian troops pushed their counteroffensive Saturday to advance farther into Ukraine’s partly recaptured northeast. Western officials and analysts said Russian forces were apparently setting up a new defensive line in Ukraine’s northeast after the counteroffensive punched through the previous one, allowing Kyiv’s soldiers to recapture large swaths of land in the northeastern Kharkiv region that borders Russia. Putin, at a high-level summit in Uzbekistan this week, vowed to press his attack on Ukraine despite the recent military setbacks but also faced concerns by India and China over the drawn-out conflict.

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Strong quake hits Taiwan, topples house, halts rail traffic

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A strong earthquake struck southeastern Taiwan on Saturday evening, toppling objects from store shelves, collapsing a house and interrupting rail service on the island, but there were no immediate reports of deaths, media reported. Taiwan’s Central News Agency said the 6.4 magnitude shallow quake was centered north of Taitung County on the island’s eastern shore. It partially collapsed an uninhabited house in Hualien County, about 165 kilometers (100 miles) north along the coast, causing no casualties. Trains linking Hualien and Taitung had been temporarily halted and five other high speed rail services canceled until safety checks are performed, the Taiwan Railways Administration said.

Chinese astronauts go on spacewalk from new station

BEIJING (AP) — Two Chinese astronauts went on a spacewalk Saturday from a new space station that is due to be completed later this year. Cai Xuzhe and Chen Dong installed pumps, a handle to open the hatch door from outside in an emergency, and a foot-stop to fix an astronaut’s feet to a robotic arm, state media said. China is building its own space station after being excluded by the U.S. from the International Space Station because its military runs the country’s space program. American officials see a host of strategic challenges from China’s space ambitions, in an echo of the U.S.-Soviet rivalry that prompted the race to the moon in the 1960s.

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14 people die in iron mine flood in China, 1 missing

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities said Saturday that 14 people had died and one remained missing after a flood at an iron mine earlier this month. The search and rescue operation has ended and an investigation into the cause of the Sept. 2 flood is underway, the Tangshan city government said in a brief statement. The mine is about 160 kilometers (100 miles) east of Beijing in Hebei province. Hebei is a major producer of iron ore and steel.

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EXPLAINER: What to know about the UN General Assembly

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — After two years of virtual and hybrid summits, the world’s leaders will reconvene on the river’s edge in New York this coming week at the U.N. General Assembly, an exercise in multilateralism born from the hope for lasting peace that followed World War II. The opening of the 77th session comes as the planet is beset with crises on nearly every front. Russia’s war in Ukraine, inflation and economic instability, terrorism and ideological extremism, environmental degradation and devastating floods, droughts and fires and the ongoing pandemic are just a few of the rampant perils. The high-level meeting opens Monday with a summit on education, whose thorough disruption during the coronavirus pandemic will reverberate for decades to come.

WHO raises alarm on disease in flood-hit areas of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The World Health Organization raised the alarm Saturday about a “second disaster” in the wake of the deadly floods in Pakistan this summer, as doctors and medical workers on the ground race to battle outbreaks of waterborne and other diseases. The floodwaters started receding this week in the worst-hit provinces but many of the displaced — now living in tents and makeshift camps — increasingly face the threat of gastrointestinal infections, dengue fever and malaria, which are on the rise. The dirty and stagnant waters have become breeding grounds for mosquitos. The unprecedented monsoon rains since mid-June, which many experts link to climate change, and subsequent flooding have killed 1,545 people across Pakistan, inundated millions of acres of land and affected 33 million people.

Putin vows to press attack on Ukraine; courts India, China

SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed Friday to press his attack on Ukraine despite Ukraine’s latest counteroffensive and warned that Moscow could ramp up its strikes on the country’s vital infrastructure if Ukrainian forces target facilities in Russia. Speaking to reporters Friday after attending a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Uzbekistan, Putin said the “liberation” of Ukraine’s entire eastern Donbas region remained Russia’s main military goal and that he sees no need to revise it. “We aren’t in a rush,” the Russian leader said, adding that Moscow has only deployed volunteer soldiers to fight in Ukraine.