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Top Asian News 4:24 a.m. GMT

December 8, 2022 GMT

South Korea’s truth commission to probe foreign adoptions

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission will investigate the cases of dozens of South Korean adoptees in Europe and the United States who suspect their origins were falsified or obscured during a child export frenzy in the mid- to late-1900s. The decision Thursday opens what could be South Korea’s most far-reaching inquiry into foreign adoptions yet. Frustration over broken family connections and laundered child statuses and identities grew and demanded government attention. The adopted South Koreans are believed to be the world’s largest diaspora of adoptees. In the past six decades, about 200,000 South Koreans — mostly girls — were adopted overseas.

China eases anti-COVID measures following protests

BEIJING (AP) — China rolled back rules on isolating people with COVID-19 and dropped virus test requirements for some public places Wednesday in a dramatic change to a strategy that confined millions of people to their homes and sparked protests and demands for President Xi Jinping to resign. The move adds to earlier easing that fueled hopes Beijing was scrapping its “zero COVID” strategy, which is disrupting manufacturing and global trade. Experts warn, however, that restrictions can’t be lifted completely until at least mid-2023 because millions of elderly people still must be vaccinated and the health care system strengthened. China is the last major country still trying to stamp out transmission of the virus while many nations switch to trying to live with it.

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Indonesia paroles bombmaker in deadly Bali attacks in 2002

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An Islamic militant convicted of making the explosives used in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed over 200 people was paroled Wednesday — after serving about half of his original 20-year prison sentence — despite strong objections by Australia, which lost scores of citizens in the Indonesian attacks. Hisyam bin Alizein, also known by his alias Umar Patek, was a leading member of the al-Qaida-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah, which was blamed for the blasts at two nightclubs in Kuta Beach. Patek was found guilty by the West Jakarta District Court of helping build a car bomb that was detonated by another person outside the Sari Club in Kuta on the night of Oct.

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Under China’s ‘zero COVID,’ uncertainty reigns and unsettles

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — As coronavirus cases rose in Shanghai earlier this year and the city’s lockdown stretched from weeks to months, Leah Zhang’s feeling of suffocation grew. Though she could walk around campus freely, she was robbed of weekends spent seeing concerts in the city. She couldn’t stomach the cafeteria food — too sweet for her taste buds accustomed to the spicy Sichuanese cuisine she grew up with. When her boyfriend told her he would “always trust” Shanghai’s government, she broke up with him. After censors took down a video compilation called Voices of April with some of the most defining moments of the lockdown, including crying infants being separated from their parents during quarantine, Zhang broke down.

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South Korea widens back-to-work orders on striking truckers

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s government expanded its back-to-work orders Thursday against thousands of cargo truck drivers who are staging a nationwide walkout over freight fare issues, saying a prolonged strike could inflict “deep scars” on the country’s economy. The “work start” orders on steel and fuel truckers were inevitable because the strike could begin to hurt major export industries like automobiles and shipbuilding if it extends further, Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said in a news conference. The strike’s impact has so far been mostly limited to domestic industries like construction. The orders, which were initially issued Nov. 29 on some 2,500 cement truckers, were expanded to about 6,000 drivers transporting steel and 4,500 transporting fuel and chemicals.

Deep, 5.8 magnitude quake shakes Indonesia’s capital

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A strong and deep earthquake shook Indonesia’s capital and other parts of the main island Java on Thursday but there were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties. High-rises in Jakarta, the capital, swayed for several seconds and some ordered evacuations. The U.S. Geological Survey said the 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook at a depth of 123.7 kilometers (76.9 miles) centered 14 km (8.7 miles) northwest of Ciranjang-hilir in West Java province, the same province where a magnitude 5.6 earthquake on Nov. 21 in Cianjur city killed at least 334 people and injured nearly 600. It was the deadliest in Indonesia since a 2018 quake and tsunami in Sulawesi killed about 4,340 people.

Suicide bomber hits Indonesian police station, killing 1

BANDUNG, Indonesia (AP) — A Muslim militant and convicted bomb-maker who was released from prison last year blew himself up Wednesday at a police station on Indonesia’s main island of Java, killing an officer and wounding 11 people, officials said. The attacker entered the Astana Anyar police station with a motorcycle and detonated one of two bombs he was carrying as police were lining up for a morning assembly, said Bandung city Police Chief Aswin Sipayung. The other explosive was defused. A video that circulated on social media showed body parts near the damaged lobby of the police station, which was engulfed in white smoke as people ran out of the building.

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China’s Xi visits Saudi Arabia to cement Gulf Arab ties

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Chinese leader Xi Jinping arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to attend meetings with oil-rich Gulf Arab nations crucial to his country’s energy supplies as Beijing tries to revive an economy battered by its strict coronavirus measures. Saudi and Chinese flags flew Wednesday in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, as Xi arrived on an Air China Boeing 747, accompanied by jets spraying green-and-white smoke in the sky after the colors of the Saudi flag. Another set of jets sprayed red and yellow, the colors of the Chinese flag, according to footage released by Saudi state television.

Kerry: Climate talks should have done more on pollution cuts

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said last month’s international global warming talks didn’t do enough to speed up cuts in emissions of heat-trapping gases. Kerry told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that there was progress on some aspects of reducing carbon pollution during the United Nations summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. But he said there could and should have been much more and that what was done on the issue was overshadowed by a historic, but what he called potentially “pyrrhic,” agreement to establish a compensation fund for poor nations victimized by a warming world.

Friction over LGBTQ issues worsens in global Anglican church

Friction has been simmering within the global Anglican Communion for many years over its 42 provinces’ sharp differences on whether to recognize same-sex marriage and ordain LGBTQ clergy. This year, the divisions have widened, as conservative bishops – notably from Africa and Asia – affirmed their opposition to LGBTQ inclusion and demanded “repentance” by the more liberal provinces with inclusive policies. Caught in the middle of the fray is the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who is the top bishop of the Church of England and ceremonial leader of the Anglican Communion, which is one of the world’s largest Christian communities. Welby has acknowledged “deep disagreement” among the provinces, while urging them to “walk together” to the extent possible.