Top Asian News 3:54 a.m. GMT
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The clandestine clinic was under fire, and the medics inside were in tears. Hidden away in a Myanmar monastery, this safe haven had sprung up for those injured while protesting the military’s overthrow of the government. But now security forces had discovered its location. A bullet struck a young man in the throat as he defended the door, and the medical staff tried frantically to stop the hemorrhaging. The floor was slick with blood. In Myanmar, the military has declared war on health care — and on doctors themselves, who were early and fierce opponents of the takeover in February.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — As the end to America’s “forever war” rapidly approaches, the U.S. Embassy and other diplomatic missions in Kabul are watching a worsening security situation and looking at how to respond. In the countryside, districts are falling to the Taliban in rapid succession. America’s warlord allies are re-arming their militias, which have a violent history, raising the specter of another civil war once the U.S. withdrawal is finished, expected in August. A U.S. Embassy spokesperson told The Associated Press that security assessments are frequent these days. Speaking on condition of anonymity in line with briefing rules, she said the embassy is currently down to 1,400 U.S.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea is seeing a steep rise in coronavirus infections unseen since the worst of its outbreak last winter as it slips into another surge while most of its people are still unvaccinated. The 1,212 new cases confirmed by Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Wednesday came close to matching its highest daily increase of the pandemic — 1,240 cases reported on Christmas Day. Health experts say the government sent the wrong message to the public by pushing for a premature easing of social distancing despite a steadily rising caseload. Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum during a virus meeting said officials will consider tougher social distancing rules if transmissions continue to grow over the next two or three days.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Sydney’s two-week lockdown has been extended for another week due to the vulnerability of an Australia population largely unvaccinated against COVID-19, officials said on Wednesday. “The situation we’re in now is largely because we haven’t been able to get the vaccine that we need,” New South Wales state Health Minister Brad Hazzard said. The decision to extend the lockdown through July 16 was made on health advice, state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said. “The reason why we’ve extended the lockdown is because of a number of cases still infectious in the community and we extended the lockdown to give us the best chance of not having another lockdown,” Berejiklian said.
BEIJING (AP) — Authorities locked down a Chinese city bordering Myanmar on Wednesday, shutting most businesses and requiring residents to stay at home as a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 expanded. Another 15 cases were found in Ruili in the last 24 hours, on top of six in the previous two days, health authorities in southwestern Yunnan province said. The lockdown shut down all businesses and public institutions except hospitals, pharmacies and essential shops like grocery stores, according to a notice posted online. It affects the urban part of Ruili, which like most Chinese cities includes surrounding rural areas in its jurisdiction.
HONG KONG (AP) — Nine people, including six secondary school students, were arrested in Hong Kong on Tuesday for allegedly plotting to set off homemade bombs in courts, tunnels and trash cans as political tensions rise in the city where China is tightening its grip. Police said they were detained on suspicion of engaging in terrorist activity under a harsh national security law that Beijing imposed a year ago as part of a crackdown on dissent in the former British colony that has long enjoyed freedoms not seen on the Chinese mainland. Hong Kong authorities have used the law, enacted in response to anti-government protests that rocked the city in 2019, to arrest many of the city’s prominent activists.
BANGKOK (AP) — Lawyers for ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi argued strongly Tuesday against the introduction of evidence by prosecutors against her on a sedition charge, saying it did not follow established judicial procedures. Suu Kyi is under detention and is being tried on several charges, including an allegation that she illegally imported walkie-talkies for her bodyguards’ use and used the radios without a license, and violated COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on two occasions during the 2020 election campaign. She went on trial on June 14 in a closed court in the capital, Naypyitaw, in proceedings that the military-installed government is widely seen as using to discredit her and consolidate its control.
BANGKOK (AP) — Chemicals at a factory just outside the Thai capital burst back into flames briefly Tuesday, sending up another cloud of toxic black smoke and highlighting the continuing health danger from an industrial accident that killed one and injured dozens more. Extinguishing the first blaze took more than 24 hours after it started with an explosion about 3 a.m. Monday that could be heard for kilometers (miles) and blew out the windows and doors of nearby homes. Firefighters continued to douse the site with water and foam to keep the highly flammable chemical styrene monomer from reigniting, but flames broke out again and burned for about an hour Tuesday afternoon.
DHARMSALA, India (AP) — The Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama celebrated his 86th birthday on Tuesday, thanking his supporters and expressing his appreciation to India, where he has lived since he fled his homeland in 1959. “I want to express my deep appreciation of all my friends who have really shown me love, respect and trust,” the Dalai Lama said in a video message. He reiterated his mission to serve humanity and urged supporters to be compassionate. “Since I became a refugee and now settled in India, I have taken full advantage of India’s freedom and religious harmony,” he said.
TOKYO (AP) — The pressure of hosting an Olympics during a still-active pandemic is beginning to show in Japan. The games begin July 23, with organizers determined they will go on, even with a reduced number of spectators or possibly none at all. While Japan has made remarkable progress to vaccinate its population against COVID-19, the drive is losing steam because of supply shortages. With tens of thousands of visitors coming to a country that is only 13.8% fully vaccinated, gaps in border controls have emerged, highlighted by the discovery of infections among the newly arrived team from Uganda, with positive tests for the highly contagious delta variant.