Top Asian News 10:23 a.m. GMT
BEIJING (AP) — China’s hosting of the Group of 20 industrialized nations summit highlights its role as the world’s second-largest economy and a growing force in global diplomacy, but also comes amid sharpening frictions over its territorial claims in the South China Sea, disputes with fellow regional powers South Korea and Japan and criticisms over a sweeping crackdown on dissent at home. China hopes to avoid discussion of such issues while using the summit in the eastern city of Hangzhou to burnish its image as a responsible major nation whose support is essential to solving the world’s ills. It will seek to promote its image as a force for grappling with climate change, as a promoter of development in Asia through its “One-Belt, One-Road” development drive and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and as a champion for global free trade amid the rise of economic nationalism in Europe and elsewhere.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The bankruptcy of the Hanjin shipping line has thrown ports and retailers around the world into confusion, with giant container ships marooned and merchants worrying whether tons of goods will reach their shelves. The South Korean giant filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday and stopped accepting new cargo. With its assets being frozen, ships from China to Canada found themselves refused permission to offload or take aboard containers because there were no guarantees that tugboat pilots or stevedores would be paid. “Hanjin called us and said: ‘We’re going bankrupt and we can’t pay any bills — so don’t bother asking,’ ” said J.
PINLEBU, Myanmar (AP) — The hills of northern Myanmar’s Sagaing region were so legendarily thick with forests that in the days of kings, condemned criminals were ordered into the woods as a death sentence. Today illegal logging has left vast swaths of bare patches, with only a handful of old-growth stands. Despite a temporary ban on all logging by the Southeast Asian country’s new government, the Associated Press found in a trip to the remote region that loggers are still cutting down some of the remaining old trees. The AP also saw loggers illegally chopping up the wood from already felled trees for transportation and sale.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday that the world body has failed to protect civilians in conflicts despite repeated commitments, and the killings at the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war seven years ago prompted him to launch an initiative to focus early attention on human rights violations. While Sri Lankans are engaging in a process of reckoning and reconciliation, the U.N. has engaged in “self-scrutiny,” Ban said during a three-day visit to Sri Lanka. He said had the U.N been more active during Sri Lanka’s civil war, many lives could have been saved. “Sri Lanka has taught us many important lessons .
MOSCOW (AP) — The government of Uzbekistan said on Friday that ailing President Islam Karimov is in critical condition, following a week of speculation that the country’s president of nearly 27 years could be at death’s door. “Dear compatriots, it is with a heavy heart that we inform you that the health of our President has sharply deteriorated in the past 24 hours to reach a critical state, according to the doctors,” the government said in a statement. Friday’s announcement follows days of unofficial reports that Karimov was close to death or even dead. His daughter Lola said earlier this week the 78-year old had suffered a brain hemorrhage.
KOLKATA, India (AP) — As Pope Francis prepares to declare Mother Teresa a saint just two decades after her death, people touched by her life in the eastern Indian city where she lived and worked for close to 50 years are filled with pride. Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, in what is now Macedonia, Mother Teresa joined the Loreto order of Roman Catholic nuns in 1928. She was traveling from the city then called Calcutta to Darjeeling in 1946 when she decided to start the Missionaries of Charity order. Since its establishment in 1950, the order has set up hundreds of shelters that care for some of the world’s neediest, people she described as “the poorest of the poor.”
SINGAPORE (AP) — Singapore is encouraging residents to use insect repellent, clear blockages in drains and wear long-sleeved clothing to protect themselves from mosquitoes after the number of Zika infections rose to 151 in the city-state. Open-air food centers in affected districts had few lunchtime patrons Friday, many apparently fearful of contracting the mosquito-borne virus. “I understand the food court … is affected but we shouldn’t behave like that,” said retiree David Lye, 67, one of the very few customers at the large Macpherson Market and Food Center. “We should be positive and do our part to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes,” said Lye.
NEW DELHI (AP) — Workers across India are on strike to protest economic reforms including a rise in the minimum wage for unskilled laborers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government says the reforms are needed to boost growth. But many labor unions say the minimum wage hike should be double what the government is offering. Some states including Kerala as well as the territory of Delhi already have minimum wage levels that are higher than the new monthly targets announced this week from 9,100 rupees to 13,598 rupees, or $136 to $204. The unions say 180 million workers participated in Friday’s strike, but the figure could not be independently verified.
MIDWAY ATOLL, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (AP) — President Barack Obama plunked down on a speck of coral reef in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on Thursday and gazed out at the turquoise waters of the marine monument he’s widened to become the largest in the world. Hundreds of rare birds fluttered in the skies halfway between Asia and North America as the president paid an unusual visit to Midway Atoll, one of the most remote areas of the ocean. Driving on a golf cart past dilapidated buildings left over from World War II, Obama said protecting the atoll and its surroundings was critical to ensuring that delicate ecosystems survive the throes of global warming.
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Northwestern Pakistan was struck by two separate militant attacks hours apart on Friday, when gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed a Christian colony near the town of Peshawar, killing one civilian, and a suicide bomb attack on a district court in the town of Mardan killed 12 people and wounded 54 others. Militants stormed the Christian neighborhood early on Friday morning, triggering a shoot-out in which four attackers were killed and one Christian died, police and the military said. Three security officials and two civilian guards were wounded in the attack. Army spokesman Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said in a statement that the attack was quickly repulsed and that security forces were searching for any accomplices.