Top Asian News 3:13 p.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.
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.
MOSCOW (AP) — A top Kyrgyz diplomat and an Afghan government official say Uzbekistan is holding a funeral for President Islam Karimov on Saturday. The Russia-based major news agency Interfax on Friday reported and then hastily withdrew a report that the Uzbek government has confirmed Karimov’s death. The agency blamed a technical error. Russia’s state RIA-Novosti cited an unnamed Uzbek Cabinet official as denying such a statement had been sent. Uzbek officials have said only that Karimov is gravely ill. The Afghan official told The Associated Press on Friday that President Ashraf Ghani will attend Karimov’s funeral. The Kyrgyz diplomat told the AP the country’s prime minister also had been invited to Karimov’s funeral.
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.
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.”
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Brazilian man whose “miraculous” cure from a brain infection paved the way for Mother Teresa’s canonization this weekend said he is grateful for his life but doesn’t feel particularly chosen by God. Rather, Marcilio Haddad Andrino told a Vatican press conference Friday he is just one example of God’s ample mercy and love. “The merciful Lord looks at us all without distinction,” Andrino said. “Maybe it was me this time but maybe tomorrow it will be someone else. The merciful mother looks after everyone. I don’t feel special.” Pope Francis in December decreed that Andrino’s cure was a miracle after Vatican doctors and theologians determined that it was medically inexplicable, instantaneous, lasting and due to the intercession of Mother Teresa, who died in 1997.
DAVAO, Philippines (AP) — President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday the Philippine coast guard has observed Chinese barges at a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, possibly indicating that Beijing is planning new construction that could ratchet up tensions. Still, Duterte said he wouldn’t raise the territorial dispute at an Asian summit in Laos next week that will be attended by several world leaders, including China’s. “The coast guard made some little trips near them and there are a lot of barges. … What is the purpose of a barge?” Duterte said in a speech in southern Panabo city in Davao del Norte province, adding that the intelligence report “was unsettling.” Duterte said the barges were sighted in Bajo de Masinloc, the Filipino name for Scarborough Shoal off the northwestern Philippines that Chinese government ships seized in 2012 following a standoff with Philippine vessels.
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 .
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 189 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) — Millions of public sector workers across India went on strike Friday to protest economic reforms, saying the government’s plan for raising the country’s minimum wage for unskilled workers did not go far enough. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government says the reforms, including opening some sectors to private and foreign investment, are needed to boost growth. About a dozen of the country’s labor unions said the government should guarantee both social security and health care for all, and should be hiking the minimum wage to double what it is offering in order to keep up with inflation. Some states including Kerala and the territory of Delhi already have minimum wage levels that are higher than the new monthly target of 9,100 rupees to 13,598 rupees, or $136 to $204.