Talks with China start
Officials began three days of talks on economic cooperation with China on Saturday, as Beijing improves relations with the country that is a focal point for its regional rivalry with India. “This visit will give an added impetus to opportunities accruing to Sri Lanka in the context of promoting the country as a regional ‘commercial hub,’” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement. China has increased its investments into the nation’s airports, roads, railways and ports, something that has unsettled India, traditionally the closest economic partner of the island of 21 million people. The Chinese delegation visit comes after Minister of Foreign Affairs G.L. Peiris, on a trip to China this month, said a feasibility study on a free-trade pact “is on the verge of completion.” China’s diplomatic support was won in a human rights row this month when Beijing voiced support for Colombo after the US said it would table a UN resolution over human rights on the island. Among the issues to be discussed in the talks, which are to be held until tomorrow, is a bilateral maritime cooperation deal, dubbed a “21st century Maritime Silk Road,” that would cover issues such as fisheries, technology and environmental protection.
TV star found dead
TV personality and former model Charlotte Dawson has been found dead at age 47. Famed for TV shows such as Australia’s Next Top Model, Dawson had also been an anti-bullying activist and was targeted by cybertrolls for personal attacks online. The New Zealand-born Dawson was found dead in her Sydney apartment on Saturday morning. Police said there were no suspicious circumstances. In 2012, she was admitted to a Sydney hospital after a suicide attempt following an ongoing tirade of abuse on Twitter. She revealed in her 2005 autobiography Air Kiss & Tell that she was frequently visited by the “depression bogeyman.” The tragedy was discovered the day after the birthday of her former husband, Scott Miller, an Olympic silver medal-winning swimmer, who became addicted to the drug, ice, and accrued multiple convictions for illegal drug and firearm possession.
Eight children drown
Eight schoolchildren drowned in the Muar River in Johor state, police said yesterday, in what officials described as a “shocking” and rare tragedy. The drownings occured on Friday after the boys, aged 13 to 16 years, went jogging along the river bank in Segamat District, local police chief Mohamad Kamil Sukarmi told reporters. He said one of the boys went for a swim in the river, close to where sand mining activities were being carried out, but got into difficulties. “Upon seeing their friend in trouble, the other seven boys jumped in to save him. Unfortunately all eight drowned,” he said. About 130 personnel including divers were involved in the two-day rescue.
Ships in disputed area
Three Chinese coast guard ships sailed through disputed waters off the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea yesterday, the latest such incident in a bitter territorial row. The Chinese vessels entered the territorial waters off one of the Senkakus, known as the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in Taiwan, at about 9am and left the area about two hours later, the Coast Guard said. It was the fifth time this year that state-owned Chinese ships entered the zone and the first foray in six days.