Russia to lease third sub
New Delhi has signed a US$3 billion deal to lease a third Russian nuclear-powered submarine for 10 years, giving the nation a boost in the Indian Ocean, media reported yesterday. The deal — which reportedly took months to negotiate — comes as tensions run high between India and Pakistan, and as Chinese influence grows in the region. A Ministry of Defence spokesman declined to confirm the agreement, but the reports said that the submarine would be delivered by 2025.
Flooding kills at least two
At least two people were killed and six more were missing after torrential rains and severe flooding, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people, the National Board for Disaster Management said yesterday. Heavy rain has pounded the nation for days, causing the Citarum River — dubbed “the world’s dirtiest” by the World Bank — on Java to burst its banks and deadly flash floods in the east. Floods and landslides killed a pair of residents in East Nusa Tenggara Province, the agency said. Six others are still missing and three people were injured, it added. The floods have affected more than 30,000 people in parts of West Java and East Java provinces, it said.
PM resigns over reforms
Prime Minister Juha Sipila yesterday tendered his government’s resignation after it failed to push through a social and healthcare reform package, the president’s office said. The announcement was made just five weeks ahead of legislative elections scheduled for April 14. Sipila has since 2015 headed a coalition made up of his Center Party, the conservative National Coalition and Blue Reform, a moderate faction spun off from the far right. Sipila has made health and social reform one of his top priorities, seeing a shake-up as necessary to cut the ballooning costs of treating an aging population. The reform has been a struggle over a decade and has divided successive governments.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) yesterday issued a stern warning against interfering in or imposing sanctions on Venezuela, saying history offers a clear lesson about not “following the same old disastrous road.” Responding to a question on whether China still recognized Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro or had had contact with the opposition, Wang said the sovereignty and independence of Latin American nations should be respected. “The internal affairs of every country should be decided by their own people. External interference and sanctions will only exacerbate the tension situation, and allow the law of the jungle to once again run amok,” Wang told his annual news conference.
China agreement mulled
The government appears undecided over whether to sign an agreement with China endorsing its Belt and Road Initiative, amid pressure from the US to stand down. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Guglielmo Picchi said that further reflection is needed before signing the proposed agreement. “As of today, I don’t think we should proceed with the signing,” he tweeted on Wednesday. Undersecretary of State Michele Geraci told the foreign media that while the negotiations are not over, the deal could be signed when Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) visits Italy later this month. On Wednesday, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) criticized comments by the White House. A spokesman told the Financial Times that the US believes the initiative benefits China, not Italy. “The US statement is very absurd,” Lu said. “As a large economy and a big country, Italy is very clear about its own interests and can independently make its own policies and judgements.”
Migrants killed in crash
A truck packed with Central American migrants on Thursday swerved off a highway in the south, leaving at least 25 dead and 32 injured, officials said. The accident happened in Chiapas State, which borders Guatemala, the state attorney general’s office said in a statement. The 3 tonne truck ran off the road and overturned, it added. The truck involved in this accident was carrying an estimated 80 people, Isidro Hernandez of the local Red Cross said. Some who were not injured might have fled. The fatalities include at least one minor, Hernandez added.
Secret list tracked advocates
Authorities created a secret database of journalists and campaigners linked to a caravan of Central Americans who tried to enter the US last year from Mexico, NBC reported. In some cases, authorities flagged their passports for alerts, the San Diego, California, affiliate of NBC said. It cited documents leaked to it by a source in the Department of Homeland Security. It said the documents list people to be screened at the US-Mexico border. They included 10 journalists, seven of them US citizens, a US lawyer and 47 people who were labeled as organizers, instigators or with “unknown” roles.
Expedition looks for tribe
A government agency has sent off a rare and high-risk expedition hoping to contact a small, isolated group in the Amazon and reunite its members with some of their relatives, saying that the move is necessary to avoid bloodshed in an area near the border with Peru. A team of nearly two dozen sponsored by the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) headed up the Coari River over the weekend looking for the group of at least 22 people, who are members of the widespread Korubo indigenous community in Amazonas State. The army, police and Ministry of Health are backing the initiative, which could take weeks. Brazilian law says that contact with isolated tribes can be used only as a last resort to preserve their lives. Bruno Pereira, FUNAI’s coordinator for isolated indigenous peoples, said that the objective is to ease tensions between a group of Korubos and a group of indigenous Matis who live about 20km away. The Matis contacted the Korubos in 2013, initially in a friendly manner, but the next year there was a deadly clash between the groups, FUNAI said. The Matis have repeatedly requested an intervention because they believe the Korubos will want revenge soon, Pereira said.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread