Zoo cleared of panda’s death
Chiang Mai Zoo has been exonerated in a panda diplomacy row after autopsy results revealed that a celebrity panda on loan from China, died of heart failure and not from neglect or foul play. The sudden death last month of Chuang Chuang sparked outrage in China, where social media users blamed the zoo for his death, suggesting it was caused by neglect or careless feeding. Chuang Chuang was 19 when he died. In the wild pandas generally live to up to 20 years, but can survive up to another decade in captivity. The panda, who had been on loan since 2003 was known for being obese and was famously put on a diet in 2007. The Chinese-assisted autopsy ended speculation the Chiang Mai Zoo was at fault, but the zoo confirmed it would pay an unspecified amount of compensation to Beijing as outlined in the loan agreement.
Solomons PM signs deals
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare yesterday met Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) in Beijing and signed several agreements in the first official visit since the two countries established diplomatic relations last month. “I am pleased to recognize the ‘one China’ policy... We are pleased to be on the right side of history and normalize relations with the People’s Republic of China,” Sogavare said ahead of a meeting with Li and other officials. One of the agreements is to work together on President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) flagship foreign policy initiative, the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as others on economic and education strategies.
Protesters rush Congress
Protesters on Tuesday broke into Congress as demonstrations over a fuel price hike introduced by President Lenin Moreno’s government intensified. Demonstrators, many of them armed with sticks and whips, surged through a security cordon. They rushed into the meeting room and occupied the podium, but were soon evicted by security forces. Moreno subsequently ordered an overnight curfew to protect public buildings. Clashes between security forces and protesters outside Congress erupted earlier this week as thousands of demonstrators began converging on the capital, Quito, to protest soaring fuel prices at a mass demonstration planned for yesterday.
Child charged with murder
A nine-year-old child accused of causing a mobile home fire that killed three children and two adults in central Illinois has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder. The juvenile was also charged with two counts of arson and one count of aggravated arson, the Peoria Journal Star reported. The April 6 fire killed a one-year-old, two two-year-olds, a 34-year-old man and a 69-year-old woman at the Timberline Mobile Home Park near the village of Goodfield, about 240km southwest of Chicago. Woodford County State’s Attorney Greg Minger would not reveal other details about the suspect. No child as young as this one has been accused in a mass killing since at least 2006, according to the AP/USATODAY/Northeastern University mass murder database. “It’s a tragedy, but at the end of the day, it’s charging a very young person with one of the most serious crimes we have, but I just think it needs to be done at this point, for finality,” Minger said.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big