New minister is ‘half hawk’
Newly appointed Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said that China’s Global Times is “half right” in describing him as a “hawk,” saying that he intends to work closely with the US and other allies in maintaining peace in the region. “We don’t support militarization of ports, we don’t support any foreign country trying to exert influence here via cyber or other means,” Dutton told Sky News in a televised interview yesterday, after being appointed defense minister in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Cabinet reshuffle last week. “Obviously China has held long-term ambitions in relation to Taiwan, and we want to make sure that there is peace in our region,” he said.
Two stranded on car roof
Two Darwin residents were forced to spend nine hours on the roof of their car surrounded by crocodile-infested waters after their vehicle became stranded in floodwaters. Rescuers spent all of Saturday night attempting to rescue the pair after their Landcruiser became trapped when it tried to cross the Dingo Station river crossing west of Darwin at about 9pm. The water rose to the windows and caused the internal electrics to fail, leading the pair to seek safety on top of their car as they waited for rescue. A boat was finally able to reach the pair at about 6am yesterday.
Seventeen fishers missing
Rescuers were searching for 17 missing fishers after two boats collided in waters off the coast of West Java, officials said yesterday. A fishing vessel on Saturday evening hit a larger cargo ship, flipping the wooden boat’s 32 crew members into the water, Bandung rescue agency spokeswoman Seni Wulandari said. “About 15 survivors have been evacuated to the cargo vessel, but the team is still searching for 17 other crew members who went missing,” Wulandari added. Those rescued sustained minor injuries from the accident and were taken to a nearby hospital, she added. The Habco Pioneer cargo vessel was sailing through the Port of Merak from Borneo when it was hit by the local fishing boat, Wulandari said.
Record cocaine haul seized
Police announced a record 700kg cocaine seizure yesterday, saying that the shipment was likely smuggled on speedboats. The bust is the largest in nearly a decade and netted about HK$930 million (US$119.6 million) worth of cocaine. Authorities said that the collapse of global travel has forced smugglers to make riskier bulk shipments. Police said that a man with a trolley and 150 bricks of cocaine in cardboard boxes was intercepted on Friday, while another 492 bricks were found in an industrial building and an apartment, leading to the arrest of two men aged 19 and 25.
Collision kills at least 11
At least 11 people were killed after a truck collided with a passenger bus in Jiangsu Province over a busy holiday weekend, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. The truck drove through a barrier on a highway north of Shanghai and crashed into the bus at about 1am yesterday, Xinhua reported. As traffic piled up at the site of the crash, two other trucks were involved in a rear-end collision. Nineteen people were injured and hospitalized, Xinhua said. Media footage showed the passenger bus overturned amid debris from the barrier. Other early morning videos showed rescue vehicles and two cranes in action.
BEIJING BAILOUT: Pyongyang’s economic woes would not lead to famine because China will not let that happen due to its fear of a pro-US unified Korea, experts say North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for another “arduous march” to fight severe economic difficulties, for the first time comparing them to a 1990s famine that killed hundreds of thousands. Kim had previously said his nation faces its “worst-ever” situation due to several factors — including the COVID-19 pandemic, US-led sanctions and natural disasters in the summer last year — but it is the first time he has publicly drawn a parallel with the deadly famine. North Korea monitoring groups have not detected any signs of mass starvation or a humanitarian disaster, but Kim’s comments still suggest how seriously he views
The COVID-19 variant discovered in South Africa can “break through” Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to some extent, a real-world data study released on Saturday found, although its prevalence in the country is low and the research has not been peer reviewed. The study in Israel compared almost 400 people who had tested positive for COVID-19, 14 days or more after they received one or two doses of the vaccine, against the same number of unvaccinated people with the disease. It matched age and gender, among other characteristics. The South African variant, B.1.351, was found to make up about 1 percent of all the COVID-19
RARE ADMISSION: A top Chinese expert was the first to publicly address the efficacy of the nation’s vaccines as it aims to inoculate 40 percent of its population by June China is considering mixing different COVID-19 vaccines to improve the relatively low efficacy of its existing options, a top health expert told a conference in Chengdu on Saturday. Authorities have to “consider ways to solve the issue that efficacy rates of existing vaccines are not high,” Chinese media outlet The Paper reported, citing Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Gao Fu (高福). His comments mark the first time a top Chinese expert has publicly alluded to the relatively low efficacy of the country’s vaccines, as China forges ahead in its mass vaccination campaign and exports its jabs around the world. China
A years-long David and Goliath fight which has seen two Australian surfers take on a Chinese-linked company over alleged damage of an idyllic Fijian island has come to its conclusion after a court handed down a guilty verdict against the developers yesterday. The case has been described by Pacific legal experts as a “watershed” moment that tested Fijian environmental laws, as well as the willingness of the nation — which presents itself as a global climate leader — to “walk the walk” on environmental issues. Freesoul, a Chinese-linked company, in 2018 began work on Malolo Island, with plans to build Fiji’s largest