Asia

Calls to abolish death penalty in Japan as Francis visit looms

On the eve of a visit by Pope Francis to Japan, activists called Friday on the government to declare a moratorium on executions as part of an Olympic truce to mark Tokyo 2020. The pope is expected to shine a spotlight on the death penalty in Japan, where it enjoys considerable popular support despite criticism from rights groups. He may …

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Singapore deports Hong Konger over protest discussion

Singapore has deported a Hong Kong YouTube star after he organised a small gathering to discuss the protests convulsing his home city in violation of public assembly laws, police said Thursday. The city-state’s elite are increasingly nervous about the unrest in rival financial hub Hong Kong, observers say, as they fear it could inspire demonstrations in the tightly-controlled country where …

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Chinese FM says US bill aims to ‘destroy Hong Kong’

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday condemned the passage of a US bill lauding pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, saying it “indulges violent criminals” and aims to “muddle or even destroy Hong Kong”. The legislation is “a naked interference in China’s internal affairs”, Wang told former US defense secretary William Cohen at a meeting in Beijing, China’s foreign ministry …

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Strong quake hits Thai-Lao border, shaking buildings in Bangkok

A shallow 6.1-magnitude earthquake hit northwestern Laos near the Thai border early Thursday, the United States Geological Survey reported, alarming locals who felt buildings shake as far away as Bangkok. The quake hit at 6:50am (2350 GMT Wednesday), roughly three hours after a 5.7-magnitude earthquake in the same region triggered an immediate suspension to Laos’ largest-capacity power plant located near …

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Furious China vows to ‘fight back’ after Congress backs HK democracy

by Jacques CLEMENT / Sean CHANG China on Thursday accused the United States of seeking to “destroy” Hong Kong and threatened retaliation after Congress passed new legislation supporting the pro-democracy movement that has thrown the city into nearly six months of turmoil. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act “indulges violent …

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SOS: Diehards hold out at Hong Kong campus as foreign pressure rises

by Nicolas ASFOURI / Ayaka MCGILL Dozens of pro-democracy protesters stood firm within a besieged Hong Kong university on Wednesday, where an “SOS” sign was laid out as supporters took up calls to distract police surrounding the campus by disrupting city transport. The four-day standoff between demonstrators and police at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) rippled overseas, with the UN’s …

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Arrests ordered in Philippines vaping ban

Just hours after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced he would ban e-cigarette use, police were ordered on Wednesday to begin arresting people caught vaping in public and to confiscate the devices. The abrupt prohibition, revealed by Duterte late Tuesday, adds to a growing global backlash against a product once promoted as less harmful than smoking. Duterte called the devices “toxic” …

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‘Barbarians’: Inside Chinese media coverage of Hong Kong

by Patrick BAERT In China’s state-run media, protests that have rocked Hong Kong for almost six months are the work of bloodthirsty “barbarians” or “terrorists” backed by foreign forces. Coverage of the unrest in China, where the Communist Party strictly controls the narrative of all issues it deems sensitive, is in stark contrast to that seen in the West. Western …

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Desperate Hong Kong protesters explore sewers in campus escape bid

by Anthony Wallace / Catherine LAI Arms covered in cling film and torches in hand as they drop into the sewers, clusters of pro-democracy protesters still inside a Hong Kong campus are plotting increasingly ingenious — and desperate — ways to escape a police siege. Among the detritus of a scorched and graffiti-sprayed concourse at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, several plastic …

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Hong Kong university protesters defy surrender warnings

by Catherine LAI Dozens of exhausted pro-democracy protesters barricaded inside a Hong Kong university defied warnings Tuesday to surrender, as a police siege of the campus dragged into a third day and China sent fresh signals that its patience with nearly six months of unrest was running out. High school students were among those holed up inside the battered Hong …

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