Asia Daily: January 5, 2024
North Korea's Kim calls for boosting missile launch vehicle production -KCNA. Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, emphasized increasing missile launch vehicle production, seeing it as crucial for military confrontation readiness. Kim's visit to a transporter erector launcher factory highlights his focus on strengthening nuclear war deterrents amid escalating tensions. The announcement follows U.S. claims of North Korea aiding Russia in the Ukraine conflict, which Pyongyang denies. Kim's directive is part of North Korea's broader military preparedness efforts. Soo-hyang Choi, Reuters, January 4
Japan PM vows to establish rules to boost transparency of LDP factions. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has committed to enhancing transparency within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's factions. This decision follows a fundraising scandal involving the party's largest policy group. Kishida plans to set up a "political reform" panel to restore public trust in politics. The scandal involved unreported revenues and potential slush funds created by the party's factions. Kyodo News, January 4
China's propaganda chiefs told to 'sing loudly about bright economic prospects'. Cai Qi, President Xi Jinping's chief of staff, has instructed Chinese propaganda officials to positively promote the nation's economic prospects. This directive, aimed at boosting public confidence amid economic challenges, was issued at an annual meeting of propaganda chiefs in Beijing. Efforts to enhance China's global image and manage ideological risks were also emphasized. Sylvie Zhuang, South China Morning Post, January 4
Kazakhstan: President gingerly addresses lingering Bloody January questions. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan discussed the January 2022 unrest, hinting at involvement of figures linked to former President Nursultan Nazarbayev. He focused on his reform efforts, including establishing a Constitutional Court and allowing independent parliamentary candidates. Denying political persecution, Tokayev emphasized his government's focus on welfare and multi-vector foreign policy. Almaz Kumenov, Eurasianet, January 4
Bangladesh holding ‘sham’ election: Exiled opposition leader Tarique Rahman. Tarique Rahman, the exiled leader of Bangladesh's main opposition party, has declared the upcoming national election a 'sham,' orchestrated to maintain Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's rule. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which he leads, is boycotting the election. Rahman, convicted in absentia of orchestrating a grenade attack, claims the charges are politically motivated. The election has sparked concerns over its credibility and potential violence. Al Jazeera, January 4
Myanmar junta to free 9,652 prisoners on humanitarian grounds - state media. Myanmar's military government is releasing 9,652 prisoners, including 114 foreigners, to mark the country's independence day. The move, portrayed as a humanitarian gesture, comes amid continuing turmoil following the military coup in February 2021. The junta's announcement states the foreign prisoners will be deported. This release is a traditional practice for Myanmar's independence day commemorations. Reuters, January 4
President chairs 4th meeting of Council of National Defence and Security. Vietnamese President Võ Văn Thưởng led the 4th Council of National Defence and Security meeting, focusing on defense, security, and foreign affairs. The council discussed strategic issues and proposed suggestions for policy and solutions. Emphasis was placed on protecting the nation's independence and security, and integrating into the international community. Vietnam News, January 4
Court issues arrest warrant for suspect in stabbing attack against opposition leader. An arrest warrant was issued for the suspect in the stabbing of South Korean opposition leader Lee Jae-myung. The Busan District Court's decision was based on flight risk concerns. Lee, who was attacked in Busan, is recovering after surgery. The assailant admitted to planning the attack alone and following Lee previously. His motive is still under investigation. Kim Han-joo, Yonhap News Agency, January 4
Malaysia gripped in wave of denials, accusations over alleged 'Dubai Move' plot to topple Anwar govt. Malaysia is entangled in a political controversy involving rumors of a 'Dubai Move' plot aimed at overthrowing Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's government. Political observers link the alleged plan to Anwar's anti-graft initiatives, with key figures potentially facing scrutiny. The situation has sparked widespread denials and counter-accusations among political camps. Aqil Haziq Mahmud, Channel News Asia, January 4
South Korea, US conduct week-long firing drills near North Korea border. South Korean and U.S. troops conducted joint combat firing exercises near the North Korean border, involving heavy weaponry. The week-long drills, ending January 4, aimed at enhancing combat readiness against potential aggression. These exercises follow escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, with North Korea testing various missiles and Kim Jong Un criticizing the allies' military activities. Jack Kim, Reuters, January 4
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