Asia Daily: January 8, 2024
Taiwan slams Chinese balloons as safety threat, psychological warfare. Taiwan's Defense Ministry condemned recent Chinese balloon activity near the island as a threat to aviation safety and psychological warfare. The balloons, potentially used for spying, have been sighted near major air bases ahead of Taiwan's January 13 elections. Taiwan accuses China of military and political pressure, while China dismisses these concerns as election-related hype. Ben Blanchard, Reuters, January 6
China sanctions US defence companies over Taiwan arms deal. China has imposed sanctions on five US defense companies in response to a recent arms deal with Taiwan. The sanctions ban Chinese entities from doing business with these firms, freezing their assets in China. This action follows a $300 million US-Taiwan deal to upgrade Taiwan's tactical information system. The sanctions reflect Beijing's strong opposition to arms sales to Taiwan, which it views as part of its territory. Alyssa Chen, South China Morning Post, January 7
Japan foreign minister visits Ukraine, vows $37 million aid via NATO. Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, on her first visit to Ukraine, pledged $37 million in aid through NATO. This support includes an unmanned aircraft detecting system and mobile gas turbine power generators. The visit precedes a conference in Tokyo discussing Ukraine's reconstruction. Kamikawa emphasized Japan's commitment to supporting Ukraine and upholding international law. Kyodo News, January 7
Maldives suspends three officials for insulting Indian PM Modi. The Maldives government suspended three deputy ministers for derogatory remarks about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media. The comments included calling Modi a "clown," "terrorist," and "puppet of Israel." The Maldives' Foreign Ministry stated these views do not represent the government's stance. Former President Solih condemned the remarks, highlighting India's importance as a friend to the Maldives. Al Jazeera, January 7.
Việt Nam always gives top priority to special ties with Laos: NA leader. Vietnamese National Assembly Chairman Vương Đình Huệ emphasized Việt Nam's commitment to its special relationship with Laos during a meeting with Lao Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone. They discussed the importance of strengthening bilateral trade and investment cooperation. This commitment reflects a longstanding friendship and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries. Vietnam News, January 7
China probes new higher education contacts. China is enhancing its educational engagement with Central Asia. Deputy Education Minister Sun Yao's recent visits to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan focused on collaboration in areas like scientific research, language instruction, and vocational training. These initiatives complement China's business interests in the region, with educational exchanges and cooperation programs expanding significantly. Eurasianet, January 6
'2-day US-PH patrols a success'. The joint patrols by Philippine and US navies in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone were successful, despite being monitored by Chinese ships. The Maritime Cooperative Activity was closely observed by two Chinese People's Liberation Army destroyers. This collaboration underscores the strategic military partnership between the Philippines and the United States in the region. Francisco Tuyay, The Manila Times, January 6
Hasina wins overwhelming majority in Bangladesh as opposition boycotts election, saying it’s unfair. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina secured a fourth consecutive term with a significant majority in Bangladesh's parliamentary election, amid boycotts by the main opposition party. Despite low turnout and pre-election violence, the Awami League won most seats. Opposition parties, alleging unfair conditions and government oppression, have rejected the results. Hasina's tenure has seen both economic growth and criticism over diminishing democratic freedoms. Krutika Pathi and Julhas Alam, AP News, January 7
Thousands of Rohingya homeless after fire in Bangladesh. A fire in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh has left thousands without shelter. The blaze destroyed hundreds of homes in the camp, located in the country's southeast. Arson is suspected. Bangladesh hosts a large population of Rohingya refugees, many of whom fled Myanmar following a military crackdown in 2017. The fire has heightened concerns about the safety and living conditions in the refugee camps. Al Jazeera, January 7
N. Korea fires artillery shots off western coast for 3rd day: S. Korean military. North Korea conducted artillery firings into a maritime buffer zone off its western coast for the third consecutive day, according to South Korea's military. The firings occurred in an area established to reduce border tensions under a 2018 inter-Korean military accord. South Korea has not planned any response drills. Tensions have been heightened in the area with these repeated artillery exercises. Lee Minji, Yonhap News Agency, January 7
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