Asia

  • Chinese State Council calls for greater integration of Shenzhen with Hong Kong and Macau

    China’s State Council has called for greater integration of the city of Shenzhen with the neighbouring special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. The State Council is the executive branch of the Chinese Government, and its directive comes amid protests against Beijing’s perceived interference with Hong Kong’s political and economic autonomy. In a 19-point directive published by the state-run People’s Daily, the State Council called for Shenzhen’s “economic strength and development” to rank among ... ► Read more

  • Qantas, Virgin cancel flights to Hong Kong amid protests

    Qantas and Virgin Australia on Monday cancelled all flights to Hong Kong due to ongoing pro-democracy protests in the Chinese special administrative region. The cancellations were announced after peaceful protesters staged a sit-in at Hong Kong International Airport — one of the world’s busiest airports. The airport was forced to cancel all departing and arriving flights. Virgin Australia said in a statement: “At this stage, all other Virgin Australia flights are operating as expected however ... ► Read more

  • Russia asks Google to stop advertising “illegal mass events”

    Russia’s communications watchdog has asked Google to stop advertising “illegal mass events” on its YouTube video-hosting platform, following a large political protest in Moscow on Saturday. Tens of thousands of people gathered to demand free elections for the legislature of the Russian capital, defying a crackdown on such rallies. Roskomnadzor — the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media — said information about illegal protests was being spread via YouTube’s advertising ... ► Read more

  • Trump blames Federal Reserve for slow economic growth, but economists say trade war could cause recession

    United States President Donald Trump has blamed the Federal Reserve for the country’s “slow” economic growth. During his 2016 election campaign, Mr Trump promised his administration would deliver 3% annual economic growth, but growth has instead continued at a rate of about 2%, consistent with the trends of the last decade. The President has criticised the Federal Reserve for not lowering interest rates, which could boost economic activity by encouraging borrowing, spending and investment. However, ... ► Read more

  • More protests planned as Hong Kong recovers from another weekend of demonstrations

    Hong Kong is recovering from yet another weekend of clashes between anti-government protesters and police, but further protests are expected on Monday. In response to the protests, police blocked multiple roads in key commercial and shopping districts and stormed Metro stations. Metro services resumed on Monday and streets were being cleaned of debris. Shares in the airline Cathay Pacific, which is based in Hong Kong, have dropped almost 4% after the Chinese aviation authority ordered ... ► Read more

  • Diplomatic row after MP Andrew Hastie warns of Chinese mobilisation

    Coalition backbench MP Andrew Hastie has sparked a diplomatic row after he compared China’s mobilisation to that of Nazi Germany. Mr Hastie, who chairs the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, warned that Australia’s economic and national security will be tested by China’s expanding regional influence. “Right now our greatest vulnerability lies not in our infrastructure but in our thinking. That intellectual failure makes us institutionally weak,” Mr Hastie wrote in an opinion piece ... ► Read more

  • Moscow protest: nearly 1400 detained

    Close to 1400 people were detained by police in Moscow following a mass protest on Saturday (local time), according to monitoring group OVD-Info. OVD-Info, which monitors police arrests, said the number of the detentions from Saturday’s protest reached 1,373 by early Sunday (local time) — making it the largest number of detentions at a rally in the Russian capital this decade. While the majority of people were released shortly after their arrest, 150 remain in custody. ... ► Read more

  • Hong Kong descends into chaos amid tensions with Beijing

    Protests have once again turned violent in Hong Kong as police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at anti-government demonstrators on Sunday night. Riot police and masked protesters clashed in the finance hub hours after China’s Central Government Offices were defaced with graffiti and eggs in a clear reproof of Beijing’s rule. Masked pro-government supporters armed with sticks also took to the streets, attacking protesters at a train station as well as reporters who live-streamed ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 14 July – 20 July 2019

    Adani prosecuted over Carmichael mine report The Queensland Government is prosecuting mining company Adani for allegedly providing false and misleading information in its 2017–18 annual report to the Environment Department. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. “Defensive action”: US warship shoots down Iranian drone A United States amphibious assault ship has shot down an Iranian drone after the unmanned aircraft flew within 900 metres of the American warship, US President Donald Trump announced on ... ► Read more

  • Yang Hengjun: Australian writer detained in China charged

    Australian writer Yang Hengjun, who has been detained in China since January, has been charged with endangering national security, according to his lawyer. Mr Yang has also been moved to criminal detention in Beijing and is no longer under house arrest. The Chinese Ministry of State Security formally charged Mr Yang through a formal notice at 10:00am Thursday (Chinese local time). The notice says Mr Yang has been detained under section 85 of the Chinese ... ► Read more

  • DFAT “formally” requests Beijing let family of Australian Uyghur man leave China

    The Australian Embassy in Beijing has “formally requested” the Chinese Government allow the wife and son of Uyghur Australian man Sadam Abudusalamu to leave China so they can be reunited in Australia, Foreign Minister Marise Payne has said. The request follows Mr Abudusalamu’s appearance on the ABC’s Four Corners programme earlier this week, through which he spoke out against the persecution of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China’s supposedly autonomous Xinjiang region. According to the ... ► Read more

  • Australian students taught Chinese language and culture by Beijing-vetted staff

    Students in classrooms and universities across Australia are being taught Chinese language and culture by teaching assistants vetted by the Chinese Government, an ABC investigation has revealed. The assistants teach Mandarin alongside Australian teachers as part of a Confucius Institute program overseen by Chinese Government agency Hanban, and are vetted by the Chinese Communist Party for “good political quality” and a love of “the motherland”. According to the ABC, the application criteria was first issued ... ► Read more

  • Curtin University, UTS announce reviews of surveillance technology used by Chinese Government

    Curtin University and University of Technology Sydney (UTS) on Tuesday announced they are reviewing funding and research approval procedures due to concerns over links to technology that is being used to carry out mass human rights abuse by the Chinese Government in Xinjiang province. Four Corners revealed on Monday night that UTS was conducting an internal review into its $10 million partnership with CETC, a Chinese state-owned military tech company that developed an app that ... ► Read more

  • More clashes in Hong Kong between police and protesters

    Clashes between police and protesters have continued in Hong Kong over a controversial extradition bill that would allow Beijing to extradite Hong Kong residents to mainland China. The latest protest began late on Sunday afternoon (local time) when a small group of protesters threw objects at police, dismantled roadside metal barriers and set up barricades to separate themselves from police, who formed into a line. Protesters put on face masks, helmets and goggles and armed ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 7 July – 13 July 2019

    AFP accessed journalists’ metadata almost 60 times in 2017–18 The Australian Federal Police (AFP) accessed the metadata of journalists almost 60 times in one year, according to disclosures made to the first review of Australia’s mandatory data retention regime. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Alek Sigley denies he was spying on North Korea Alek Sigley, who was released from detention in North Korea last week, has denied allegations by Pyongyang that he is ... ► Read more

  • Alek Sigley denies he was spying on North Korea

    Alek Sigley, who was released from detention in North Korea last week, has denied allegations by Pyongyang that he is a spy. Mr Sigley was studying in the North Korean capital before he went missing on 25 June. He was released last Thursday with the help of Swedish diplomats and left for Tokyo where he was reunited with his wife. He wrote for Western media, such as NK News, during his time in North Korea. ... ► Read more

  • Hong Kong: Controversial extradition bill “dead”, says Lam

    Hong Kong’s head of government Carrie Lam has said a controversial bill that would have allowed extradition to the Chinese mainland is “dead”. In a press conference on Tuesday, Ms Lam declared the Government’s work on the bill a “total failure”, but again stopped short of announcing its complete withdrawal, as protesters have demanded. The proposed legislation sparked weeks of demonstrations across the city, prompting the Government to previously announce that progress on the bill ... ► Read more

  • Lawyers for Australian writer detained in China urge Government to intervene

    Lawyers for Australian writer Yang Hengjun, who has been detained in China since January, are urging Canberra to intervene. The calls come after Mr Yang’s wife, Yuan Xiaoliang, was prevented from leaving China to return to Australia by officers from the Ministry of State Security on Sunday. Ms Yuan was not detained but has been questioned by Chinese authorities and is subject to an exit ban. She was interrogated for two hours on Sunday, according ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 30 June – 6 July 2019

    North Korea releases Australian detainee Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced Australian man Alek Sigley has been released from detention in North Korea and has left the country. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Senate passes Coalition tax cuts, Labor backs down The Senate has voted to pass the Coalition Government’s tax cuts, with Labor backing down after failing to secure changes to the Treasury Laws Amendment (Tax Relief So Working Australians Keep More ... ► Read more

  • Does Hong Kong have a future divorced from Beijing?

    Hong Kong has seen weeks of protests sparked by a proposed law that would allow residents of the special administrative region (SAR) to be extradited to mainland China for prosecution. Increasingly, Hong Kong residents are questioning the continued viability of the “one country, two systems” policy that has maintained Hong Kong’s relatively high degree of economic freedoms and personal liberty since the British returned it to China in 1997. Some are pushing for Hong Kong ... ► Read more

  • North Korea releases Australian detainee

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced Australian man Alek Sigley has been released from detention in North Korea and has left the country. “Alek is safe and well,” Mr Morrison said during Question Time. “We were advised that the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] have released him from detention and he has safely left the country and I can confirm that he has arrived safely.” Mr Morrison thanked Swedish officials, through whom diplomatic efforts were ... ► Read more

  • China warns UK not to interfere amid ongoing Hong Kong protests

    China has warned the United Kingdom not to “interfere in its domestic affairs”, as the countries are embroiled in a growing diplomatic dispute over recent protests in Hong Kong. Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, said Sino-British relations have been “damaged” by comments made by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and others in support of the protests. For weeks demonstrators have held protests against a controversial bill that would allow residents of Hong Kong to ... ► Read more

  • Japan: over 1 million people to evacuate after heavy rains spark landslide concerns

    Japanese authorities have ordered the evacuation of more than one million people on the southwestern main island of Kyushu amid heavy rains which have sparked concerns of landslides. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has urged residents to “take steps to save their lives”. Three southern prefectures had the directive to evacuate issued to them by The Fire and Disaster Management Agency on Wednesday (local time). According to weather officials, more than 1000mm (39in) of rain ... ► Read more

  • 14 Russian sailors killed in fire on “top secret” mini-submarine

    Fourteen Russian sailors have been killed in a fire on a naval submarine, according to the country’s Defence Ministry. The ministry did not say on which vessel the incident took place, how the fire started, nor if there were any survivors. However, Russian media reported the fire broke out on the AS-12 Losharik — a nuclear powered mini-submarine designed for sensitive missions at great ocean depths. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the submersible was measuring sea ... ► Read more

  • Sri Lanka police chief and former defence secretary arrested for negligence

    Sri Lankan Police on Tuesday (local time) arrested the country’s police chief and former defence secretary for alleged negligence ahead of the Easter Sunday bombings that killed 258 people. The former defence secretary, Hemasiri Fernando, and police chief, Pujith Jayasundara, were arrested at hospitals yesterday where they were in custody, according to police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara. The arrests came a day after prosecutors asked police why they had not arrested Mr Fernando and Mr Jayasundara ... ► Read more

  • Hong Kong: Protesters storm parliament, police respond with tear gas

    Hundreds of protesters stormed Hong Kong’s parliament building on the anniversary of the city’s 1997 return to China on Monday night. Protesters shattered windows and pried open steel security gates to enter the building, destroying pictures and graffitiing the walls. The occupation ended after three hours when police deployed tear gas shortly after midnight, causing protesters to flee. The incident is part of ongoing dissent over a proposed law that would allow residents of the ... ► Read more

  • Indonesia arrest suspected leader of terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah

    Indonesian police have arrested the man believed to be the leader of the al-Qaida-linked terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. Para Wijayanto was arrested on Saturday (local time) by counter-terrorism police at a hotel in the Jakarta satellite city of Bekasi. National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said Wijayanto was responsible in helping make bombs that were used in the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people, and the attack on the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in 2004, ... ► Read more

  • Iran breaches enriched uranium limit, sparks global concern

    Iran has exceeded the 300kg cap on its enriched uranium stockpile agreed under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed the breach on Monday (local time). “We can confirm that IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has informed the Board of Governors that the Agency verified on 1 July that Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile exceeded [the deal’s limit],” an IAEA spokesman said in a statement. The IAEA’s confirmation came ... ► Read more

  • Trump, Kim agree to resume talks in historic meeting

    Donald Trump has made history as the first sitting United States president to step foot in North Korea while meeting Chairman Kim Jong-un in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) dividing the Koreas. The two leaders posed for photos before holding a meeting in the inter-Korean House of Freedom in the DMZ, from which they agreed to resume stalled nuclear negotiations. Nuclear talks broke down in February after the second Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi ended abruptly with ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 23 June – 29 June 2019

    Government to push ahead with tax cuts despite Labor reservations The Morrison Government is planning to follow through with its tax cut plan despite Labor not giving full support. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Rouhani says White House “afflicted by mental retardation”, Trump threatens “obliteration” United States President Donald Trump has threatened to obliterate parts of Iran after the Middle Eastern country’s President said the White House was “afflicted by mental retardation”. See ... ► Read more

  • Putin calls liberal values “obsolete”

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has said liberal values are obsolete because they have been rejected by a majority of westerners. In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Putin took aim at the political ideology which has guided Western democracies since the end of World War II. Among his qualms with liberalism was German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to loosen Germany’s immigration policies to accommodate asylum seekers fleeing war-torn Syria, which he called a “cardinal mistake”. ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 16 June – 22 June 2019

    “Very big mistake”: Trump responds to US drone downing United States President Donald Trump has said Iran “made a very big mistake” by shooting down a US drone, while Iran has defended the action and pledged to “zealously defend our skies, land and waters.” See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Tory leadership: Johnson and Hunt last men standing Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have emerged as the final two candidates that will be put ... ► Read more

  • Key quotes from Russia’s annual presidential Q&A

    Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual live question and answer session on Thursday (local time) where he touched on a range of pressing issues. Mr Putin takes questions from a large audience and even responds to queries over the phone. Here are the highlights. On whether he has become tired of the presidency “No, otherwise I wouldn’t have run for this term.” On arrests related to economic crimes “I would like to say: you ... ► Read more

  • Controversial Hong Kong extradition bill may lapse

    The head of the Hong Kong Government, Carrie Lam, has indicated that a controversial bill to allow extradition to mainland China may lapse following the region’s most violent protests since 1997. In a press conference on Tuesday, Ms Lam apologised for the political turbulence and said that the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 would not be reintroduced during her time in office if concerns cannot be adequately ... ► Read more

  • “Nearly two million” join Hong Kong protests, organisers say

    Did you take part in the Hong Kong protests? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Share your story by emailing or messaging us on Facebook or Twitter. Almost two million people have participated in mass demonstrations in Hong Kong, according to organisers. Protesters have taken to the streets for the third time in just over a week in opposition to a bill that would allow extradition from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland. The ... ► Read more

  • Morrison: US-China trade war putting “living standards of billions of people at risk”

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned the trade war between the United States and China is unprecedentedly testing global trade and “putting the prosperity and living standards of billions of people at risk.” Mr Morrison, who is in London to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, issued the warning during a speech to the Australia-UK Chamber of Commerce. He stressed the importance of multilateral economic institutions that forged the “post-war liberal economic order” ... ► Read more

  • Tiananmen Square: 30 years on and China remains just as brutal

    All countries have dark periods in their histories that are shameful at best. Like much of the West, Australia has a plethora of examples where atrocities have been committed, whether it be the Frontier Wars during colonisation or the White Australia Policy of the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries. However, in Australia there has been an acknowledgement of wrongdoing and attempts to correct past trespasses. The effectiveness of those attempts is another matter, but it is ... ► Read more

  • Tiananmen Square massacre a “correct policy”: Chinese Defence Minister

    In a rare acknowledgement of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe told a regional forum that the violent crackdown on “political turbulence” was the “correct policy”. In mid-1989, an estimated 100,000 students and workers occupied Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in mass pro-democracy protests. The Chinese Government deployed more than 250,000 troops to the square and ordered them to open fire. The massacre that ensued killed an unknown number of protesters, with some ... ► Read more

  • Morrison pledges $250 million toward Solom Islands infrastructure

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged $250 million in infrastructure aid to the Solomon Islands in a bid to shore up diplomatic capital. During his visit to Honiara, Mr Morrison also announced Canberra will fund the construction of a new office complex which will house the Pacific nation’s prime ministerial office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and promised loans of nearly $3 million for temporary Solomon Island workers coming to Australia under labour mobility ... ► Read more

  • Malaysia to send waste back to developed nations

    Malaysia will send about 3,000 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic back to countries like Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, as it seeks to avoid becoming a dumping ground for developed nations. Malaysian Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin said Malaysia and other developing countries have recently become targets after China banned the import of plastic waste last year. Ms Yeo said 60 containers stacked with contaminated waste were smuggled into the country, bound ... ► Read more

  • Three dead in mass stabbing at Japanese bus stop

    Three people have died in a mass stabbing at a bus stop in Kawasaki City, Japan just before 8:00 am on Tuesday (local time). The victims are a primary school aged girl and a man in his 30s, as well as the middle-aged attacker, who is believed to have taken his own life. More than a dozen people were injured, with two taken to hospital in critical condition. At least eight of the victims were ... ► Read more

  • Man dies inflight after ingesting almost 250 packets of cocaine

    A Japanese man has died en route from Colombia to Japan after ingesting 246 packets of cocaine, authorities say. The man’s Aeromexio flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Hermosillo, northern Mexico on Friday (local time) after the man began having seizures and convulsing. He boarded the plane in Mexico City after arriving from Bogota, Colombia, and was headed for Narita, Japan. The office of the Attorney-General for Sonora issued a statement confirming ... ► Read more

  • Banned CFC emissions traced to eastern China

    Researchers say they have traced the major sources of a global increase in emissions of the ozone-depleting gas CFC-11 to eastern China. According to research published in Nature, global emissions of the banned chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) have increased since 2013, and the results indicate a violation of the universally-ratified 1980 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The Montreal Protocol has been successful in reducing CFC emissions and restoring the ozone layer, which absorbs most ... ► Read more

  • Eight dead, 737 injured in Jakarta riots

    At least eight people have been killed during two days of post-election rioting in the capital of Indonesia, with hundreds more requiring medical attention, according to authorities. Jakarta’s Governor Anies Baswedan revealed the updated death toll while visiting the centre of the unrest on Thursday, after the violence had subsided. “The latest death toll is eight people,” he said. “As per 11 am today, 737 people have received medical treatment at hospitals around this area. ... ► Read more

  • North Korea calls US “a gangster country” over ship seizure

    North Korea has described the United States as “a gangster country” over the seizure of a North Korean cargo ship, and called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take “urgent measures” to stabilise the Korean Peninsula. In a letter to Mr Guterres obtained by The Associated Press, North Korea’s Ambassador to the UN, Kim Song, wrote that the Trump Administration committed “an unlawful and outrageous act” by taking over the ship Wise Honest and moving ... ► Read more

  • Trump signs order barring US telcos from using foreign equipment

    United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday (local time) intended to bar American telecommunications networks from using equipment provided by foreign suppliers. Executive order 13873 declares a “national emergency” and claims that “foreign adversaries are increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology and services”. The order directs Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to prepare rules that restrict the purchase of information and communications technology from companies “owned by, controlled ... ► Read more

  • “A little squabble”: Trump downplays trade war with China

    United States President Donald Trump has downplayed the US-China trade war following Beijing’s counter-tariff hike announcement, which saw over $US1 trillion wiped off stock values around the world yesterday. “We’re having a little squabble with China because we’ve been treated very, very unfairly for many decades,” Mr Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday (local time). “I think it’s going to turn out extremely well, we’re in a strong position.” He described his ... ► Read more

  • US-China trade war: global markets tumble

    Global equities have tumbled amid an escalation in the United States-China trade war that saw more than $US1 trillion wiped off stock values overnight. China announced it will impose tariffs of 5%-25% on $US60 billion worth of US goods, including frozen vegetables and liquefied natural gas. “China’s adjustment on additional tariffs is a response to US unilateralism and protectionism,” the Chinese Ministry of Finance said. “China hopes the US will get back to the right ... ► Read more

  • US tariff increase on Chinese imports to take effect on Friday

    The United States’ tariff increase to 25% on US $200 billion worth of Chinese imports will take effect on Friday (Washington time), heightening tensions in the ongoing Sino-American trade war. With no action from the Trump administration to cancel the increase, US Customs and Border Protection will impose tariffs of 25% on affected Chinese imports from midnight on Friday. Relevant goods leaving China before midnight will be subject to the original 10% tariff. More than ... ► Read more

  • Chinese media mocks Australian Government in WeChat posts

    The Australian Government has been targeted by online propaganda emanating from social media accounts linked to the Chinese Communist Party, a research paper delivered at today’s Safeguarding Australia Summit found. “Our evidence suggests that accounts aligned more closely with the Government in Beijing have a clear anti-Liberal story coming out of them,” said Dr Michael Jensen, a senior research fellow at the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, who co-authored the paper ... ► Read more

  • No enforcement of death penalty for gay sex, claims Brunei

    Brunei will not enforce the death penalty for persons convicted of having gay sex, following fierce global criticism of the country by international human rights organisations and celebrities. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah extended a moratorium on the death penalty to legislation prohibiting gay sex, after celebrities called for tourists to boycott a string of luxury hotels owned by the country, of which the Sultan, as absolute monarch, is both head of state and head of government. ... ► Read more

  • Putin enacts “internet sovereignty” bill

    Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday (local time) signed into law a controversial bill that aims to isolate Russia’s internet. MPs first proposed the bill to tighten state control in response to an “aggressive” United States cybersecurity strategy. It has drawn criticism both domestically and internationally, with digital rights groups warning such legislation would lead to an isolated internet landscape similar to that of China. The law seeks to create an alternative domain name system ... ► Read more

  • Indonesia: At least 17 dead from floods and landslides

    At least 17 people have been killed on the Indonesian island of Sumatra as days of heavy rain triggered floods and landslides. The severe weather has also lead to the evacuation of about 13,000 people. Officials have said the full extent of the damage is not yet known, with some areas still inaccessible. Damage to bridges and roads has affected nine districts and towns across Bengkulu province. “The impact of this disaster may increase,” warned ... ► Read more

  • Sri Lanka: Easter attack death toll lowered by more than 100

    Sri Lankan authorities have lowered the death toll from last Sunday’s Easter bombings by 100 fatalities, blaming a calculation error for the mistake. The final death toll is now officially 253, with the Sri Lankan Government admitting that more than 100 bodies had been double-counted. “Many of the victims were badly mutilated,” the Health Ministry said. “There was double counting.” The initial death toll was reported as 359 but autopsies and DNA crosschecks resulted in ... ► Read more

  • Putin unveils world’s longest nuclear submarine

    Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a new submarine capable of carrying six thermonuclear warheads on Tuesday (local time). Due for deployment by 2021, the Belgorod will be the world’s longest submarine ever built, measuring approximately 184 metres. “Together, we will inevitably maximise Russia’s status as a great naval power,” Mr Putin said in St. Petersburg ahead of a ceremony at a shipyard in Severodvinsk. The Poseidon drone missile system to be fitted in the Belgorod ... ► Read more

  • Morrison, Shorten risk WeChat ban

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten are among the Australian politicians who could be kicked off Chinese social media platform WeChat for violating its terms and conditions, according to an ABC investigation. Both Mr Morrison and Mr Shorten had their official WeChat accounts set up by Chinese citizens, a practice that seems to be in breach of the platform’s rules. By using accounts registered in China, they are subject to Chinese censorship ... ► Read more

  • Kremlin confirms Putin-Kim summit

    Russian President Vladimir Putin will host North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok this month, the Kremlin has announced. Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters the two leaders will discuss political and diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula. Mr Ushakov also said Moscow believes it is important that the United States and North Korea maintain contact. The Putin-Kim summit comes as nuclear talks between ... ► Read more

  • Sri Lanka bombings: Government confirms knowledge of imminent attack

    The Sri Lankan Government has confirmed it had “prior information” of an imminent attack on churches up to 10 days before the Easter Sunday bombings. At the time of this report, 207 people have died and at least 450 others left injured following a series of explosions that tore through churches and luxury hotels in three Sri Lankan cities, including the capital Colombo. It is estimated that 30 foreigners are among those killed. The Department ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 14 April – 20 April 2019

    2019 election: Morrison and Shorten to debate on 29 April Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will go head-to-head in a debate set for 29 April. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Fire tears through Notre Dame Notre Dame’s spire has collapsed after a fire engulfed the iconic Parisian cathedral on Monday (local time). See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. North Korea tests new “tactical” weapon, says DPRK state media ... ► Read more

  • North Korea tests new “tactical” weapon, says DPRK state media

    North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-un inspected and directed a “new tactical guided weapons firing test” on Wednesday, according to the country’s state news agency KCNA. KCNA did not elaborate on the nature of the weapon or its potential range, however, its description does not suggest it is a missile. Tactical weapons are designed more for battlefields and are not typically long-range armaments. Additionally, the United States Defence Department said it did not detect any missile ... ► Read more

  • Chinese billionaire paid lobbyist “tens of thousands” for private meeting with Dutton

    Pro-Chinese Communist Party billionaire Huang Xiangmo paid “tens of thousands of dollars” to former Liberal minister-turned-lobbyist Santo Santoro to arrange a private meeting in 2016 with then-Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. According to a joint investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Mr Huang was trying to secure Australian citizenship at the time. Despite the meeting — which took place inside the private suite of a Sydney Chinese restaurant — Mr ... ► Read more

  • Australian residents interrogated by Chinese officials over ASIO investigation

    Two Australian residents have revealed they have been interrogated by Chinese officials about an investigation into China’s influence in Australia. Chinese intelligence agents interrogated Yang Hengjun and Feng Chongyi for information on John Garnaut, who led the top-secret investigation with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) in 2016. A joint investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners programme, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald revealed both men were detained and interrogated over the ASIO probe. Mr Yang, a former Chinese ... ► Read more

  • Brunei introduces stoning for gay sex and adultery

    The Sultan of Brunei has introduced new laws that make anal sex and adultery punishable by stoning to death. In a move towards stricter interpretation of Islamic law, the new measures came into force on Wednesday, and also include harsher punishments for other offences. The new measures will primarily apply to Muslims, which account for about two-thirds of the country’s population of 420,000. Brunei is an absolute monarchy in which Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is both ... ► Read more

  • Pakistan hands India report on Kashmir suicide attack

    Pakistan says it has given India a preliminary report of its investigation into a suicide attack in Kashmir last month that was claimed by Pakistan-based militants. After handing New Delhi its “preliminary findings”, Islamabad said it would now seek more evidence from India for its ongoing investigation. “The Government of Pakistan has shared preliminary findings with the Government of India after examining the Indian report on Pulwama incident,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. ... ► Read more

  • Australia, EU and others suspend 737 MAX 8s following Ethiopian Airlines crash

    Australia, the European Union and other jurisdictions have indefinitely banned the Boeing 737 MAX 8 airliner from their airspace, following a second fatal crash within five months. On Sunday a new Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 crashed en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all 157 crew and passengers on board. Investigators are looking for similarities between the Ethiopian Airlines crash and that of a Lion Air MAX 8 that crashed in Indonesia, killing ... ► Read more

  • Controversy over Trump plan to bill allies for hosting American troops

    The Trump administration is preparing demands that South Korea, Germany, Japan and, eventually, other countries hosting American troops pay the full cost of the deployment and an additional 50%, according to administration officials. Under the direction of United States President Donald Trump, some countries would be asked to pay up to six times as much as they currently pay under the new approach. This move is intended to pressure the US’ NATO partners into accelerating ... ► Read more

  • Trump to be “very disappointed” if North Korea building rocket site

    United States President Donald Trump says he would be “very disappointed” if North Korea is redeveloping a missile launch site that was partially dismantled last year. Freshly released satellite images appear to show the reconstruction of the Tongchang-ri launch site near the North Korea-China border. Pyongyang started dismantling the site following last year’s historic summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Chairman Kim Jong-un. Released by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) — ... ► Read more

  • Prince Charles charity linked to Russian money laundering network

    Key points A Moscow-based investment bank called Troika Dialog managed a network of offshore companies which funnelled money across Europe and the US. Some of the offshore companies were involved in money laundering. Dirty money was mixed with legitimate money and distributed via screen companies, making it impossible to trace back to the source. End recipients most likely were not aware of any wrongdoing. A charity run by Prince Charles was one such recipient. It ... ► Read more

  • Malaysia open to resuming MH370 search if leads are “credible”

    Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke has said the Malaysian Government would consider resuming the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 if it receives viable proposals or credible leads. Flight MH370 disappeared while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March 2014 with 239 people on board, including three Australian couples. Malaysia, China and Australia called off their $200 million underwater search in January 2017 after it yielded no results. Mr Loke ... ► Read more

  • US-NK summit: leaders disagree over abrupt ending

    United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have given conflicting explanations for why their Thursday summit in Hanoi ended abruptly. Mr Trump claims that North Korea had demanded an end to US sanctions. “It was all about the sanctions,” he told reporters. “They wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that.” However, North Korea says it made “realistic proposals” at the summit. According to Mr Trump, Mr ... ► Read more

  • UN Secretary General: “We need a new vision for arms control”

    United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday (local time) warned pillars of “international arms control architecture are collapsing” and called on the United States and Russia to salvage the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. During an address at the UN’s Conference on Disarmament, Mr Guterres said the world “simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War”. “I will be blunt. Key components of the ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 17 February – 23 February 2019

    Liberals, Nationals, Labor targeted in “sophisticated” cyber attack, says PM The Liberal, National and Labor parties were all targeted in a recent cyber attack on Federal Parliament, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. ABF admits “human error” contributed to Hakeem al-Araibi’s detention Australian Border Force (ABF) officials have admitted “human error” in their agency’s handling of Melbourne refugee Hakeem al-Araibi’s case, saying processes that might have prevented ... ► Read more

  • Government seeks urgent clarification on Chinese ban of Australian coal imports

    Officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) are seeking urgent clarification from China regarding reports of a ban on Australian coal. It was reported yesterday that imports of Australian coal had been banned in China’s northern port of Dalian, and that coal imports from all sources would be capped at 12 million tonnes for 2019, according to a customs official. It is now being reported that a total of five northeastern Chinese ... ► Read more

  • Russia will respond in kind if US deploys missiles in Europe, says Putin

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a stark warning to the United States during his annual address to Russia’s Federal Assembly. Mr Putin said that any US missile deployments in Europe would be considered a “serious threat”, and that Moscow would retaliate in kind by targeting Western capitals with Russia’s new weaponry. “I’m saying this clearly and openly, Russia will be forced to deploy weapons that can be used… against the decision-making centres that are ... ► Read more

  • Russia plans temporary Internet cut-off in “sovereign Internet” test

    Russia is planning to temporarily disconnect from the global Internet as part of a test of its cyber-defences. The test is to determine whether Russia has the technical capability to maintain a “sovereign Internet”, with a draft law introduced to the Russian Parliament last year calling for a domestic network that is able to operate independently. During the test, data being transmitted between Russian devices will stay within the country rather than be routed internationally. ... ► Read more

  • Corruption trial of former Malaysian PM postponed

    The corruption trial of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been postponed, after his lawyers filed an application to delay the trial. Mr Najib has been charged over his alleged involvement in the 1MDB state development fund scandal, in which more than US $4.5 billion of public money was embezzled. He is accused of receiving almost a quarter of 1MDB’s funds into his personal bank accounts, and faces 42 charges of corruption, money laundering ... ► Read more

  • Hakeem al-Araibi on Melbourne-bound flight after extradition case dismissed

    Melbourne-based refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi is headed home after his extradition case — instigated by an Interpol Red Notice issued by his native Bahrain — was dismissed by the Thai Attorney-General. Mr al-Araibi boarded a Thai Airways flight a little after midnight (local time) and is expected to land in Melbourne at about 1:00pm, where a crowd of supporters, including the Pascoe Vale Football Club and former Socceroos captain Craig Foster, will be waiting to meet him. ... ► Read more

  • Australia rejects Thailand’s claim it issued Interpol Red Notice against refugee footballer

    The Australian Embassy in Thailand has rejected a claim by the Thai Government that Canberra issued an Interpol arrest warrant for Melbourne-based refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi. Mr al-Araibi, who is wanted in his native Bahrain, was arrested by Thai authorities in November 2018 while on his honeymoon. The Thai Government said Mr al-Araibi was arrested at the request of the Australian Government, claiming that Australia alerted Thai authorities to the footballer’s travel. The Australian Embassy ... ► Read more

  • SOTU: Trump announces second North Korea summit

    United States President Donald Trump has announced a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be held 27-28 February. In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night (local time), Mr Trump said if it were not for his election, the US and North Korea would be at war. “Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months,” he said. “If ... ► Read more

  • “Tit-for-tat”: Russian Defence Minister announces plan to create new land-based missiles

    Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Tuesday that Russia plans to develop new land-based missiles, four days after Washington and Moscow suspended the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. General Shoigu said the new missiles were in response to the United States’ development of missiles banned under the INF. “[The US] are actively working on creating ground-based missiles with the range capability of over 500km, which is outside the treaty-stipulated limitations,” he said. “In this ... ► Read more

  • Morrison: Australia is “pushing on every door” to get Hakeem al-Araibi released

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison told 2GB on Thursday that the Government is “pushing on every door” to secure the release of Melbourne-based refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi. The Prime Minister said he had not received a reply to his letter to Thai counterpart Prayuth Chan-ocha, in which he urged Bangkok to return Mr al-Araibi to Australia. In the letter Mr Morrison reportedly pointed out that Mr al-Araibi has a permanent protection visa, stressing the thorough process ... ► Read more

  • US announces criminal charges against tech giant Huawei

    The United States officially announced on Monday (local time) that it has laid 13 criminal charges against China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, several of its subsidiaries, and its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged Huawei and Ms Meng with conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran by using a subsidiary company to do business with Tehran. Ms Meng has denied allegations that she played a lead role ... ► Read more

  • Australian writer charged with espionage in China

    Prominent Australian-Chinese writer Yang Hengjun has been charged with espionage “endangering China’s national security” and engaging in “criminal activities”, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying has said at a media briefing in Beijing. “According to our understanding, the Australian national Yang Hengjun was suspected of engaging in criminal activities endangering China’s national security,” Ms Hua said. “At present, the case is being handled according to law, and Yang Hengjun’s legitimate rights and interests have been ... ► Read more

  • China confirms detention of Australian citizen

    China has confirmed to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that it has detained prominent Chinese-Australian writer and blogger Yang Hengjun. Mr Yang had landed at Guangzhou airport after flying from New York last week when he disappeared. In a brief statement, DFAT said that on Wednesday “Chinese authorities informed the Australian Embassy in Beijing” of Mr Yang’s detention, and that the “Department is seeking to clarify the nature of this detention and ... ► Read more

  • Afghan intelligence personnel massacred in Taliban-claimed suicide bombing

    Up to 126 Afghan intelligence personnel and trainees have been killed in a suicide attack on an Afghan intelligence service training compound in Wardak Province. On Monday (local time), a suicide bomber in a captured American Humvee crashed through the entrance of the compound, followed by several other attackers. Some officials have estimated that 126 personnel were killed, while more conservative estimates put the death toll as low as 30. Mohammad Sardar Bakhtyari, deputy chief ... ► Read more

  • Australian Government concerned by death sentence for Canadian man convicted in China

    The Australian Government has deep concerns over the death sentence given by a Chinese court to a Canadian man convicted of drug smuggling. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle a quarter of a tonne of methamphetamine from China to Australia in 2014. Mr Schellenberg was initially sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, but on appeal to the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court he was sentenced to death. “We are deeply concerned with ... ► Read more

  • Australian Government providing assistance to woman detained in Bangkok

    The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is providing consular assistance to an Australian woman who has been detained by Thai authorities in Bangkok for over a week, a department spokesperson has confirmed. Claire Johnson, 46, was expected to arrive in Sydney last week after travelling the world for a year, but was detained when trying to exit Thailand. In a series of Facebook messages Ms Johnson asked her friend Juliet Potter to contact ... ► Read more

  • Sultan Muhammad V Abdicates Malaysian Throne

    Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan has abdicated from the Malaysian monarchy, effective from 6 January 2019 according to a statement from the National Palace. The ruler of the Malaysian state of Kelantan was elected the country’s 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong in 2016, and has stepped down just two years into his scheduled five year term. He is the first Malaysian monarch to have abdicated. No reason has been given for his abdication, but Sultan Muhammad, ... ► Read more

  • Dozens of construction workers killed in Papua attacks

    Indonesian authorities are attempting to recover the bodies of 31 construction workers and a soldier killed by gunmen in the province of Papua this week. Police spokesperson Suryadi Diaz said 24 workers were killed on Sunday when gunmen stormed a government bridge construction project in a remote village in the centre of the province’s Nduga district. According to officials, the workers had been brought from Sulawesi to help build the trans-Papuan highway. The following day, ... ► Read more

  • Japanese cybersecurity minister admits he has never used a computer

    Japan’s deputy minister for cybersecurity, Yoshitaka Sakurada, has never used a computer in his professional life, the 68-year-old admitted in the country’s National Diet (parliament) on Wednesday. In response to an opposition question, Mr Sakurada said: “Since the age of 25 I have instructed my employees and secretaries, so I don’t use computers myself.” When asked whether USB drives were in use at Japanese nuclear facilities, he also appeared confused and said that it was ... ► Read more

  • Moving Australian embassy to Jerusalem could increase terror attacks, warn Indonesia and Malaysia

    Indonesian and Malaysian politicians have warned that moving the Australian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could result in increased Islamist terror attacks against Australians. Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated in October 2018 that the Australian Government is considering relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv to the de facto capital Jerusalem, although Jerusalem is not recognised by the United Nations. The potential policy change has caused concern regarding Australia’s relationship with Muslim-majority nations, ... ► Read more

  • US Department of Justice charges Chinese and Taiwanese companies with economic espionage

    The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged a Chinese state-owned company, its Taiwanese partner, and three individuals for “economic espionage” related to American trade secrets. The charges come amid the ongoing trade war between the US and China, which is due in part to the Trump administration’s accusations that China has engaged in unfair trade practices, including the widespread infringement of American intellectual property. The DoJ has charged Chinese state-owned company Fujian Jinhua ... ► Read more

  • Pope Francis open to visiting North Korea

    Pope Francis has indicated that he is open to an official visit to North Korea, a country recognised as the worst in the world for persecuting Christians. South Korean President Moon Jae-in relayed an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the Pope during a private audience at the Vatican on Thursday. The South Korean presidential office said President Moon “conveyed [Kim’s] desire for a papal visit to North Korea”, and that a formal ... ► Read more

  • Indonesia earthquake: 5000 still missing as death toll rises to over 1700

    Officials fear at least 5,000 people may still be missing in Indonesia following a deadly earthquake and tsunami that killed 1,763 people and devastated the northern island of Sulawesi. Indonesian authorities updated the number of casualties on Sunday, with the country’s disaster agency announcing the search for survivors would end on Thursday, despite fears that scores of people still remain buried under heaps of rubble and mud. Thousands of those still missing are thought to ... ► Read more

  • Interpol president “resigns” after detention in China

    International law enforcement agency Interpol has announced it has received the resignation of its President Meng Hongwei, but says the resignation does not include an explanation or provide any information regarding his whereabouts or condition. Mr Meng, 64, who is also Vice-Minister of Public Security in China, was reported missing on Friday after travelling from France, where Interpol is based, to China. China’s National Supervisory Commission issued a statement confirming it is investigating Mr Meng ... ► Read more

  • Indonesia earthquake: death toll rises to nearly 1350

    The number of confirmed deaths in Indonesia following Friday’s earthquake and tsunami has risen to 1,347, disaster response officials say. The death toll jumped on Tuesday from a previously confirmed figure of 844. The 7.5-magnitude quake struck just off the central island of Sulawesi, setting off a tsunami that engulfed the coastal city of Palu. Police are guarding shops against looters as people desperately search for food, fuel, and water, according to the BBC. Officers ... ► Read more

  • Trump accuses China of attempting to interfere in midterm elections

    United States President Donald Trump told the United Nations Security Council that China is attempting to interfere in the 2018 midterm congressional elections. Earlier this week China placed a four-page advertising supplement in Iowa’s largest newspaper, the Des Moines Register, highlighting the impact of the US-China trade war on Iowa’s soy farmers, and calling the dispute “the fruit of a president’s folly.” President Trump told the Security Council on Wednesday that the United States has ... ► Read more

  • Bali announces crack down on “insolent” tourists

    Authorities on the Indonesian resort island of Bali will issue new rules on visiting religious sites, a Hindu leader said on Wednesday, after disrespectful behaviour by foreign tourists sparked anger among adherents. The Balinese provincial government is preparing a decree to regulate temple visits in order to preserve the sanctity of the holy sites, according to I Gusti Ngurah Sudiana, chairperson of the Bali-based Indonesian Hindu Society. A working group comprising of government representatives and ... ► Read more

  • China supports ban on Hong Kong pro-independence party

    The Chinese Government has defended Hong Kong’s decision to ban a political party that promotes independence for the Special Administrative Region (SAR), expressing “strong dissatisfaction” toward countries that criticised the move. “Certain countries and institutions have made numerous and irresponsible remarks on the Hong Kong SAR government’s move to ban the Hong Kong National Party,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang. “We express strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to this,” he said, adding that ... ► Read more

  • Myanmar command-in-chief rejects UN authority in Rohingya crisis

    Myanmar military officials have rejected the authority of the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) following a UN report on the Rohingya refugee crisis that implicated the military in the persecution of the Rohingya people. The UN report released last week identifies instances of genocide against the Rohingya people committed by high-ranking military generals, including Min Aung Hlaing, Senior General and commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority ... ► Read more