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Taiwan NGO shelves free trade zone referendum amid anti-China sentiment TAIPEI: A Taiwan NGO that promotes engagement with China has called off its push for a referendum on whether to set up a free trade zone allowing unfettered Chinese investment, its founder said, amid growing anti-China sentiment on an island Beijing considers its own. Chinese President Xi Jinping this month met his Taiwan counterpart, Ma Ying-jeou, in the first meeting between leaders of the two sides since China's civil war ended in 1949. Some observers saw the meetings as a step forward in improving ties, others as a polarisation of positions weeks before Taiwan holds elections in which the pro-China ruling Kuomintang (KMT) is expected to be trounced. Loh Hong-bing, founder of the NGO called Taiwan Glory, wants to set up the free trade zone on the tiny rural island of Kinmen, or "Golden Gate", once the front line between the diplomatic foes and just a half-hour ferry ride from ...

Indonesia may offer island to process refugees to Australia JAKARTA: Indonesia is considering offering a small island to process refugees captured en route to Australia, its security ministry said on Friday, in what would make it the third country this year to offer help with Australia's tough immigration policy. The government had "formed small teams to discuss this matter", a spokesman for Indonesia's Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs told Reuters, referring to a media report quoting security chief Luhut Pandjaitan. "We ...
Hong Kong votes year after protests in test of appetite for democracy HONG KONG: Hong Kong, decked out in colourful posters and flags, voted on Sunday in district-level elections that will mark the first real test of public sentiment since pro-democracy protests crippled parts of the Chinese-controlled city last year.About 900 candidates are competing for the 431 seats in 18 district councils, where pro-Beijing parties currently hold a majority, at a time when people are divided over the pace of political reform.The results, due late on Sunday, ...
North Korea warns South ahead of shelling anniversary SEOUL: North Korea warned Sunday of "merciless" attacks on South Korean border islands if Seoul stages live-fire drills near the maritime border on the fifth anniversary of Pyongyang's deadly shelling attack. The bombardment of Yeonpyeong island off the west coast on November 23, 2010 killed four South Koreans including two civilians and sparked brief fears of full-scale war. South Korea's military has in the past staged live-fire exercises near the Yellow Sea border around the ...
Japan backs US South China Sea operations SYDNEY: Japan on Sunday backed the United States sailing warships close to disputed land in the South China Sea but said it had no plans to send its own maritime forces to support the operation.Last month Washington infuriated Beijing when the USS Lassen guided missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of at least one land formation claimed by China in the disputed Spratly Islands chain.Chinese authorities monitored and warned away the vessel, but did ...
6.1-magnitude quake hits eastern Indonesia: USGS JAKARTA: A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Indonesia Saturday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said, but no tsunami warning was issued and no immediate damage or casualties were reported.The undersea quake was recorded at a depth of 67 kilometers (42 miles) near Indonesia's Babar islands, according to USGS.The quake was felt in Saumlaki, the closest city to the epicentre, a local geophysics station officer said."We felt the quake for about 25 seconds, and it felt like ...
North Korea 'categorically' rejects UN rights resolution SEOUL: North Korea on Saturday rejected a UN resolution on its human rights violations as a product of the hostile policy by the United States seeking to topple its socialist regime.A UN General Assembly committee Thursday adopted by a record majority a resolution condemning "systematic, widespread and gross" human rights violations in the Stalinist state. For the second consecutive year, it encourages the Security Council to consider referring Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court for ...

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