More than 200 people living near a Tokyo base of the main successor to the Aum Shinrikyo cult took to the streets on Saturday demanding the group disbands, with the execution of its guru and a number of former disciples seemingly imminent.
The residents marched around the Adachi Ward compound owned by Aleph, led by Adachi Mayor Yayoi Kondo who held a banner saying, “Absolutely against Aum.”
The demonstration was planned to coincide with the recent 23rd anniversary of the 1995 sarin...
When Avelino Reloj left the Philippines for a job as a hotel janitor in Missouri, United States, he felt a world of possibilities was opening up. He quit his job as a house keeper in Cebu City, borrowed 400,000 pesos (US$7,700) for the trip, and bade farewell to the clear blue water and white sand that his home country is so famous for. For Reloj, life in the Philippines had been a far cry from such idyllic postcard images – at 27, he was struggling to build a home or start a family....
A powerful Indian politician was sentenced on Saturday to 14 years in prison for embezzling 37 million rupees (US$570,000) from a state government’s treasury while he was the state’s top elected official.
Laloo Prasad Yadav was convicted of embezzling the money to buy fictitious medicine and cattle fodder while he was chief minister of Bihar state from 1990 to 1997.
Eighteen former Bihar state officials, contractors and suppliers were sentenced in the case to jail terms of up to...
Young orangutan Utu clings to one of his rescuers after he is freed from the wooden box that has been his home for five years.
The tiny primate, covered in fuzzy auburn hair, is one of three Bornean orangutans saved in Indonesia over the past two weeks.
Environmentalists and local officials rescued Utu and another youngster, Joy, from tiny cages where they were kept as house pets in West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.
A third orangutan named Tomang was moved from a village in the same...
More than 150 short-finned pilot whales stranded themselves on the southwestern tip of Australia, stunning parks officials and prompting a massive rescue effort to save as many as possible.
The mass beaching likely took place sometime on Wednesday night to early Thursday morning at Hamelin Bay in Western Australia, according to the state’s parks and wildlife service. Videos of the scene showed dozens of the animals piled against each other on the shore, many with their tails still...
Altaf Hossain has been distraught the past couple of months. He’s always thought he was Indian, but is now being told the country doesn’t think of him as one of its own. His name, he has learned, is missing from a new citizenship registry being drawn up by the government of his home state of Assam, where millions of people are in danger of being disenfranchised.
“I am not in the first list, the authorities have supposedly found a mismatch in my family tree. My family has lived...
North Korea on Saturday agreed to hold high-level talks next week with Seoul to discuss logistics for a rare inter-Korean summit, the South’s Unification Ministry said.
The two sides will each send a three-member delegation to the border truce village of Panmunjom on Thursday for talks aimed at paving the way for a summit due in late April, it said.
Seoul has suggested the talks take place at the Unification Pavilion building on the northern side of Panmunjom sitting on the border.
It’s election season in Malaysia and it looks like this year’s political hot potato will be the national debt. National debt stands at 684 billion ringgit (US$174.31 billion), putting the country’s debt-to-gross domestic product ratio at 51 per cent. Most countries in the region have a ratio of around 41 per cent.
Prime Minister Najib Razak claimed last week that if the opposition came to power on promises to abolish the goods and services tax, the national debt could reach 1....
At the beginning of the evening, Annandale – about half an hour’s drive from Washington – seems just another unassuming town by a highway. But as night falls, it becomes clear that even though this is America, there is something quite foreign about this strip of land.
Once all the neon lights come on, Annandale – a small city in Fairfax County, Northern Virginia – transforms into a Koreatown, with restaurants and karaoke bars spread out between vast intersections...
Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono begins a two-day visit to Hong Kong on Saturday, but North Korean sanctions will not be on the agenda for discussion after the city’s leader rejected the idea, according to a source.
Kono had intended to discuss the city’s implementation of sanctions imposed on North Korea, including ways of stepping up inspection of ships, among other issues, but the Hong Kong government source told the Post that Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had...
John Bolton, US President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, said Trump should insist that any meeting he holds with North Korea’s leader must be focused squarely on how to eliminate that country’s nuclear weapons program as quickly as possible.
Bolton, a hawk who Trump named on Thursday to replace H.R. McMaster in the key security role, told Radio Free Asia on Monday that discussions at the proposed summit with Kim Jong Un should be similar to those that led to...
It is the nuclear-armed adversary of next-door India and a mistrusted anti-terror partner of the United States. It sucks up huge chunks of the national budget, while millions of children receive next to no education or health care. But nobody puts on a parade like Pakistan’s military.
Friday morning’s extravaganza before a cheering, carefully screened crowd of 70,000 at a pristine field in the capital was no exception.
The occasion was Pakistan Day – March 23, 1940...
Residents startled awake by loud noise and smoke signalled for help with lit mobile phones and crawled onto cranes from their balconies to escape a fire early on Friday at a large condominium complex in southern Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City. At least 13 people were killed and 28 injured, with police saying it was unclear whether anyone was missing.
State media quoted the city’s police and fire service as saying police rescued more than 100 people while more than 1,000 escaped the fire...
Songkran festival is no time to dress sexy, Thailand warns women
Authorities in Thailand are telling women to avoid dressing in “sexy” outfits in an effort to prevent sexual harassment and sex assault cases during next month’s Songkran festival. Sutthipong Chulcharoen, director general of the Department of Local Administration, said local bodies would arrange alcohol-free zones for revellers and launch campaigns to encourage tourists, particularly women, to dress appropriately...
Malaysia’s veteran former leader Mahathir Mohamad said on Friday that missing flight MH370 might have been taken over remotely in a bid to foil a hijack, reviving one of the many conspiracy theories surrounding its disappearance.
The Malaysia Airlines plane disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people – mostly from China – on board while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
No sign of the Boeing 777 jet was found in a vast search of the southern Indian Ocean and the Australian...
By Neo Chai-chin
It is not your typical “cruise”, but that is what one professor is calling it.
A team of 30 researchers and support crew from Singapore and Indonesia is setting off on a quest to find out what crabs, prawns, fishes and other marine life dwell in the seas off western and southern Java.
Over 14 days on board the Indonesian research vessel Baruna Jaya VIII, the team will use dredges, beam trawls and other gadgets to sample the range of organisms at depths of 500 metres...
The government has solved more than 90 per cent of the complaints lodged with the administration, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has claimed.
Gen Prayuth was speaking to villagers, who came to greet him during his visit to tambon Hua Na of Nong Bua Lam Phu’s Muang district.
“The government has accepted all the complaints,” said Gen Prayuth, adding 4,000-5,000 complaints on various issues in general, including graft, were lodged with the administration every month.
The United States will deploy a record number of Marines to train in Australia, the Australian defence minister said on Friday, as Washington seeks to counter what it describes as Chinese aggression in the region.
Payne said 1,587 US Marines will spend six months training in Australia’s remote north, an increase of nearly 27 per cent on its 2017 rotation for the programme known as the Force Posture Initiatives.
“The US military plays a vital role in underwriting security and...
A Japanese high court has upheld a lower-court ruling that sentenced a 22-year-old former student of Nagoya University to life in prison for the 2014 murder of an elderly woman and attempts two years earlier to kill two of her school classmates.
The Nagoya High Court on Friday said the former student can be held liable for the crimes, dismissing her defence counsel’s view that she was not mentally competent.
At her first trial at a district court, the ex-student said she had “wanted...
Sick of people sniping about his advancing years, Malaysia’s 92-year-old former leader Mahathir Mohamad gatecrashed a forum where voters were discussing whether he was too old to return as prime minister.
“I am here guys. Say it to my face,” tweeted a defiant Mahathir, who is seeking the top job again as the opposition’s candidate in looming polls, with a picture of himself at the discussion late on Thursday.
Mahathir, who was premier for 22 years, has returned to...
By Sarah Harris
The only surgeon in New Zealand who can do sex-change surgeries is not employed to do them - frustrating the trans community who are currently waiting up to 40 years for a procedure.
Dr Rita Yang started work with Counties Manukau District Health Board in January this year as a plastic surgeon. At the time her appointment gave the transgender community hope that access to gender confirmation surgeries would be sped up.
But an Official Information Act response showed that is not...
By Jessica Lin
Rough handling of luggage at airports is not uncommon.
But it is rare that the top honcho of an airline would step forward to personally address a single case of baggage mishandling.
AirAsia’s Group CEO earned some points for personally addressing an online video showing AirAsia ramp staff hurling passengers’ luggage from a conveyor belt.
The 27-second video uploaded on Facebook on March 21 quickly went viral and garnered more than 3.1 million views in two days....
The European Union, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and South Korea are among the nations that will get an initial exemption from looming steel and aluminium tariffs from the Trump administration, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Thursday.
US President Donald Trump is planning to impose tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminium - trade penalties aimed at China for flooding the world with cheap steel and aluminium.
China facing US$50b in punitive tariffs...
SHANGHAI’S economy grew steadily in February as industrial output, consumer prices and foreign trade all rose.
Its foreign trade increased 8.9 percent to 239.47 billion yuan (US$37.84 billion) from the same month last year, according to Shanghai Statistics Bureau.
Imports rose 2.5 percent to 141.62 billion yuan while exports jumped sharply by 19.7 percent to 97.86 billion yuan compared to February last year.
For January-February, the city’s total foreign trade rose 10.2 percent from a year earlier to 529.17 billion yuan.
Shipments to Japan jumped 59.8 percent to 11.64 billion yuan in February. Exports to the United States rose 12.5 percent and those to the European Union gained 11.1 percent.
Shanghai’s foreign direct investment grew 12.9 percent in contract value while capital that’s invested surged 30.8 percent in February.
The tertiary industry accounted for 97.6 percent of the city’s total FDI contract value as it sealed 256 FDI projects worth US$394.7 million, up 19.1 percent year on year.
Meanwhile, the city's value-added industrial output in January-February jumped 9 percent from a year earlier to 548.68 billion yuan, up from the 7.3 percent rise in the same period last year.
Of the city’s six key industrial sectors, the output of biological medicine grew fastest by 15.7 percent to 16.24 billion yuan year on year, while the output of high-quality steel manufacturing fell 5.9 percent and that of petrochemical and fine chemicals shed 0.2 percent.
Fixed asset investments in the city rose 10.2 percent to 87.54 billion yuan in January and February year on year, with investments in infrastructure up 12.4 percent and those in real estate added 10.1 percent.
Shanghai port’s cargo throughput sank 1.3 percent to 49.80 million tons from February 2017. The container throughput rose 11.3 percent to 2.95 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).
The city’s Consumer Price Index, a main gauge of inflation, rose 2.6 percent in February year on year, and grew 1.8 percent in January-February from a year earlier.
CHINA sees recovery and steady growth in higher-quality inbound and outbound investment as the country enters a historic “new era” in its economic, political, cultural and social development, according to a KPMG report yesterday.
This will support the ongoing transformation and upgrading of the Chinese economy as well as the vitality and resilience of global trade and investment flows, according to a report of KPMG China released at a closed-door meeting yesterday.
“Without a doubt, China will continue to be an important source of growth for companies around the world – not only because of the ongoing expansion and transformation of its economy, but also because the Belt and Road initiative will lead to more win-win-win cooperation between Chinese and foreign companies in third-country markets,” Bill Thomas, chairman of KPMG International, said at the meeting.
While growth in inward foreign direct investment has slowed, the market and policies for foreign investment are still expected to improve as China transitions to a “new economic cycle,” leading to a rebound in high-quality FDI, the report said.
KPMG also forecast that China’s outbound investment will keep a medium-high level of growth in tandem with the B&R initiative while tighter scrutiny on outbound investment will, hopefully, lead to Chinese companies to focus on high-quality, value-added investments, according to the report.
These efforts will create more opportunities for international private capital to invest alongside Chinese state capital, sovereign wealth funds and Chinese private investment in these projects.
LANXESS posted a 30 percent surge in its sales in China last year as the German specialty chemicals company rode on the country’s “fast upgrading” in the auto and building markets.
It didn’t unveil specific figures on China’s sales, but said the 30-percent jump in sales propelled China to account for 13 percent of its global sales in 2017. The group reaped 9.66 billion euros (US$11.93 billion) in sales worldwide last year.
Although growth in China’s auto sales fell to 3 percent in 2017 from 13.7 percent in 2016, “its upgrading has brought higher-than-expected profit to us,” said Qian Mingcheng, Lanxess’s chief executive officer for China.
The group’s engineering plastics and synthetic rubbers business also helped its “high growth” in China as these materials are replacing metal in cars to help reduce weight, he said.
ZTE Corp will set up an independent subsidiary for mobile business as its focus returns to China as the world's biggest smartphone market, the Shenzhen-listed firm said yesterday in Shanghai.
The world’s No. 8 smartphone vendor will develop the potential of the Chinese market, which now only accounts for 10 percent of its global smartphone sales.
Comparatively, ZTE is among the top 5 in major overseas markets including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Spain, said Cheng Lixin, CEO of ZTE Mobile Devices and chairman of the unnamed mobile business subsidiary.
The subsidiary’s business will cover devices with cloud and connection technologies and industrial-use phones with special security features, according to ZTE.
The company added that research, manufacturing and sales in the domestic market will also be part of the subsidiary’s purview.
MIDEA Group plans to increase industrial robot production capacity by fourfolds to 100,000 units annually by 2024, the Shenzhen-listed firm said yesterday.
Midea will do so by building a new manufacturing and research plant in its headquarters in Shunde in Guangdong Province with expected annual production capacity of 75,000 units in 2024. Combined with Midea-Kuka’s current capacity, the annual production capacity will hit 100,000 units then, Midea said in a statement to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
Midea and Kuka, which the former acquired last year, also decided to set up three joint ventures to “ultimately boost a fast and comprehensive growth in the automation business”, to tap the rising demand in smart manufacturing, smart healthcare and smart logistics in China. The joint ventures will be equally owned by the two partners.
BEIJING released its first temporary license plates for Baidu’s self-driving vehicles for public road testing yesterday.
The capital has opened 33 roads with a total length of 105 kilometers for autonomous car testing outside the Fifth Ring Road and away from densely-populated areas on the outskirts.
According to regulations for managing road testing for self-driving vehicles, autonomous vehicles are eligible for public road testing only after they have completed 5,000km of daily driving in designated closed test fields and passed assessments.
The test vehicles must be equipped with devices that can monitor driving behavior, collect vehicle location information and check whether a vehicle is in self-driving mode.
Test drivers must have received no less than 50 hours of self-driving training.
Beijing has built its first closed test fields in Haidian District, covering about 13 hectares.
The licenses for road testing are valid for 30 days and license holders can apply for renewal after self-driving cars pass assessments.
US President Donald Trump has imposed tariffs on about US$50 billion in Chinese imports to retaliate against the alleged theft of American intellectual property, White House officials said yesterday.
The new import duties will target industrial sectors where “China has sought to acquire an advantage through the unfair acquisition or forced technology transfer from US companies,” senior White House economic adviser Everett Eissenstat told reporters.
In a memorandum signed yesterday, Trump will direct US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to publish a proposed list of products that could be subject to tariffs.
The US action sent stocks diving on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down about 2 percent ahead of the announcement.
Trump will also direct Lighthizer to take action against China at the World Trade Organization, charging Beijing with preventing US firms from licensing their technology in China. The measure also directs the US Treasury to develop new proposals to increase safeguards against investments that could compromise America’s national security.
Earlier yesterday, China said it will “take all necessary measures” to defend its rights and interests, the Ministry of Commerce said.
“China will absolutely not sit back watching its rights and interests be damaged,” said an unnamed official in charge of the ministry’s treaty and law department.
Last August, the US initiated an investigation into Chinese intellectual property and technology transfers under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.
“Concerning the Section 301 investigation, China has made clear its position several times that it stands firmly against such unilateral and trade protectionist practices from the US side,” the official said.
Since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1979, bilateral trade has surged 232 times, and total two-way investment has exceeded US$230 billion.
US industries have expressed worries about the unilateral actions taken by the US, with 45 business associations having already expressed their opposition, according to the official.
“We hope that the United States can realize the mutually beneficial essence of Sino-US economic and trade ties, and that it won’t do anything to impair the interests of others or itself,” said the official.
CHINA’S central bank raised interest rates for open market operations by 5 basis points yesterday, following an interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve.
The People’s Bank of China conducted a seven-day reverse repurchase operation worth 10 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion), with the rate up from 2.5 percent to 2.55 percent.
As a monetary policy instrument, reverse repo rate is the rate at which the central bank borrows money from commercial banks. A rise in the rate will lead commercial banks to park more funds with the central bank, thereby decreasing the supply of money in the market.
The Fed on Wednesday raised the benchmark interest rate in the United States by 25 basis points and signaled two more rate rises in 2018, citing a “strengthened” economic outlook in recent months.
The PBOC said in a statement posted on its website that the move is “a normal reaction” to the US rate rise and it will also help to stabilize China’s leverage ratio.
The decision was the first of its kind after the new central bank Governor Yi Gang took charge this week.
The research team at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group believes that the rate-rise cycle will continue. ANZ said that given the current intensive deleveraging campaign and a likelihood of consumer inflation, China will continue to tighten its monetary policy under Yi’s leadership.
The rate rise also reflects Chinese policy-makers’ intention to ensure stability in the China-US interest rate spread and by doing so prevent potential capital outflows and foreign exchange instability, according to the ANZ.
China has vowed to maintain a prudent and neutral monetary policy in 2018 as it strives to balance growth and risk prevention.
China’s prudent monetary policy will remain neutral this year, with easing or tightening only as appropriate, according to the government work report this year.
Efforts will also be made to ensure a reasonable and stable level of liquidity, and increase the proportion of direct finance, particularly equity finance, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Communications financial research center said it is not necessary to raise the country’s benchmark interest rate as China has seen a high level of marketization of its interest rates.
Lenders experienced a rise of their funding costs in 2017, while non-financial institutions and households also paid more for their borrowing from banks in the past year.
AMERICA’S Federal Reserve raised the benchmark interest rate on Wednesday by 25 basis points and signaled two more rises in 2018, citing “strengthened” economic outlook in recent months.
“In view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation,” the Fed decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 1.5-1.75 percent, the central bank said in a statement after concluding a two-day meeting.
Fed officials widely expected that the US economy would grow at a faster pace this and next year, driven by fiscal stimulus and improved overseas demands.
The US economy will grow at 2.7 percent in 2018 and 2.4 percent in 2019, higher than previous projections of 2.5 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively, according to the Fed’s forecasts released on Wednesday.
Fed officials also expected core inflation to rise to 2.1 percent next year, slightly above the Fed’s target and up from an earlier projection of 2 percent.
The unemployment rate is estimated to fall to 3.8 percent in 2018 and 3.6 percent in 2019, both below the previous projections of 3.9 percent.
Fed policy-makers still envisioned three rate rises in 2018 despite an improved economic outlook, according to the median forecast for interest rates.
But Fed officials penciled three rate rises in 2019 and two in 2020, more than previously estimated in December.
However, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell downplayed the significance of these interest rate forecasts, declining to acknowledge that the central bank would pursue a faster pace of tightening.
“I think like any set of forecasts, those forecasts will change over time. They will change depending on the way the outlook for the economy changes,” Powell said at a press conference after the meeting.
A South Korea court issued an arrest warrant for former president Lee Myung-bak on corruption charges on Thursday, Yonhap news agency reported, days after he faced a marathon interrogation by prosecutors.
The 76-year-old, who served from 2008 to 2013, is the latest of several ex-leaders to be embroiled in a criminal inquiry and is being investigated for multiple cases of bribery amounting to millions of dollars.
Prosecutors had raised fears he may destroy evidence if not detained. Yonhap...
Maldives President Abdulla Yameen lifted a 45-day state of emergency on Thursday, a day after senior political opponents were charged with trying to topple him last month.
Attorney General Mohamed Anil said Yameen had decided not to extend the draconian laws he invoked on February 5 following a Supreme Court ruling that threatened to lead to his impeachment.
“The President has decided to end the emergency at midnight,” Anil said.
Yameen initially declared the state of emergency for...
Veronica Cabe still remembers every minute of the more than 12 hours she and her family spent huddled on the roof of their two-storey home in Manila in 2009, as floodwaters swept past, carrying dead bodies, animal carcasses and coffins.
Typhoon Ketsana, which killed about 500 people, was the most devastating typhoon to hit the Philippine capital in decades.
As the frequency and intensity of storms increased, Cabe began to speak up about holding someone responsible.
In 2015, she became a...
Internet giants Facebook and Google on Thursday testified before a parliamentary committee in Singapore as they warned the city state against introducing new laws to combat “fake news”, saying that existing legislation is adequate to address the problem.
Their warnings were made to a parliamentary committee which is examining possible measures, including legislation, to tackle false online information which the government says could threaten national security.
A Malaysian police investigator said on Thursday the absence of four North Korean suspects believed to have orchestrated the killing of their leader’s half-brother didn’t cause prejudice against the two women who are on trial.
Defence lawyers say Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam and Siti Aisyah of Indonesia are scapegoats in the death of Kim Jong-nam at Kuala Lumpur’s airport on February 13 last year. Prosecutors say four North Korean suspects recruited the women and provided them...
Philippine police said they killed 13 drug suspects and arrested more than 100 suspected dealers and criminals in 24 hours of raids in a province with a record of bloody crackdowns.
The suspects were killed in gun battles with police in a city and eight towns in Bulacan province just north of Manila, said police Senior Superintendent Romeo Caramat Jnr. More than 70 raids were launched in Bulacan on Wednesday, leading to the arrests of 109 people, including 92 suspected drug dealers and users,...
A helicopter carrying American tourists crashed at a coral-viewing site on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, killing two passengers from Hawaii and injuring two others from Colorado, police said.
The helicopter pilot pulled one passenger from the wreckage after Wednesday’s crash but desperate attempts to revive the 65-year-old woman failed, Police Inspector Ian Haughton said Thursday.
A 79-year-old man also died despite bystanders’ attempts to resuscitate him, Haughton said.
A plan to mine data from Commonwealth Games visitors who use free and fast Wi-fi in Australia was abandoned on Thursday as a privacy scandal swirls around social media giant Facebook.
The local Gold Coast council is offering a service up to 10 times normal speed after laying new fibre cables to coincide with the multi-sport event next month, which is contested between nations that are members of the Commonwealth. But there was a catch.
To use it, they wanted people to log on through a Facebook...
Forty-five countries called on Cambodia on Wednesday to reinstate the main opposition party, release its jailed leader and ensure a July general election is free and fair.
A statement on the human rights situation in Cambodia read by New Zealand on behalf of 45 of the council’s 47 countries, including the United States, Germany, Australia and United Kingdom, said previous optimism had been “replaced by deep concern” regarding a decline in civil and political rights in Cambodia...
Thirteen holiday hikers, including Chinese citizens, have been rescued after getting trapped overnight on a snowy Tokyo mountain trail.
They spent the night on one of the mountains in the Okutama region, Tokyo’s popular hiking area. The group included teens and people in their 40s.
They made an emergency call from a mobile phone at about 7:45pm Wednesday.
Tokyo police and disaster officials said Thursday that seven of them who couldn’t walk were airlifted. Six others hiked down...
By Kwak Yeon-soo
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said Thursday it will implement stricter rules and enforce heavier fines against owners who walk around without putting a leash on their dogs.
This comes after growing calls for stricter animal laws sparked by a series of fatal dog bites, including the death of a woman who was bitten by a French bulldog owned by K-pop idol Choi Si-won of Super Junior.
Those who do not put a leash on their dogs in public could be fined up to...
By Simon Collins
School principals in New Zealand are blaming record-low school attendance rates on cheap air fares tempting families into taking more holidays in term time.
The Education Ministry says only 63 per cent of all school students attended school “regularly” - defined as at least 90 per cent of the half-days - in the second term last year, down from a previous low of 66 per cent in the same term of 2013.
For the first time the Maori attendance rate dropped to just 50 per...
India, which sent an orbiter to Mars at about 1/10th the cost of Nasa’s Maven probe, is examining how to build habitations on the moon.
“ISRO, along with academic institutions, is doing experimentation on potential structures for lunar habitation,” Jitendra Singh, the junior minister for space, told lawmakers on Wednesday, referring to the Indian Space Research Organisation.
“Various options are being studied about the requirements and complexities of habitats.”...
With trips to Japan being so popular among people from Hong Kong, Tokyo sees the city as a testing ground for trying out various initiatives and analysing behavioural patterns as it seeks to attract more foreign tourists.
A record 2.2 million Hongkongers visited Japan in 2017, up 21.3 per cent from the previous year, according to the Japan National Tourism Organisation.
This means that more than one in three people from Hong Kong have visited Japan, and almost 21 per cent of them have done so...
One of Nepal’s last known dancing bears that was recently rescued has died after being transferred to a zoo, an animal-rights activist said Wednesday, blaming the death on “negligence”.
The two sloth bears were rescued in southern Nepal in December last year from a pair of itinerant street performers who used the animals for entertainment.
Soon after their rescue, the bears – 19-year-old male Rangila and Sridevi, a 17-year-old female – were transferred to a zoo...
By Gregory Morrissey and Penchan Charoensuthipan
Authorities in Thailand are telling women to avoid dressing in ‘sexy’ outfits as they try to prevent sexual harassment or sex assault cases during next month’s Songkran festival.
Department of Local Administration department director-general Sutthipong Chulcharoen said local bodies would arrange alcohol-free zones for revellers and launch campaigns to encourage tourists, particularly women, to dress appropriately so they do not...
At least 17 people were killed and dozens of others wounded when a bus travelling in northeastern Thailand veered off the road and smashed into a tree, authorities said Thursday.
The accident occurred Wednesday evening in Thailand’s Nakhon Ratchasima province with the double decker bus carrying around 50 people returning home from a holiday.
“The current death toll is 17, and 33 are injured,” an official from the Nakhon Ratchasima provincial emergency medical service said....
By Andrew Wong
Singapore’s Changi Airport has been named “world’s best airport” for the sixth consecutive year — as regional rival Hong Kong came in fourth place.
The 2018 iteration of the annual World Airport Awards from research group Skytrax was based on 13.73 million survey questionnaires across more than 500 airports worldwide, taking place from August 2017 to February 2018, the firm said.
“To be voted the World’s Best Airport for the sixth...
Police are set to serve another arrest warrant on a 27-year-old man over the murder of a high schoolgirl last year, the 10th arrest warrant served on the suspect who has admitted to killing and dismembering nine people at his flat near Tokyo, investigative sources said on Wednesday.
Natsumi Kubo, a 17-year-old from Saitama Prefecture near Tokyo, is the last of the nine victims Takahiro Shiraishi has admitted to murdering.
No charges have yet been brought against Shiraishi. The police are...
CHINA’S central bank said yesterday that foreign-funded institutions are welcome to enter the payment market to create a more competitive sector.
The People’s Bank of China on Monday eased restrictions for these foreign-funded institutions to invest in payment service providers, according to a notice made public yesterday.
The move will grant full national treatment on the foreign institutions. China aims to create a level playing field for both domestic and foreign capital by unifying the access standards and regulatory requirements for market access and entry.
Overseas institutions which intend to offer domestic and cross-border transaction services for subjects within China must have corresponding qualifications and a relevant payment business license, the notice said.
They are supposed to set up a “safe, standardized and independent” business system and disaster preparedness system in China.
The PBOC said foreign companies should store, process and analyze users’ personal and financial information in China as long as they are collected and generated within the country.
The foreign-funded payment institutions should also meet the central bank’s regulatory requirements for corporate governance, daily operation, risk management, capital treatment and deposit of reserves, the notice added.
Zhang Yu, an analyst with iResearch Consulting, noted that foreign mobile phone makers like Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics with their high number of Chinese users might consider entering the market with their payment services.
In 2010, the PBOC began to issue licenses to Chinese online third-party payment platforms to regulate and supervise their services which were launched to tap the burgeoning electronic payment business.
From 2013 to 2017, the number of transactions handled by domestic payment institutions rose around nine-fold to 319.3 billion, while the transaction amount surged from 18 trillion yuan (US$2.8 trillion) to 169 trillion yuan.
LIFESTYLE services website Meituan Dianping has launched a car-hailing service in Shanghai to take on leading player Didi Chuxing and raising concern of a new round of price war.
Meituan, which launched a similar application in Nanjing last year, said its app will allow Shanghai customers to hail taxi or private chauffeur rides.
But the app was warned by Shanghai's traffic authority, police and market watchdog for its advertising strategies and licensing of cars right after its new service debuted yesterday.
Meituan was ordered yesterday to remove an advertisement on its official WeChat account that highlighted low prices. The traffic authority said the advertisement could be misleading and it was worried about possible vicious competition.
Meituan Dianping, which is known for its online-to-offline business model that offers services from restaurant reviews, food delivery, movie ticketing and travel booking, said car hailing is an indispensable part of its O2O ecosystem to help link consumers with various service providers.
“We still see unmet ride-hailing demand and it also helps connect users with our existing business offering such as food delivery, movie ticketing and restaurant reviews,” it said, adding this could strengthen its advantage for one-stop O2O service in one integrated platform.
Customers who search for places to dine on Meituan Dianping’s smartphone application can hail a ride inside the app directly without opening a separate software.
In the first three months of its operation in Shanghai, Meituan will waive an 8 percent commission from drivers. Didi drivers are charged a 20 to 25 percent commission.
Meituan Dianping also offers an extra subsidy for taxi and chauffeur drivers as they are guranteed a 600 yuan daily income. If drivers makes 600 yuan in fares every day, the company will award them an extra 200 yuan.
It grants 14 yuan in digital coupons for the first three rides on its platform to riders who get an additional 50 yuan subsidy if they invite friends to use the new service.
Previously, Didi and its smaller rival Kuaidi and Uber China had offered similar incentives to drivers and riders as competition heated up.
In the end they merged operations and Didi became the dominant player.
Didi, whose stakeholders include Apple, Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings, has taken the lion’s share of the domestic ride-hailing market.
TENCENT posted 56 percent annual revenue growth while profit surged 44 percent thanks to strong games and payment related services in the past year.
The social and online gaming giant said 2017 profit under non-GAAP rules jumped 44 percent to 66.4 billion yuan (US$10.2 billion) and full-year revenue stood at 237.8 billion yuan.
Mobile gaming income in the fourth quarter hiked 59 percent to 16.99 billion yuan with PC game revenue up 11.2 percent over the same period to 12.8 billion yuan.
The monthly active user of its popular smartphone social networking application WeChat climbed 11 percent from a year ago to 988.6 billion.
Offline transaction volumes through WeChat Pay more than doubled from a year ago and social transaction volumes, or small sum payment between WeChat contacts, also picked up. The company is quickly catching up with rival Alibaba Group’s payment service Alipay.
Games, payment related services, digital content subscriptions and sales, and social and video advertising were key contributors to the overall revenue growth.
“We are increasing our investment in areas including video, payment, cloud, AI technologies and smart retail,” chairman and CEO Pony Ma said.
UNIONPAY International is partnering global payment service provider ACI Worldwide to expand its business overseas.
The new partnership will help China UnionPay, with more than 7 billion card users, to speed up global expansion and bring convenience to users for paying cross-border shopping, education and tourism services, both sides said yesterday.
Nasdaq-listed ACI Worldwide, which offers payment service for 5,100 organizations including professional finance firms, will help increase UnionPay International’s acceptance globally and help it to roll out a range of new products, services and payment technology rapidly to the market.
In the initial stage of the tie-up, both firms will sign on several hundred merchants globally to accept payments using UnionPay.
SHUI On Land Ltd, a developer renowned for its Tiandi-series projects in several Chinese cities, posted solid business growth for 2017 due to improved sales margin and positive contribution from asset divestments.
Total property sales, including recognized property sales, disposal of investment properties and equity in subsidiaries, as well as turnover of associates, rose 38 percent from 2016 to 30.3 billion yuan (US$4.78 billion) last year, the Shanghai-based company said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday.
Profit attributable to shareholders jumped 53 percent year on year to 1.67 billion yuan..
"The commendable results are mainly due to strong contracted sales in the previous year, the contribution from a number of value-realizing transactions, resulting from our asset light strategy, our strong brand, high quality portfolio of commercial assets, and our solid foundation in the residential property sector," said Vincent Lo, chairman of Shui On Land.
The interior of Lloyd’s of London is shown in central London. Lloyd’s of London yesterday posted its first annual loss in six years after a series of devastating hurricanes and other natural disasters. Lloyd’s posted a pre-tax loss of 2 billion pounds (US$2.8 billion) for 2017, which compared with a pre-tax profit of 2.1 billion pounds a year ago, the group said in a statement.
AS the UK prepares to carve a new role for itself on the world stage post Brexit, I am reminded of an ancient Chinese proverb: the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
As Lord Mayor of the City of London, and a principle ambassador for the UK’s financial and professional services industry, I am in Shanghai this week to do exactly this, sewing the seeds of economic cooperation for the future, while building on the decades of dialogue and engagement between our two great cities.
The City of London and Shanghai are truly old friends.
Back in 1996 we signed our first cooperation agreement, which became a memorandum of understanding in 2007. Ten years on, I am delighted to be resigning this agreement alongside the Mayor of Shanghai Ying Yong.
After all, our two cities have much to gain from continuing to work together in so many areas.
Firstly, capital market cooperation. The much-anticipated London Shanghai Stock Connect is in its final stages of preparations.
When it hopefully launches this year, it will allow investors from China and Britain to buy stocks from each other’s markets, accelerating the opening-up of China’s financial market, and increasing investor awareness of the RMB currency, for which London is already the largest offshore trading hub outside of Asia.
Elsewhere, London and Shanghai can work together on providing financing for the Belt and Road Initiative.
As President Xi Jinping said Shanghai is the Belt and Road bridgehead, and recently the first Belt and Road bond was listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
London, as a leading international financial center, is the natural western hub of the Belt and Road, able to support the initiative in many areas, from infrastructure financing, consultancy, green finance, rule of law and foreign exchange.
2018 marks 10 years since the City of London Corporation opened a Representative Office in Shanghai.
As we celebrate this milestone, and look back to what we have achieved over the last decade, we also look forward to our next decade in the City, and across Asia.
To do this we are asking stakeholders in Shanghai to provide us your views in relation to our work, and how best you think we can help promote industry ties between London and Shanghai over the next ten years.
As we approach Brexit, it is worth remembering that London has never been a European financial centre; it has always been a global financial centre.
Our Chinese relationships play a critical part in the capital’s global ecosystem. Nearly 40 financial institutions from China already call London home, and many of London’s financial firms — large and small — have operations in the city.
One my visit, I will also be reminding Chinese government regulators and business leaders just how much the City of London values our long relationship. After all, to quote another Chinese proverb: Friends are like wine: the older, the better.
WITH Chinese residents’ rising awareness of clean water, global industrial giants are keen to make their mark in the consumer market.
Last week, US-based chemicals group Dow unveiled Taptec, a water purification product “to focus on household drinking water” after years of selling industrial components for sewage systems.
Before that, at its Chinese research center rival General Electric developed a reverse osmosis film, or membrane, to filter water for drinking while Japan-based Mitsubishi projected its water purifier sales in China to quintuple by 2020 from the level in 2016. “The household drinking market here will significantly surpass the growth of the industrial sewage treatment sector,” it said.
Water treatment is increasingly becoming a matter for households with rising awareness of pollutants, bringing opportunities to industrial manufacturers with key technologies.
In the past, brand names were the main factor influencing consumer choice when it came to buying water purifiers.
Nowadays, however, component manufacturers — who “truly decide the quality of the purifiers” — are getting closer to end users to fight for a larger share of the market, said Wang Liping, a veteran in water purifier sales.
Along with launching a new brand name, Dow is attaching a QR code to every product. This can be scanned to determine whether the product is genuine.
The product also applies reverse osmosis technology, “which is the key to decide the quality of water purifiers, also one of the most advanced water purification technologies worldwide,” Wang said.
To help consumers learn about such technology and trace product information, Dow also set up a weChat account to “raise awareness and protect brand reputation,” said Alan Chan, commercial director in the Asia Pacific for Dow Water & Process Solutions.
While previously such technology mainly applied in industrial sewage treatment, “the right time seems to have arrived for us to meet consumers,” he said.
On Zhihu, a Chinese crowd-source Q&A platform, information about reverse osmosis attracted nearly 54,000 page views with domestic users keen to find out which companies produced the best films and purifiers and which brands were using the technology.
An enormous market expected to be worth 1.9 trillion yuan by 2020, water treatment in China has great potential as only 5-10 percent of domestic residents have installed water purifiers, “while abroad the figure is around 90 percent,” Wang said.
The water purifier market in China will be worth over 100 billion yuan (US$16 billion) in the next five years, according to bg.qianzhan.com, a domestic consultancy. It said sales totaled 12.1 billion yuan in 2014, up 66.9 percent from the previous year. That compared to the 0.25 percent average annual sales growth of household appliances at the time, bg.qianzhan.com said.
Such opportunities now favor key technology owners such as membrane makers rather than “whole machine” manufacturers following the public’s rising awareness of these technologies, Jiemian.com, a domestic financial news outlet, reported.
The reason for the shift is partly because domestic producers lack such technologies.
China has around 400 membrane producers. “But they have only a limited market share, with the domestic market dominated by foreign giants,” reported Shenzhen Gaogong Industry Research Co, a domestic consultancy.
Dow, along with foreign companies that include GE, Japan’s Nitto and Toray, US firm Koch and South Korea’s CSM, “almost earn around 90 percent of the market share,” the consultancy said.
Such brands have “worked silently with domestic companies and governments, already making great profits from the municipal and industrial projects in past decades,” said Wang Lingquan, vice chief-editor at the North China Municipal Engineering Design & Research Institute.
But now, the consumer market has become the “last cake of China’s water treatment industry,” which is growing much faster than the traditional industrial sector, Wang said.
Dow won’t reveal sales figures for its water treatment products in China, but said that in the near future the consumer market, rather than the industrial sector, would be the largest bolster of its performance in China, Chan said.
GE, meanwhile, has collaborated with domestic brands such as Xiaomi to use its filtration films, aiming to expand its brand awareness among Chinese residents.
However, Wang said obstacles remain.
On one hand, China aims to expand the market size of domestic membrane to 230-300 billion yuan by 2020, with the market share of domestic producers increasing around 30 percent, “which would erode foreign brands’ profits.”
On the other hand, the effect of such brands’ promotion to domestic consumers remains to be seen, as in several posts at Zhihu, there were questions about whether water filtered through such films are healthy.
“Being high-quality means being costly,” was one comment. “Producers need to find ways to persuade consumers to buy, instead of merely saying our water is clean.”
Japanese condom makers are ramping up preparations ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, seeing a golden opportunity to showcase their world-record ultra-thin products.
For years, hundreds of thousands of condoms have been distributed for free to competitors at Olympic Games in a bid to encourage safe sex among the world’s fittest athletes.
The tradition provides prophylactic producers with a potentially unrivalled marketing opportunity.
In Japan, condom makers are hoping the Olympics...
Singapore’s parliament on Wednesday passed a controversial law giving authorities the power to block all electronic communications at the scene of a terror attack, despite protests it will erode media freedom.
The law allows police to stop anyone within the vicinity of what they deem to be a “serious incident”, including a terror attack, from taking photos and video or communicating about police operations through text and audio messages.
The government claims the affluent...
Maldives authorities have charged former strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and several senior judges with “terrorism” for attempting to topple President Abdulla Yameen, the government said Wednesday.
Eighty-year-old Gayoom and 10 others – including the sacked chief justice Abdulla Saeed – were charged under state of emergency laws imposed in the paradise tourist island last month.
Yameen declared the draconian laws in February in a bid to prevent himself from being...
By Nanat Suchiva
Thai people spend an average of 2.4 hours watching YouTube each day, reflecting opportunities for brands and advertisers, says YouTube Thailand.
YouTube Thailand, an affiliate company of the world’s top video streaming platform, reports that 46 million Thais watch YouTube.
People in urban areas average 2.4 hours a day and spend 70 minutes per visit, while those in rural areas spend 2.1 hours a day and 60 minutes per visit.
Ben King, Google Thailand’s country...
A police officer in the US state of Minnesota who shot dead an unarmed Australian woman last July was charged on Tuesday with murder, in a case that sparked an international outcry.
Mohamed Noor shot Justine Damond, a resident of the city of Minneapolis, after she called to report a possible rape in the evening hours, and approached the police car that had arrived to investigate.
“From the short time between when Ms Damond Ruszczyk approached the squad car, to the time that Officer Noor...
By Jung Min-ho and Kang Aa-young
The South Korean government will carry out a month-long inspection of employers of migrant workers.
As part of an effort to better protect female workers from sex crimes amid the #MeToo movement, the country’s Ministry of Employment and Labour said Monday it will check more than 500 workplaces across the country between March 20 and April 27.
“The main targets of our inspection this time are the workplaces where the ratio of female workers is high,...
The mayor of the major financial hub in the Philippines said on Wednesday she was investigating after a pornographic video appeared briefly on a prominent billboard, startling motorists on one of the bustling city’s major roadways.
The video appeared for about half a minute on an electronic billboard at a busy intersection on the main road through Makati City, the central business district of the sprawling capital, Manila, on Tuesday afternoon.
Makati Mayor Abigail Binay immediately...
Myanmar’s civilian president, Htin Kyaw, has resigned with immediate effect “in order to take rest from the current duties and responsibilities”, his office said in a statement posted on Facebook on Wednesday.
Htin Kyaw, whose post is largely ceremonial, has been a close ally of the country’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
He was hand-picked by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate to become president because a constitution drafted by the country’s former junta bars...
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said a three-way summit with North Korea and the United States was possible as Pyongyang broke its silence on the recent diplomatic thaw.
Moon is planning a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un next month after a flurry of diplomatic activity in Asia, Europe and the United States.
US President Donald Trump has also said he would meet Kim by the end of May.
“A North Korea-US summit would be a historic event in itself following an inter-Korean...
Nineteen people were killed and 21 others injured when a passenger bus lost control and plunged off a cliff in the central Philippines, police said Wednesday.
The bus, which was heading to the capital Manila, skidded off a mountain road on Mindoro island late Tuesday, said regional police spokeswoman Imelda Tolentino.
Rescuers were pulling the dead and injured from the vehicle, which landed at the bottom of a wooded ravine, she added.
“Police are investigating why the driver lost control...
By Sam Hurley
A hoax baby shower, fake pregnancy suit and an adoption claim preceded a newborn’s kidnapping in New Zealand as a young woman’s infatuation with being pregnant grew.
Nadene Faye Manukau-Togiavalu was working as a nanny for a family with a baby girl at their Epsom home in Auckland.
Her pregnancy delusion culminated with the kidnapping of the newborn.
Today, details of Manukau-Togiavalu’s offending were heard in the High Court at Auckland as her co-offender and 18-...
Australian tycoon James Packer Wednesday quit as director of his gaming empire Crown Resorts as he battles “mental health issues”, stepping back from all commitments, his company said in a stunning and unexpected announcement.
The billionaire mogul has been in the spotlight for personal reasons in recent years following his high-profile engagement and subsequent split from US diva Mariah Carey.
He was also questioned by police in December over a corruption probe involving Israeli...
Japan, China and South Korea have agreed in principle to hold a trilateral summit in early May, possibly on May 8 to 9, several diplomatic sources said on Tuesday.
The three-way summit was last held in November 2015 in Seoul.
At the meeting to be chaired by Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are expected to discuss steps to boost cooperation in the fields of economy, environment and culture.
The meeting will take place in the...
VIVO, one of China’s top five smartphone brands, aims to expand into the high-end segment of the market with a model that features a unique in-display fingerprint technology and artificial intelligence, Shanghai Daily learned yesterday.
The company launched its new flagship model X21 that comes with an under-glass fingerprint sensor that made Vivo the world’s first brand to adopt the feature. Embedding the sensor under the glass screen of the phone offers users a wider viewable space.
The X21 comes under a new sub-brand Jovi that focuses on AI in navigation, parking, and photography as well as being able to answer questions and offers smart suggestions.
The new model will be available from March 28 at 3,598 yuan (US$562).
SHANGHAI stocks ended higher again yesterday, with 19 companies surging by the daily 10-percent cap.
The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.35 percent to end at 3,290.64 points.
Pharmaceutical shares led the gains after Premier Li Keqiang said that tariffs on anti-cancer drugs will be cut to zero and that access to the service sector including medical services will be eased.
GuiZhou YiBai Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, Shaanxi Kanghui Pharmaceutical Co Ltd and Tibet Weixinkang Medicine Co Ltd all hit the maximum 10-percent daily cap.
Shares related to reform of state-owned enterprises extended gains after Xiao Yaqing, director of the State Asset Regulatory Commission, said the third batch of SOEs to be reformed is set to be released in the first half of this year.
His remark helped SDIC Zhonglu Fruit Juice Co Ltd, Sinomach General Machinry Sci&Tech Co Ltd and Linhai Co Ltd to hit the maximum 10 percent cap.
CHINA’S first domestically developed regional jet, ARJ21, launched a 10-day “demonstrative operations” yesterday in Inner Mongolia to prepare for its commercial highland flights.
The jet, flown by Chengdu Airlines, the aircraft’s first commercial operator, is operating daily return flights with onboard passengers between Hohhot and Ulanhot through March 30, said developer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China.
It is the first time that the ARJ21 has returned to Inner Mongolia after it started flying commercially in 2016. The jet made test flights in low temperature and highland conditions in Hulun Buir in Inner Mongolia for its airworthiness certification between 2010 and 2014.
The 90-seat ARJ21 was designed to fly in conditions prevalent in China’s central and western regions. It can take off and land at nearly all the highland airports in the country. It can also fly in temperature of minus 30 degrees Celsius, said COMAC which has won 453 orders for the jet from 21 customers at home and abroad.
The airline’s four ARJ21s have flown 50,000 passengers since it started commercial flights in June 2016.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Tuesday denied claims his government had ever engaged the tainted data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, and instead accused his rival Mahathir Mohamad’s son as the person who had used the company’s controversial services before he crossed aisles to join the opposition.
Speculation about Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in Malaysia has been swirling since one of the company’s senior executives was secretly recorded by Britain...
A group of South Korea’s K-pop singers will visit Pyongyang from March 31, the South said on Tuesday, a reciprocal visit after North Korea sent performers to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
The South Koreans, numbering about 160, will visit North Korea until April 3, the South’s Ministry of Unification said in a statement, for the first such performances in more than a decade.
The group will include K-pop girl group Red Velvet and music industry veterans Cho Yong-pil and Lee Sun-...
By Faris Mokhtar
A drug abuser who kidnapped and held his girlfriend’s two-year-old son hostage for 17 hours in 2016 was sentenced to five years’ jail and six strokes of the cane on Tuesday (March 20).
Muhammad Iskandah Suhaimi, 40, was convicted of four charges last year for kidnapping the toddler, possessing and consuming methamphetamine, as well as for illegally possessing a knuckleduster.
The court heard that at about 4pm on September 27, 2016, just seconds after his girlfriend...
An Indian company that is partnering with the Trump Organisation on an office tower project has been accused of running an elaborate real estate swindle that cheated investors out of nearly US$150 million, according to complaints filed with Indian authorities.
Ramesh Sanka, the former CEO of the real estate firm IREO, said in the documents he saw “various acts of cheating, fraud and misappropriation of money” at his one-time employer that created “huge wrongful gains...
Fresh allegations have been made against Vatican finance chief Cardinal George Pell, an Australian court was told on Tuesday during a hearing to determine if he should stand trial on historical sexual offence charges.
The 76-year-old, who is a top adviser to Pope Francis, is on leave and returned to Australia to fight the allegations which relate to incidents that allegedly occurred long ago.
The exact details and nature of the accusations have not been made public, other than they involve...
After a long and cold winter, the much anticipated announcement that cherry blossom season has finally arrived in eastern Japan has been greeted with enthusiasm. That excitement has been curbed, however, by the warning an invasion by a foreign species of beetle from mainland Asia could decimate the nation’s cherry trees in just a few years.
Few things are as quintessentially Japanese as cherry blossoms – the delicate pink flowers rank alongside the profile of Mount Fuji and...
A major Laos drug lord dubbed ‘Mr X’ was jailed for life on Tuesday by a Bangkok court, as Thailand battles record meth trafficking through its borders.
Xaysana Keopimpha, a swaggering Laotian who before his arrest paraded his celebrity links and penchant for sports cars on social media, was picked up at Bangkok’s main airport in January last year.
He was accused of being a kingpin in a meth smuggling ring that funnelled tonnes of Myanmar made ‘yaba’ pills and ice...
A Cambodian court on Tuesday suspended 10 months of a one-year jail term it handed to a British man found guilty of producing pornography in connection with a party in the town of Siem Reap, home to the ruins of Angkor Wat.
Cambodia, a conservative Buddhist country, is frequented by young tourists backpacking through Southeast Asia.
Daniel Jones, who was tried on Thursday in the Siem Reap provincial court, was among 10 foreigners the police detained in a January 25 raid on the event, called...
By Jessica Lin
When it comes to ensuring secure transactions, Singaporeans are keen on using biometric identification methods, a new survey has found.
In a study conducted by Visa, 97 per cent of 500 Singapore consumers said they were interested in using biometric methods to verify their identity, while 96 per cent said they would like to use such methods for making payments.
For most, biometric methods represent the elimination of passwords and PINs.
As many as 41 per cent also said that...
By Anna Leask
A video posted by the Waitemata District Health Board explaining how patients in a forensic mental health facility – many referred there for horrendous criminal offending – get birthday cakes, special Easter treats and movie nights has upset and infuriated victims’ families.
They are appalled that the DHB is flaunting staff “going above and beyond” to celebrate milestones that their loved ones will forever miss out on and say the video is...
Japan on Tuesday marked the 23rd anniversary of a deadly sarin attack on the Tokyo metro, as speculation grows that members of the cult behind it could soon be executed.
At a solemn ceremony at Kasumigaseki station, one of the targets of the 1995 attacks which is surrounded by key government buildings, Tokyo subway staff gathered to observe a moment of silence and offer flowers.
Thirteen people were killed and thousands more injured when members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult dumped bags of sarin on...
By Mark Abadi
Japan has the world’s oldest population, with more than a quarter of its citizens aged 65 or older.
The ageing population has already put a strain on Japan’s financial system and retail industry. But in recent years, another unexpected trend has been unfolding: In record numbers, elderly people in Japan are committing petty crimes so they can spend the rest of their days in prison.
According to Bloomberg, complaints and arrests involving older citizens are...
By Park Jae-hyuk
Lotte has decided not to display fireworks at Lotte World Tower in the first half of this year, amid a leadership vacuum following Chairman Shin Dong-bin’s imprisonment, the conglomerate said Monday.
According to industry officials, the retail giant initially considered hosting fireworks shows at the nation’s tallest tower this April, May and December.
The 123-story skyscraper hosted an 11-minute-long fireworks show worth 4 billion won (US$3.7 million) last April...
The United States and South Korea have agreed to resume joint military drills early next month, the Pentagon said, a move that was expected despite US President Donald Trump’s planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Seoul and Washington said in January they would delay the annual exercises, known as Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, until after the Olympics and Paralympics held in South Korea, helping to create conditions for a resumption of talks between South and North Korea,...
Housing markets in China’s 15 major cities stayed generally stable in February as tightening policies to curb speculation have been consistently implemented, data released yesterday by the National Bureau of Statistics showed.Twelve of the 15 cities, including first-tier ones and key second-tier cities, saw declines of 0.1 percent to 0.6 percent in new home prices from January. Prices in two cities were flat from a month earlier, and Tianjin was the only city where prices rose month on month, according to the bureau, which monitors property prices in 70 Chinese cities.“Stability extended in the country's 15 hottest housing markets as differentiated policies to curb speculation continued to take effect,” said Liu Jianwei, a senior statistician at the bureau.In the four first-tier cities, new home prices in Shanghai lost 0.2 percent from January while Beijing’s shed 0.3 percent, Guangzhou’s fell 0.4 percent and Shenzhen’s dipped 0.6 percent.On an annual basis, prices in nine cities shed by between 0.3 percent and 2.5 percent, five cities saw rises of between 0.6 percent and 3.1 percent while one was flat from a year earlier, according to the bureau.Nationwide on a month-over-month basis, new and pre-owned home prices in the four first-tier cities both fell at a faster rate compared to January. In second-tier cities, new home prices grew slower while those of pre-occupied houses climbed moderately faster, according to the bureau’s data.In third-tier cities prices of both new and pre-owned homes rose at the same rate compared to January.Among the 70 cities, new home prices in 16 cities declined month on month, a rise of three from January. In the pre-owned home market, 15 cities saw price decreases, down two from a month earlier.
SEVERAL large retail companies, including Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and Macy’s, are making a direct appeal to President Donald Trump not to impose massive tariffs on goods imported from China, in a letter sent to the White House yesterday.
The Trump administration is said to be preparing tariffs against Chinese information technology, telecoms and consumer products in an attempt to force changes in Beijing’s intellectual property and investment practices. Washington could impose more than US$60 billion in tariffs on goods ranging from electronics to apparel, footwear and toys.
“At the same time, we are concerned about the negative impact as you consider remedial actions under Section 301 of the Trade Act could have on America’s working families,” the letter states. “Applying any additional broad-based tariff as part of a Section 301 action would worsen this inequity and punish American working families with higher prices on household basics like clothing, shoes, electronics, and home goods.”
The letter is the latest example of the growing division between the Trump administration and the business community over trade policy.
On Sunday, a group of trade associations that represent most of the United States’ large businesses penned a letter echoing concerns about the economic ramifications of tariffs. Trade associations publicly pushing back include the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation and the Information Technology Industry Council.
Sandy Hill, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which organized the letter, argued that tariffs would eliminate any benefit the tax bill provided the economy.
“This is not American industries crying wolf,” she said in a statement.
NEW home transactions fell in Shanghai for the first time in four weeks along with sentiment cooling among real estate developers, latest market data showed.
The area of new homes sold, excluding government-subsidized affordable housing, fell 11 percent to about 83,000 square meters during the seven-day period through Sunday, snapping a three-week rally after the Spring Festival holiday, Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Co said in a report released yesterday.
Around the city, projects in outlying areas targeting budget-tight home seekers continued to dominate last week’s new home sales. Jiading, which saw a week-over-week rise of 15 percent, became the most sought-after area after unloading some 23,000 square meters of new houses. Qingpu followed with some 15,000 square meters of new home sales, up 87.5 percent from the previous week.
These new homes cost an average 44,533 yuan (US$7,023) per square meter, a weekly rise of 4.7 percent, according to Centaline data.
“Projects asking for between 30,000 yuan and 40,000 yuan per square meter remained the most popular among buyers with six out of the 10 best-selling developments falling into that range,” said Lu Wenxi, senior manager of research at Centaline.
ALIBABA Group said yesterday that it will invest an additional US$2 billion in the Southeast Asian online shopping platform Lazada Group to drive its integration into the Alibaba ecosystem as the e-commerce giant seeks to accelerate its growth plan in the Southeast Asia market.
Alibaba took a majority stake in Lazada in 2016 by investing US$1 billion and further raised its stake to 83 percent with another US$1 billion investment last year.
The investment is set to enable Lazada to tap into Alibaba’s resources, which can help it better serve consumers and empower merchants in Southeast Asia.
The investment underlines Alibaba’s commitment to provide a broad platform for local talent in Southeast Asia to contribute to the development of the digital economy in their home markets, according to the statement by Alibaba.
Lazada’s board of directors also approved a management transition where Lucy Peng, a co-founder of Alibaba Group and chairwoman of Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Financial will assume the additional role of chief executive officer of Lazada to drive further growth strategies.
“Lazada is well-positioned for the next phase of development of Internet-enabled commerce in this region, and we are excited about the incredible opportunities for supercharged growth,” Peng said in a statement.
Chinese Internet firms are expanding globally, hoping overseas nations, especially Southeast Asian countries where online shopping penetration is relatively low, would offer new growth potential in the coming years.
SHANGHAI stocks gained yesterday, buoyed by financial-linked shares and medical companies.
The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.29 percent to close at 3,279.25 points.
Financial-related shares led the gain, with Kunwu Jiuding Investment Holdings Co Ltd jumping 7.27 percent and Ping An Insurance rising by 4.68 percent.
Stocks related to industrial Internet were also among the biggest gainers yesterday.
Baosight Software advanced 3.63 percent and CIG ShangHai Co Ltd added 2.41 percent.
Medical shares such as Wuhan Thalys Medical Technology Inc and Dali Pharmaceutical Co Ltd both increased by over 6 percent, and Joinn Laboratories China Co Ltd hit the maximum daily limit of 10 percent.
A customer at the Agricultural Bank of China’s first branch in Xiongan New Area. The lender became the first among the country’s “big four” state-owned banks to set up a branch in Xiongan New Area. Li Jun, head of the Xiongan branch, said the branch has set up sub-branches in the counties of Rongcheng, Anxin and Xiongxian. China announced plans in April 2017 to set up Xiongan New Area about 100 kilometers southwest of Beijing. It is the third new area of national significance after the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and the Shanghai Pudong New Area.
The New South Wales government has defended warnings to the residents of Tathra before the devastating fire that tore through the far south coast, displacing hundreds of residents and destroying about 100 buildings.
Firefighters saved about 398 homes from the fast-moving, erratic fire that hit the small seaside village and the Bega valley on Sunday afternoon.
The fire destroyed about 69 houses, 30 caravans or cabins, and damaged 39 houses. It was the product of a “perfect storm”,...
The Philippines took a step on Monday towards making divorce legal with the lower house of Congress passing a law allowing people to dissolve marriages, despite opposition from the president and bishops in the mainly Roman Catholic country.
The Philippines, which has the largest Catholic population in Asia, and the Vatican are the only two states in the world without a divorce law, Philippine politicians say.
Congresswoman Emmi de Jesus said the bill was in response to a clamour from women who...
The dispute over territorial limits in the Doklam region remains the top source of friction between India and Beijing, the visiting Indian ambassador to China said Monday even as he insisted bilateral ties were not being held hostage by that one issue.
In his first official visit to Hong Kong since becoming India’s point man in China last October, Gautam Bambawale also reiterated his government’s sharp reservations over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – viewed by...
South Korean prosecutors on Monday sought an arrest warrant for former president Lee Myung-bak over alleged bribery while in office, Yonhap news agency said.
If the warrant is issued, Lee, who was questioned by prosecutors last week, will become the country’s fourth former president to be arrested on criminal charges.
Lee, who was in office from 2008 to 2013, is suspected of taking about 11 billion won (US$10.3 million) in bribes from the state intelligence agency, businesses and others...
By Khairie Hisyam Aliman
The Malaysian medical tourism industry’s revenue broke through the RM1 billion (US$255.4) mark for the first time in 2016. By 2020, the national target is to double that.
It may seem ambitious, but the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) is confident of achieving that figure. The market in its sights? China.
After China scrapped its one-child policy in October 2015, the council estimates there are around 90 million couples in China looking to conceive a...