Blinken delays China trip after balloon detection
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3h ago
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has indefinitely delayed a planned trip to China this weekend, with an official citing a “violation of our sovereignty” after a Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon was detected flying over the state of Montana. A senior State Department official said Friday that the presence of the Chinese balloon in U.S. airspace was “a clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law” and that, therefore, “the conditions are not right at this moment for Secretary Blinken to travel to China.” The official told reporters in a briefing by phone that i ..read more
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Junta burns nearly 5,000 homes in a month, Myanmar’s shadow government says
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10h ago
A series of brutal arson attacks across Myanmar destroyed 4,807 homes and burned 23 people to death, according to the shadow National Unity Government. Its Ministry of Interior and Immigration and Fire Brigade Department said Wednesday there were 138 arson attacks by junta troops across the country in January. Sagaing region was hardest hit with 4,271 houses burned, killing 17 locals. Arson attacks also destroyed 10 religious buildings and a school, the statement said. In Magway region, 357 houses and one religious building were destroyed. More than 50 homes were destroyed in Kayin state and M ..read more
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US monitors suspected Chinese spy balloon
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11h ago
The U.S. has detected and is monitoring a suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon that has been hovering over the country for several days, said the Pentagon, just two days before the U.S. Secretary of State’s visit to China. Canadian defense officials meanwhile said they’re also monitoring a “potential second incident” in Canada and their intelligence agencies are working with American partners to “safeguard Canada’s sensitive information from foreign intelligence threats.” “The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic, and does not present ..read more
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North Korean young people ordered to serve 3 years in military’s manual service corps
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15h ago
North Korea is ordering young men and women not presently in the military, including those granted exemptions or deferrals from mandatory service, to serve for three years as stormtroopers – a glorified name for military manual laborers, sources in the country told Radio Free Asia. After completing high school, every able-bodied man must serve seven years in the 1.3-million-strong military, and every woman five. College-bound men and women can get deferrals until after they graduate, and people deemed unfit for service due to disease or disability are given exemptions. But lately, there’s been ..read more
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Chinese authorities impose communications crackdown on Tibetans in Drago county
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20h ago
China has tightened restrictions on Tibetan residents of a county in Sichuan province that has been a hotbed of resistance to Chinese rule, imposing measures to prevent contact with people outside the area, sources with knowledge of the situation said. The communications clampdown in Drago county is the latest measure by Chinese authorities to bring locals to heel following the demolitions of huge Buddha statues in the area beginning 2021, as monks and local residents were forced to watch, sources in the region said.  Drago county is called Luhuo in Chinese and lies in the Kardze Tibetan ..read more
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Former Vietnamese Coast Guard commander convicted of embezzlment
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20h ago
Vietnamese authorities convicted the former commander of Vietnam’s Coast Guard, Nguyen Van Son, of embezzling more than U.S.$2 million from the Defense Ministry, state media announced on Thursday. The commander, alongside several others in the Coast Guard, were accused of taking  money allocated to the Ministry’s technology procurement department. In Vietnam, the highest punishment for “state-asset embezzlement” can be the death penalty.  Six others alongside the commander were convicted of the corruption charge, including Gen. Hoang Van Dong, Major Gen. Doan Bao Quyet, Major Gen. Ph ..read more
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Scepticism greets Indonesian plan to send general to persuade Myanmar junta
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23h ago
Indonesia once helped Myanmar transition to democracy, using its own transformation out of military dictatorship as an example for change. But a new plan by the 2023 chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to dispatch a senior general to Myanmar to nudge the Burmese junta back onto a democratic path may come to nothing, analysts say. The current crop of military rulers is unlike the ones in 2011 who were open to listening to other nations, initiated the transition and even backed a political party to contest elections, however flawed, according to analysts. “In the current ..read more
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Police claim that hanged teenager took own life sparks public skepticism
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23h ago
High school student Hu Xinyu, whose body was found hanging from a tree in a wooded area near his school, died by suicide using shoelaces, police investigating his death announced on Thursday. The discovery of Hu, 15, who had gone missing for three months, has taken Chinese social media by storm, sparking speculation over an apparent spike in cases of missing teens. The investigation had ruled out homicide in his death, Hu Mansong, deputy police chief for the eastern province of Jiangxi said at a press conference Thursday, and autopsy results and lack of sign of a struggle near where his body w ..read more
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In Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar, 2 Rohingya militant groups fight for dominance
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1d ago
A 12-hour gunbattle and the torching of a refugee settlement along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border thrust the Rohingya Solidarity Organization, an old armed insurgent group, back into the spotlight.  The fighting last month between members of RSO and the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) insurgents left at least one person dead and forced hundreds of Rohingya refugees to flee the encampment. The violence was the first known act of open fighting between the two militant groups, who both claim to support the Rohingya cause against the Myanmar military. It boiled over from tensions in a tu ..read more
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Myanmar junta pursues five-pronged strategy as conflict enters 3rd year
Radio Free Asia
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1d ago
Feb. 1 marked the second anniversary of the coup d’etat that ousted the democratically elected National League for Democracy government in Myanmar. Since then the country has descended into a multi-front civil war and lost over a decade’s worth of sustained economic growth. Over half of the population is living in poverty, driving people back into opium production, which saw 88 percent growth in 2022.  The military junta has failed to provide either security or basic social services. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, more than 2,890 people have been killed ..read more
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