Top Asian News 7:09 am GMT

Top Asian News 7:09 am GMT

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AP) — A meeting of world leaders in Papua New Guinea has highlighted widening divisions between global powers the U.S. and China and a growing competition for influence in the usually neglected South Pacific. The 21 nations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby struggled to bridge differences on issues such as trade protectionism and reforming the World Trade Organization, making it likely their final statement Sunday will be an anodyne document. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and China’s President Xi Jinping traded barbs in speeches on Saturday. Pence professed respect for Xi and China but also harshly criticized the world’s No.

Four countries including the U.S. have signed up to an effort to bring electricity to 70 percent of Papua New Guinea’s people by 2030. Australia, Japan, the U.S. and New Zealand on Sunday signed an agreement to work with Papua New Guinea’s government on electrification. It’s the latest sign of great power competition in the South Pacific, where China is vying with the U.S. and its allies for influence. Only about 20 percent of Papua New Guinea’s 8 million people have electricity and for a significant proportion of them the supply is not reliable. Most of the population lives in the highlands and other remote areas.

BANGKOK (AP) — After spending nine years and more than $300 million to prosecute leaders of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million of their countrymen, a U.N.-assisted tribunal has ended up convicting only three people for the communist group’s heinous actions. Was it worth it? These kinds of proceedings don’t run cheap. The longer-running tribunals covering genocide in Rwanda and war crimes in the former Yugoslavia ran up costs of as much as $2 billion — though both tried many more people than were called to account in Cambodia for crimes committed during the 1975-79 regime of the late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot.

SYDNEY (AP) — A swimmer in Australia has died of a heart attack after he was stung by a stingray. Police say the 42-year-old man went into cardiac arrest on Saturday at Lauderdale Beach, east of Hobart in Tasmania, after he suffered a puncture wound to his lower abdomen. He was swimming alone and close to shore when the attack happened. Friends pulled him from the water but failed in attempts to resuscitate him. The incident recalled the 2006 death of “The Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin while filming an underwater scene for a television series, when a stingray’s stinging barbs pierced his heart.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Greenpeace says six of its activists boarded a tanker transporting Indonesian palm oil in the Gulf of Cadiz and were detained by its captain after unfurling “Save our Rainforest” and “Drop Dirty Palm Oil” banners. A ship tracking website shows the Stolt Tenacity, which Greenpeace says is carrying palm oil from Wilmar International linked to tropical forest destruction in Indonesia, was bound for Rotterdam. Greenpeace says the activists from Indonesia, Germany, Britain, France, Canada and the U.S. are being detained in a cabin on the ship. Palm oil is used in a huge array of consumer goods from makeup to snacks.

NEW DELHI (AP) — A powerful cyclone in southern India has killed at least 33 people, caused massive damage to homes and roads and drove tens of thousands of people into relief camps, officials said. India’s navy assigned two ships and a helicopter for relief work as state authorities rushed drinking water, food and paramedics to nearly 82,000 people who took shelter in more than 400 state-run camps. They were evacuated from areas in the path of Cyclone Gaja, which struck six districts of Tamil Nadu state on Friday with heavy rains and winds that reached 90 kilometers (55 miles) per hour.

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AP) — The U.S., Japan, New Zealand and Australia said they’ll bring electricity to 70 percent of Papua New Guinea’s people by 2030, boosting the West’s response to growing Chinese influence in the South Pacific. The four countries and Papua New Guinea signed the electricification agreement Sunday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting behind held in the capital Port Moresby. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said it shows how strongly the U.S. and its allies are committed to the region. “The commitment of the United States of America to this region of the world has never been stronger,” he said.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan authorities say a roadside bomb has killed two local officials in the eastern Logar province. Shah Poor Ahmadzai, spokesman for the provincial police chief, says that the acting district chief and intelligence director in the Baraki Barak district were killed in the blast late Saturday as they were heading toward the district headquarters. The Taliban claimed the attack. The insurgents carry out near-daily attacks targeting security forces and government officials, including by planting roadside bombs, which often kill civilians. The Taliban have seized control of nearly half the country in recent years.

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — It’s a question that nags at North Korea economy watchers: How has the country been able to maintain stable exchange rates — and avert hyper-inflation — despite intense sanctions, political tensions and a swelling trade imbalance? In a nutshell, North Korea buys a whole lot more than it sells to China and, because of the sanctions, is doing hardly any business with anyone else. Since no one in their right mind would accept the internationally worthless North Korean currency for any significant trade deal, North Korea must be burning up its foreign reserves. And when a country does that, prices generally start to rise — often dangerously so.

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AP) — Papua New Guinea hosts leaders from Pacific Rim countries, including the United States, Russia and China, this weekend in a coming-out party for the jungle-clad nation that is regarded as one of the world’s last frontiers for trade and investment. The largely undeveloped South Pacific nation of more than 8 million mostly subsistence farmers hopes the rare world attention generated by its hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Economic Cooperation meetings will highlight its potential and draw more investors and aid. But its deeply entrenched troubles, including widespread poverty, corruption and lawlessness, also stand to be scrutinized.

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