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From The Asian Reporter, V29, #06 (March 18, 2019), page 2.

China sets aside crops for wild elephants to spare farmers

BEIJING (AP) — China said it plans to grow crops specifically for wild elephants to graze on in an effort to spare the livelihoods of local farmers. The southwestern province of Yunnan will set up the special farm in a habitat protection area in Menghai county where 18 of the animals frequently raid the crops of farmers from villages in the area. The 126-acre farm will grow corn, sugarcane, bamboo, and bananas. The official Xinhua News Agency quoted an unidentified official with the local forestry bureau as saying protecting local residents was key to Asian elephant conservation. Wild Asian elephants are a protected species in China, and conservation efforts have allowed their numbers in the country to rise to about 300. As is the case with their African cousins, Asian elephants are critically endangered due to habitat destruction and poaching. An estimated 30,000 are left in the wild.

Asian Cup host UAE fined $150K for fans targeting Qatar

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Asian Cup host United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been fined $150,000 for fan misconduct during the team’s semifinal loss to eventual champion Qatar. The Asian Football Confederation said incidents included fans in Abu Dhabi "making insulting sounds" during Qatar’s national anthem. Qatar players dodged shoes thrown by some spectators after the second goal in a 4-0 rout at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium. The politically charged game was played on January 29 following 18 months of an economic and travel boycott of Qatar by hostile regional neighbors, including the UAE. The Asian soccer body said UAE fans also "got into a fight among themselves after the match," and one ran onto the field. The UAE will have to play its first home qualifying game for the 2023 Asian Cup in an empty stadium.

Japan agrees to finance Sri Lanka’s light railway system

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s finance ministry says Japan has agreed to provide a loan to build the first light railway system aimed at easing traffic congestion in the capital city of Colombo. In a statement, the ministry said the loan will be granted in six stages until 2024 for the $1.8-billion project that will begin this year. It said an agreement to release the first installment of $260 million was signed between the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which coordinates official development assistance, and Sri Lanka’s finance ministry. The loan comes as Sri Lanka struggles to repay $5.9 billion in foreign loans this year, of which 40 percent needs to be serviced during the first three months.

Vietnam says fishing boat rammed, sunk by Chinese ship

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A Vietnamese fishing boat capsized after being rammed by a Chinese vessel in the South China Sea’s contested Paracel Islands, according to a Vietnamese official. China said its boat came upon the fishing vessel after it started sinking and sought help for the crew. The boat was fishing near Discovery Reef when the incident occurred, said the Vietnamese official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. The Paracel archipelago is claimed by both Vietnam and China, which took control of the islands in 1974. An online report by the newspaper Tuoi Tre said the five crewmen aboard the Vietnamese boat clung to the bow of their upturned vessel for two hours until they were rescued by another Vietnamese fishing boat. The official Chinese Communist Party newspaper reported that a Chinese government vessel received a distress call from a Vietnamese fishing boat and sailed to the area, where it found the boat partly sunk. The online report, quoting Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang, said the Chinese ship immediately contacted China’s maritime search and rescue center to dispatch a rescue vessel and the five Vietnamese fishermen were rescued.

China says new law will bar demands for tech handover

BEIJING (AP) — China says it will bar government authorities from demanding overseas companies hand over technology secrets in exchange for market share. Vice chairman of the cabinet’s economic planning agency, Ning Jizhe, told reporters that the provision will be contained in a foreign investment law. Accusations that China demands the disclosure of technology secrets are a key stumbling point in the U.S.-China trade dispute that has seen a major disruption in commerce between the world’s two largest economies. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang set this year’s growth target for the country at 6 to 6.5 percent. Such a growth rate, if achieved, would be among the world’s strongest. Yet it would be slightly below last year’s 6.6 percent growth in China and would mark a new three-decade low.

34 Rohingya women, children found stranded on beach

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — More than 30 Muslim Rohingya women and children were found stranded along a beach in Malaysia’s northernmost state and are believed to have been dropped off by human traffickers, authorities said. A police official in Kangar, the capital of northern Perlis state, said villagers found the 34 people, including nine children, weak, hungry, and covered in mud as they made their way through the muddy coast. The official, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue, said the group was believed to have come from Thailand. He said they have been fed and handed over to immigration officials. Nur Aziah Mohamad Shariff, an official with the National Security Council, said it is aware of the illegal entry and is investigating. A Myanmar welfare group said the group is believed to have been trafficked into Thailand from Bangladesh, before heading to Malaysia, whose dominant Malay Muslim population makes it a sympathetic destination.

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