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International News

A Sumatran rhino calf born in Indonesia adds to the critically endangered species


Millions of Indians set a world record celebrating Diwali as worries about air pollution rise


Scotland bids farewell to its giant pandas that are returning to China after 12-year stay


Coal power, traffic, waste are burning a toxic smog cocktail in Indonesiaís Jakarta


From The Asian Reporter, V33, #12 (December 4, 2023), page 2.

Nepal bans TikTok, saying it disrupts social harmony

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) ó Nepalís government has banned the popular social media app TikTok, saying it was disrupting "social harmony" in the country. Foreign minister Narayan Prakash Saud said the app was banned immediately. "The government has decided to ban TikTok as it was necessary to regulate the use of the social media platform that was disrupting social harmony, goodwill, and flow of indecent materials," Saud said. He said that to make social media platforms accountable, the government has asked the companies to register and open a liaison office in Nepal, pay taxes, and abide by the countryís laws and regulations. It wasnít clear what triggered the ban or if TikTok had refused to comply with Nepalís requests. TikTok, owned by Chinaís ByteDance, has faced scrutiny in a number of countries because of concerns that Beijing could use the app to harvest user data or advance its interests. Countries including the United States, Britain, and New Zealand have banned the app on government phones despite TikTok repeatedly denying that it has ever shared data with the Chinese government and would not do so if asked. Nepal banned all pornographic sites in 2018.

Toyota selling part of Denso stake to raise cash

TOKYO (AP) ó Toyota is selling a part of its stake in components maker Denso to raise cash for its drive toward electric vehicles (EVs) and other innovations, Japanís top automaker said. The move is estimated to raise about 290 billion yen ($2 billion), given recent share prices. The number of shares Toyota Motor Corp. plans to sell total more than 124 million shares, lowering its stake in Denso Corp. from 24.2% to 20%, while remaining the top stakeholder. "We donít want to just hold on to our assets. We want to make them living assets that feed into the growth of our company," said Masahiro Yamamoto, an executive in the accounting group at Toyota. Toyota said the money will also go into developing smart-driving technology and a wide range of other initiatives ongoing in the industry. Yamamoto did not give a specific date for the sale, but itís expected to happen soon. All the worldís major automakers are working on strengthening their lineup of electric vehicle and other green cars, as concerns grow about climate change. That requires a great deal of investment. Toyota affiliates, Toyota Industries and Aisin, are also selling a portion of their Denso shares, officials said. Toyota officials have acknowledged they have fallen behind in the industry shift toward electric vehicles, and they have been aggressively playing catch-up. Toyota, which makes the Camry sedan, Lexus luxury models, and the Prius hybrid, leads the world in hybrids, which switch back and forth between a gas engine and electric motor to deliver a fuel-efficient drive. It also has a strong lineup in fuel cells, which run on hydrogen and are zero-emission. In July, Toyota sold a part of its stake in telecoms company KDDI Corp., raising nearly 250 billion yen ($1.7 billion). Toyota officials hinted other such offers may be in the works but declined to give specifics.

127 Malaysians suspected job-scam victims rescued

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) ó More than 120 suspected victims of job scams have been rescued after being stranded by fighting in northern Myanmar between the military and armed ethnic groups, Malaysiaís government said. The number of Malaysians rescued surged from an initial 26 to 127, foreign minister Zambry Abd Kadir told local media. The foreign ministry earlier had said the group was stranded in Laukkaing, a town known as a notorious hub for online scams, gambling, and other major organized crimes. Fighting has continued in northern Myanmar after an alliance of armed ethnic minority groups launched a surprise offensive. They have seized control of several border crossings to China, in a major disruption to trade.

Fiji hopes to work with China to upgrade its shipyards, ports

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) ó Fijiís leader says that after meeting with Chinaís President Xi Jinping, he hopes to collaborate with China on upgrading his nationís shipyards and ports. Sitiveni Rabuka made the remarks to lawmakers in parliament in late November. Rabuka is generally viewed as leaning less toward China than his predecessor Frank Bainimarama, and in a visit to Australia in October, Rabuka emphasized he was "more comfortable dealing with traditional friends" such as Australia. But in his recent remarks, Rabuka highlighted the economic ties his small South Pacific island nation has forged with China over 50 years of diplomatic relations. Rabuka said that in his meeting with Xi on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in San Francisco, he discussed how Chinaís assistance was pivotal to Fijiís post-COVID-19 economic recovery. Rabuka said Chinaís Belt and Road Initiative aligned with Fijiís development agenda and that China had contributed toward a number of grants and assistance packages. "As we navigate economic challenges, discussions are underway to address our debt crisis responsibly," Rabuka said. He said a key focus of creating sustainable economic growth in Fiji was the comprehensive upgrade of infrastructure, particularly port facilities and shipyards. "I anticipate potential collaboration with China in that endeavor, given Chinaís globally competitive shipbuilding," Rabuka said. Chinaís Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a daily briefing that China and Fiji are good friends and partners, and have previously cooperated on infrastructure. "The goal is to support island countries in making life better for their people and achieving development and prosperity," Mao said. Fijiís move comes as China looks to expand its influence in the Pacific. Last year, China fell short in an ambitious attempt to get 10 small Pacific nations to sign to a sweeping deal covering everything from security to fisheries. The attempt came after Solomon Islands signed a security pact with China, a move that raised alarm throughout the Pacific.