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South Asian eateries try "going local" as recovery strategy


Sri Lankans face food crisis amid economic crunch


Sidecar ambulances help moms give birth in India


From The Asian Reporter, V33, #1 (January 2, 2023), page 2.

China again issuing passports, visas as virus curbs ease

BEIJING (AP) — China says it will resume issuing passports for tourism in another big step away from anti-virus controls that isolated the country for almost three years, setting up a potential flood of Chinese people travelling abroad for the Lunar New Year holiday. The announcement added to abrupt changes that are rolling back some of the world’s strictest anti-virus controls as President Xi Jinping’s government tries to reverse an economic slump. Rules that confined millions of people to their homes kept China’s infection rate low but fuelled public frustration and crushed economic growth. The latest decision could send free-spending Chinese tourists to revenue-starved destinations in Asia and Europe for the Lunar New Year.

Bangladesh opens first metro service to ease Dhaka traffic

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Bangladesh has launched its first metro rail service, mostly funded by Japan, in the densely populated capital amid enthusiasm that the South Asian country’s development bonanza would continue with both domestic and overseas funds. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the service accompanied by newly appointed Japanese ambassador Kiminori Iwama and Ichiguchi Tomohide, the chief representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, or JICA. "We have added another feather of pride to the crown of Bangladesh’s people today. Another feather added to the crown of the development of Bangladesh," she said during the inauguration. Hasina also used the ceremony to commemorate six Japanese rail engineers working on the project who were killed during an attack on a Dhaka café by Islamic extremists in 2016.

HK scraps vaccine pass, COVID-19 tests for travellers

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong is scrapping some of its COVID-19 restrictions, including PCR tests for inbound travellers and vaccination requirements to enter certain venues, according to the city’s leader. For most of the pandemic, Hong Kong has aligned itself with China’s "zero-COVID" strategy, requiring stringent COVID-19 tests and isolation for close contacts of infected cases as well as for incoming travellers. But the mainland has relaxed measures in recent weeks, and Hong Kong prepared for the January reopening of its border with China, which had previously imposed harsh restrictions and snap lockdowns to stamp out the virus. "Our society as a whole has built an extensive and high-level barrier of immunity (to COVID-19)," said Hong Kong chief executive John Lee at a news conference.

Court in Myanmar again finds Suu Kyi guilty of corruption

BANGKOK (AP) — A court in military-ruled Myanmar convicted the country’s ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, of corruption, sentencing her to seven years in prison in the last of a string of criminal cases against her, a legal official said. The court’s action leaves her with a total of 33 years to serve in prison following a series of politically tinged prosecutions since the army toppled her elected government in February 2021. She has also been convicted of several other offenses, which previously gave her a total of 26 years of imprisonment. Her supporters and independent analysts say the charges against her are an attempt to legitimize the military’s seizure of power while eliminating her from politics before an election it has promised.

S. Korea’s unannounced rocket launch causes UFO scare

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s military confirmed it test-fired a solid-fuelled rocket after its unannounced launch triggered a brief public scare of a suspected UFO appearance or a North Korean missile launch. The Defense Ministry said in a statement that the rocket launch was part of its efforts to build a space-based surveillance capability and bolster its defense posture. It said it didn’t notify the general public of the launch in advance because it involved sensitive military security issues. A twisty tendril of vapor in white-to-red ombre could be seen snaking behind a bright white light in parts of South Korea’s sky.

Time zone by time zone, another new year swept into view

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — New Year’s celebrations swept across the globe, ushering in 2023 with countdowns and fireworks — and marking an end to a year that brought war in Europe, a new chapter in the British monarchy, and global worries over inflation. The new year began in the tiny atoll nation of Kiribati in the central Pacific, then moved across Russia and New Zealand before heading deeper, time zone by time zone, through Asia and Europe. At least for a day, thoughts focused on possibilities, even elusive ones like world peace, and mustering — finally — a resolve to keep the next array of resolutions.

North Korea’s Kim lays out key goals to boost military power

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presented new plans to further bolster his military power at a meeting of top political officials, according to state media, in an indication he’ll continue his provocative run of weapons displays. Kim’s statement came as animosities with rival South Korea rose sharply with the South accusing the North of flying drones across the border for the first time in five years. North Korea has already performed a record number of missile tests in what experts call an attempt to modernize its arsenal and increase its leverage in future dealings with the United States.

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