ASEAN/East Asia

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Britain warns of increasing Beijing pressure on Hong Kong

Hong Kong (AFP) - Britain warned Thursday of "increasing pressure" on Hong Kong from an assertive Beijing after a raft of jailings of democracy activists and the disqualification of rebel lawmakers from the city's legislature.

Semi-autonomous Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.

S. Korea prosecutors indict 12 over deadly hospital fire

Seoul (AFP) - South Korean prosecutors have indicted 12 people over a devastating hospital fire that left 50 dead and more than 100 injured in January, Yonhap news agency reported Thursday.

The hospital blaze was the worst fire disaster in South Korea since 2003.

Australian, Cambodian trainers die in demining accident

Siem Reap (Cambodia) (AFP) - An Australian and a Cambodian were killed Thursday when war-era ordnance exploded during a demining training exercise in southern Cambodia, police said, adding three others were injured in the accident.

Decades of civil war left Cambodia as one of the most heavily bombed and heavily mined countries in the world.

Briton apologises in Cambodia 'pornographic party' trial

Siem Reap (Cambodia) (AFP) - A British expat facing up to a year in Cambodian prison for promoting a pool party with images deemed "pornographic" apologised during a court hearing on Thursday, saying he did not know the advertisements breached an indecency law.

Daniel Jones (L) was among 10 foreigners arrested in January after police raided their pool party at a private villa in Siem Reap.

Chinese doctor stabbed to death after row with patient’s husband

Man detained at scene on suspicion of murdering medic after his wife had complained of discomfort following a physical examination

Indonesia makes criticising politicians a crime

Jakarta (AFP) - Indonesians could be jailed for criticising national politicians under a new law which came into force Thursday, in what critics slammed as a major step back for the world's third-biggest democracy.

President Joko Widodo (C) refused to sign off on the controversial law which could see Indonesians jailed for criticising national politicians.

Court orders Japan government to pay new Fukushima damages

Tokyo (AFP) - A Japanese court on Thursday ordered the government to pay one million dollars in new damages over the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, ruling it should have predicted and avoided the meltdown.

The meltdowns at the Fukushima plant was the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

Car costs make Singapore world's priciest city. Again.

Singapore (AFP) - The eye-watering cost of owning a car in space-starved Singapore means the city state is the world's most expensive place to live, for the fifth year in a row, a survey said Thursday.

The high life: Singapore is the most expensive city in the world, for the fifth year running, according to an annual cost of living survey.

Bali going quiet for 'Day of Silence'

Denpasar (Indonesia) (AFP) - Indonesia's bustling tourist island Bali is set to go quiet with Internet service and flights temporarily halted for a "Day of Silence", while young people get ready to pucker up.

Balinese Hindu carry sacred statues of gods and deities during a Melasti purification ceremony ahead of the holy day of Nyepi on a beach in Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia March 14, 2018. - REUTERS

China's unspoken compact put to test by Xi power play

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The unspoken compact that has anchored the relationship between China's government and its people - stay out of politics and we'll help you prosper - is being tested like never before by President Xi Jinping's move to extend his power.