Xinhua Asia-Pacific news summary at 1640 GMT, Jan. 14

HONG KONG -- The Hong Kong police Thursday confirmed that its national security department arrested 11 people across Hong kong on suspicion of assisting offenders.

According to local media, the arrested include eight males and three females, aged between 18 and 72. They were suspected of helping 12 Hong Kong residents who had been arrested earlier over absconding.(Hong Kong-Arrest)

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HONG KONG -- The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government Thursday requested the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) to establish at its meeting on Jan. 25 a panel in accordance with the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism to consider the dispute with respect to the violation of WTO rules by the United States' new requirement on origin marking for Hong Kong products.

The Permanent Representative of the HKSAR to the WTO Thursday filed the relevant document to the WTO Secretariat. The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the HKSAR government Edward Yau also wrote to the U.S. Trade Representative to inform the United States that the HKSAR has taken further action against the United States under the WTO mechanism.(Hong Kong-WTO)

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MALE -- Maldives will receive its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines on January 26, local media, quoting officials, reported on Thursday.

Maldives will receive 20 percent of its vaccine requirement for free through the COVAX facility. The Ministry of Finance has said that vaccines will also be procured from AstraZeneca Singapore.(Maldives-Vaccines)

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TOKYO -- The head of the Japanese government's subcommittee on the pandemic said on Thursday that if the number of COVID-19 cases remains flat or is reduced only slightly, then "stronger measures will be needed."

Shigeru Omi's remarks made during an upper house committee meeting came after the Japanese government a day earlier expanded its state of emergency to combat the third wave of infections to cover 11 prefectures nationwide.(Japan-Pandemic-Measures)

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