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Phuket Gazette World News: China rebukes North Korea; Cairo clashes; Ukraine’s Lutsenko freed

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Phuket Gazette World News: China rebukes North Korea; Cairo clashes; Ukraine’s Lutsenko freed | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

China rebukes North Korea, says no state should sow chaos
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: China’s leaders issued thinly veiled rebukes to North Korea for raising regional tensions, with the president saying no country should throw the world into chaos and the foreign minister warning that Beijing would not allow mischief on its doorstep.

The weekend comments were the strongest yet by China in response to more than a month of North Korean rhetoric that has included threats to launch a nuclear attack on the United States and to wage war with Seoul.

No country “should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain”, President Xi Jinping told a forum on the southern Chinese island of Hainan. He did not name North Korea but he appeared to refer to Pyongyang.

Former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman said Xi’s comments were unprecedented.

“It suggests to me, as I’ve watched the ratcheting up of frustration among Chinese leaders over the last many years, that they’ve probably hit the 212-degree boiling point as it relates to North Korea,” he told CNN on Sunday.

North Korea kicked off its latest round of threats after U.N. sanctions were imposed for its February 12 nuclear test, the country’s third.

Despite the rhetoric, Pyongyang has not taken any military action and has shown no sign of preparing its 1.2 million-strong army for war, indicating the threats are partly intended for domestic consumption to bolster young leader Kim Jong-un.

South Korean media said on Friday the North had moved two medium-range missiles to its east coast, but there has been no confirmation of such a move. Washington has said it would not be surprised if the North conducted another missile test.

North Korean authorities have told diplomatic missions in Pyongyang they could not guarantee their safety from Wednesday – after saying conflict was inevitable amid joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises due to last until the end of the month. Staff at embassies appeared to be remaining in place over the weekend.

South Korea said it was ready for any kind of action – including a possible missile launch – by Wednesday.

Analysts are also looking ahead to April 15, the birthday of the late Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founder and the grandfather of its current leader. The anniversary is a time of mass celebrations and occasional demonstrations of military prowess.

China says wo’t allow trouble-making

China, North Korea’s sole financial and diplomatic backer, has shown growing irritation with Pyongyang.

Beijing negotiated the new U.N. sanctions with Washington and has said it wanted them implemented. The measures tighten financial curbs on North Korea, order mandatory checks of suspicious cargo and strengthen a ban on luxury goods entering the country.

“We oppose provocative words and actions from any party in the region and do not allow trouble-making on China’s doorstep,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, according to a ministry statement on its website late on Saturday, relating a telephone conversation with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

On Sunday, the ministry expressed “grave concern” at rising tension and said China had asked North Korea to “ensure the safety of Chinese diplomats in North Korea, in accordance with the Vienna Convention and international laws and norms”.

No expert on North Korea has suggested China would abandon Kim or even implement the new sanctions to the letter, but China appears to have run out of patience after years of trying to coax Pyongyang out of isolation and to embrace economic reform.

China’s new leaders, including Xi, do not have the emotional ties to North Korea that their predecessors had.

The 30-year old Kim has also failed to pay fealty to China as his father, Kim Jong-il, and his grandfather did, according to North Korean experts. He has not visited China since taking over when his father died at the end of 2011.

U.S. lawmakers say China has not done enough

U.S. politicians said China should do more.

Republican Senator John McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized China’s “failure to rein in what could be a catastrophic situation” and said Beijing could step up pressure by using its influence over North Korea’s economy.

“Chinese behaviour has been very disappointing,” McCain said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program.

“More than once, wars have started by accident and this is a very serious situation,” he added.

The United States said it was postponing a missile test to help calm high tension on the Korean peninsula.

In Washington, a defence official said a long-scheduled test of the Minuteman III intercontinental missile, due to take place at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, would be postponed.

“This test … has been delayed to avoid any misperception or miscalculation in light of recent tensions on the Korean peninsula,” the official said on Saturday.

The South Korean president’s office said the country had a “firm military readiness” for any eventuality.

It described as “planned behaviour” the North’s call for South Korean workers to leave the Kaesong joint industrial park, just inside North Korea, and for diplomats to evacuate Pyongyang by Wednesday. Pyongyang has blocked entry to the factory park since last Wednesday, jeopardising one of its few sources of hard currency.

The North has always condemned the annual joint military exercises off the South Korean coast, but its rhetoric has been especially furious this year as the United States sent nuclear-capable stealth bombers from their home bases.

North Korean state television showed a military training session, with soldiers putting dogs through their paces, including one seen tearing to pieces an effigy of South Korean Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin. Soldiers were shown firing at pictures of the minister and a depiction of a U.S. serviceman.

“As you all know, on the Korean peninsula, it is not a matter of whether we will have a war or not, but whether it will take place today or tomorrow,” an unidentified soldier said.

One dead, many wounded in Cairo cathedral clashes
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: One person was killed and more than 80 wounded in clashes at the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in central Cairo on Sunday after a funeral service for four Egyptian Christians killed in sectarian violence with Muslims, state media said.

Christian-Muslim confrontations have increased in Muslim-majority Egypt since the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 gave freer rein to hard line Islamists repressed under his autocratic rule.

The state news agency MENA said 84 people had been injured in several hours of fighting after a ceremony at the cathedral, headquarters of the Coptic church, which was showered with stones, petrol bombs and bird-shot.

The man killed on Sunday was identified by MENA as 30-year-old Mahrous Hana Tadros, a Christian name.

Police fired tear gas to try to disperse the crowds but clashes continued late into the evening. MENA said 11 policemen were among the wounded.

Violence also broke out near a Coptic church in El Khusus north of Cairo, where four Christians and one Muslim were killed late on Friday when members of both com

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus spreads north and south in China – 139 new cases reported

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus spreads north and south in China – 139 new cases reported | The Thaiger
PHOTO: New cases reported over the weekend are concerning health offficials - BBC.com

Another 139 new cases of a flu-like disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus in China has shocked health officials. There’s also been a third confirmed death reported today. Worse, the outbreak has now spread beyond Wuhan in central China where the virus was first identified. There have been cases reported in Beijing, a province next door to Shanghai and Shenzhen in southern China.

Health authorities in Beijing have now confirmed two cases of the new coronavirus today, while Guangdong authorities in southern China reported one new case in Shenzhen as well. The Shenzhen case is the first confirmation that the virus has spread domestically beyond Wuhan.

The Wuhan Health Commission announced today that 136 new patients had been diagnosed over the weekend – 1 person died from the virus, 2 remain in critical condition, 33 are in serious condition. All three patients that have died are believed to have visited Wuhan in the last month or so.

The new cases have brought the total number of people diagnosed with the virus in China to 201. That’s a big jump over numbers reported over the weekend.

Meanwhile, health authorities in Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong, say they are monitoring eight patient. All eight have been quarantined for treatment. In coastal Zhejiang province, bordering Shanghai, authorities have now reported five new suspected cases who have been confirmed to have visited Wuhan. Last week, three cases were detected outside China — two in Thailand and one in Japan. All cases have been linked to Wuhan. On Monday, South Korea also confirmed its first case of the virus.

The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market at the centre of the pneumonia outbreak in he city of tWuhan has been closed for disinfection since January 1.

Meanwhile, Thai officials are stepping up screening efforts with many flights flying in from Wuhan over the next few weeks for the Chinese New Year holidays. Health officials say they’re confident that their screening efforts will detect any infected passengers getting off flights at Thai airports.

SOURCE: CNN

Coronavirus spreads north and south in China - 139 new cases reported | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Bangkok Post

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More coronavirus cases detected in China, global alert for Chinese New Year

The Thaiger

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More coronavirus cases detected in China, global alert for Chinese New Year | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Conversation

Chinese medical officials have now reported four more cases of the viral pneumonia strain caused by a new coronavirus. The discoveries are causing rising concern that the disease is not fully understand and could spread during the upcoming Chinese New Year holidays.

The new virus, originating in the Chinese city of Wuhan – the apparent epicentre of the outbreak – is believed to belong in the same class of coronaviruses that includes the deadly SARS virus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 800 people around the world in 2002/03. That outbreak also started in China.

At this stage all signs are that the virus isn’t as lethal as SARS, but there is still little known about the coronavirus’ origins and how it is transmitted. But it has been established at this stage that it is not spread human to human.

Both Thailand and Japan have confirmed new cases of the virus. In Thailand the patient was detected when arriving on a flight from Wuhan. And Japan’s health ministry reported that a man who had visited the central Chinese city of Wuhan was hospitalised on January 10, four days after his return to Japan.

Both patients have fully recovered.

The new cases detected in China, and the cases detected overseas, are stoking global concerns as many of the 1.4 billion Chinese will head overseas during the Chinese New Year holidays that begin next week and run through to early February.

The Wuhan Health Commission reports that the the four new cases are now in stable condition. 45 cases have been reported in the city as of last Thursday. A second patient died on Wednesday this week. Nearly 50 people are now known to have been infected globally, but all of them either lived in Wuhan or have travelled to the city.

The London Imperial College’s MRC Center for Global Infectious Disease Analysis speculates that there are probably “substantially more cases” of the new coronavirus than currently declared by Wuhan authorities. Their modelling estimates that there would be 1,723 cases showing onset of related symptoms by the second week in January.

Meanwhile US authorities say they are now screening at three airports to detect passengers arriving via direct or connecting flights from Wuhan. And in Asia, authorities in Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand are stepping up monitoring of travellers from Wuhan at airports.

SOURCE: Reuters | Science Alert

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Thailand

Dutchman jailed for 100 years in Thailand for money laundering is released

Greeley Pulitzer

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Dutchman jailed for 100 years in Thailand for money laundering is released | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Johan van Laarhoven walks free after serving six years of a 100 year sentence in Thai prison - The Chiang Rai Times

A Dutch citizen who was jailed for 100 years in Thailand, is now on his way home after years of campaigning for his release. His sentence was reduced to 75 years on appeal and later to 50 years by the Supreme court. Johan van Laarhoven, who ran several cannabis “coffee shops” in Holland, was jailed in Thailand for money laundering, along with his Thai wife, though the offences took place in The Netherlands.

Thai authorities began investigating Van Laarhoven in 2014 after a letter from a Dutch public prosecutor’s office, informing them that he had earned his money selling marijuana and requesting their help. Last year, MPs called on the government to to extradite Van Laarhoven and his wife back to Netherlands. The Dutch justice minister even met with PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and the Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin to discuss the case.

Even though cannabis is legal in the Netherlands, Dutch officials bungled a tax query to Thai authorities regarding the sale of the Dutchman’s cannabis cafe chain. This led to a criminal investigation and his televised arrest in Thailand.

Thai authorities seized the Dutchman’s assets and he was sentenced to 100 years in prison. His young Thai wife, Mingkwan, was jailed for 13 years as an accomplice. The Netherlands has an extradition treaty with Thailand, but it can only be implemented after a case has been ruled “definitive.” Van Laarhoven’s sentence was upheld late last year, clearing the way for a diplomatic solution. It’s unclear whether his wife will be allowed to join him in the Netherlands.

Once back, Van Laarhoven will spend two years in a Dutch jail to complete his sentence, and also face criminal investigation for money laundering. The investigation will focus on tax fraud, membership in a criminal organisation and laundering €20m (675 million baht) according to a Dutch public prosecutor.

SOURCE: The Chiang Rai Times | Dutchnews.nl

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