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Phuket Gazette World News: N Korea warns of war; China bird flu cull; UN broke; Spanish royals exposed

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Phuket Gazette World News: N Korea warns of war; China bird flu cull; UN broke; Spanish royals exposed | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

North Korea moves missiles, calls for embassies to withdraw; markets roiled
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: North Korea has placed two of its intermediate range missiles on mobile launchers and hidden them on the east coast of the country in a move that could threaten Japan or U.S. Pacific bases, South Korean media reported on Friday.

The report could not be confirmed, but any such movement may be intended to demonstrate that the North, angry about joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises and the imposition of U.N. sanctions, is prepared to demonstrate its ability to mount an attack.

The North has said nuclear conflict could break out at any time on the Korean peninsula in a month-long war of words that has prompted the United States to move military assets into the region.

North Korea has asked embassies to consider moving staff out and warned it cannot guarantee the safety of diplomats after April 10, Britain said, amid high tension and a war of words on the Korean peninsula.

“The current question was not whether, but when a war would break out on the peninsula,” because of the “increasing threat from the United States”, China’s state news agency Xinhua quoted the North’s Foreign Ministry as saying.

It added that diplomatic missions should consider evacuation. North Korea would provide safe locations for diplomats in accordance with international conventions, Xinhua quoted the ministry as saying in a notification to embassies.

Britain’s Foreign Office denounced the move. “We believe they have taken this step as part of their continuing rhetoric that the U.S. poses a threat to them,” the Foreign Office said.

It said it had “no immediate plans” to evacuate its embassy and accused the North Korean government of raising tensions “through a series of public statements and other provocations”.

The tension with North Korea has roiled South Korean financial markets and top finance officials in Seoul warned they could have a long-term impact on markets.

In North Korea itself, there was no intensification of the strident rhetoric about impending war as the country marked a national holiday. Some analysts said the tone of recent statements, however bitter, was most probably aimed at securing concessions and was unlikely to lead to armed conflict.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, quoting a senior military official familiar with the matter said: “Early this week, the North moved two Musudan missiles on a train and placed them on mobile launchers.”

There were unconfirmed media reports on Thursday that the North had moved missiles to the east coast, although it was not clear what kind of missiles had been deployed.

South Korea’s Defence Ministry declined to comment.

Speculation centred on two kinds of missiles neither of which is known to have been tested.

One was the so-called Musudan missile which South Korea’s Defence Ministry estimates has a range of up to 3,000 km (1,865 miles, the other is called the KN-08, which is believed to be an inter-continental ballistic missile, which is again untested.

Market jitters

In Seoul, officials from economic ministries, the central bank and regulatory agencies held emergency talks and promised swift and strong action should the markets lose stability. News of the talks and the central bank involvement boosted investors’ expectations of an interest rate cut next week.

South Korean shares slid, with foreign investors selling their biggest daily amount in nearly 20 months, hurt after aggressive easing from the Bank of Japan sent the yen reeling, as well as by the tension over North Korea.

“In the past, (markets) recovered quickly from the impact from any North Korea-related event, but recent threats from North Korea are stronger and the impact may therefore not disappear quickly,” Vice Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho told a meeting.

North Korea threatened to strike U.S. military bases, including those on the American mainland, and to shut down a joint industrial complex with the South while denying entry to the complex by South Korean workers this week.

The South’s new unification minister said the government was willing to pull out workers from the Kaesong industrial complex if it became dangerous, though he said the situation was not that serious for the moment.

The threats from North Korea’s 30-year-old leader Kim Jong-un, though not unusual from the reclusive state, have followed the imposition of new U.N. sanctions in response to North Korea’s third nuclear test in February. Reaction to the threats in markets has until now been muted.

The increasingly tense standoff with North Korea could not happen at a worse time for the government of the South’s new president, Park Geun-hye, whose first steps in office included a sharp cut in growth forecasts.

Park, in office for just over a month, has ordered her cabinet to draw up what is likely to be a large supplementary budget to lower budget revenue projections and add new spending plans aimed at jump-starting faltering domestic demand.

“The market usually doesn’t get jittery over North Korea threats. But this time is different, because they look willing to sacrifice Kaesong, which has never happened before,” said Park Hyung-joon, macroeconomics team leader at Meritz Securities.

Some U.S. analysts expressed a degree of alarm over the intensification of the threats.

“The rhetoric is off the charts,” said Victor Cha, former director for Asian affairs at the White House National Security Council and now senior adviser at the Centre for Strategic Studies in Washington.

“We don’t understand this new guy at all. And if the North Koreans move to provoke the South, the South is going to retaliate in a way we haven’t seen before.”

Other analysts said a degeneration into conflict was unlikely.

“We do not believe that North Korea intends to attack South Korea, pre-emptively or otherwise, in the current cycle of threat projection,” the U.S.-based Nautilus think-tank said in a study published on Thursday.

“Rather, these statements are opportunistic, and express its authentic strategy which is extortionate. The North’s nuclear forces are intended to compel their adversaries to change their policies towards (North Korea), not to deter unprovoked external attack—except when such an attack might actually be in motion.”

China culls birds as flu deaths mount; airline shares fall
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Chinese authorities slaughtered over 20,000 birds at a poultry market in Shanghai on Friday as the death toll from a new strain of bird flu mounted to six, spreading concern overseas and sparking a sell-off in airline shares in Europe and Hong Kong.

The local government in Shanghai said the Huhuai market for live birds had been shut down and 20,536 birds had been culled after authorities detected the H7N9 virus from samples of pigeons in the market. Other live poultry markets in the city will be closed down from Saturday, it said.

All the 14 reported infections from the H7N9 bird flu strain have been in eastern China and at least four of the dead are in Shanghai, a city of 23 million people and the showpiece of China’s vibrant economy.

The latest death was of a 64-year-old man in Zhejiang province, state news agency Xinhua said on Friday, adding that

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Environment

Second death in China from virus concerns officials with the CNY holidays looming

The Thaiger

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Second death in China from virus concerns officials with the CNY holidays looming | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Five patients remain in serious condition in Wuhan - New York Times

“At least 41 people have now been diagnosed as being infected this latest flu-like strain.”

Medical officials in China’s Wuhan city have announced that another man had died after being infected by the new coronavirus strain. Thailand and Japan have now reported new cases of a the Chinese Coronavirus that has already killed two and infected at least 40 in China. There are growing concerns about the spread of the virus beyond Chinese ahead of the Chinese New Year holidays. Chinese New Year will be celebrated on January 25 this year but many Chinese, and people of Chinese ethnicity, travel before and after this date, including trips over seas.

The Chinese man, reported to be aged 69, was admitted to a Wuhan hospital on December 31 with “abnormal renal function”. The man died from pneumonia linked to the new strain of the coronavirus outbreak in the central China province.

Chinese scientists identified the illness as a new strain of coronavirus, which is in the same family as the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Symptoms of coronaviruses can range from fever and coughing to kidney failure, and in some cases lead to death.

At least 41 people have now been diagnosed as being infected this latest flu-like strain, earlier called the “Wuhan Flu”, and now referred to as Chinese Coronavirus.

Five patients still remain in a serious condition. Chinese medical officials state that no cases of human-to-human transmission of the new viral strain have been confirmed so far.

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Crime

2 more alleged call centre scam suspects arrested in Japan

Greeley Pulitzer

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2 more alleged call centre scam suspects arrested in Japan | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Japanese suspects arrested during a raid in Chon Buri in late March 2019

Two men arrested in Japan yesterday stand accused of operating a large-scale call centre scam based in Thailand, bringing the total number of arrests in the case to 28. Japanese police believe 36 year old Kengo Yasutake and 34 year old Shimpei Hirata operated a luxury home in Pattaya, where a team of Japanese men would call people across Japan and tell them their subscription fees for a website were overdue.

Police say the gang has tricked more than 200 people and collected a total of more than 55 million baht. Fifteen Japanese men have already been arrested by Thai police last March at another luxury house location, also in Chon Buri province, and Japanese investigators arrested more in May 2019 as they attempted to leave Thailand for Japan.

Investigators say the group had a well-organised division of labour conducting the scam, with individual members making phone calls, cashing swindled electronic gift cards and as managing the scam web site.

They were arrested on suspicion of scamming a woman and two others living in the city of Fukui, central Japan, alleging in an email that they had failed to pay website subscription fees, and coercing them into purchasing electronic gift cards worth a total 780,000 yen, or about 215,000 baht.

SOURCE: Japan Times
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Well-Being

First ‘China coronavirus’ case confirmed in Japan

Greeley Pulitzer

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First ‘China coronavirus’ case confirmed in Japan | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The first case of the 'Wuhan Flu' identified in Japan - The Economist

As Thailand’s airports continue screening passengers arriving from China, Japan has confirmed its first case of the new China coronavirus that has killed one and attracted a travel alert from the US State Department. The patient, a man from Kanagawa prefecture near Tokyo, had recently visited the Chinese city of Wuhan, where an outbreak of a pneumonia strain is believed to be caused by the new coronavirus.

The US State Department issued a warning on Wednesday about travel to the Wuhan region in China, citing an alert by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention which urges citizens travelling in the region to avoid contact with animals, animal markets or animal products, among other precautions.

Health authorities in Thailand announced on Wednesday they are stepping up screening of passengers arriving by air ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday, when 800,000 Chinese tourists are expected to head for the Kingdom.

Though there has been no known human-to-human transmission, the World Health Organisation says the new virus could spread and is warning hospitals worldwide. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause infections ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, aka. SARS. Some of the virus types cause less serious disease, while some, like the one that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), are far more severe.

The Japanese patient returned from Wuhan and was hospitalised with a fever. He was released yesterday after the symptoms subsided.

SOURCE: The Bangkok Post

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