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Asia News Today | More North Korea missiles, ‘genocide’ in Myanmar

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North Korea has conducted another missile launch, this time using a multiple rocket launch system, the latest in a busy time for North Korean missile testers. The statement from the South Korean military didn’t specify how far the rocket got, the direction it was fired, or the exact type of rockets or weapons launched, but said they’re constantly monitoring the current frenzy of launch activity.South Korea’s Yonhap news is reporting North Korea fired four rockets over the span of an hour from South Pyongan province into the sea off the country’s west coast.So far this year, North Korea has conducted 11 launches of intercontinental missile rockets, as it works through North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s wish list of strategic weapons laid out last year. Last week, a failed North Korean missile launch resulted in a mid-air explosion that reportedly rained debris near the North Korean capital Pyongyang but no official comment about the failed launch even though it happened near North Korea’s main international airport. A multiple rocket launch system test will be noted as less provocative than a long-range missile launch, but analysts warn that this kind of weapon still poses a major threat to South Korea.


The US has determined that the violence against the Rohingya minority committed by Myanmar’s military in 2017 amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity. Over 700,000 of the mostly Muslim Rohingya community have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar since 2017 after the brutal military crackdown that is now the subject of a genocide case at the UN’s highest court in The Hague. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will officially announce the decision to designate that crackdown a genocide in remarks at the Holocaust Museum in Washington today, where an exhibit on “Burma’s Path to Genocide” — using Myanmar’s former name — is on display. Blinken announced last year during a visit to Malaysia that the US was looking “very actively” at whether the treatment of the Rohingya might “constitute genocide.”The US State Department released a report in 2018 that detailed violence against the Rohingya in western Rakhine state as “extreme, large-scale, widespread, and seemingly geared toward both terrorising the population and driving out the Rohingya residents.”


The closure of Russian airspace to most international airlines, including just about all the major European carriers, is forcing companies to find alternate routes. For the bulk of flights linking Europe and Southeast Asia that’s a major problem with Russia, the world’s largest country, sitting directly between their departure point and destination. Take Finnair’s flight from Helsinki to Tokyo as an example. In the past the Finnair planes would take off and then veer into Russian airspace for the next 5,000 kilometres.They’d then fly over Mongolia and China, before entering Russia again just north of Vladivostok.
The last part of the journey would be across the Sea of Japan then to Narita Airport in Tokyo… usually just under 9 hours. Now they’ve been forced to take a route straight over the North Pole and then down into Japan… a new journey taking over 13 hours. To make the new route even slightly financially viable Finnair are prioritising cargo and limiting passenger number to just 50. Japan airlines has also bee forced to take the polar route for its European destinations to avoid Russian airspace.


Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has been forced to rebut a direct comparison between the handling of Hong Kong’s Omicron surge and that of neighbouring Shenzhen province. Shenzhen announced on Sunday night a week-long citywide lockdown for its residents after reporting 66 new infections. Meanwhile Hong Kong has logged 26,908 new infections and 286 Covid-related fatalities today. After the Shenzhen lockdown was announced, photos circulating yesterday showed supermarkets crowded with locals stocking up on food, while some employees headed to their offices to make arrangements to work from home. Shenzhen is home to around 17 million people.Jason Poon Chuk-hung, a chief analyst of Hong Kong Strategic Solutions, says that Shenzhen’s abrupt but organised lockdown was a sharp contrast to the Hong Kong government’s indecisiveness, making pointed remarks about Carrie Lam’s mishandling of the situation. He urged the Hong Kong administration to learn from its northern neighbour to carry out mass testing efficiently when the local daily caseload dropped to three digits, and rebuild district-level aid networks. But Ms. Lam responded by saying that in densely populated Hong Kong, queues during mass testing might spark concern about risks of cross-infection.Millions are now locked down, particularly in north east Chinese cities, as China battles with its largest surge of Covid since the initial outbreak and is facing large scale challenges to its zero Covid policy.


The Covid pandemic has pushed 4.7 million people in Southeast Asia into extreme poverty last year, as 9.3 million jobs disappeared, when compared with a baseline no-Covid scenario. All this contained in a report from the Asian Development Bank, called Southeast Asia: Rising from the Pandemic. The report says that the latest Omicron wave could cut the region’s economic growth by nearly 1% this year. The region’s economic output in 2022 is expected to remain more than 10% below the baseline no-COVID scenario. Among the most affected are unskilled workers and those working in retail and the underground economy, as well as small businesses without a digital presence. The report goes on to claim that the region faces global headwinds, including emerging COVID-19 variants, the tightening of global interest rates, supply chain disruptions, and higher commodity prices and inflation.


MotoGP returned to Indonesia for the first time since 1997 over the weekend but suffered numerous delays due to torrential rain on the Mandalika track around half an hour before the race was due to get underway. Eventually, Miguel Oliveira stormed to victory in the shortened MotoGP Indonesian Grand Prix, from reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo as Marc Marquez was ruled out with a concussion in a nasty warm up crash.Poleman Fabio Quartararo nailed his launch off the start line to grab the lead on his factory Yamaha, with Oliveira slotting into second ahead of Ducati’s Jack Miller and a fast-starting Alex Rins on the Suzuki. But it was Miguel Oliveira who made the best of the damp conditions to win the race.


Plenty of unstable weather around Thailand until at least tomorrow, and thereafter, southern Myanmar will be coping with heavy rains. There’s currently a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal, between Thailand and India, slowly moving north-northeast and predicted to make landfall in Myanmar later today and Bangladesh tomorrow. It’s expected to intensify today, reaching cyclone stats and gaining the nae Cyclone Asani. The system is strengthening the southerly and south-easterly winds blowing over the northern, central, eastern and southern regions of Thailand, resulting in more rain, with isolated heavy rain in the northern and central regions, and along the eastern coast of the southern region.
The TMD is warning boats in the Gulf and off the Andaman coast to be aware of the storm and check the weather before heading offshore.

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