Asia News Today | The US “must stay engaged in Asia-Pacific”, China plane crash report ready in 20 days

China has finished the main recovery work at the site of a China Eastern Airlines crash 10 days ago and plans have a preliminary report ready within 30 days of the incident. A final report into the crash of the Boeing 737-800 model will be completed and made public after the investigation is concluded. The plane plummeted nose-first into a mountainside in southern China on March 21, killing all 132 passengers and crew.Under international aviation law, a 30-day report must be lodged with the UN aviation agency ICAO but it does not have to be made public. A final report will be due within a year of the crash, though sometimes it can take longer. The CAAC investigators are also working to decode the data from both the two black boxes which have been recovered and are now under scrutiny by international experts.Over 40,000 pieces of aircraft wreckage and debris have been found and a majority of the pieces have been transported to a hangarThe crash was mainland China’s deadliest aviation disaster in 28 years.

Around 1,000 Karen hill tribe people crossed the border into Thailand last weekend, only for Thai authorities to send them back, according to an official from a refugee camp. This month, over 10,000 Karen from Myanmar’s Kayin state have fled after clashes between Karen rebels and Myanmar’s military. Now, Burmese police have arrested a reporter for the Karen Information Centre. The reporter’s name is Nay Naw, according to a source close to the family. The source said Nay was summoned to the station twice for questioning on Monday, and then detained during the second meeting. The source told Radio Free Asia he didn’t know where Nay was detained, fearing the worst for their peer. Meanwhile, the Karen who fled to the Thai border camped out along the river there, without food or shelter. Just weeks ago, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights accused Myanmar’s army of burning alive women and children in the Kayah state, another Karen-majority state.

It is “critical” for the US to stay involved and engaged in the Asia-Pacific, while developing and growing its economic ties with the region… this from the Singaporean PM Lee aft attended a leadership meeting at the Capitol in Washington. Delivering remarks at the opening of the meeting, Mr Lee, accompanied by US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, pointed to America’s Indo-Pacific Economic Strategy and the upcoming Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. He said… “We hope to see this bear fruit in years to come… the security of the Asia Pacific is vital to the stability and prosperity of the region, and the US is a big part of this story”. Mr Lee noted that Singapore and the US share a “strong and enduring partnership”, as well as a “mutually beneficial” one, which stretches across many areas such as the economy and security. New areas for discussion included climate change, cybersecurity, new infrastructure and in particular sustainable infrastructure projects, as well as partnerships relating to growth and innovation. The Singaporean PM also reaffirmed defence ties between Washington and Singapore.

A Thai government spokesman has announced that Thailand and Cambodia plan to sign an MOU together soon to crack down on call centre scams. The spokesman said the Police Cyber Taskforce recently raided the operational base of a network of four gambling websites in Nonthaburi, next door to capital, Bangkok. He said the network had more than 200,000 clients with 200 million baht a month in circulation. In the past year, Thailand and Cambodia have cooperated to arrest of as many as 6,348 suspects, in 5,517 cases. They have arrested the owners of 344 bank accounts, and closed down 742 URLs. The websites were blamed for causing damages worth 157 million baht to Thais.

The Philippines is stepping up the monitoring of illicit drugs at tourist haunts, as the Philippines gears up to fully reopen borders to foreign visitors from April 1. The Philippines opened its borders on February 10 to vaccinated, COVID-negative foreign travellers from countries whose nationals did not require a visa. From tomorrow, it will allow entry to travellers from all countries. Now filipino tourism officials have signed an agreement with law enforcement agencies on joint clearing operations and efforts to prevent the trafficking of illegal drugs. Drug enforcement officials have warned that tourist destinations had traditionally been targeted by drug traffickers that saw potential among “foreign travellers with expendable income and leisure time”. The Philippine government has recently renewed its crackdown on illicit drugs. In March alone, law enforcers have seized narcotics valued at more than US$30 million, mainly methamphetamine.

An extremely rare Sumatran rhino has been born in captivity at a sanctuary in Indonesia, as conservation experts battle to save the critically endangered animal from extinction. The female rhino was born at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Sumatra’s Lampung Province last week. Sumatran rhinos, the world’s smallest rhinosorous species, were once numerous across Southeast Asia but are now only found in tiny pockets on Indonesia’s northern island of Sumatra and the Indonesian section of Borneo. It’s currently believed that there are fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinos now alive.In 2019, Malaysia’s last Sumatran rhino died at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary. The rhino calf’s birth in Indonesia last week brings the number of Sumatran rhinos at the sanctuary to eight. Worldwide, there are now only five remaining rhino species, and all are critically threatened.

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