US funding delays hurt the Pacific – but there are bigger worries | Terence Wesley-Smith and Gerard Finin

A delay by the US in providing crucial funding to Pacific Island nations is fuelling concern in the region – but questions about the competing visions held by the US and regional leaders are even more pressing. The funding is part of longstanding agreements the US has with three nations in the north Pacific, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Marshall Islands and Palau. The agreements, known as the Compacts of Free Association (Cofa), provide a range of assistance to these nations, including visa-free entry to the US, grant…

Tibetans in India march in solidarity with those arrested in dam protest in China

Tibetans and Buddhist leaders in northern India on Wednesday participated in a march to show their solidarity with Tibetans in southwestern China’s Sichuan province arrested for peacefully protesting the planned construction of a dam.  Similar solidarity rallies were held in London and other cities the same day. The large Buddhist community in Ladakh – in Jammu and Kashmir – expressed concerns that the dam project will submerge several significant monasteries with ancient murals that date back to the 13th century.  The Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, which organized the march and…

FirstFT: Sequoia China founder Neil Shen acquired Singapore residency

Stay informed with free updates Simply sign up to the Global Economy myFT Digest — delivered directly to your inbox. Good morning — we start today with a scoop out of Singapore. Neil Shen, China’s most prominent tech investor, acquired permanent residency in the city-state and later opened an office there for his $56bn venture capital firm as tensions rose between Washington and Beijing. The billionaire founder of Sequoia China, renowned for early investments in Alibaba, ByteDance and Shein, was granted the status before the Covid-19 pandemic, according to three…

Locking down dissidents ahead of China’s parliamentary sessions

Police across China are placing prominent dissidents under house arrest or taking them out of town on enforced “vacations” ahead of next week’s annual National People’s Congress in Beijing, activists said in interviews and via social media. “With the parliamentary sessions approaching, Beijing is really unbearable,” veteran political journalist Gao Yu said via her X account. “State security police are being dispatched to guard people across all districts of Beijing, calling people and coming to their homes.” “If this is what things are like before the parliamentary sessions have even…

Hong Kong’s Article 23 law will ‘damage rights,’ hurt business: experts and activists

Hong Kong’s forthcoming “Article 23” security legislation will be a major blow to human rights in the city, according to a U.N. human rights expert, American legal scholars and human rights groups. Public consultation for the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance, which will criminalize “treason,” “insurrection,” the theft of “state secrets,” “sabotage” and “external interference,” among other national security offenses, under Article 23 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, ended on Wednesday. The legislation, highly likely to be passed by the Legislative Council in the absence of opposition lawmakers, is being billed…

Cambodia confiscates 4 tons of ‘yellow vine’ in crackdown

Park rangers in Cambodia have confiscated 4 tons of “yellow vines” – believed to be a drug precursor – that were illegally harvested from forests, but environmentalists told Radio Free Asia that the government needs to arrest the vine poachers instead of merely confiscating their loot. The Ministry of Environment announced on its Facebook page on Tuesday that rangers in the northeastern province of Stung Treng province confiscated 4 tons of turmeric vines in Sam village, Sekong Commune, Sesan District, from trucks that were headed to the border with Laos.…

Germany and Italy torpedo EU supply chain law

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter. Germany and Italy have torpedoed an EU law imposing liability on companies for alleged human rights abuses in their supply chain, such as in China’s Xinjiang region. At a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday, no majority could be established for the law, which had been previously agreed, due to Berlin and Rome’s last-minute objections reflecting concerns that the new legislation would hurt their industrial base. The aim of the…

Disney strikes $8.5bn deal to merge India business with Reliance Industries

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter. Disney has struck an $8.5bn dollar deal to merge its India business with Reliance Industries, in a move that will reduce the US entertainment group’s financial exposure to what has been a lossmaking venture in one of the world’s most populated countries. Entities controlled by Reliance, the Indian conglomerate run by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, will invest $1.4bn and take a 63 per cent stake in the new company, while Disney…

Hong Kong’s Article 23 Legislation Is Another Step Toward Authoritarian Rule

In his novel “1984,” George Orwell depicted a horrifying totalitarian society where the entire population is under constant surveillance by Big Brother. “Thought police” arrest suspects at will, and individuals are constantly suspected of colluding with state enemies. Orwell’s apocalyptic vision reminds me of the current Hong Kong government’s proposed Article 23 legislation. The legislation goes far beyond the needs of national security, resembling a political project aiming at constructing a totalitarian society like Orwell’s. The four-week public consultation on the legislation is extremely brief. Already under the rule of…

Malaysia Court Reinstates Abuse of Power Charges Against Ex-PM Muhyiddin

Kuala Lumpur —  A Malaysian appeal court on Wednesday reinstated charges of abuse of power against opposition leader and former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, state news agency Bernama reported. A Kuala Lumpur high court had thrown out the four charges and acquitted Muhyiddin in August, ruling those had not detailed his alleged offences. Muhyiddin, who led Malaysia for 17 months between 2020 and 2021, had pleaded not guilty and had called the charges politically motivated. However, a three-member Court of Appeal bench on Wednesday unanimously ruled that the case against…