China faces high childbirth cost as population shrinks, growth slows

China is one of the most expensive countries in the world to raise a child, with almost the lowest average desire by women to give birth due to the high cost entailed and the difficulty to balance family and work responsibilities, a Chinese think-tank has found. The cost of raising a child until he or she turns 18 is equivalent to 6.3 times China’s GDP per capita, according to the 2024 childbirth cost report by Yuwa Population Research.This contrasts with 4.11 times in the United States, Japan’s 4.26 times, as…

Hong Kong official slams groups’ criticism of new security law

Hong Kong security chief Chris Tang has lashed out at the London-based rights group Hong Kong Watch after it issued a statement signed by 86 groups saying that forthcoming security legislation would have “devastating consequences” for human rights in the city. The new legislation, called Article 23, criminalizes treason, insurrection, the theft of state secrets and other national security offenses. It is billed by the government as a way to close “loopholes” in the already stringent 2020 National Security Law. But Hong Kong Watch and the other groups said the…

Video of Lao women used in human ring-toss game raises ire

A short video on social media of Lao female hotel employees serving as human pegs in a ring-toss game for Chinese patrons at a Chinese-owned hotel in Vientiane has gone viral on Facebook, prompting thousands of angry comments saying the women were treated as animals or toys. The video obtained by Radio Free Asia shows a dozen young Lao women in short uniforms standing still on steps outside the building as a group of Chinese men take turns tossing hoops at them, hoping to ring their bodies for the prizes…

Yunnan mosque gets pagodas and party slogans in Chinese makeover

A mosque in a mostly-Muslim town in southwestern China whose dome and minarets were demolished last year has been refitted with Chinese-style pagodas and billboards praising the Communist Party, according to a local resident and an overseas Muslim with connections to the area. Last May, dozens of residents were detained in the town of Nagu in Yunnan province after clashes with police, when a government demolition team toppled the minarets and dome roof of the historic Najiaying Mosque. The destruction was part of the “sinicization” of religion under President Xi…

2 women suffocate in crammed queue outside Myanmar passport office

Two women who were caught in a crowded pre-dawn queue at a government passports office in Mandalay died of suffocation as several thousand people who hope to leave the country in the coming weeks crammed together inside a fenced-in area.  The deaths illustrate the anxiety widely felt ahead of the military junta’s upcoming enforcement of a mandatory conscription law. The two women – Khin Myo Aye, 52, and Khaing Wai, 39 – died at about 2 a.m. on Tuesday as people jostled for position outside of a passports issuing office…

Biden unveils $20 billion for US port security

U.S. President Joe Biden has signed an executive order that creates new rules to bolster security at American ports, while also committing $20 billion to shift away from the use of Chinese-made cranes that officials are at risk of being seized remotely and shut down. The rules follow a warning from FBI Director Christopher Wray last month that Chinese hackers had burrowed into key American infrastructure and were waiting to “wreak havoc” if ordered by Beijing, potentially to try to break public support for the U.S. defense of Taiwan. Biden…

Pro-junta ‘drone test’ injures 13 children in Myanmar

A drone test by pro-junta militia injured 13 children in Myanmar, residents told Radio Free Asia.  Regime soldiers working in collaboration with the Pyu Saw Htee militia are responsible for a weapons accident that occurred on Saturday, locals said. The militia is made up of pro-junta supporters, veterans and Buddhist nationalists.  The drone, carrying several bombs, flew over Sagaing region’s Kale township, close to the Chin state border. Soldiers are permanently stationed in Kale township’s Aung Myin Thar village, leading them to believe the attack was an accident, they added.…

Hun Sen’s youngest son named Cambodian deputy prime minister

The Hun family is solidifying an already iron grip on Cambodia after the National Assembly voted unanimously to appoint Minister of Civil Service Hun Many as a deputy prime minister. Many received all of the 120 votes during an extraordinary session chaired by Khuon Sudary, president of the National Assembly on Wednesday, local media reported.  There are 10 other deputy prime ministers. Prime Minister Hun Manet told lawmakers the promotion of his youngest brother was in line with the need to achieve the “highest efficiency of the government’s policy,” with…

China calls for mindset change to grow, end ‘lying flat’ bureaucracy

A directive from a Chinese provincial government seen as aiming to further shore up the ideology of Chinese President Xi Jinping and break away from late leader Deng Xiaoping’s reformist thoughts has stirred up heated debate. The campaign by Hunan officials called for “large-scale discussions on emancipating the mind” throughout the province, known for its red propaganda. It was launched on the eve of the 27th anniversary of Deng’s death. The notice of “emancipating the mind” was a reference to the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to introduce economic reforms after…

Wives of jailed Vietnamese activists claim constant harassment

While Vietnamese activists Bui Van Thuan and Bui Tuan Lam serve long prison sentences, their wives have told Radio Free Asia they face constant harassment by local authorities. Trinh Thi Nhung, wife of Bui Van Thuan, said she was questioned by police in Thanh Hoa province about a Facebook account which used her husband’s photo as her profile picture. Her husband was arrested at the end of August 2021 for a series of Facebook posts, in which he wrote about the internal fighting of state officials, which he dubbed the…