China carries out anti-missile tests amid opposition to US systems in South Korea

China carried out a test of “ground-based midcourse anti-missile intercept technology” that “achieved its expected purpose”, the defence ministry in Beijing has said, describing it as defensive and not aimed at any country. Beijing has tested missile interceptors before; the most recent previous public announcement of a test was in February 2021, and before that in 2018. State media has said China has conducted anti-missile system tests since at least 2010. China has been ramping up research into all sorts of missiles, from those that can destroy satellites in space…

Biden Begins Trip to Asia Meant to Reassure Allies of Focus on China

SEOUL — President Biden embarked Thursday on his first diplomatic mission to Asia since taking office, hoping to demonstrate that the United States remained focused on countering China, even as his administration stage-managed a war against Russia in Europe. With his original strategy of pivoting foreign policy attention to Asia effectively blown up by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Biden has now shifted to the argument that there can be no trade-off between Europe and Asia and that only the United States can bring together the democracies of the East…

Your Friday Briefing: Biden Releases Oil Reserves

your friday briefing biden releases oil reserves

Good morning. We’re covering global energy challenges, missile deception in North Korea and the wild world of Wikipedia. War roils global energy access On Thursday, the White House announced a plan to release up to 180 million barrels of oil from U.S. strategic reserves, the largest release since it was created, hoping to push gas prices down. Oil prices, which had been surging since the fighting in Ukraine began, fell modestly on expectations of the announcement. But diesel prices are still soaring. At the same time, OPEC and its allies,…

In Asia, Covid-19 Rules Fall Away, With a Big Caveat

MANILA — In the Philippines, tens of thousands are crowding into political rallies in Manila, and the zoo there is packed. In India, millions fanned out last weekend to celebrate a Hindu festival. And in South Korea, 15,000 fans descended on a stadium in Seoul for three nights to see the K-pop band BTS perform for the first time since October 2019. Many Asian-Pacific countries are dismantling thickets of Covid rules at bewildering speeds, even though the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is still raging in parts of the region.…

South Korea’s presidential candidates face balancing act amid rising anti-China sentiment

When Moon Jae-in, the outgoing president of South Korea, returned home from Washington in May last year, his foreign minister, Chung Eui-yong, rushed to clarify the mention of Taiwan in his joint statement with Joe Biden – a highly sensitive subject for South Korea’s biggest trading partner, China. “The Taiwan-related expressions [in the joint statement] are ‘very general expressions’,” Chung said a day after the statement was released. As if this clarification was not enough, Chung’s deputy, Choi Jong-gun, added: “China would appreciate the fact that South Korea does not…

Your Monday Briefing: Russian Forces Attack Evacuees

Good morning. We’re covering sustained shelling in Ukraine, China’s new economic plan and the fallout of a terrorist attack on a mosque in Pakistan. Russian attacks halt evacuations As Russian forces continued shelling Ukraine, at least three people — a mother and her children — were killed outside Kyiv as they tried to get to safety. For the second straight day, the authorities called off an evacuation from the besieged port city of Mariupol. Here’s the latest. Russian forces were struggling to advance on multiple fronts. The Ukrainian military said…

Your Monday Briefing: Ukraine Agrees to Talks

Good morning. We’re covering diplomacy and posturing in Ukraine, research into the pandemic’s origins and another North Korean missile test. Ukraine agrees to Russian talks President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine agreed to talks with Russia “without preconditions” on the Belarusian border. Just before the announcement, President Vladimir Putin issued a new threat to the West, telling the Russian military to put its nuclear forces on alert. Western powers are uniting around Ukraine. The E.U. said it would close its airspace to Russian planes and finance the donation of weapons. Turkish…

Hanbok at Beijing Winter Olympics opening sparks South Korean anger

China and South Korea have become embroiled in a cultural appropriation row after a woman appeared at the opening ceremony of the Beijing winter Olympics wearing traditional Korean dress. The Chinese embassy in Seoul defended the decision to include a participant wearing hanbok, describing her as a representative of the country’s dozens of ethnic groups. Her appearance sparked anger among many South Koreans, who denounced it as another attempt by China to claim parts of Korean culture – including its national dish, kimchi – as its own. The embassy described…

Your Monday Briefing: The Olympics Begin

your monday briefing the olympics begin scaled

Good morning. We’re covering the start of the Winter Olympics, tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and Afghanistan’s crumbling health care system. The Winter Olympics begin China’s leader, Xi Jinping, opened the Beijing Games on Friday with a clear intent to celebrate his country’s increasingly assured global status. Xi stood defiantly with Vladimir Putin, the leader of Russia, a calculated display of solidarity to show their partnership and project their growing impatience with Western censure. (President Biden and other democratic leaders critical of China’s human rights record stayed home.) China also…

Omicron Surge in Asia Restricts Travel for Lunar New Year

omicron surge in asia restricts travel for lunar new year scaled

The Omicron variant has dampened the plans of tens of millions of people across several Asian countries to travel during the Lunar New Year, as officials battle the pandemic for a third year. Observed this year on Feb. 1, Lunar New Year falls just as many countries are seeing surges in coronavirus cases. Omicron is becoming the dominant variant in countries like South Korea, which expects up to 90 percent of its cases to be Omicron-related by the end of February. Before the pandemic, as many as three billion trips…

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