01/25/2024, 09.15
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Hong Kong Supreme Court overturns acquittal of lawyer Chow Hang Tung

Today's news: India won't withdraw troops from the Maldives, after archipelago's president seeks relations with Beijing; Seoul court approves seizure of funds from a Japanese company to compensate for wartime labour exploitation; Israel denies the attack on the UN shelter in Gaza that also drew a rebuke from Washington; Fuel runs out in Laos.


Today the Supreme Court of Hong Kong overturned the acquittal of the human rights activist and lawyer Chow Hang Tung who was accused of "inciting an unauthorized assembly" when in 2021 she and a group of people participated in a vigil to remember the victims of China's 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Chow had won an appeal at the High Court in December 2022, but was nevertheless denied bail and remains in prison as she also faces charges - in a separate trial - of having "attacked national security".


The Indian government does not intend to withdraw its military personnel from the Maldives following Malé's request, confirmed by the Chief Admiral of the Indian Navy R. Hari Kumar who leads the contingent of around 80 Indian soldiers stationed in the archipelago. India-Maldives ties are at an all-time low following the election victory of Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu last year, who pledged to end his country's "India First" policy and called for troop withdrawal by 15 March 2024. Muizzu plans to build stronger ties with China in a region where New Delhi and Beijing compete for influence.


A South Korean court has granted a request to seize funds from Japanese shipbuilder Hitachi Zosen Corp by a plaintiff seeking compensation in connection with a lawsuit over wartime forced labor. At the beginning of January, the Korean Supreme Court definitively confirmed the ruling that requires Japanese companies that exploited labor during the colonial occupation to directly compensate the workers or their families and ordered the Japanese company to pay the plaintiff 50 million won (,400).


China has reduced imports of plastic materials and articles from Russia by almost 20%, for a volume close to 500 million dollars, as communicated by the Chinese Central Customs Service. In particular, purchases of polyethylene (-30%) and polystyrene (2 million less) were reduced, while deliveries of polypropylene and polyvinyl chloride increased.


The United Nations said Israeli tanks hit a compound in Gaza housing displaced Palestinians, causing "mass casualties", but Israel has denied its forces were responsible and suggested Hamas may have carried out the bombing. The attack, which the United Nations said hit a former vocational training center housing 30,000 displaced people in Khan Younis, also drew condemnation from the United States. At the moment 9 dead and 75 injured have been confirmed.


Laos is running out of petrol again, after the serious crisis of 2022. Diesel fuel is the most difficult to find, but it is also the most important for the area's economy because it powers the engines of boats. The Lao government increased the official fuel price four times in January alone, bucking the trend of decreases in the rest of Asia.


Saudi Arabia is preparing to open its first place that also serves alcohol in the capital Riyadh. Only non-Muslim diplomats will be able to consume them. Customers will have to register via a mobile app, obtain an authorization code from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and meet monthly quotas with their purchases. The move is a milestone in the kingdom's efforts to open up the ultra-conservative Muslim country to tourism and business, as the initiative is part of plans known as Vision 2030 to build a post-oil economy.


In Dušanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, the removal of the entire Victory Square has begun with the monuments of Soviet heroes and the legendary Stalinist IS-2 tank, which will be relocated to the city park, while the square will be replaced by one in two junctions plans for vehicle circulation, simplifying the city's transport infrastructure.

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