Asia Minute

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Celebrations of the Lunar New Year will be subdued in many parts of China this year, because of concerns of a spreading virus. That’s also true within the region, where various countries are having different reactions to the outbreak.

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Benjamin Parsons

This week, South Korea’s government announced it will be sending a naval unit to the Middle East. That move has been welcomed by the United States and criticized by Iran. But for South Korea, it’s a form of compromise.

AP Photo/Dake Kang

A new virus that started in China has now reached the United States. The Hawaii Department of Health is advising doctors across the state to be alert for patients who may have traveled from the city of Wuhan. While it’s not yet understood exactly how the virus is spread, it’s raising concerns – especially within the Asia Pacific.

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It’s been two years since China turned the commercial world of recycling upside down when it stopped accepting most plastic from overseas. This week, the government announced another sweeping change: phasing out single-use plastics.

AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool

The world's richest person spent several days last week in the world's largest democracy. But the trip of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos didn't turn out quite the way he expected.

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A trade deal signed this week by the United States and China has been the focus of a lot of media coverage. Most stories in the United States emphasize the purchases of U.S. agricultural and other products that China will make. But in the Asia Pacific, there’s a slightly different tone.

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There’s a development this week involving a Japanese cabinet official that’s making national news in that country. It’s not a scandal — it has to do with taking advantage of an employee benefit.

AP Photo/Andy Wong, File

There are further developments today on a mysterious virus that has hit a major city in China.

AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying

Taiwan’s president was re-elected by a wide margin over the weekend. The election results were not a surprise, but they are significant on a number of levels.

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Hawaii’s tourism figures for 2019 have not yet been released, but they have for Japan. It’s a record number, but it also shows some changes in visitor arrivals.

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The Golden Globes were awarded this week, giving attention to some of the best movies of 2019. A different take on Hollywood’s movie output came from China this week — and it’s a very different interpretation.

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While the conflict between the United States and Iran seems to have cooled in the last couple of days, tensions remain. And that is continuing to affect U.S. allies in the Asia Pacific.

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As brush fires continue to devastate parts of Australia, dry weather is creating trouble in another part of the Asia Pacific. Parts of Thailand are suffering through their worst drought in nearly 40 years.

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There is a new virus that has surfaced in a large city in central China. While doctors and public health officials are investigating, concerns have already spread to several other Asian countries.

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The new round of tension between the United States and Iran is affecting some U.S. allies in the Asia Pacific.

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While catastrophic fires continue in Australia this week, another natural disaster is striking elsewhere in the Asia Pacific. Flooding in Indonesia has killed dozens of people this week, and forced tens of thousands from their homes.

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A new year always brings some changes. This year one of them is taking place in China — where a brand-new factory has just started to turn out electric vehicles made by an American company.

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2020 began with celebrations around the around the world. And as always, the Asia Pacific was the first region to ring in the New Year. But while fireworks an dparties marked the event — there's also a ton of caution in one area for an unusual reason: pirates.

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Social media and smart phones are important tools for many military families to stay in touch — especially during this holiday season. But that has changed for service members in at least one country in the Indo Asia Pacific.

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China has a new communications satellite in orbit this week. The payload was launched on Friday night, and marks a new phase for China’s space program.

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Details are still settling on the first phase of a trade deal between the United States and China. One country that has benefitted from the recent trade tension is Vietnam — and other countries in the region are taking note.

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Protests have continued this week in Hong Kong. And while demonstrators have gathered this week from the harbor side to shopping malls, there’s also a group that has moved to online video games.

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin West

Christmas is a holiday that’s generally more associated with parts of the world from the Americas to Europe, and a bit less so in Asia. But there are certain parts of the Asia Pacific that have their own Christmas traditions.

Wang Zhao/Pool Photo via AP

For most Americans, this is a slower than usual week at work. But in the world of diplomacy, this is a busy time — especially in northeast Asia, where the heads of government of Japan, South Korea and China are all meeting this week.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Semi-automatic weapons are now illegal in New Zealand. The national ban on assault rifles and other firearms went into effect at the end of the week – a little more than nine months after the worst mass shooting in the country’s history.

AP Photo/Wally Santana

The United States is not the only government headed for a presidential election next year. In just over three weeks, voters in Taiwan will go to the polls to choose a leader.

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This has been another week of heat, drought and fire in many parts of Australia — including the country’s largest city, Sydney. This morning local time, the top government official in the state of New South Wales declared a state of emergency, and temperatures may be on their way to another record.

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New Year’s celebrations in Hong Kong will be a bit more subdued than usual this year. A large show of fireworks over the harbor was canceled this week, because police say they are concerned about crowd safety. And if trends continue, there will be many fewer visitors.

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Video gaming has hit a new milestone this week. Esports are already a competitive venture at many high schools and universities — including here in Hawai’i. But now, there’s a new global governing body for the sport headquartered in Asia.

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The end of the week brought some troubling economic news for two of Hawaii’s key tourism markets. Both Japan and South Korea have seen slowing business, and policy makers are cautious heading into the end of the year.

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