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Australia demands China treat detained national ‘fairly’

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SYDNEY: Australia on Thursday demanded China handle the case of detained author Yang Hengjun “transparently and fairly,” amid a growing row about the fate of the Chinese-Australian.

Yang — a novelist, democracy advocate and former Chinese diplomat — was detained shortly after he made a rare return to China from the United States last week.

Chinese authorities have not publicly said why he was detained, or whether he is facing charges.

“Our embassy in Beijing will meet with Chinese authorities this morning to seek further clarification of the nature of this detention,” Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement.

“We will continue to make representations to China to ensure that this matter is dealt with transparently and fairly,” she added.

Once described as China’s “most influential political blogger”, Yang became an Australian citizen in 2000, but is currently based at New York’s Columbia University.

His criticism of the Chinese government and support for democracy has in the past made him a target of Beijing’s state security apparatus.

He went missing during a 2011 trip to China, but resurfaced days later, describing his disappearance as a “misunderstanding”.

But his current detention comes at a moment of high tension between Western countries and an increasingly muscular Beijing, prompting fears that he may be the victim of a dragnet by Chinese security services targeting foreigners.

 

 

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Islamic State group claims Sri Lanka bombs that killed hundreds

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COLOMBO: A local group on Tuesday said it was behind a devastating string of suicide attacks against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that killed more than 320 people on Easter Sunday.

The claim emerged more than 48 hours after the near-simultaneous blasts tore through three high-end hotels popular with foreigners and three churches packed with Christians marking Easter.

It came after Sri Lanka’s government said initial investigations suggested the attack had been carried out as “retaliation” for shootings at two mosques in New Zealand last month that killed 50 people.

The Sri Lankan government had already pointed the figure at a little-known local extremist group, but said it was investigating whether they had international support.

“Those that carried out the attack that targeted members of the US-led coalition and Christians in Sri Lanka the day before yesterday are Islamic State group fighters,” a statement released by the group’s propaganda agency Amaq said.

It presented no immediate evidence for the claim, or further details on the attackers.

 

 

 

 

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Kim’s schedule for Russia visit seen to be taking shape

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VLADIVOSTOK: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s schedule for a visit to Russia appears to be taking shape, with his security and protocol staff spotted making final preparations in Vladivostok for his upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Moscow and Pyongyang have confirmed that Kim will visit Russia for the summit, but they did not disclose its date and venue. Media speculate that he is likely to arrive by train in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok on Wednesday and hold the talks the following day.

Kim Chang-son, the North Korean leader’s protocol chief, and other staff members have been seen checking facilities in Vladivostok, including those of the Far Eastern Federal University, where the leaders of the two countries are expected to meet.

A diplomatic source here said that Moscow and Pyongyang appear to be fine-tuning the schedule for a dinner between Kim and Putin on Wednesday and their formal meeting the next day.

Should he decide to travel by train, Kim would travel a distance of around 1,200 kilometers from Pyongyang on a trip expected to take 20 hours or more given the poor railway conditions in some stretches toward the border with Russia.

The federal university on Russky Island of Vladivostok is seen as the most likely summit venue, as it has so far hosted a series of top-level international events, including the 2012 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

The university is also a site of Russia’s annual Eastern Economic Forum designed to publicize and strengthen Moscow’s policy initiative to attract investment for and expedite the development of the Far Easter region.

Security on a bridge leading to the insular university is relatively easy to control, another reason why the university has been cited as a likely summit site.

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US sanctions over Iran oil will ‘intensify Mideast turmoil’: China

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BEIJING: China warned Tuesday that the US decision to impose sanctions on buyers of Iranian oil will “intensify turmoil” in the Middle East and in the international energy market.

The White House announced Monday it was calling an end to six-month waivers that had exempted several countries — including major importer China — from unilateral US sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

“China firmly opposes the US implementation of unilateral sanctions and its so-called long-armed jurisdiction,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing.

“The relevant move by the United States will intensify the turmoil in the Middle East and the turmoil in the international energy market.”

In seeking to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero, the Trump administration is targeting the country’s top revenue earner in its latest no-holds-barred move to crush the economy and scale back the clerical regime’s influence.

 

 

 

 

 

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