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TMCNet:  Top Asian News at 3:00 a.m. GMT

[December 22, 2013]

Top Asian News at 3:00 a.m. GMT

(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Apple reaches deal to bring iPhone to China MobileBEIJING (AP) — Apple says it has reached a deal to bring the iPhone to China Mobile, the world's biggest phone carrier. The deal ends a lengthy courtship and could boost sales of the iPhone in China. The iPhone, once hugely popular in China, has been eclipsed by the rise of lower-priced rival smartphones from Samsung and Chinese companies.

Early end-life plan for elderly in aging JapanTOKYO (AP) — Japan's Emperor Akihito surprised the nation last month when palace officials announced plans for his funeral. His wishes for a relatively modest one — and the act of planning ahead — were widely seen as a good example in this rapidly aging country. Akihito, who turns 80 on Monday, is still active, making an official visit to India in November with his wife, the 79-year-old Empress Michiko. But concerns have grown since he had heart bypass surgery nearly two years ago on top of prostate cancer earlier.

Thai protesters push again to stop electionsBANGKOK (AP) — Buoyed by an election boycott called by Thailand's main opposition party, the head of the country's anti-government protest movement vowed Sunday to hound caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra "until she is dead or until she leaves" office. Addressing supporters after a day of rallies and marches all over Bangkok involving more than 100,000 people, Suthep Thaugsuban issued a series of threats to try to achieve his group's goal of forcing Yingluck to step down and make way for a non-elected interim government before a snap election she has called for Feb. 2. The main opposition Democrat Party announced Saturday that it would boycott the polls.

Bangladesh factory owners charged in deadly fireDHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Police charged the owners of a Bangladeshi garment factory and 11 employees with culpable homicide Sunday for alleged negligence leading to the death of 112 workers in a raging fire that engulfed the factory last year. It was the first time Bangladeshi authorities had sought to prosecute factory owners in the world's second-largest garment industry. A series of recent deadly disasters — including the Nov. 24, 2012, fire and a factory collapse in April that killed more than 1,100 workers — exposed how harsh and often unsafe conditions can be for many of the country's 4 million workers providing clothing to major Western retailers.

UN urges more aid for Philippine typhoon recoveryMANILA, Philippines (AP) — U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the international community Sunday to ramp up aid for the Philippines' typhoon reconstruction, saying "we must not allow this to be another forgotten crisis." Ban met with key ambassadors stationed in Manila at the end of his three-day visit and urged donor countries to provide more aid in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the central Philippines on Nov. 8, killing at least 6,100 people and leaving nearly 1,800 others missing. Entire villages were flattened by Haiyan's ferocious winds and the tsunami-like storm surge that damaged or swept away more than a million homes and injured 27,000 people.

3 bombs explode in southern Thailand, injuring 27SONGKHLA, Thailand (AP) — Three bombs exploded Sunday in southern Thailand, injuring more than two dozen people in what appeared to be an attack by Islamic insurgents, authorities said. Songkhla's provincial governor told state-run NBT television that 27 people were hurt, four seriously, in the bombings.

Rodman yet to meet with Kim, but says game is onPYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Dennis Rodman may not get to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on his latest visit to the country, but he said that won't stop him from coming back on Kim's birthday next month to hold an exhibition game with other former basketball stars. On the night before he was due to leave Pyongyang, Rodman told The Associated Press on Sunday that he had not yet had a meeting with Kim. The flamboyant Hall of Famer said that he didn't expect to meet the leader every time he comes to North Korea, and that his current trip was for training North Korean basketball players who will take part in the match Rodman is organizing for Kim's birthday on Jan. 8.

Obama stresses economic issues in China envoy pickWASHINGTON (AP) — Making Sen. Max Baucus the next ambassador to China reflects the importance the U.S. places on advancing its economic relationship with Beijing despite recent strains on security issues. The veteran Democrat from Montana lacks foreign policy credentials, but he does have a track record in pressing China over trade barriers and its currency exchange rate.

Momentum gains to unite ancient Cambodian statuesPREAH VIHEAR PROVINCE, Cambodia (AP) — Rising out of the jungle on white pillars, the new Preah Vihear Museum's largest building stands empty. But Cambodian officials hope that one day it will be the place where nine ancient statues depicting a dramatic battle scene are reunited from around the world. They came a step closer to that goal last week, when Sotheby's auction house in New York agreed to return one of the statues to Cambodia, ending a heated legal battle that began when the U.S. government filed a lawsuit last year at Cambodia's initiative to press for its return.

Kidnapped Taiwanese woman released in PhilippinesMANILA, Philippines (AP) — Islamic insurgents in the southern Philippines released a Taiwanese tourist who was kidnapped more than a month ago on a remote Malaysian resort island, a Filipino military commander said Saturday. Philippine police and marines found Evelyn Chang late Friday in a village on the Philippine island of Jolo after they were tipped off by local residents, said Sulu provincial commander Col. Jose Cenabre.

China lashes out at Japan's new defense planBEIJING (AP) — China's military lashed out Saturday at Japan's plans to boost defense spending, accusing Tokyo of raising regional tensions under the pretext of safeguarding national security. China "resolutely opposes" the five-year defense plan adopted by Japan on Tuesday, Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

Indian environment minister resigns in shake-upNEW DELHI (AP) — India's environment minister resigned in a government shake-up Saturday, as the governing Congress party prepares for next year's national elections. The country's oil and gas minister, M. Veerappa Moily, will take over the environment portfolio, according to the office of President Pranab Mukherjee, who accepted Jayanthi Natarajan's resignation.

Treatment of arrested diplomat was typical in USNEW YORK (AP) — It has sparked protests outside the American embassy in New Delhi. Burnings of President Barack Obama's photo. And angry speeches by Indian officials. But the arrest — and, yes, even the strip search — of an Indian diplomat accused of visa fraud also revealed a simple and longstanding reality of the U.S. justice system: Everyone charged with a crime here is supposed to be treated the same, whether wealthy or poor, prominent or ordinary, citizen or foreigner.

Widow gets remains of soldier lost in Korean WarLOS ANGELES (AP) — U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph E. Gantt went off to war 63 years ago, leaving behind a wife who never gave up on his return. On Friday, 94-year-old Clara Gantt stood up from her wheelchair and wept in the cold before the flag-draped casket.

India demands apology for diplomat arrest in NYCNEW DELHI (AP) — India's information minister lashed out at the United States on Friday and demanded an apology for the treatment of a diplomat who was arrested in New York, saying America cannot behave "atrociously" and get away with it. The Dec. 13 arrest and strip-search of Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general in New York, has sparked a diplomatic storm between the United States and India. U.S. prosecutors say Khobragade lied on a visa form about how much she paid her housekeeper and actually paid her around $3 per hour. The diplomat has pleaded not guilty.

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