Nuclear-armed Asian powers China and India have become embroiled in a tense diplomatic and military standoff over disputed points along their mostly undemarcated, 3,500km (2,200-mile) Himalayan border. The first deadly border clash in more than 40 years between the world's two most populous nations on June 15 left 20 Indian soldiers dead after fierce hand-to-hand combat.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong has led a campaign to pressure South Korea to stop the flow of anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent across the border in balloons by defectors. North Korea cited the leaflets, which criticize Kim Jong Un's nuclear threats and human rights record, when it cut off communications with the South on June 9.
Laos has ambitious plans to become the "Battery of Southeast Asia" by building seven hydro-power dams on the Mekong River, and damming its tributaries, to generate and export electricity to its neighbors. But the mega-projects have displaced thousands of Lao citizens without bringing cheaper power. And dams are adding to the problems of farmers downstream in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos itself, who are suffering drought, a reduction in fish stocks, and from other environmental damage to the vital ecosystem.
Chinese state media and officials have tried to score easy propaganda points from U.S. racial tensions and social unrest in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, but the tactic can backfire spectacularly, as Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying found out recently. When she tweeted "I can't breathe" — using some of Floyd's last words with a policeman's knee on his neck — readers were quick to shoot back: "I can't tweet," reminding everyone that twitter is blocked by China.
Under Xi Jinping, China's diplomats have abandoned charm for an aggressive approach called "Wolf Warrior" diplomacy, with envoys taking to Twitter to insult their host countries or threaten trade war against governments that criticize China. Named after a 2017 action blockbuster featuring a Chinese Rambo shooting up foreign bad guys in Africa, the pugnacious diplomacy has been directed at countries as distinct as Sweden, Venezuela and India -- and appears to be getting the same reviews as the movie. Wolf Warrior won awards inside China, but foreign critics cringed at what they described as "heavy-handed flag-waving," "jingoistic jubilance," and "unintentionally amusing" dialog.
The European Commission on May 7 put Cambodia on a blacklist of 12 "high-risk" countries with deficient anti-money laundering programs that "pose significant threats to the EU's financial system." Money laundering in Cambodia often takes the form of elites, including relatives of strongman Hun Sen, hiding money of unknown provenance in overseas banks or real estate, an RFA investigation has shown.
China said on May 21 it would "perfect the legal system" of Hong Kong with national security legislation targeting dissent, while media reports said the Chinese Communist Party might simply insert the unpopular law directly onto Hong Kong's statute book without ratification by the city's legislature -- moves that threaten the "high degree of autonomy" and a separate legal jurisdiction the former British colony was promised for 50 years after 1997.
While state propaganda portrays China as a heroic helper in the fight against the global coronavirus pandemic, a number of governments around the world are exploring legal options for holding Beijing accountable for covering up the outbreak in critical early days.
Eyes on Earth Inc., a U.S. research firm specializing in water, published a study April 13 showing that China’s 11 Mekong River dams held back water and exacerbated a damaging drought in downstream countries Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Critics of China's controversial early handling of the coronavirus outbreak that started in Wuhan say the World Health Organization (WHO) has been co-opted by Beijing and is addressing the global pandemic with political deference to Beijing.
Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom Video Technologies, acknowledged in a live-streamed broadcast on April 8 that the company had made “missteps” in the face of surge of users working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, including routing traffic through China, raising security and privacy concerns.
The United Nations on April 1 announced a global partnership in which Chinese tech firm Tencent will host and provide technical support for large-scale online global dialogue -- including on the coronavirus -- through Tencent's VooV Meeting, WeChat Work, and Tencent Artificial Intelligence Simultaneous Interpretation. The firm has a history of collaborating with Chinese state monitoring and censorship.
The coronavirus has prompted the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and Euro Cup football tournment, as well as the cancellation or postponement of major professional sports.