Asian Insider, Feb 26: Myanmar police fire to disperse protests; Asia kicks into high gear for vaccination

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents and commentators.

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In today's bulletin: Myanmar police fire into air to disperse protests as lawyer to Suu Kyi says access denied; Asia kicks into high gear to vaccinate populations against Covid-19; China state media says Biden's early policy 'smacks of Trumpism'; S'pore GIC to buy 9% of Indonesia's Bank Jago to tap digital banking business; Indian newspaper publishers demand greater revenue share from Google; and more.

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Myanmar police fire into air to disperse protests as lawyer to Suu Kyi says access denied

Police dispersed protesters in Myanmar's two biggest cities on Friday (Feb 26), firing stun grenades, rubber bullets and guns into the air, witnesses said, as the challenge to the army's bid to re-impose its rule showed no sign of slackening.

At least one person was injured in the protests in the main city of Yangon, a witness said, and a photograph posted by a media outlet from the second city of Mandalay appeared to show a wounded protester in the back of an ambulance.

The Southeast Asian nation has been in crisis since the army seized power on Feb 1 and detained civilian government leader Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her party leadership after the military complained of fraud in a November election that her party won.

Strikes staged by civil servants who keep the country running are starting to bite the coup makers as the spectre of a financial crisis - already brewing because of the pandemic downturn and a decline in foreign investment - looms large.

For more on the Myanmar crisis:

Myanmar police raid protest district as World Bank halts some payments

Thai PM Prayut says meeting with Myanmar's military envoy not endorsement

Myanmar police free Japanese journalist after brief detention

Asia kicks into high gear to vaccinate populations against Covid-19

Parts of Asia are kicking into high gear to vaccinate their populations in a race to outrun the spread of the Covid-19 disease, with South Korea launching its inoculation campaign on Friday (Feb 26) with shots of AstraZeneca's vaccine to be administered in some 200 nursing homes.

Taiwan, which has kept the pandemic well under control, could begin administering its home-made Covid-19 vaccines as early as July with the island still awaiting the arrival of imported vaccines to begin its immunisation campaign.

In Hong Kong, the Chinese city rolled out its free and voluntary vaccination programme on Friday and is gearing up to inoculate a few hundred thousand more residents in the priority groups in the next month.

Read more:

Japan govt to end state of emergency for 6 prefectures this month: Media

Covid-19 weighs on remittances, putting plans on hold for millions

Tiny Himalayan nation Bhutan shows how to fight Covid-19 pandemic

Get the latest Covid-19 updates at our dedicated website.

China state media says Biden's early policy 'smacks of Trumpism'

Chinese state media China Daily said President Joe Biden's early policy towards Beijing "smacks of Trumpism", signalling new concern over the prospects for a reset in ties with the US.

The English-language newspaper, whose opinion pages are often used to send messages to foreign audiences, said in an editorial on Thursday (Feb 25) that the Biden administration's approach so far "affords little optimism".

The piece cited Mr Biden's comments last week at the Munich Security Conference, where he said: "We have to push back against the Chinese government's economic abuses and coercion that undercut the foundations of the international economic system."

For more on Sino-US ties:

Biden trade pick Katherine Tai says China must deliver on phase one trade pact

S'pore GIC to buy 9% of Indonesia's bank Jago to tap digital banking business

Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC will purchase a stake in Bank Jago, a publicly listed Indonesian lender that is set to become the first fully digital bank in South-east Asia's largest economy, a rights issue prospectus shows.

GIC will spend as much as 3.15 trillion rupiah (S$294 million) to acquire about 9 per cent of Bank Jago's enlarged capital through a rights issue slated for March, according to a prospectus filed to the stock exchange by the Jakarta-based bank.

More on this topic:

Indonesia's Bank Jago to turn fully digital; applauds new upcoming regulations for financial services sector

Covid-19 paves the way for digital banking in Indonesia

Guidelines for digital banks in Indonesia to be released by mid-year

Indian newspaper publishers demand greater revenue share from Google

The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has asked tech giant Google to increase the newspaper publishers' share of advertising revenue to 85 per cent, and also ensure a greater transparency in the revenue reports it provides to the publishers.

This follows the recent developments in several countries, including Australia and France, where newspaper publishers have raised the issue of fair payment for content, pressing Google for revenue sharing.

Read more:

Facebook exploring news licensing agreements in Canada: Source

In other news

Australia lifts ban on Boeing 737 Max, first in Asia-Pacific region: Australia's aviation regulator said on Friday (Feb 26) it would lift a near two-year ban on flights to and from the country that use the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, making it the first nation in the Asia-Pacific region to do so. Mr Graeme Crawford, the acting chief of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, expressed confidence in the safety of the aircraft in a statement.

Huawei, reeling from US sanctions, plans foray into electric vehicles: China's Huawei plans to make electric vehicles (EVs) under its own brand and could launch some models this year, four sources said, as the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker, battered by US sanctions, explores a strategic shift. Huawei Technologies is in talks with state-owned Changan Automobile and other carmakers to use their car plants to make its electric vehicles (EVs), according to two of the people familiar with the matter.

Self-made S. Korean billionaires promise to give away half their fortunes: Two self-made South Korean billionaires have pledged in as many weeks to give away half their fortunes - a rarity in a country where business is dominated by family-controlled conglomerates and charity often begins and ends at home.

That's it for today. Hope you enjoyed today's stories, and do check back next week for more insightful reads.

Choo Kiong

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