Asian Insider, Oct 28: US-China flare-up over Xinjiang, Sri Lanka; new land laws for Kashmir; Anwar’s credentials

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

Hi all, 

In today’s bulletin: US-China tensions flare-up over genocide bill & Pompeo’s visit to Colombo; India changes controversial land laws in Kashmir; Anwar Ibrahim’s chances of becoming PM decline; Another stimulus package for Japan?; Suu Kyi & old guard frustrate young Myanmar politiciansPhilippines builds fleet in South China Sea, and more.

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US-China flare-up over Xinjiang genocide bill as Pompeo seals relations in region

US-China relations, already at their worst in months, flared up once again as US senators put forward a resolution accusing Beijing of genocide against Muslim minority groups in the region of Xinjiang. 

The resolution was introduced by senators from across the political spectrum and is unlikely to be taken until after next week's US presidential election. But its contents triggered fresh outbursts from China, with Beijing accusing the senators of telling "all kinds of lies". 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, currently on a visit to South Asia, stoked anger even further after he told an Indian publication that China's actions in Xinjiang "remind us of what happened in the 1930s in Germany".

The two countries slammed each other over interference in matters of Sri Lanka as well, with China warning the US not to "coerce and bully" the country just ahead of Mr Pompeo's stopover. The latter called Beijing a "predator" during his visit. Colombo has received massive economic and diplomatic support from Beijing. 

The US Secretary of State will be visiting Indonesia before he returns to Washington.

Also read

New pact gives India access to US military satellites by Nirmala Ganapathy, India Bureau Chief

India changes controversial land laws in Kashmir

India has amended a law in Jammu and Kashmir allowing Indian citizens to buy land in the disputed territory, said officials, in a move that has sparked criticism about the erosion of the rights of Kashmiri people.

The new ruling paves the way for non-Kashmiri Indians to purchase land in the Himalayan region, marking a significant change in the affairs of Kashmir. Until last year, the region enjoyed a special status, guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, which allowed it to make its own rules about permanent residency and property ownership.

The region was at the heart of two of the three wars fought by India and Pakistan since independence in 1947.

Also happening in the country: 

Millions queue to vote as India's Bihar state election gets under way

Anwar's credentials dented; King calls on MPs to pass budget

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim shook the Malaysian political scene a few weeks ago as he staked his claim to form the country's next government with him as Prime Minister. 

That triggered off a series of events that rocked ruling PM Muhyiddin Yassin's government, although now he's won a temporary lifeline, winning support from Umno and other parties. Some political observers say that the door has now closed for the opposition leader to be PM, as his credentials have suffered. Others say his support base will remain.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, has urged MPs yet again to pass the government's budget, due to be tabled on Nov 6.

Go deeper: 

PM Muhyiddin's shaky grip on power: Key players in Malaysia's political storm

Suga to announce new stimulus package to deal with pandemic

The world's third-largest economy seemed set to get a fresh infusion of funds with reports saying Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga will announce a new stimulus plan next week, to lift the country's pace of growth.

Japan posted its worst post-war contraction in the second quarter and although early estimates hint at a rebound thereafter, economy watchers say the recovery has been patchy and fragile.

The size of the stimulus is not yet known but some ruling party lawmakers have called for an infusion of about 10 trillion yen (S$130.4 billion) to cushion the blow from the pandemic. Earlier this year, Japan's Parliament passed a record 31.9 trillion yen (S$412.6 billion) extra budget to shore up the economy.

Young complain about being left out in Suu Kyi's ruling party

Are the former political prisoners of Myanmar, who are now the elite of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi's political party, keeping the young away from the top echelons of the National League of Democracy? 

These are the accusations that are flying as the country prepares for elections next month. The average age for the 12 members of the NLD's top decision-making-body is more than 70.

Also read

US presses Myanmar leader Suu Kyi for inclusive election

In other news ..

Philippines builds fleet in South China Sea: The Philippines is building its own fleet, that includes fishing vessels, in the South China Sea. Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said Manila will be "swarming the areas because that's the Chinese strategy" in a discussion with Asia Society. This would increase the likelihood of an accident but the country's defence treaty with the US would kick in, if there was one.

Facial, iris scanning at all Singapore checkpoints: Facial and iris scans have replaced fingerprint scans as the main mode for identifying travellers at all immigration checkpoints, bringing Singapore one step closer to a passport-free future, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority announced today. 

Qatar probes Australia's complaint about invasive searches on women: Qatar's prime minister has ordered a probe into Australia's complaint that women on 10 flights underwent invasive searches at Qatar's Hamad Airport. The searches reportedly took place after the discovery of an abandoned newborn baby at the airport. 

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and we’ll be back with you tomorrow.   

Shefali