Asian Insider Sept 27: China is top security threat, says Japan

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


In today’s bulletin: Japan’s defence review places China as a top security threat; Hong Kong braces for more protests this weekend; Malaysian PM Mahathir says he will serve for three years; and more.

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Japan has singled out China as its top security threat in its annual defence review, pointing to the Belt and Road infrastructure plan as a possible avenue for promoting China’s military activities across the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Japan also noted China’s use of media warfare to influence public opinion at home and abroad and gain support for its military actions. In response, China said it hoped that Japan could do more to enhance trust between the two countries and maintain regional stability. 

But China says it seeks peaceful development: China will never pursue hegemony or expansion


Hong Kong is bracing for yet another weekend of unrest, with pro-democracy protests in the China-ruled city expected to escalate ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic on Oct 1.

On Saturday, Hong Kong will mark the fifth anniversary of its “Umbrella” protests with a city-centre rally at Tamar Park. Thousands are expected to gather to commemorate the demonstrations in 2014 that failed to garner concessions from Beijing. Pro-Beijing rallies are also planned in the city, raising the prospect of clashes.

Travel advisory: Singaporeans advised to defer non-essential travel

How it all began: Murder suspect who sparked anti-extradition protests may soon be free


A government inquest has ruled that a Malaysian fireman’s death after he was seriously injured during a riot at a Hindu temple was caused by a criminal act.

Racial tensions between the Malays and the Indians had heightened after Mr Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim’s death last December, with rival accusations that he had been attacked by rioters or was injured after being run over by a fire engine.

The finding was welcomed by Mr Adib’s family and supporters, and the police said it would conduct further investigations.

Read about the temple riot

Cars set ablaze as groups clash over temple relocation

Authorities zoom in on temple riot culprits


Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said he expects to remain in office for three years, appearing to contradict his supposed successor Anwar Ibrahim who had indicated last week he would take over the reins around May 2020.

The ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition had agreed ahead of winning the election in 2018 that Tun Dr Mahathir be given the mandate to lead as prime minister before handing the baton to Datuk Seri Anwar, 72. The agreement however did not specify a handover date.

Find out more about the succession plan:

Mahathir says will stick to plan to hand over to Anwar

Mahathir commitment to transition plan calms feud between PKR leaders Anwar and Azmin


A second student has died as protests continued across Indonesia against proposed new laws that critics fear will undermine freedoms and anti-corruption efforts.

The 19-year-old engineering student died in hospital of blunt-force injuries to his head sustained in riots that erupted in Kendari city on Sulawesi island on Thursday (Sept 26). Another 21-year-old student in Kendari had died of a bullet wound during the violence, the authorities said.

Tens of thousands of students had been holding daily protests this week against revisions to the criminal code, which include the criminalisation of sex outside marriage, co-habitation and insulting the president. The reforms have since been delayed.

Minister says protests hijacked by groups to disrupt Parliament


President Trump’s Ukraine call: The whistle-blower who revealed that United States President Donald Trump sought foreign help for his re-election and that the White House sought to cover it up is a CIA officer who was detailed to work at the White House at one point, according to three people familiar with his identity. The man has since returned to the CIA, the people said.

Prince Harry follows in mother’s footstepsPrince Harry on Friday (Sept 27) followed in the footsteps of his late mother, Princess Diana, whose walk through an active minefield in Angola years ago helped to lead to a global ban on the deadly weapons. The prince, wearing body armour, walked through a mine field and was set to visit the spot where Diana was famously photographed on a similar walk during her own Africa visit in 1997.

No kidding: Want to avoid sitting next to a screaming child on a long-haul flight? On some Japanese airlines, a seat map will warn you where potentially bawling babies are sitting

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and have a good weekend.

Ai Leen