Asian Insider, June 21: Hong Kong protesters swarm police building

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

HONG KONG PROTESTERS SWARM POLICE BUILDING

The crisis continued unabated in the city that is one of the two leading international financial hubs in Asia, as protesters swarmed a police building demanding the resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam, a complete withdrawal of the Extradition Bill and release of all those arrested in last week's clashes.

How bad is it? Hundreds of thousands of protesters wearing black T shirts and surgical masks walked the streets. The central government complex remained shut while protesters occupied the city's immigration building. As of 7 pm Hong Kong time, protesters were still on streets.  

What next? The concern is over whether matters will blow up - that the people could storm police headquarters and the situation could turn violent. Meanwhile, reports have it that organisers are planning another massive rally on July 1, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China, and traditionally a day for protests. 

For updates read The Straits Times

ASEAN MEETS AMID UNCERTAINTY

The regional grouping's 10 heads of state commence a meeting this Saturday. Asean centrality and unity, at a time of uncertainty, will be on the agenda. The meeting, the first of two usually held in a year, is generally expected to be quieter. But significant issues are facing the region: the fate of Rohingyas, relations with China and concluding discussions on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal, among others.

Our IndoChina Bureau Chief Tan Hui Yee shares her insight: Asean leaders gather as geopolitical waters turn choppy

Read more:

The choice for S-E Asia isn’t between the US and China

Uncertain times will test Asean spirit

Why Asean must be wary of the Chinese tourist ‘weapon’

FORMER PHILIPPINE OFFICIAL CRITICAL OF CHINA DEPORTED FROM HONG KONG

In a troubling development, former Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario was held for hours in Hong Kong and deported earlier today. Del Rosario had filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court, in March, against Chinese President Xi Jinping for China's actions in the South China Sea that was depriving fishermen of their livelihood and ruining the environment.

The bigger picture: The episode comes as a dispute is raging in the Philippines on the direction of Manila's ties with Beijing. Matters have worsened after a Chinese trawler hit a Philippine fishing boat on June 9 and just sailed on, leaving 22 fishermen stranded. They were eventually rescued by a Vietnamese fishing boat. China offered to conduct a joint probe, but Manila has rejected the offer.

What exactly happened in the accident? Philippine Correspondent Raul Dancel has details in his report. Incidentally, Del Rosario said early Friday morning, before he was held in Hong Kong, that a joint probe would be “the worst news yet”.

Go deeper:

Duterte's tepid response to fishermen's boat sinking by Chinese trawler splits public opinion

China a winner in Philippine elections

LOVE YOU CHINA, SAYS KIM'S PYONGYANG

When the leader of a leading economic giant meets his neighbour who has been worrying the world by building nuclear weapons, would they be thinking of a third country? Discussions and reports on the meeting between China President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hint they were. This was a trip to signal that the two countries share a unique friendship and can turn to each other in their dealings with others. Both, it seems, were trying to send a message to the United States.

More on the message: The meetings come just before Xi is due to meet United States President Donald Trump for discussions on trade relations between them that have been strained lately. But, experts say, Xi could be wanting to signal his influence with Kim and that China is keen to play a role in Korean denuclearisation, says ST China Correspondent Lim Yan Liang. Meanwhile, North Korea's ex-deputy envoy to Britain, who has now defected and is currently in Japan, Thae Yong Ho said the North Korean leader could be trying to make a new offer to Trump, through Xi. But our Japan Correspondent Walter Sim says that at the heart of the impasse is how far Pyongyang should go in giving up its nuclear facilities.

What to watch out for? What happens in Osaka, Japan, later this month during the Group of 20 meet. There are different views on what the two leaders agreed on. Renmin University's North Korea expert Cheng Xiaohe believes Xi and Kim could have been trying for a joint position on a provisional deal, which could then be presented to Trump in Japan. South Korean experts are more sceptical of any breakthrough, with Lee Seong-hyon of the Sejong Institute think-tank noting that the visit could be seen as a diversionary tactic and leverage in the lead-up to Mr Xi's meeting with Mr Trump.

Keep reading The Straits Times for more. Meanwhile, if you want to see the welcome that 250,000 North Koreans who lined up in Pyongyang to meet Xi, click here for our photo spread.

MODI LEADS THE WAY ON INTERNATIONAL YOGA DAY

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi led 30,000 people with sun salutations and other yoga postures in Ranchi, India for his yoga promotion campaign, that was also live streamed.

Yoga Day, which he started, has been adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2014 and is now marked across the world. The social media savvy Prime Minister also took to Linkedin to extol it's virtues. "In a world where ideologies of hate can potentially divide brother from brother, yoga stands as a unifying force," he wrote.

Click to see our picture spread.

  

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Taiwan's Eva Airways Corp said it has cancelled 71 flights today, affecting around 15,000 passengers, and suspended bookings temporarily due to a strike by flight attendants over pay. Eva Air's website showed that flights from Taipei to New York, Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore and Osaka were among those cancelled.

Malaysia is set to recover another RM270 million (S$88 million) from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, after graftbusters filed applications to forfeit properties which were derived from the personal bank account of disgraced premier Najib Razak. Newly appointed Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Latheefa Koya said that the civil forfeiture applications were filed against 41 people and entities, including Umno branches, at the Kuala Lumpur High Court two days ago.

Foxconn chairman Terry Gou has said that he will hand over the running of the world's largest electronics contract manufacturer to a new operations committee, as he prepares to contest Taiwan's presidential elections next year.

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That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and have a good weekend. We’ll be back with updates on Monday.

Shefali