Weekly top 10 hot news (Dec.16-Dec.22)



Every Saturday, Asia Pacific Daily will provide you with a run-down of the latest hot news.

This week, the following hot news you should know:

Top 1 | US isolated as 128 countries at UN condemn Trump's Jerusalem decision

The United Nations has voted overwhelmingly to condemn Donald Trump's decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The UN General Assembly voted by 128 to 9 in favour of calling America's declaration "null and void", while 35 countries abstained.

U.S. President Trump had threatened to withhold billions of dollars in aid for countries that voted against America.

Top 2 | U.S. President Trump announces national security strategy, 1st in term

U.S. President Donald Trump's new national security strategy seeks to refocus the United States' relationship with China, Russia and the rest of the world, transforming his "America First" mantra into a set of policies and plans for protecting the homeland and advancing its economy.

The strategy deems China, like Russia, to be a "revisionist" power, determined to reshape the world according to its own ideals. "Chinese dominance risks diminishing the sovereignty of many states" in its region and beyond, it says.

The strategy calls for stronger traditional alliances and new partnerships in Asia amid a "geopolitical competition between free and repressive visions of world order." One new policy proposed: Restricting visas to prevent intellectual property theft by foreigners, particularly Chinese, who travel to the US to study science, engineering, math and technology.

Top 3 | UN General Assembly to hold emergency session on Jerusalem

The UN General Assembly will hold an emergency session Thursday to vote on a draft resolution rejecting U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital after the United States vetoed the measure at the Security Council.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN reacted angrily to the move, tweeting: "On Thurs there'll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names," in rhetoric reminiscent of her boss's threatening style.

Turkey and Yemen requested the urgent meeting of the 193-nation assembly on behalf of the Arab group of countries and the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The two countries circulated a draft resolution on Tuesday that mirrors the vetoed measure, reaffirming that any decision on the status of Jerusalem has no legal effect and must be rescinded.

Top 4 | EU extends sanctions against Russia for another 6 months

The European Union on Thursday officially prolonged its economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy for another six months, despite repeated warnings from Moscow it would worsen relations.

The Council of the European Union unanimously formalized the extension, based on an update from French and German leaders to the European Council last week. They said the Minsk agreements had still not been fully implemented.

The measures limit access to EU primary and secondary capital markets for five major Russian majority state-owned financial institutions and their majority-owned subsidiaries established outside of the EU, as well as three major Russian energy and three defense companies.

Top 5 | DPRK's intercontinental missile "not yet" capable threat to U.S.: Mattis

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said Friday that he did not believe the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) newly developed by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) posed a "capable threat" to the United States.

"It is not yet shown to be a capable threat against us right now," said Mattis at a briefing in Pentagon. The United States is still examining the forensics, which will "take a while," Mattis added.

Also on Friday, U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson told the UN Security Council that the United States will continue its "pressure campaign," mainly in the form of economic sanctions, until denuclearization is achieved on the Korean Peninsula.

Top 6 | Tillerson urges DPRK to 'earn its way back to table'

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) must "earn its way back" to the negotiating table, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday, backing away from an earlier offer of unconditional talks to end the standoff with Pyongyang.

Tillerson told the UN Security Council that a "sustained cessation of North Korea's [DPRK's] threatening behavior must occur before talks can begin," apparently after coming under pressure from President Donald Trump's White House to toughen his stance.

Earlier this week at a policy forum in Washington, Tillerson had underlined that the United States was seeking a diplomatic opening for negotiations with the DPRK on ending its nuclear program and, for the first time, offered "talks with no preconditions."

Top 7 | Trump team claims Russia investigator 'unlawfully' got emails

A lawyer for Donald Trump's transition team has alleged special counsel Robert Mueller unlawfully received tens of thousands of emails, in the latest attack on the credibility of the probe into Russian meddling in the US election.

With the ex-FBI director's investigation making inroads into the president's inner circle in recent weeks, Republicans have cast doubt on its impartiality and pressed for a new independent prosecutor to investigate anti-Trump bias. This in turn has led to speculation that the administration could be laying the groundwork for firing Mueller.

In a letter to congressional committees, Trump campaign lawyer Kory Langhofer alleged the General Services Administration (GSA) "unlawfully produced" private materials, including privileged communications which Mueller then used as part of his Russia probe.

Top 8 | China, ROK agree to advance relations along right track

The leaders of China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) on Thursday agreed to advance bilateral relations to ensure the long-term stability of their ties.

The commitment was made during talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his ROK counterpart Moon Jae-in in Beijing. Xi welcomed Moon on his state visit to China for the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

China welcomes the ROK's participation in the Belt and Road construction, said Xi, hoping to promote the alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative with the ROK's development strategy. He called for increased exchanges in areas such as youth, education, science and technology, media, sports, health and local affairs, for the long-term and stable development of bilateral ties.

Top 9 | Myanmar, Bangladesh set up working group for Rohingya return

Myanmar and Bangladesh set up a joint working group on Tuesday to oversee the repatriation of Rohingya Muslims who fled violence in Myanmar, but the start of their return is likely to be delayed.

Under an agreement signed in Dhaka, the 30-member working group is to develop procedures to begin the voluntary return, resettlement and reintegration of Rohingya refugees.

More than 630,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since Myanmar's military launched a crackdown in August following attacks on police posts by a militant group. The two countries agreed last month that the repatriation would start around Jan. 21, but a Bangladesh foreign ministry official who attended Tuesday's meeting said it would be delayed by a few weeks or so.

Top 10 | EU leaders give green light to 2nd phase of Brexit talks

Leaders of the 27 European Union (EU) members gathered here for the Winter EU Summit had approved the second phase of Brexit talks, European Council President Donald Tusk said Friday.

"The European Council welcomes the progress achieved during the first phase of negotiations as reflected in the Communication from the Commission and the Joint Report, and decides that it is sufficient to move to the second phase related to transition and the framework for the future relationship," said a Guidelines submitted by the General Secretariat of the Council to the leaders.

Commenting on the approval, British Prime Minister Theresa May thanked Tusk and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker via her twitter account, saying "Today is an important step on the road to delivering a smooth and orderly Brexit and forging our deep and special future partnership." Echoing May's optimism, David Davis, Britain's Brexit Secretary and a staunch Brexiter, said on twitter that "Today is a good day for Brexit and an important step for Britain. Thanks to hard work and determination, we have reached an important milestone and have achieved sufficient progress. There are still lots of work to come but we are ready for the next stage."

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