Barack Obama will this weekend become the first US president to visit Malaysia for nearly 50 years, seeking to put decades of uneasy relations behind him as both cast wary eyes on a rising China. Mindful of America's perennial image problem in the Islamic world, Obama -- who visits Saturday-Monday -- is expected to tout the US friendship with the economically thriving moderate Muslim nation.
President Obama only made his way through about half of the 20-course meal at the world-famous Tokyo sushi restaurant he visited this week, the owner of a nearby restaurant told AFP. According to the wire service, Obama slowed down after about 10 pieces of the famous prix fixe menu offered at Sukiyabashi Jiro, a world-class restaurant whose owner was the subject of the 2011 documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”
Indonesia's military commander said critics who called him out for wearing an especially luxurious watch should be quiet because the timepiece is actually a cheap Chinese fake. A Singapore website flagged a picture of the general and his watch this week, saying it was from the Richard Mille brand's Filipe Massa collection and worth more than $100,000. The report caused a social media storm in a country where the average income is about $8.50 a day.
South Korean divers swam though dark, cold waters into a sunken ferry on Wednesday, feeling for children's bodies with their hands in a maze of cabins, corridors and upturned decks as they searched for hundreds of missing. The divers, with oxygen and communications lines trailing, can only see a few inches in front of them in the wreckage of the ship that started sinking a week ago after a sharp turn. Most of the victims were high school children, who were told to stay where they were for their own safety.
The troubled Canadian pop prince posted a snap of him at Yasakuni shrine on his Instagram account — tweeting the link to his 51 million Twitter followers — with the message “Thank you for your blessings”. The shrine is seen across Asia as a symbol of Japan’s perceived lack of penitence for its imperialist past.
The United Nations human rights office has criticised Brunei’s planned introduction of the death penalty for a raft of new offences, as part of a shift to harsh Islamic punishments in the oil-rich sultanate. “We are deeply concerned about the revised penal code in Brunei Darussalam, due to come into force later this month, which stipulates the death penalty for numerous offences,” said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights.
A shocking picture of a toddler being threatened at gunpoint is being used to bolster support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ahead of a planned presidential election in June. The picture, which purports to show Syrian rebels holding the terrified child at gunpoint, was posted online by an alleged member of the Free Syrian Army alongside the caption: 'Our youngest hostage from among the hostile sects of Kessab.'
North Koreans in Yanji in northern China are more free to talk about the situation back home – but still fear for their families if their faces are shown. If she is lucky - if her husband or children can slip away unnoticed to the riverside, nearer the Chinese phone masts - Chae Un-ee can talk to her family each day. “Talk” is perhaps an exaggeration; her loved ones end the call, made on a smuggled handset and SIM card, almost as soon as it begins. “They have to be very quick because otherwise the phone can be tracked down,” she said. “It’s mainly just to hear their voice and know that they’re okay. If they don’t call me I worry, because the situation is very tense there.”
A dispute between mainland Chinese tourists and locals over a toddler urinating in a Hong Kong street has once again become a flash point in already tense cross-border relations. This time, the dispute ended in a scuffle that led to the arrest of a mainland couple, the parents of the toddler, and a massive online uproar in both Hong Kong and the mainland.