China

Australia upgrading bases, expands war games with US

At the same time, he has also defended comments made by Australia's new Defence Minister Peter Dutton that the possibility of conflict with China over Taiwan should not be "discounted".

Morrison was in Darwin to confirm a $747 million upgrade to defence facilities in the Northern Territory, part of $8 billion set to be spent on military infrastructure in northern Australia over the next decade.

The bases are often used for joint Australian-US military training exercises, including an annual rotation of thousands of US Marines.

Australia provokes China anger over scrapped deals

The federal government used new powers to rip up two deals made between the state of Victoria and China.

Canberra said it was backing away from the agreements to protect Australia's national interest.

The Chinese embassy in Australia branded the move "provocative".

It said the action by Canberra was "bound to bring further damage to bilateral relations, and will only end up hurting itself."

"It further shows that the Australian government has no sincerity in improving China-Australia relations," a spokesperson said in a statement.

Solomon Islands receives 50,000 doses of a Covid-19 vaccine from China

The Solomon Times reports that the doses of Sinopharm vaccine arrived in Honiara on Sunday night.

The Sinopharm vaccine, which was developed by a Beijing-based State-Owned Enterprise, is yet to be approved by the World Health Organisation.

But the Solomons government said it would closely monitor the WHO's approval process relating to Sinopharm.

A Health Ministry official said the Sinopharm vaccine will only be rolled out once WHO approves it.

China major financial backer of 2023 Pacific Games

The announcement has been made by the Head of the Chinese Embassy Taskforce, Yao Ming.

Yao said Beijing had confirmed the funding so the next move would see a signing of a letter of exchange with the Solomon Islands government.

China has sent two working teams from the Beijing Architect Institute to do geo-tech surveys and Yao said in two months' time they would finish the preliminary survey work.

He added that after an agreement signing, his government would send a technical assessment team to the Solomons to begin the job on the ground.

Kenya 'won't hand over' port to China to pay debt

The new 472km (293 mile) railway cost close to three times the international standard and four times the original estimate.

A local newspaper reported on Monday that Chinese lenders could take control of the port of Mombasa if Kenya defaults on the $3.2bn (£2.3bn) loan.

But in a statement, the finance minister said "there is absolutely no risk of China or any other country taking over the port".

He said the loans for the railway cannot "be paid through any other fund or any other entity without the approval of parliament".

Protesters killed in bloody Yangon crackdown

Security forces opened fire in the Yangon area of Hlaing Tharyar as protesters used sticks and knives.

The junta declared martial law in the area after Chinese businesses were attacked. Protesters believe China is giving support to the Burmese military.

Myanmar has been gripped by protests since the military coup on 1 February.

Military rulers have detained Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's civilian leader and head of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

China bans BBC World News from broadcasting

China has criticised the BBC for its reporting on coronavirus and the persecution of ethnic minority Uighurs.

The BBC said it was "disappointed" by the decision.

It follows British media regulator Ofcom revoking state broadcaster China Global Television Network's (CGTN) licence to broadcast in the UK.

Ofcom's decision earlier this month came after it found that CGTN's licence was wrongfully held by Star China Media Ltd.

Two Vanuatu hospitals receive new medical equipment from Chinese government

The medical equipment arrived in four containers, two each for the hospitals.

The donation includes anesthesia machines, oxygen generators, premature incubator, ECG machines, ICU beds and personnel protective equipment such as medical masks and surgical gowns and caps, shows cover and first-aid packets.

The Chinese Ambassador to Vanuatu, Zhou Haicheng said this is the seventh donation provided by China to Vanuatu in response to COVID-19

India state Gujarat renames dragon fruit 'lotus'

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said the fruit would now be called kamalam, Sanskrit for the lotus flower.

The lotus is sacred to Hindus and is India's national flower.

Relations have nosedived in recent months between India and China, whose troops are locked in a tense stand-off along their long Himalayan frontier.

China reports over 100 new Covid-19 cases for seventh day

Mainland China posted 118 new cases for 18 January, up from 109 a day earlier, the national health authority said in a statement.

Of those, 106 were local infections, with 43 reported in Jilin, a new daily record for the northeastern province, and 35 in Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, the National Health Commission said.

The Chinese capital itself reported one new case, while Heilongjiang in the north reported 27 new infections.