Asia Minute


The United States and China are continuing trade talks this week in Washington. But Chinese trade elsewhere in the Pacific has moved to the top of the economic agenda for a U.S. ally.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Marc Castaneda / U.S. Navy

One of the world’s largest multinational military exercises has been underway for more than a week. It hasn’t captured many headlines in the United States, but American forces from across the Asia Pacific are taking part.

urnes / Flickr

There is renewed tension this week in one of the most volatile parts of the Indo-Pacific region. This follows a terrorist attack last week that has sparked accusations between India and Pakistan.

mercado2 / Pixabay

You might be starting a four-day work week today. Yesterday’s observance of Presidents’ Day was a holiday for some workers, although not for everyone. But the idea of a permanently shortened work week is growing in popularity in many places. And that includes some countries in the Asia Pacific.

Bronisław Piłsudski / National Museum of Natural History, National Anthropological Archives

Japan’s government is planning to recognize an ethnic minority as an indigenous people of Japan. It’s part of a bill before parliament which would mark a move forward for a group that has long faced discrimination.

Jon Russell / Flickr

Bike sharing has grown as a business — not only here in Hawai‘i, but also in many cities around the world. But one of the largest bike sharing companies in the world is facing new problems this week in Asia.

Daniel Case / Wikimedia Commons

Visitor spending in Hawai‘i increased nearly 7-percent last year. It grew even faster in China, but that was the slowest growth in a decade. And when it comes to Chinese headed overseas, the figures tell a different story.

A long-running urban train project is about to mark a major milestone. Not that one . . . this has nothing to do with Honolulu’s rail project. But it does involve political maneuvering and inflated expectations.

Matti Blume / Wikimedia Commons

There’s a trans-Pacific trade controversy that’s been building for years between the United States and one of its leading trade partners. This one has nothing to do with China, but it does affect a major American company — and shows that international trade rules don’t always keep up with market conditions.

MikesPhotos / Pixabay

Electric vehicles still make up a small percentage of the cars on Hawai‘i’s roads — although they are growing. And according to a recent report by the credit agency Experian, Honolulu is among the top ten markets in the country for electric cars. But when it comes to batteries for electric vehicles, that part of the story comes from Asia.

Ninara / Flickr

Air pollution has been an increasing problem for nearly two months in Thailand’s capital. Conditions have become so bad that public schools closed for more than a week, and top government officials were summoned to court to testify about it.

Shealah Craighead
The White House / Flickr

President Trump covered a lot of ground in his State of the Union address this week — including trade issues with China. A U.S. delegation is heading to China next week for another round of talks, but a tariff deadline is fast approaching.

Senior Airman Dana Hill / U.S. Air Force

During his State of the Union address last night, President Trump announced he’ll be meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam at the end of the month. In another regional development, the United States and South Korea have apparently reached a deal on financing U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula.

vegaseddie / Flickr

Today is the Lunar New Year. According to the Chinese Zodiac, it’s the first day of the year of the pig. And across the Asia Pacific, that’s meant everything from family gatherings to a pointed political statement.

Joshua Damasio / Flickr

The pace of visitors coming to Hawaii has slowed since the first half of last year, but 2018 was still a record year. One challenge for the global tourism industry is dealing with different languages — especially in places like stores or restaurants. A Japanese company has now come up with one answer — which may be duplicated elsewhere.

Prateeksngh867 / Wikimedia Commons

New jobs figures out this morning show the U.S. unemployment rate remains relatively low. That’s not the case in India — where according to a leaked government report, it’s at the highest level in decades.

Kimmam at Norwegian Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons

Some public schools on the mainland have closed in recent days because of severely cold weather. In Thailand’s capital, every public school in the city is closed for the rest of the week — for a very different reason.

Baycrest / Wikimedia Commons

The lunar New Year is less than a week away. The year of the pig officially gets underway next Tuesday. But for millions of people in Asia, the traveling starts much sooner.

Craig Nagy / Flickr

A Chinese trade delegation is heading to Washington this week for two days of meetings with U.S. officials. The discussions take place as a series of American companies are reporting that slower growth in China’s economy is hurting their profits—and that impact is also being felt in the Asia Pacific.

Marlith / Wikimedia Commons

The link between high sugar consumption and health problems has sparked a legislative response in a number of states and overseas. One target is sugary drinks – and one approach has been to apply a special tax on the beverages. In Singapore, that’s just one of the proposals in play, and lawmakers are entering a new phase in considering several ideas to cut sugar consumption.

Marcin n / Wikimedia Commons

This has been a week of weather extremes in parts of the United States. While frigid temperatures and heavy rain have swept across much of the country, weather extremes of a different kind are hitting parts of Australia.

Sodacan / Wikimedia Commons

Many in the United States remain focused on the continuing partial government shutdown. But in some parts of the world, attention is shifting to news about elections. And that includes one country that hasn’t had one for nearly a decade.

Mike Mozart / Flickr

A local food favorite in Hawai’i is making headlines in Asia this week. Its local roots go back to the days of World War II — but the recipe has been adjusted to taste in at least one location in East Asia.

LN9267 / Wikimedia Commons

Electric vehicles are growing in popularity, not only here in the islands, but also across the country. Last week, Colorado announced steps to increase the sale and availability of electric vehicles. But in the Asia Pacific, there’s a market that’s growing even faster — especially when it comes to buses.

toanmda / Pixabay


Hawaiʻi is a popular location destination for people to get married. But in several countries in East Asia, many people are delaying marriages - or skipping them entirely.

Office of the Vice President

While politicians in the United States continue to focus on the partial government shutdown, in some parts of the world attention is shifting to upcoming elections. That includes Southeast Asia . . . where one presidential contest appears headed for a rematch.


This is a busy week for news from the moon. This weekend will bring a lunar eclipse — and China has been conducting experiments on the far side of the moon. Not all of those experiments have been successful.

Rohin Francis / Flickr

There are a number of labor strikes this week in different parts of the world. Los Angeles is in the midst of a teachers’ strike, while airport workers in Germany staged a walkout yesterday. And in New Zealand, a strike of a different kind is making news.

Craig Nagy / Flickr

It’s already been a bad week for air quality in South Korea — and it’s only Tuesday.

For the third day in a row, emergency measures are in place in the national capital because of pollution, and the problem is also taking a political twist. 

Shealah Craighead / The White House

While a lot of attention remains focused on the partial government shutdown, the White House is also in talks to arrange a possible second summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. There are many questions about what that meeting might accomplish — and even before that, where it might take place.