Asia Minute

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

NASA

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 / CC BY-SA 2.0 / 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.

Tech. Sgt. Brian Ferguson / U.S. Air Force

There has been news this week about the continuing trade talks between the United States and China. Meetings in Beijing were extended for several days, and further details are likely to emerge in coming days. Meanwhile, it’s been a busy week for a different kind of trade development elsewhere in Asia.

craigsyd / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr

Hawai‘i’s population has declined for two years in a row. According to Census figures released late last month, that’s mostly because of people moving to other states. But when it comes to other population centers in the Asia Pacific, one is likely to pass a milestone later this year.

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Many countries tax tourists when they leave. The United States has done it for years — including international visitors leaving Hawaii. But in one Asian country, this is the first week for that practice.

NASA Earth Observatory

January typically brings cold weather to much of the mainland U.S. and some rain to Hawaii. But in the southern hemisphere, it’s summer time. And for much of Australia, the weather lately has included broiling heat waves.

Bernard Spragg. NZ / Flickr

2018 saw another increase in the number of traffic fatalities across Hawaii. But this problem has become even worse in one Southeast Asian country – which is taking new steps to fight it.

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News about Apple’s disappointing sales in China hit stock markets around the world this week. And while it’s not likely to have the same market impact, there’s another well-known American product that’s facing a new challenge in China.

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