Asia Minute

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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.

GoToVan / Flickr

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.

Shanghai Jinbei Photographic Equipment

Internships are a way for students to gain real world experience as part of their education. But the value of an internship depends in part on a company’s willingness to assign students to meaningful work. And in Asia, that’s an issue this week.

Craig Nagy / Flickr

Countries around the world are starting to get back to work after the New Year’s holiday. In the Asia Pacific, 2019 brings a number of challenges. And for one country, a number of anniversaries.

Bernard Spragg. NZ / Flickr

It’s a scary scenario for anyone who lives in a condo or apartment building: a crack in a wall that begins to spread. In Australia, the experience of residents in one building has now turned into an international story.

Johannes Barre / Wikimedia Commons

Between Christmas, New Years and other year-end holidays, this is a season of gift-giving. But in South Korea, a recent series of gifts involving the army has resulted in some apologies.

Blogtrepreneur / Flickr

Every travel destination uses marketing to reach an audience of potential visitors. That includes the Hawaii Tourism Authority, as well as the government of Australia. But in the case of the land down under, there’s a bit of controversy about how some of that marketing money is being spent.

Deortiz / Flickr

This holiday week is a popular one for visitors to Hawaii, and it’s also a busy vacation week for visitors to the Philippines. That’s part of the reason activities at one popular beach are coming under close watch by tourism professionals around the world.

Yann Forget / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

A journalist in northern India has been jailed for criticizing the government. The organization “Reporters Without Borders” calls it a “shocking warning for the entire journalistic profession.”

Evan-Amos / Wikimedia Commons

Medical marijuana has been legal in Hawai‘i for nearly twenty years. But the concept is much newer in Southeast Asia. And one country in particular sees it as a growth industry.

Jonathan McIntosh / Wikimedia Commons

Christmas is five days away, and while some are focused on shopping or travel or parties, there’s been a change of plans in one city in northern China.

Joshua Damasio / Flickr

Visitor spending in Hawaii so far this year is running about 9-percent ahead of last year’s pace. But tourism is growing even faster in one of the main sources of Hawaii’s visitors: Japan.

NASA Earth Observatory

One of the world’s most ambitious electricity projects is moving ahead in Asia. It’s still in a very preliminary stage — and not all the challenges are related to technology.

Normangerman / Wikimedia Commons

Australia has big plans for developing the business of space. The launching of satellites alone has become a multi-billion dollar operation around the world, and Australia wants a bigger piece of the market.

Michael Day / Flickr

Much political attention in the United States remains focused on the southern border. In Asia, there’s another border that’s been in the news this week.

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

When you hear stories about trade these days, they’re often focused on tariffs — and the ongoing dispute between the United States and China. But there’s another trade story in Asia that also has lingering implications.

Government of India / Wikimedia Commons

There’s been an unusual development in the government of India this week. The country has seen developing public tension between the head of the government and the head of the central bank — something that has also been happening in the United States. But in India, this has led to a dramatic change in the midst of global market volatility.

Petar Milošević / Wikimedia Commons

The Chinese technology company Huawei has been accused of fraud by the U.S. government – trying to get around trade sanctions on Iran. While the company was unfamiliar to many Americans until recently, it’s already had a controversial history with Australia.

Carla Cioffi / NASA

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for space landings and launches. Last week, NASA’s InSight lander touched down on Mars — and there have been other developments involving space programs in South Korea and India. 

The Diary of a Hotel Addict / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr

Each week seems to produce more news about climate change. This week a United Nations report said global carbon emissions will rise by nearly 3-percent this year. Rising sea levels also continue around the world. And one major city in Southeast Asia faces a new urgency about flooding.

jeepersmedia / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A number of countries, cities and counties put an extra tax on sugary drinks. In Hawaii, that policy has been suggested and rejected several times by the legislature. The tax is designed to fight obesity. But one country in the Asia Pacific is considering taking the concept one step further.

MTV International / Wikimedia Commons

One of the biggest U.S. movie hits of the summer is turning out to be a flop in China. “Crazy Rich Asians” opened this past weekend — and the box office was disappointing.

The White House / Flickr

The Group of Twenty meeting in Argentina wrapped up this weekend — generating a number of headlines. But there were also some smaller stories that may be significant in the long term. And that includes an unusual bit of diplomacy involving three countries.

Presidential Press and Information Office /

As you’ve been hearing on NPR, the Group of 20 Summit gets underway today in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The international forum started meeting nearly 20 years ago, and while the headlines may focus on bi-lateral meetings, countries from the Asia Pacific are playing a growing role.

Trosmisiek / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

The list of places banning single-use plastic bags is growing. This week, Charleston, South Carolina joined 10 other state coastal communities in stopping their use. Next month, Boston will join the list. And in the Asia Pacific, recent developments about plastic in two countries are getting broader attention.

Wise Hok Wai Lum / Wikimedia Commons

There’s been a lot of focus on climate change this week. Part of that story involves coral reefs. And it’s not all bad news. There’s a project underway in Australia that could help restore reefs around the world.

Studio Incendo / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

A pair of elections in the Asia Pacific this weekend turned out to be big wins for candidates favored by China’s Beijing government. In Taiwan, the political party of the ruling president lost a series of mayoral races. And in Hong Kong, there was a defeat for a pro-democracy candidate.

stephenwd4h0 / Pixabay

As U.S. troops continue their presence along the southern border, they are putting up more razor wire. While this border is getting more barbed wire, there’s another famous dividing line between two countries where the trend is going the other way.