Briefly: Asia

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CHINA

Military condemns S. Korean-U.S. drills

BEIJING | China’s military is condemning a second round of U.S.-South Korean naval drills planned in the Yellow Sea in the coming weeks and vowing it will respond in kind.

The military’s newspaper published an editorial on the drills Thursday. The People’s Liberation Army Daily says actions by foreign military ships and planes in waters near its coast could “affect China’s security interests.”

China repeatedly has criticized the drills, saying they risk heightening tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Although the Yellow Sea consists mostly of international waters, China regards it as lying within its vaguely defined security perimeter.

The expected participation of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington is particularly irksome to China because of its status as a symbol of U.S. power in the Pacific and the possibility of its F-18 warplanes flying within range of Beijing.

AFGHANISTAN

Claims of civilian deaths spark protest

KABUL | A crowd of about 300 villagers yelled “Death to the United States” and blocked a main road in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday as they swore that U.S. forces had killed three innocent villagers, officials said.

NATO forces rejected the claim, saying they had killed several suspected insurgents and detained a local Taliban commander in the overnight raid.

The gulf between the two accounts is a reminder of how sensitive every NATO operation in Afghanistan has become. In Taliban-heavy areas, it is hard to distinguish villagers from insurgents, and sometimes public opinion turns against coalition forces even when they say they are certain they targeted the correct people.

PAKISTAN

U.S. Marine choppers join flood relief

ISLAMABAD | Two U.S. Marine helicopters arrived in Pakistan Thursday to join relief and rescue operations in areas hit by massive floods in the country’s worst catastrophe, the U.S. embassy said.

The two aircraft are the first of 19 extra helicopters Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urgently ordered to Pakistan on Wednesday, it said.

The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters flew into Pakistan from the USS Peleliu, which is positioned in international waters in the Arabian Sea.

The remaining aircraft will arrive over the next few days.

JAPAN

Typhoon Dianmu cuts across Japan

TOKYO | Typhoon Dianmu cut across northern Japan into the Pacific on Thursday after leaving five dead in its wake in South Korea, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

With winds of up to 45 mph, it moved across the northern tip of Honshu island for about three hours until around 8 p.m., after traveling northeast over the Sea of Japan/East Sea, the agency said.

The weather agency warned heavy rain could trigger floods, mudslides and waves as tall as 16 feet.

CHINA

Tibetan businessman gets life in prison

BEIJING | One of Tibet’s richest businessmen has been sentenced to life in prison for helping exile groups, a human rights group said Thursday. It’s the latest case in a surprising crackdown on well-known Tibetans once praised by Chinese authorities.

Dorje Tashi was sentenced June 26 in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, said Urgen Tenzin, director of the India-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

Dorje Tashi, believed to be in his mid-30s, is the operator of the Yak Hotel, the most famous hotel in Lhasa. He met Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao in 2005, two years after joining the ruling Communist Party.

China has not reported the prison sentence, which comes amid increased repression of Tibetan intellectuals after ethnic rioting in Lhasa in 2008 in which at least 22 people died.

INDIA

Taj hotel reopens Sunday after 2008 attacks

MUMBAI | Holding balloons and flowers, employees pledged Thursday to rededicate themselves to Mumbai’s Taj Mahal hotel when it reopens over the weekend after the 2008 militant attacks in which guests and staff members died.

The hotel, which suffered extensive damage from a siege laid by four heavily armed gunmen, was one of several Mumbai landmarks attacked by Pakistan-based militants. The November strikes, which lasted more than 60 hours, killed 166 people.

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