Asia-Pacific stocks fell in today’s trade as oil prices continue to soar as the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine continues to weigh heavily on investor sentiment. The Hang Seng led the losses across the region, dropping more than 4% at one point before rebounding slightly. HSBC shares fell 6%. China’s Shanghai composite was down 1.42% and the Shenzhen composite was down just over 2.5%. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 also saw heavy losses, tumbling just over 3%… some tech stocks fell over 7% today. The South Korean Kospi fell 2.3%. Australia’s ASX 200 fell almost 1%. International benchmark Brent futures are up 8.6% at US$128 a barrel…. That’s down from an earlier high of US$139.13 a barrel…the highest since July 2008.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry has adjusted its travel advisory for Russia, urging residents not to travel to Russia at this time. The ministry raised the risk warning to Level 3. Last week, the Foreign Ministry urged Japanese nationals anywhere near the Ukrainian borders or in Ukraine to evacuate. The Japanese ministry is urging Japanese nationals to consider leaving Russia on commercial flights while they can. To date, the ministry says about 2,400 Japanese were registered with its diplomatic missions as still residing in Russia.
About 114 Rohingya Muslims were discovered on a beach near a fishing village in the far north of the island of Sumatra, in the Indonesian province of Aceh. Officials say they spent weeks at sea. Villagers helped bring the rickety wooden boat ashore, then reported their arrival to authorities. The village chief said the refugees seemed very weak from hunger and dehydration after a long and difficult journey at sea. There were 58 men, 21 women and 35 children who were sheltered in the village. More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar to camps in Bangladesh since August 2017, after atrocities inflicted by the Burmese military. Myanmar’s security forces have been accused of mass rapes, murders and burning down thousands of homes. Other groups of Rohingya have attempted to cross into Thailand or travel by sea on dangerous journeys to other Muslim-majority countries in the region.
Indonesia and Malaysia have applied some of Asia’s strictest entry procedures in response to the Covid-19 outbreaks that have swept the region. But Indonesia is now considering a quarantine waiver for foreign visitors to Bali starting next week. Meanwhile, neighboring Malaysia announced the removal of restrictions on travelers from Thailand and Cambodia from March 15. For Indonesia, President Widodo Joko will make a final decision today. If that happens, visitors from 23 countries, including Australia, the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands, would be eligible for a visa on arrival under the revised rules. Malaysia will allow vaccinated arrivals from Cambodia and Thailand to skip quarantine from March 15. quarantine lifted for arrivals from Singapore. The Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand have already reopened their borders with different levels of arrival procedures.
A US federal judge has sentenced an Alabama man to 160 years in prison for soliciting videos of Filipino child sex abuse victims. A federal jury convicted Benjamin Walter in October last year of “four counts of producing and attempting to produce child pornography, and receiving and distributing child pornography.” For three years, Walter searched for women in the Philippines to sexually abuse their children and other relatives, organize the gang rape of young children. He would then send money for videos, pictures and live streams. The Philippine Undersecretary of Justice hailed Walter’s sentencing not only as a victory for his victims, but also for other victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. She pointed out that online child sexual exploitation preys on the most vulnerable and leaves them scarred for life. In 2020, the Commission on Human Rights also said that the pandemic and its effects on people’s livelihoods made many Filipinos more vulnerable to exploitation.
Director of Singapore’s Russian Amateur Theater Chekhov has complained of feeling anti-Russian sentiment in recent weeks. She says people sent her offensive memes and hate speech against her and Russians in general, which made her fear for her safety in Singapore. No other member of Singapore’s Russian community has reported varying degrees of hostility, especially online, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24. About 4,000 Russians live in Singapore. Many more say they are preparing for more trouble online. Meanwhile, the Russian Embassy in Singapore has not registered any official reports of mistreatment or discrimination of its citizens. He noted…. At the same time, we regret that the anti-Russian campaign launched in the Western media, which is being actively reprinted here in Singapore, can only warm up Russophobic feelings in society.
Meanwhile, in Phuket, Russian travelers who find themselves stranded on the southern Thai holiday island have been granted an automatic visa extension of at least 1 month, provided they can present a official letter from their consulate listing the reasons why they cannot return to Russia. One of Phuket’s main food markets over the past four months has been Russians fleeing the cold. Thai immigration says it acknowledges that there have been only limited flights to Thailand since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and that many travelers have reported problems accessing money from Thai banks and ticket vending machines.
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