Top Asian News 12:32 a.m. GMT

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Ousted Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Friday there is credible evidence that his replacement is attempting to buy support in Parliament ahead of an expected vote of confidence when it reconvenes. Representatives of the newly formed government under former strongman Marinda Rajapaksa have offered lawmakers positions and money in exchange for their support, Wickremesinghe told The Associated Press in an interview at Temple Trees, the prime minister's official residence in Colombo. "They have been asked to come and meet to discuss the arrangements," he said. Rajapaksa was sworn in as prime minister a week ago after President Maithripala Sirisena dismissed Wickremesinghe and suspended Parliament until Nov.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — New details about the crashed Lion Air jet's previous flight cast more doubt on the Indonesian airline's claim to have fixed technical problems, as hundreds of personnel searched the sea for a fifth day Friday for victims and the plane's fuselage. The brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane plunged into the Java Sea early Monday, just minutes after taking off from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board. Herson, head of the Bali-Nusa Tenggara Airport Authority, said the pilot on the plane's previous flight on Sunday from Bali requested to return to the airport not long after takeoff but then reported the problem had been resolved.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump expressed confidence he can reach a deal to end a burgeoning trade war with China, saying he will meet his Chinese counterpart at the Group of 20 meetings in Argentina in about a month. "I think we'll make a deal with China, and I think it will be a very fair deal for everybody," Trump said Friday at the White House before leaving for political rallies in West Virginia and Indiana. Trump said he will have dinner with President Xi Jinping of China at the Nov. 30-Dec. 1 summit of industrial and emerging market nations.

HONG KONG (AP) — Legendary Hong Kong film producer Raymond Chow, who introduced the world to Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan and even brought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the big screen, has died at age 91. Hong Kong' secretary for commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, said in a statement Friday that Chow "helped nurture a pool of Hong Kong talents and brought them to the international stage." Chow was a journalist who became a publicist for Shaw Brothers Studios, which churned out hundreds of films and popularized the kung fu genre. Studio founder Run Run Shaw soon moved Chow to the production side of the business after Chow complained that the movies — made on low budgets and short schedules — weren't good enough.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The release of a Christian woman in Pakistan, acquitted eight years after being sentenced to death for blasphemy, was delayed Friday after authorities agreed to bar her from flying abroad following talks with radical Islamists who want her publicly hanged. The agreement between the government and the Tehreek-e-Labbaik party was reached in the city of Lahore where Islamists have been rallying since Wednesday, when the Supreme Court overturned the 2010 conviction of Asia Bibi for insulting the Prophet Muhammad. Pakistani authorities will now not allow Bibi to leave the country until the Supreme Court makes a final review of its verdict, said provincial minister Noorul Haq Qadri, according to the agreement.

TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese journalist who returned from more than three years of captivity in Syria apologized Friday to the government and said he was kidnapped as soon as he crossed the border because of a "silly mistake" before he even started reporting. Jumpei Yasuda faced a crowd of reporters in Tokyo for the first time since gaining freedom last week. He said he went to Syria on June 22, 2015, to see for himself the reality and how the conflict affected ordinary people, including women and children, as well as soldiers in areas controlled by anti-government groups. His plan was to follow up his earlier reporting in Syria.

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's Cabinet on Friday approved a draft bill that would allow the entry of more foreign blue-color workers as the country's fast-aging population faces labor shortages. The bill is a major revision of Japan's policy on foreign labor. The country has long resisted accepting foreign workers, except for doctors, teachers and others in highly skilled fields. The proposed legislation would create two new visa categories for foreigners employed in more than a dozen sectors facing labor shortages, such as nursing, farming, construction and services. The government hopes the bill will be enacted by next April. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied that the relaxed policy on foreign workers means Japan is opening its doors to immigrants, in an attempt to reassure his nationalist supporters.

The young Malaysian tycoon wanted by the U.S. for his alleged role in ransacking a state investment fund says he's innocent, and he's been fighting back against the allegations while in hiding. For 36-year-old Taek Jho Low, or Jho Low, it's a far cry from earlier days of partying with jet-set celebrities like Paris Hilton in Las Vegas and Saint Tropez. On Thursday the Justice Department charged Low for alleged involvement in a money laundering and bribery scheme that pilfered billions of dollars from Malaysia's 1MDB investment fund. Prosecutors announced a three-count indictment against Low in the first charges arising from the epic corruption scandal at the now-insolvent state investment fund.

PARIS (AP) — New Caledonia, a French archipelago in the South Pacific, is preparing for an independence referendum — the last step in a three-decades-long decolonization effort. Sunday's vote is key to settling tensions between the native Kanaks, who once suffered from strict segregation policies, and descendants of European colonizers. It is also a test of the depth of the links between France and the territory, which lies east of Australia and has about 270,000 inhabitants. Voters have to answer the question "Do you want New Caledonia to gain full sovereignty and become independent?" Observers say that, based on past electoral results and polls, voters are likely to back remaining in France.

PARIS (AP) — Voters in New Caledonia, an archipelago in the south Pacific, are preparing to go to the polls on Sunday to decide on whether to break free from French rule. A look at what's at stake in the independence referendum. ARCHIPELAGO IN SOUTH PACIFIC New Caledonia is a group of islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean, about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) east of Australia and 17,000 kilometers (10,500 miles) from France's mainland. Home to 269,000 people, the native Kanaks make up about 40 percent of the population, while people from European descent account for 27 percent. The others hail from Asian countries and surrounding Pacific islands.