Top Asian News 3:41 a.m. GMT

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Filipinos began casting their vote Monday in midterm elections highlighted by a showdown between President Rodrigo Duterte's allies who aim to dominate the Senate and opposition candidates fighting for checks and balances under a leader they regard as a looming dictator. Nearly 62 million Filipinos have registered to choose among 43,500 candidates vying for about 18,000 congressional and local posts, including 81 governors, 1,634 mayors and more than 13,000 city and town councilors in 81 provinces, in one of Asia's most rambunctious democracies. Many see the elections as a crucial referendum on Duterte's rise to power with a brutal crackdown on illegal drugs that has left thousands dead, his unorthodox leadership style, combative and sexist joke-laden outbursts and contentious embrace of China.

BEIJING (AP) — China's intensified tariff war with the Trump administration is threatening Beijing's ambition to transform itself into the dominant player in global technology. The United States is a vital customer and source of technology for Chinese makers of electronics, medical equipment and other high-tech exports — industries that the ruling Communist Party sees as the heart of its economic future. Yet to the Trump administration, they're a threat to America's industrial leadership. Beijing managed to keep Chinese economic growth steady in the most recent quarter despite a drop in exports to the United States. It did so by boosting government spending and bank lending.

SHANGHAI (AP) — South Korean violinist Won Hyung Joon took the stage, nodded once to his North Korean soprano partner, and placed his instrument on his shoulder. With a flick of the conductor's wrist, she began to sing, and he began to bow — the beginning of a rare joint performance Sunday that they hope will bring the Koreas closer amid deadlocked nuclear diplomacy. "Until today, I was thinking, will this really happen? Will it suddenly be canceled?" Won said. "Today was the day my dream finally came true." Won, donning a white shirt, and Kim Song Mi, sporting a sparkling red dress, performed Antonin Dvorak's "Songs My Mother Taught Me" together with a Chinese orchestra at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.

NEW DELHI (AP) — Indians voted Sunday in the next-to-last round of a six-week-long national election marked by a highly acrimonious campaign that has seen Prime Minister Narendra Modi blame opposition party chief Rahul Gandhi's family for the country's ills. Sunday's voting in 59 constituencies, including seven in New Delhi, the capital, completed polling for 483 of 543 seats in the powerful lower house of Parliament. The voting for the remaining 60 seats will be held on May 19, and vote counting begins four days later. India has 900 million eligible voters. Turnout in the sixth phase of voting on Sunday was 63.3%, according to the Election Commission.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka held the first regular Sunday Mass since the Easter suicide bombings of churches and hotels killed more than 250 people. Military forces and police armed with assault rifles patrolled the streets leading to churches and stood guard outside the compounds. Everyone entering was required to produce identity cards and was body searched. Volunteers were stationed at the gates of churches to identify parishioners and look for suspicious individuals. Parking was banned near the churches and officials requested worshippers to bring along only minimum baggage. Seven suicide bombers struck two Catholic and one Protestant church and three luxury hotels on Easter Sunday.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The International Monetary Fund said Sunday it reached a preliminary agreement with Pakistan for a $6 billion bailout over the next three years to finance sweeping economic reforms. Pakistan and the international lender reached a "staff level agreement" subject to approval by the IMF management and the executive board, IMF envoy Ernesto Ramirez Rigo said in a statement. He said the IMF program aims to support Pakistan's strategy for "stronger and more balanced growth by reducing domestic and external imbalances, improving the business environment, strengthening institutions, increasing transparency, and protecting social spending." Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, an economic adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan, confirmed that his country had reached a preliminary deal with the IMF.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's prime minister on Sunday officially launched his conservative coalition's campaign less than a week before an election in an extraordinarily personal presentation. Scott Morrison is his government's third prime minister in the administration's six years in office and still remains relatively unknown to many Australians, who he is asking for a third three-year term when they vote on Saturday next week. The coalition's launch in the city of Melbourne at a convention center included recorded interviews with Morrison family members that covered his wife Jenny's diagnosis with endometriosis, their 14-year failed battle to conceive through IVF before having their two daughters naturally, and Jenny Morrison's brother's struggle with multiple sclerosis.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Sunday that the political will to fight climate change seems to be fading at the same time as things are getting worse for those feeling the effects. Guterres made the comments after arriving in New Zealand, where he spoke to media alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Auckland. Guterres plans to spend three days in New Zealand as part of a trip to the South Pacific to highlight the problems of climate change. In Christchurch, he will also meet with Muslim leaders following the March 15 slaughter of 51 worshippers by a gunman who attacked two mosques during Friday prayers.

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A Myanmar National Airlines plane made an emergency landing at Mandalay International Airport on Sunday, using only its rear wheels after the front landing gear failed to deploy. All 82 passengers and seven crew members aboard Flight UB103 from Yangon were declared safe after the Brazilian-made Embraer 190-LR touched down on its rear sets of wheels before the plane's nose tilted down to scrape the runway, sending off a shower of sparks as it slowed to a stop. Kyaw San, a spokesman for the airport, said the pilot informed the control tower before landing that he was unable to pull down the nose wheels.

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (AP) — A North Korean cargo ship seized by the U.S. because of suspicion it was used to violate international sanctions arrived at the capital of this American territory, where it will undergo inspections. The Wise Honest was slowly towed to the port of Pago Pago during a cloudy Saturday morning and docked at the main docking section of the port that afternoon. The trip from Indonesia took about three weeks and American Samoa, in the South Pacific, was chosen because of "its central strategic location," U.S. Coast Guard public affairs officer Amanda Wyrick said. "We also have a good strong relationship and partnership with the American Samoan government," Wyrick said.