Top Asian News 2:51 a.m. GMT

KOSTOLAC, Serbia (AP) — A foul smell permeates the air in this gray mining town. People rarely open their windows as thick smoke billows from the huge chimneys of Serbia's main coal-fired power station. Things are only getting worse for residents living close to the Kostolac power plant complex in eastern Serbia, which is being expanded with a $715 million loan from a Chinese state bank and constructed by one of China's largest companies. When U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly withdrew from the Paris agreement on tackling global climate change in 2017, China was seen as the champion in the battle to cut carbon emissions and prevent a global environmental catastrophe.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A former Justice Department official admitted his role Friday in a multimillion-dollar effort to try to get the United States to drop its investigation into a money laundering and bribery scheme that pilfered billions from a Malaysian investment fund. George Higginbotham's guilty plea in federal court in Washington marked the first public acknowledgement of a secret attempt to pressure American officials to drop their probe of the fund known as 1MDB. The massive corruption investigation, which upended Malaysian politics, spanned the globe with the money from the fund gambled in Las Vegas, spent on diamond jewelry and a luxury yacht and used to finance the "Wolf of Wall Street" and other Hollywood productions.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Divisions among the world leading economies emerged from the moment their leaders gathered Friday in Argentina: Donald Trump struck his own deals and angered allies, and the leaders of Russia and Saudi Arabia bonded amid criticism from European powers. U.S. negotiators blocked progress at the Group of 20 summit on managing migration, slowing climate change, and streamlining how world trade is governed, according to European officials involved in the discussions. Security concerns also weighed on the two-day talks in Buenos Aires. Argentina's security minister said eight gasoline bombs were discovered in an area of the capital several miles from the summit venue where a protest in the afternoon drew thousands of demonstrators who held up banners with slogans like "Go away G-20" and "Go away Trump." The whole point of the G-20 — formed in the wake of the global financial crisis a decade ago — is finding ways to solve global problems together, but diplomats in Buenos Aires struggled to find enough things all the leaders agree on.

G-20 leaders are attending a cultural show at the Colon Theater, the landmark in the Argentine capital that is one of the world's great opera houses. U.S. President Donald Trump, Germany's Angela Merkel, and Russian President Vladimir Putin were among the dignitaries who joined for leaders' photo before they took their seats at the stately Belle Epoque building that was founded in 1908. The show features videos celebrating Argentina's majestic landscapes as well as dancing and music that goes from a philharmonic orchestra, to rock and the Argentine Tango.

ISTANBUL (AP) — The two women in the photograph were smiling, but Halmurat Idris knew something was terribly wrong. One was his 39-year-old sister; standing at her side was an elderly woman Idris did not know. Their grins were tight-lipped, mirthless. Her sister had posted the picture on a social media account along with a caption punctuated by a smiley-face. "Look, I have a Han Chinese mother now!" his sister wrote. Idris knew instantly: The old woman was a spy, sent by the Chinese government to infiltrate his family. There are many like her. According to the ruling Communist Party's official newspaper, as of the end of September, 1.1 million local government workers have been deployed to ethnic minorities' living rooms, dining areas and Muslim prayer spaces, not to mention at weddings, funerals and other occasions once considered intimate and private.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Scientists working on the frontiers of medicine fear the uproar over the reported births of gene-edited babies in China could jeopardize promising research into how to alter heredity to fend off a variety of disorders. Researchers are rapidly learning how to edit DNA to fight such conditions as Huntington's, Tay-Sachs and hereditary heart disease, conducting legally permissible experiments in lab animals and petri dishes without taking the ultimate step of actually creating babies. Now they worry about a backlash against their work, too. "The alarmists who claimed that scientists won't behave responsibly in the development of the next generation of gene editing now have ammunition," said a dismayed Kyle Orwig, a reproductive specialist at the University of Pittsburgh who hopes to eventually alter sperm production to treat infertility.

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's Prince Akishino said a highly religious ritual that is part of next year's succession ceremonies should be paid for privately by the Imperial family, and questioned the government's decision to use public money. Emperor Akihito's younger son spoke about the contentious issue in a news conference that was recorded for his 53rd birthday on Friday. Akihito plans to abdicate next year and will be succeeded by Crown Prince Naruhito. Akishino would then become first in line of succession. Akishino said that using public funds for the Daijosai, the first communion that the new emperor performs with Shinto gods, is questionable since Japan's Constitution separates religion and state.

SYDNEY (AP) — Thousands of schoolchildren across Australia skipped classes Friday to attend rallies demanding the government act on climate change. But Resources Minister Matt Canavan said the students should be in school learning about science and mining, rather than discovering how to get on welfare. The coordinated rallies Friday were held in close to 30 cities and towns and were inspired by a 15-year-old Swedish girl's activism. In Sydney, more than 1,000 children, most in school uniforms, chanted slogans, while similar numbers blocked streets outside the Victoria state parliament in Melbourne. The rallies were inspired by Greta Thunberg, who protests every Friday outside Sweden's parliament, demanding leaders do more about climate change.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentine officials are distancing themselves from the U.S. version of how they view China trade after a meeting during the Group of 20 summit. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Presidents Donald Trump and Mauricio Macri met Friday and "reiterated their shared commitment" to face challenges including "predatory Chinese economic activity." But a senior Argentine official told The Associated Press later that the "adjective used by Sanders is too strong and doesn't reflect" Argentina's relationship with Beijing. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — France says it wants more "transparency" from Japan about an investigation into Carlos Ghosn, head of Japanese carmaker Nissan and French automaker Renault. French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the probe Friday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires. Macron's office says he insisted on the importance to France of maintaining the alliance. Both leaders noted that the Japanese judicial procedure needs to run its course. A French official said France wants more transparency from Japan about the investigation. The official wasn't authorized to be publicly named under government policy.