PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Millions of North Korean voters, including leader Kim Jong Un, went to the polls on Sunday to elect roughly 700 members to the national legislature. In typical North Korean style, the vote was more of an endorsement than a competitive contest — voters were presented with just one state-sanctioned candidate per seat. They cast their ballots to show their approval or, very rarely, disapproval. The elections, held every five years, are for the entire Supreme People's Assembly, which, on paper at least, is the highest organ of power in North Korea. Its delegates come from all over the country and all walks of life.
HONG KONG (AP) — China has issued a protest over remarks the U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom made criticizing Beijing's polices toward Muslim and Tibetan Buddhist minorities and saying the country was "at war with faith." The foreign ministry's office in Hong Kong said the speech Sam Brownback gave Friday "slandered" China's religious policies. It said it had registered its dissatisfaction Saturday with the U.S. Consulate in the semi-autonomous Chinese region, where the speech was given. China's constitution and laws protect freedom of religion and critics should "cease their slander of China's policies on religion and the situation with freedom of faith and cease using religious issues to interfere in China's internal affairs," the office said in a statement.
BEIJING (AP) — China is defending its often-criticized policies toward Tibet 60 years after the Dalai Lama fled abroad amid an uprising against Chinese rule. The official Xinhua News Agency says economic growth, increases in lifespan and better education refute the claims of critics. Tibet is ruled under a smothering Chinese security blanket and many Tibetans abroad say the Himalayan region's resources are being exploited for Beijing's benefit while Tibet's unique Buddhist culture is being destroyed. Xinhua said "undeniable facts and figures" related to development "debunk the repeated lies and accusations that aim to smear Tibet's human rights with vile motives." The article didn't directly mention Sunday's uprising anniversary, referring to the events of 1959 instead as the inauguration of "democratic reform" that saw the dismantlement of the Buddhist hierarchy and feudal structures.
BEIJING (AP) — American and Chinese envoys discussed sticking to promises to avoid "competitive devaluation" to boost exports during negotiations aimed at ending a tariff war, China's central bank governor said Sunday. Yi Gang gave no indication the two sides reached any agreements beyond previous commitments made at meetings of the Group of 20 major economies. He spoke at a news conference during the annual meeting of China's ceremonial legislature. Yi took part in the latest round of talks in Washington, along with China's economy czar, Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin. "We discussed that both sides should abide by the commitments made at previous G20 summits, such as refraining from competitive devaluation and using exchange rates for competitive purposes," Yi said.
BEIJING (AP) — China said it plans to grow crops specifically for wild elephants to graze on in an effort to spare the livelihoods of local farmers. The southwestern province of Yunnan will set up the special farm in a habitat protection area in Menghai county where 18 of the animals frequently raid the crops of farmers from villages in the area. The 51-hectare (126-acre) farm will grow corn, sugarcane, bamboo and bananas. The official Xinhua News Agency quoted an unidentified official with the local forestry bureau as saying protecting local residents was key to Asian elephant conservation Wild Asian elephants are a protected species in China, and conservation efforts have allowed their numbers in the country to rise to about 300.
NEW DELHI (AP) — India said Saturday that it was returning a key diplomat to Pakistan's capital amid an easing of tensions between the nuclear neighbors, but also demanded that its archrival take concrete steps against terrorists operating from its territory. India's high commissioner to Pakistan was to return to Islamabad on Saturday, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said in a statement. Pakistan had announced earlier in the week that its high commissioner to India was returning to New Delhi. The moves come after the two countries recalled their diplomats for consultations as tensions flared after a Feb. 14 suicide attack on a convoy of Indian paramilitary soldiers in Pulwama in the Indian-held portion Kashmir that killed 40 soldiers.
TOKYO (AP) — A ferry collided with what apparently was a marine animal off a Japanese island, injuring more than 80 people, local media reported. The accident happened just after noon Saturday off Sado Island, Kyodo News agency reported, citing Japan's coast guard. Five of the injuries were serious and a 15-centimeter (6-inch) crack was found at the ferry's stern. But ferry operator Sado Steam Ship Co. said the jetfoil ferry still reached its intended destination on the island, located off the west coast of Japan's main island of Honshu, according to Kyodo. The ferry, which departed from Honshu's Niigata Port, was carrying 121 passengers and four crew members.
TOKYO (AP) — A 116-year-old Japanese woman who loves playing the board game Othello was honored Saturday as the world's oldest living person by Guinness World Records. The global authority on records officially recognized Kane Tanaka in a ceremony at the nursing home where she lives in Fukuoka, in Japan's southwest. Her family and the mayor were present to celebrate. Tanaka was born Jan. 2, 1903, the seventh among eight children. She married Hideo Tanaka in 1922, and they had four children and adopted another child. She is usually up by 6 a.m. and enjoys studying mathematics. The previous oldest living person was another Japanese woman, Chiyo Miyako, who died in July at age 117.
BAHAWALPUR, Pakistan (AP) — On the congested streets of Bahawalpur, a city in southern Pakistan's jihadi heartland, emotions run high in favor of Jaish-e-Mohammad, a U.N.-designated terror group that recently pushed nuclear-armed India and Pakistan to the brink of war. Such support complicates Prime Minister Imran Khan's latest crackdown on militant groups, including Jaish-e-Mohammed. In recent days, Khan has ordered the takeover of assets and property of dozens of banned militant organizations that operate in Pakistan. Many of the groups are popular among the poor because they operate networks of charities. Some have also enjoyed the support of the military and intelligence services.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Two European mountain climbers who went missing on the Pakistani mountain Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth-tallest, were confirmed dead Saturday by Italy's ambassador to Pakistan. Ambassador Stefano Pontecorvo tweeted that the search for Italian Daniele Nardi and Briton Tom Ballard ended after a team confirmed that silhouettes spotted at a height of about 5,900 meters (19,356 feet) were the bodies of the two climbers missing since Feb 24. Karrar Haidri, secretary of the Pakistan Alpine Club, said Pakistani authorities had done all they could to find the climbers. Pakistan dispatched helicopters carrying four rescuers led by Spanish mountaineer Alex Txikon, despite the closure of its airspace amid tensions with neighboring India over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.