Top Asian News 4:25 a.m. GMT

BEIJING (AP) — All systems are go as a Chinese spacecraft and rover power up their observation equipment after making a first-ever landing on the far side of the moon, the Chinese National Space Administration said. The Jade Rabbit 2 rover has succeeded in establishing a digital transmission link with a relay satellite that sends data back to the Beijing control center, the space agency said in a posting late Friday on its website. The rover's radar and panoramic camera have been activated and are working normally, it said. A photo released by the agency showed the rover stopped at a point not far from where the Chang'e 4 spacecraft touched down Thursday.

TOKYO (AP) — A 612-pound (278-kilogram) bluefin tuna sold for a record 333.6 million yen ($3 million) in the first auction of 2019, after Tokyo's famed Tsukiji market was moved to a new site on the city's waterfront. The winning bid for the prized but threatened species at the predawn auction Saturday was more than double the 2013 annual New Year auction. It was paid by Kiyomura Corp., whose owner Kiyoshi Kimura runs the Sushi Zanmai chain. Kimura has often won the annual auction in the past. Japanese broadcaster NHK showed a beaming Kimura saying that he was surprised by the high price of tuna this year.

BEIJING (AP) — China has come a long way since the founding of its space program in 1956. Shortly after the former Soviet Union launched Sputnik, Chairman Mao Zedong declared that China too should have an artificial satellite to keep up with the great powers. Now, being recognized as a galactic pioneer is once again part of China's national ambitions. "The space dream is part of the dream to make China stronger," President Xi Jinping said shortly after taking office in 2013. While China still lags behind the United States, which has a much larger space exploration budget, it has come out ahead in at least one arena after becoming the first country to make a landing on the far side of the moon Thursday.

TOKYO (AP) — Nissan Chief Performance Officer Jose Munoz, who oversaw the Japanese automaker's global strategies, is taking a leave of absence to work on "special tasks arising from recent events," the company said Saturday, referring to the arrest of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn. Nissan Motor Co. spokesman Nicholas Maxfield did not offer any other details. Munoz is among several executives media have speculated could be a possible successor to Ghosn. Ghosn, a revered figure in the global auto industry, led Nissan for two decades after being sent in by Renault in 1999 when Nissan was near bankruptcy. Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan.

BEIJING (AP) — American officials are due in Beijing Monday for talks aimed at easing the U.S.-China trade battle that threatens to hobble global economic growth. The talks are going ahead despite tension over the arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada on U.S. charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions on Iran. The two governments have expressed interest in a settlement but have given no indication that their stances have shifted. After several tit-for-tat tariff increases last year, Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed Dec. 1 to postpone further hikes. The two countries hope to have "positive and constructive discussions," said a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Lu Kang.

TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese legislator is drawing criticism for his comment that "a nation would collapse" if everyone became LGBT. Remarks by Katsuei Hirasawa, a veteran lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, were carried on Nippon News Network's national broadcast Friday. Outrage has been popping up on social media. Hirasawa told a crowd in Yamanashi Prefecture in central Japan on Thursday: "Criticizing LGBT would create problems, but if everyone became like them then a nation would collapse." He also said he didn't understand moves in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward and other local areas to recognize same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriages are not recognized in Japan nationally.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea's top diplomat to Italy, who South Korea's spy agency says has gone into hiding along with his wife, appears to be the latest member of the North's elite to abandon the secretive totalitarian state. Many of them have expressed frustration over what they described as an oppressive police state in Pyongyang or desires for their families to have new lives in South Korea or the West. The North, which touts itself as a socialist paradise, is extremely sensitive about defections, especially among its elite, and has previously insisted that they are South Korean or U.S.

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Thirteen policemen were killed and nine injured in early morning attacks Friday on police outposts in Myanmar's Rakhine state by the insurgent Arakan Army, state media reported. The Arakan Army is a rebel group seeking autonomy for Rakhine state from Myanmar's central government. It has no links with the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, a Muslim insurgent group whose similar attacks in 2017 sparked a bloody government counterinsurgency campaign against the area's Muslim Rohingya minority, driving more than 700,000 to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. While the Muslim ARSA group has become virtually inactive, the Arakan Army, which is aligned with the state's Buddhist population, has taken advantage of the area's instability to increase its military activities after training its guerrillas in regions controlled by other insurgent groups, including the Kachin in northern Myanmar.

NAKHON SI THAMMARAT, Thailand (AP) — Rain, wind and surging seawater from a tropical storm buffeted coastal villages and world-famous tourist resorts on southern Thailand's east coast on Friday, knocking down trees and utility poles and flooding roads. One person was reported dead and another missing after a fishing boat with a crew of six capsized in high waves, but there were no reports of major damage by nightfall. It appeared that Tropical Storm Pabuk caused aggravation during the country's high tourist season but less damage than had been feared. Airlines and boat operators suspended operations for safety reasons and tourists were forced to change travel plans.

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country will host the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan for a meeting geared toward bringing peace to Afghanistan. Erdogan spoke Friday at a joint news conference with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is making his first visit to Turkey since he came to power in August. Erdogan said the trilateral meeting would take place in Istanbul after Turkey's March local election. Khan told reporters he hoped the meeting would bring "badly needed peace" to Afghanistan. Erdogan, meanwhile, welcomed Pakistan's decision to hand over schools affiliated with exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen to a Turkish government foundation.