Top Asian News 4:44 a.m. GMT

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A strike among pilots at Taiwan's flag carrier China Airlines has dragged into a third day, resulting in further flight cancellations. There's no word Sunday of a settlement as the pilots' union remained firm in its demands for an additional backup pilot on flights lasting eight hours or more, a more transparent system of promotion, a year-end bonus and other concessions. The official Central News Agency says a total of 47 flights will have been canceled by Sunday. The strike came in the middle of the Lunar New Year travel rush. About 70 percent of the carrier's 1,300 pilots belong to the union, which has accused management of insincerity and mistreating its workforce to keep costs down.

BANGKOK (AP) — A Thai political party swore loyalty to the king after its stunning decision to nominate the monarch's sister as its candidate for prime minister backfired when the king called the move inappropriate and unconstitutional. The statement of fealty comes as the country ponders a whirlwind Friday in which Princess Ubolratana Mahidol broke with tradition proscribing the monarchy's involvement with politics to become a candidate for the Thai Raksa Chart Party, only to have her brother, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, invalidate her action with a late night order. Thai Raksa Chart's statement said the party loyally accepted the king's order and expressed deep gratitude to Ubolratana for her kindness toward the party.

TORONTO (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to Canada said Saturday her country is "deeply concerned" about China's "unlawful" detention of two Canadians. Ambassador Kelly Craft said in a statement to The Associated Press the arrests of ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor are "unacceptable" and urged China to end the arbitrary detentions. It is her first public comments on the cases. China detained the two Canadians on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested Dec. 1 at the request of U.S. authorities. Meng is the chief financial officer of the Chinese tech giant Huawei and the daughter of its founder.

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey's foreign ministry has called China's treatment of its minority Uighurs "a great cause of shame for humanity." In a statement Saturday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said it's "no longer a secret" that China has arbitrarily detained more than a million Uighurs in "concentration camps." He said the Turkic Muslim population faced pressure and "systematic assimilation" in western China. Aksoy said Turkey has shared with China its position on "all levels" and urged authorities to close the detention facilities and respect human rights. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had once accused China of "genocide" but has since established closer diplomatic and economic relations with Beijing.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The top U.S. envoy for North Korea returned from three days of talks in Pyongyang and will meet again with his North Korean counterpart before the second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi later this month, the U.S. State Department said. Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, met with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Seoul's chief nuclear envoy Lee Do-hoon on Saturday to brief them on his negotiations with North Korea. "Our discussions were productive," Biegun said while meeting Kang. "President is very much looking forward to taking next steps.

BEIJING (AP) — China insists that peaceful dialogue and political means are the "only way" toward enduring peace in Venezuela, the Foreign Ministry said, adding that it backs multinational efforts to reach such an outcome. Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying's statement came in response to a question about a meeting Thursday of an "International Contact Group" led by Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez and attended by leaders of 14 countries, including Spain, Italy, Portugal and Sweden. China is a close ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, to whom it has lent billions to help shore up his embattled regime. Hua said China "believes that Venezuela's affairs should be resolved by the Venezuelan people under the framework of its constitution and laws and through peaceful dialogue and political means.

BEIJING (AP) — Authorities say five people have been killed in southern China after an explosion at an illegal fireworks stand. Reports Sunday say the operator of the stand in the southern region of Guangxi has been formally arrested on the criminal charge of causing an accident through the use of dangerous articles. Those killed in Tuesday's accident included three children and two adults. Prosecutors say the stand's operator, identified only by his surname, Zhang, was negligent in storing the fireworks in a pile outside his grocery, leaving them prone to being easily ignited by a spark or stray cigarette. China has cracked down heavily on the production and sale of fireworks, formerly a major part of celebrations for the Lunar New Year, which this year fell last week.

BEIJING (AP) — China has reported a new outbreak of African swine fever that is threating the country's vital pork industry. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs reported Friday the disease had been detected on a farm in Yongzhou in the central province of Hunan, where 4,600 pigs were being raised. Although just 171 of the pigs had died and 270 were found sick, ministry regulations require all pigs on an affected farm must be culled and disposed of and the area quarantined and decontaminated. First detected in August, the disease has killed more than 1 million pigs in China, prompting restrictions on shipments of most of China's 700 million swine, even healthy ones.

BEIJING (AP) — Blizzards in Tibetan areas of western China have left thousands of head of livestock dead and roads covered in up to 45 centimeters (18 inches) of snow, state media reported Saturday. Local authorities had sent veterinarians, medicine and animal feed to the hard-hit areas in Qinghai Province's Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Villages in the area are above 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) and workers were seeking to clear roads to ensure the delivery of supplies, a task made more difficult by high winds and drifting snow. Mainly ethnic Tibetan villagers in the area depend heavily on livestock, mainly Yaks, goats and sheep, for their livelihoods and to feed their families.

LUCKNOW, India (AP) — At least 39 people have died and another 27 fallen sick from drinking cheap spurious liquor containing toxic methanol in several villages in the northern India, officials said Saturday. Senior police officer Ashok Kumar said 26 died in two separate incidents in the state of Uttar Pradesh, 306 kilometers (190 miles) east of capital New Delhi, while 13 others died in the neighboring state of Uttarakhand. The majority of the deaths were reported from the village of Balpur in Uttarakhand. Kumar said victims consumed liquor during two customary functions on Thursday night, adding that the post-mortem and initial forensic reports suggested that the brew was laced with methanol.