Top Asian News 4:31 a.m. GMT

BEIJING (AP) — A year since removing any legal barrier to remaining China's leader for life, Xi Jinping appears firmly in charge, despite a slowing economy, an ongoing trade war with the U.S. and rumbles of discontent over his concentration of power. The Chinese president and head of the ruling Communist Party wields more authority than any leader since Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s and looms large over the annual legislative session that starts Tuesday. Since assuming the party helm in 2012, Xi has eliminated rival factions, gutted civil society and brought the party under his firm control through a wide-ranging anti-corruption campaign and the opening of party committees in private businesses and foreign companies.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia and Australia signed a free trade agreement Monday that will eliminate many tariffs, allow Australian-owned hospitals to be set up in the giant Southeast Asian country and increase work visas for young Indonesians. Trade ministers from the two countries signed the agreement, negotiations for which first began in 2010, at a Jakarta hotel with Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla looking on. It is subject to ratification in both countries. Annual trade between Australia and Indonesia is valued at $11.6 billion. Though they are neighbors, their trade is relatively small with Indonesia's exports to Australia just 1.5 percent of its total exports.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A New Zealand man who joined the Islamic State group has been captured in Syria and has told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation he regrets not being able to afford a slave and expects to return home. Mark Taylor is among a half-dozen or so New Zealanders thought to have joined the militant group. Known by the Twitter handle "Kiwi Jihadi," he notoriously forgot to turn off Twitter's geotagging function in 2014, alerting outsiders to the location of Islamic State fighters. Taylor told ABC that after five years working as a guard for the Islamic State, he fled in December and surrendered to Kurdish forces because life had become unbearable.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan have pulled back from the brink of an all-out military confrontation over the contested Kashmir region. But Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan failed to address the underlying threats to stability, raising the likelihood of renewed escalation. Modi, who seeks re-election this spring, played to his Hindu nationalist base with India's tough response to a suicide attack in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir that killed dozens of Indian troops. India bombed inside Pakistan, saying it targeted training camps of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a militant group that claimed responsibility for the attack.

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Residents near the disputed boundary in the divided Kashmir region on Sunday experienced their first lull since a dangerous escalation between Pakistan and India erupted last week, bringing the two nuclear-armed rivals close to war. Many villagers used the calm in Pakistani-held Kashmir to leave their homes in the Chakoti area along the so-called Line of Control — the demarcation line that divides the troubled Himalayan region into an Indian and a Pakistani sector — and move to safety. Nazakat Hussain said his family and others lack underground shelters and had to leave. He said cold weather and snow, along with cross-border shooting, prevented them from leaving earlier.

TORONTO (AP) — An executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei is suing the Canadian government, its border agency and the national police force, saying they detained, searched and interrogated her before telling her she was under arrest. Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou said Sunday they filed a notice of civil claim in the British Columbia Supreme Court. Canada arrested Meng, the daughter of Huawei's founder, at the request of the U.S. on Dec. 1 at Vancouver's airport. She is wanted on fraud charges that she misled banks about the company's business dealings in Iran. The suit alleges that instead of immediately arresting her, authorities interrogated Meng "under the guise of a routine customs" examination and used the opportunity to "compel her to provide evidence and information." The suit alleges Canada Border Service Agency agents seized her electronic devices, obtained passwords and unlawfully viewed the contents and intentionally failed to adviser her of the true reasons for her detention.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House national security adviser on Sunday described President Donald Trump's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a success despite the lack of an agreement providing for verifiable dismantling of the North's nuclear sites. John Bolton, in three television interviews, tried to make the case that Trump advanced America's national security interests by rejecting a bad agreement while working to persuade Kim to take "the big deal that really could make a difference for North Korea." The U.S. and North Korea have offered contradictory accounts of why last week's summit in Vietnam broke down, though both pointed to American sanctions as a sticking point.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea and the U.S. are eliminating their massive springtime military drills and replacing them with smaller exercises in what they call an effort to support diplomacy aimed at resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis. The decision announced by both countries Sunday came after President Donald Trump complained about the cost of joint drills even as his high-stakes second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed last week. "The reason I do not want military drills with South Korea is to save hundreds of millions of dollars for the U.S. for which we are not reimbursed," Trump tweeted Sunday.

BEIJING (AP) — In an unusual step, China's ceremonial legislature is due to endorse a law meant to help end a bruising tariff war with Washington by discouraging officials from pressuring foreign companies to hand over technology. The battle with China's biggest trading partner is overshadowing the National People's Congress, the country's highest-profile event of the year. It brings 3,000-plus delegates to the ornate Great Hall of the People in Beijing for two weeks of speeches, meetings with senior leaders and political ritual to endorse the ruling Communist Party's economic and social welfare plans. A gathering of noncommunist groups held at the same time brightens Beijing's drab winter, drawing tech billionaires, movie stars and ethnic minorities in distinctive traditional dress.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia's transport minister said Sunday that the government is open to new proposals from U.S. technology firm Ocean Infinity or any other companies to resume the hunt for Flight 370, as families of passengers marked the fifth anniversary of the jet's mysterious disappearance. Ocean Infinity mounted a "no cure, no fee" search for the plane in the southern Indian Ocean in January 2018 that ended in May without any clue on where it could have crashed. But the company's CEO, Oliver Plunkett, said in a video shown at the public remembrance event at a mall near Kuala Lumpur that the company hopes to resume the hunt with better technology it obtained in the past year.