Pacific News Minute

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Australia’s main political parties have reached agreement on the controversial Espionage and Foreign Interference Bill, which, when it passes, will further cool Australia’s already frosty relations with China.

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Scientists believe they’ve solved an enduring enigma: how the prehistoric Polynesians of Rapa Nui placed huge hats on top of the famous statues of Easter Island.

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A State of Emergency has been declared in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands Province. Last week, rioters burned a commercial airplane, the courthouse and the home of the provincial governor.

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Here in Hawaii,  the noxious gas belching from the eruption of Kilauea continues to be a major concern. In New Zealand, the belches of sheep are a major problem, and scientists there have developed a new breed that burps less.

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Over the weekend, more than a hundred people were arrested during sometimes violent demonstrations in Vietnam. The protests followed a government proposal to create Special Economic Zones, but the real issue was China.

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A cannon from the HMS Bounty has been sold at auction in Scotland, of all places. It fetched almost $23,000. The cannon was salvaged from the Bounty after it sank off Pitcairn Island.

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A confrontation between church and state looms in Samoa, where the largest church in the country says its ministers will not obey a new law that requires them to pay income tax.

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As you’ve probably heard over the last few weeks, Chinese phone giant ZTE is caught up in controversial negotiations as part of President Trump’s on-again off-again trade war with China. This week, an Australian news agency reports that ZTE bribed the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea to win a contract back in 2010.

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At an international security conference in Singapore last weekend, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis accused Beijing of “intimidation and coercion” in the South China Sea – comments that a senior Chinese general branded as “irresponsible.” We have a look at the history of China’s claim to the area from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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This week, we got updates on the loss of two Malaysia Airlines jets four years ago. One disappeared on a flight to Beijing, the other was shot down over Ukraine. We have details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Singapore is set to host the meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 – if it happens. But this week, defense ministers from around the Asia-Pacific are gathering there for an annual conference. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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A new documentary about climate change and Kiribati screened at film festivals in New Zealand and Colorado this last weekend. We have more on “Anote’s Ark” from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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A new documentary screening in New Zealand this week focuses on the lives of the leitis of Tonga, transgender women with traditional roles at court and in church. The film, called “Leitis in Waiting,” shows that they also face discrimination and even punishment. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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In an important press freedom case in the Asia-Pacific, a judge in Fiji found four men not guilty of sedition. The defendants included the publisher of the Fiji Times, two editors and an opinion writer. We have details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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China has stepped up military activity in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. As part of a training exercise, Chinese strategic bombers landed at a base in the Paracel Islands for the first time. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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As U.S. officials continue the slow process of resettlement for refugees in Australia’s off-shore detention camps, two incidents this month illustrate the despair of those still waiting. We have more from Neal Conan, in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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“The Gap” is the latest western company to provoke outrage in China. The retailer apologized for a T-shirt that showed a map of China that did not include territories claimed by Beijing. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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The first aircraft carrier to be built entirely in China left the shipyard to begin sea trials over the weekend, which marks an important milestone for China’s growing navy. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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The governments of both Australia and New Zealand announced increases in aid to the Pacific. Boosts seen at least in part as responses to China’s growing influence. We have details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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There has been a lot of national and international news coverage of the eruption of Kiluea. As you know, dozens of homes on the Big Island have been destroyed and thousands of people have been forced to relocate. But an eruption in Vanuatu may force more than 10,000 people to abandon their homes permanently. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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In the elections held in French Polynesia over the weekend, the ruling party of President Edouard Fritch scored a decisive victory and will return to power with an expanded majority. We have details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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China has poached another ally from Taiwan. The Dominican Republic is the latest country to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, after China offered a multi-billion dollar package of investments and loans. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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In a speech in Australia, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister rejected a report that said ExxonMobil’s huge natural gas project had failed to live up to promises. Peter O’Neill dismissed the report as “fake news” – though he also admitted that he hadn’t read it. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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A week ago, French President Emmanuel Macron was in Washington. This week, he’s on a five-day trip to Australia and then New Caledonia. We have a preview from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Last week, we heard about a report from Australia’s Fairfax Media that preliminary talks were underway between China and Vanuatu for a military base in the Pacific Island nation. Vanuatu’s ambassador denied it, then the Foreign Minister denied it, and yesterday, Vanuatu’s Prime Minister denied it. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

U.S. Air Force / National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

76 years ago today, 16 B-25 bombers took off from the aircraft carrier Hornet to attack Tokyo and other Japanese cities. The famous Doolittle Raid lifted American morale in the early days of the Second World War, and while it inflicted very little damage, there were unexpected consequences. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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China is flexing its military muscles. After massive naval maneuvers in the South China Sea last week, a live fire exercise is underway today in the Taiwan Strait. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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An extraordinary woman known as the “Dragon Lady” and the “Steel Butterfly” died in Washington DC at the end of March at the age of 94. As we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute. Anna Chennault was different things, to different people.

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In the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia’s Fairfax Media reports that China and Vanuatu are in preliminary discussions on a Chinese military base in the South Pacific. Like several other island nations, Vanuatu receives millions in loans from China and Beijing may now want a payback. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

As trade tensions between the U.S. and China continue to simmer, the Trump Administration has authorized American defense contractors to help Taiwan construct a fleet of submarines. Following the announcement, Chinese officials warned the U.S. not to play the “Taiwan Card”. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute

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