‘Path of error and danger’: China angry and confused over Aukus deal

Deal is designed to counter perceived threat from Beijing but analysts in China say it could push region closer to conflict

When the UK, the US and Australia announced the details of their multibillion-dollar deal to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines on Monday, the reaction in China was both outrage and confusion.

The allies were “walking further and further down the path of error and danger”, said Wang Wenbin, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, on Tuesday. The Chinese mission to the UN accused the three countries of fuelling an arms race.

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Tokyo citizens hand in record ¥3.99bn of lost cash

Police department says it has returned almost ¥3bn to owners, while ¥480m has gone to finders

The honest citizens of Tokyo handed in a record ¥3.99bn (£24.5m) in lost cash to police last year – an average of more than £67,000 a day.

Japan’s national police agency said the amount was up ¥600m from the previous year, and beat the previous high of ¥3.84bn declared at police stations across the capital in 2019.

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Chinese ChatGPT rival from search engine firm Baidu fails to impress

Shares plummet after Ernie Bot AI chatbot software falls short of expectations at unveiling in Beijing

The Chinese search engine company Baidu’s shares have fallen by as much as 10% after it presented its ChatGPT-like artificial intelligence software, with investors unimpressed by the bot’s display of linguistic and maths skills.

The AI-powered ChatGPT, created by the San Francisco company OpenAI, has caused a sensation for its ability to write essays, poems and programming code on demand within seconds, prompting widespread fears over cheating or of professions becoming obsolete.

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Chinese official asks if Australia’s Aukus nuclear submarines intended for ‘sightseeing’

Multiple sources present confirm the remark was made, but it is unclear if it was made sarcastically

A Chinese embassy official asked Australian officials during an Aukus briefing whether the nuclear-powered submarines were intended for “sightseeing”, according to multiple sources.

Guardian Australia understands several others in the room found the intervention curious, because the Australian government has made no secret of the fact the nuclear-powered submarines are to be used by the Royal Australian Navy.

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Don’t ‘quench your thirst with poison’, Taiwan tells Honduras after switch to China

Taiwan foreign ministry warns of China debt trap, as US says Beijing ‘makes many promises that are unfulfilled’

Taiwan has urged Honduras not to “quench your thirst with poison and fall into China’s debt trap”, adding it would not compete monetarily with China to keep its formal allies after its decision to switch diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing this week.

Honduran president Xiomara Castro announced on Tuesday that her country would begin to establish an official relationship with Beijing, in effect severing its ties with Taipei.

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Yoon arrives in Japan for historic talks with Kishida – and beloved omurice

Leaders expected to use first summit since 2011 to address Japan’s use of Korean forced labour, as well as threats posed by North Korea and China

Yoon Suk Yeol will be treated to his favourite dish – omelette rice – when he becomes the first South Korean president to visit Japan in more than a decade on Thursday, as hopes rise for an end to years of animosity between the north-east Asian neighbours.

Given that the menu for official dinners has been a diplomatic flashpoint between the two countries, efforts by Yoon’s hosts to accommodate his palate are evidence of the recent thaw in relations, as regional tensions rise over North Korean missiles and Chinese military activity.

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New Zealand GDP drops 0.6% in December quarter, worse than expected

Reserve bank had taken steps to engineer a ‘shallow recession’ in response to high inflation but shrinkage arrives early

New Zealand’s economy is shrinking, with gross domestic product down 0.6% last quarter, amid speculation a recession may be approaching.

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell 0.6% in the last three months of 2022, after a 1.7% rise in the September 2022 quarter. The drop at the close of the year was larger than predicted by any of New Zealand’s major banks. Annually, GDP is still growing – up 2.4% year on year, and despite the shrinking economy, unemployment remains close to record lows, at about 3.3%.

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North Korea test launches ICBM as South Korea and Japan leaders set to meet

South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol says North will pay a price for launch on eve of Tokyo summit

North Korea has test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in a display of military might, just hours before the leaders of South Korea and Japan were to meet at a Tokyo summit that was expected to be overshadowed by Kim Jong-un’s nuclear threats.

The launch on Thursday, the North’s first ICBM test in a month and third weapons test this week, also comes as South Korean and US troops continue joint military exercises that Pyongyang sees as a rehearsal to invade.

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Myanmar is a failing state, led by a junta fuelled by Russian arms, says UN rights envoy

Civilians are being killed by Russian weapons just like in Ukraine, says special rapporteur Tom Andrews in call for global action

Myanmar is a “failing state” and the crisis is getting exponentially worse, a UN special rapporteur for the country has warned, urging countries to adopt the same unified resolve that followed the invasion of Ukraine.

“The same types of weapons that are killing Ukrainians are killing people in Myanmar,” Tom Andrews, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, told the Guardian in an interview, citing the supply of Russian weapons to the junta since the coup two years ago. The junta relies heavily on aircraft from China and Russia, and has increasingly resorted to airstrikes to attempt to quell determined resistance forces.

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Chinese business tycoon and Bannon ally Guo Wengui arrested in $1bn fraud conspiracy

US attorney says Wengui, also known as Miles Guo and Ho Wan Kwok, used stolen money to buy a $3.5m Ferrari and finance a $37m yacht

Guo Wengui, a self-exiled Chinese tycoon with close links to prominent Trumpist Republicans including Steve Bannon, has been indicted on 12 counts relating to an alleged $1bn fraud.

The charges announced by the US attorney for the southern district of New York on Wednesday include wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.

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