December 7, 2022
In this month's news article, we present the North Korean leader revealing his daughter to the world, a deadly earthquake of 5.6 magnitudes in West Java of Indonesia, one of the drivers of the protests against the zero-COVID policy in China, and the ASEAN Summit hosted in Cambodia.

North Korea

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea attend a working lunch in Pyongyang, Democratic People's Republic of Korea on October 7, 2018

North Korea's leader Kim reveals his daughter in a rare appearance

In November 2022, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea communication agency (KCNA) released a photo shoot of their supreme leader posing with the army and his daughter. The shooting took place on the occasion of the launch of the North Korean Hwasong-17 ICBM (Intercontinental ballistic missile). The latter is threateningly believed to be able to reach the US. 

Rather than the success of the missile’s launch, international interest was focused on the apparition of Kim Jung-Un’s daughter. The KCNA did not precise her name, but "most beloved" or "precious" child” was mentioned by the agency. This photoshoot confirms the speculations about the alleged 9 or 10 years old daughter of the supreme leader. Being really discrete about his family, Kim is said to have three children, two girls and one boy. When Dennis Rodman, the basketball star, went to Pyongyang on a controversial trip in 2013, he reported that he “held their baby Chu-ae” who is believed to be the girl posing in the photos.

Kim Chu-ae’s official first appearance on November 19th triggered numerous speculations about the officialisation of making Kim Jung-Un’s daughter the next one to hold power over the country. It also reinvigorated all the rumours about the 38-year-old leader’s health issues. Whether or not those are true, the fact is that by formalising Kim Chu-ae’s existence, his father wanted to let the world know that the next generation was already sensitised to take the reins of the Kim dynasty. After Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jung-Il and Kim Jung-Un, Kim Chu-ae could represent the 4th generation. On the other hand, this manoeuvre could be a way to picture the leader as a father which is a symbol. Because having a daughter pictures him more responsible and able to take care of his true family, the whole nation.


Damages from the 2018 Sulawesi deadly earthquake and followed up tsunami
Source: EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (Photographer: Pierre Prakash), via Flickr

Deadly earthquake in West Java, Indonesia

In late November this year, an earthquake of 5,6 magnitude struck the province of west Java in the middle of the day. The event claimed around 334 hundred lives and may consider inadequate infrastructure is responsible for the high death toll. This earthquake claimed the lives of many children as 51 educational institutions were affected. The earthquake was even more devastating due to its shallow depth.

Thousands of houses and infrastructures were affected by this earthquake, the strongest since the deadly 2018 Sulawesi earthquake, and ultimately displaced around 50 000 people, now in need of shelter. For those whose houses remain standing, many still slept outside by fear of strong aftershocks.

Efforts to save trapped people have been undermined by power failure and damaged infrastructures, such as roads, making it harder to access the destruction sites. The area also experienced 245 aftershocks.

Only two weeks after the initial earthquake, another one hit the Island of Java with a magnitude of 6,1. However, due to its depth, the damages were quite limited. One person has reportedly been injured and four houses were destroyed.

The "Ring of Fire," a region encircling the Pacific Ocean with an arc of volcanoes and fault lines, passes through Indonesia which explains the recurring earthquakes in the country. The Ring produces frequent earthquake and volcano activity and is one of the most seismically active zones on the planet.


iPhone production drop and protests in China

It has been three years since the Covid-19 pandemic emerged and spread globally. Many countries, including Sweden, have relaxed the lockdowns with no longer travel restrictions. At the same time,  China, where the first coronavirus patient was diagnosed with symptoms, still has strict lockdown rules.

The zero-Covid policy includes local lockdown – even with few cases found, mass PCR testing, home isolation or quarantine at government facilities, and closing the business, schools and shops. The lockdown will last until no infection is reported, and it will probably take a month to implement these measures fully. With these extremely strict rules, China has reported fewer infections and deaths than other countries. Still, the latest lockdown in Zhengzhou is one of the events that lit public anger in many big cities in China throughout November last weekend.

Rising Covid cases in Zhengzhou caused the lockdown at the Foxconn plant, the world's biggest iPhone factory accounting for 70% of iPhone production worldwide. The Zhengzhou outbreak began in October, and the local lockdown did interrupt factory production. This led the company to recruit extra workers to maintain production with an extra bonus. 

However, on November 23, BBC reported a worker protest due to doubt about payment. One of the workers said the company changed the contract so that they could not get paid as promised. Moreover,  new workers had to share the dormitory mixed with the workers who tested positive. Though the company stated that both were untrue, hundreds of workers were still marching and shouting, aiming to get subsidies and return home.

It is reported that Foxconn is attempting to increase production at another factory in Shenzhen to make up for the potential 30% decline in iPhone production in Zhengzhou, yet without any prompt response from Apple.


Cambodia hosts the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summit

From 10 to 13 November, leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the host of this year’s chair for the union for the 40th and 41st ASEAN summits and related summits. This marks the first time the summit has taken place face-to-face since the break of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The list of attendees includes leaders of 9 ASEAN member nations, with Myanmar being excluded following the 2021 February coup d’etat. The Southeast Asian leaders were also joined by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean President Yoo Seok-cheol, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and the President of the United States, Joe Biden. The Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, was also reportedly attending some of the meetings.  

The summit saw discussions on geopolitical issues, from conflicts in the South China Sea, the Sino-US rivalry. Indonesian President Widodo advised the nations to “not let the current geopolitical dynamic turn into a new Cold War in our region.”

Regarding the ongoing political and economical chaos in Myanmar, the bloc addressed conflict by issuing a “warning” to the military junta and urging it to make progress on a peace plan while reviewing its seat in the association. In response, the military government’s foreign ministry issued an objection to ASEAN’s statement. 

Another key outcome of the three-day summit was Timor Leste’s membership application. ASEAN “agreed in principle” to admit Timor Leste’s application to become the 11th member, along with granting it observer status and participation in the upcoming ASEAN meetings.

Article by the editorial staff of the lunar times
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