Month in brief

Outrage over torture claims

Outrage over torture claims

A former employee of the British consulate in Hong Kong claims Chinese secret police tortured him in an attempt to force him to divulge information about activists leading pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Mr Simon Cheng, a Hong Kong citizen who worked for the British government for almost two years, said he was accused of being a British spy and tortured while detained for 15 days as he returned from a trip to mainland China in August. Britain summoned China’s ambassador to express its outrage.


Hostages freed in Taliban swap

Hostages freed in Taliban swap

The Afghan Taliban has released two Western hostages, completing a delayed prisoner exchange for three of the group’s commanders and raising hopes of renewed efforts for peace.American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks were abducted in August 2016 from outside the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, where both worked as professors. The US-backed government’s decision to carry out the swap is seen as key to securing direct talks with the Islamist militants, who have, until now, refused to engage with what they call an illegitimate ‘puppet’ regime in Kabul.


Second coast guard ship for Vietnam

The United States announced plans to provide Vietnam with a second coast guard cutter for its growing fleet of ships, boosting Hanoi’s ability to patrol the South China Sea and assert its sovereignty amid tensions with China. US Defence Secretary Mark Esper revealed the decision during an address in Vietnam, which has emerged as Asia’s most vocal opponent of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. In his speech, Mr Esper accused China of ‘bullying’ neighbours like Vietnam, as well as threatening their access to key natural resources and increasing the risk of conflict.


DSC shortlist announced

The shortlist for the 2019 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, announced at the LSEon November 7, revealed an equal split between debutants and established writers. Newcomers Madhuri Vijay, author of The Far Field, and two novelists of Pakistani origin, Sadia Abbas (The Empty Room) and Jamil Jan Kochai (99 Nights in Logar) will compete for the prize with Manoranjan Byapari (There’s Gunpowder in the Air), Raj Kamal Jha (The City and the Sea) and Amitabha Bagchi(Half the Night is Gone). Thewinner will be announced on December 16 at the IME Nepal Literature Festival in Pokhara, Nepal.

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