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East Asia

What are the reasons behind East Asia’s falling birth rates?

EAST ASIAN countries now have the lowest fertility rates in the world. Japan was the first in the region to experience birth rates below population-replacement level, dipping below two children per woman in the late 1970s. While Japan’s current fertility rate is higher than those of other societies in East …

Taiwan’s “hacker minister” reshaping digital democracy

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Taiwan’s “digital minister” Audrey Tang, a computer prodigy and entrepreneur who taught herself programming at age 8, says she’s a “civic hacker,” who like a locksmith uses specialized skills to help rather than harm. Appointed by leaders hoping to better connect with young voters who …

AP Exclusive: The sad saga of North Korea’s ATMs

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — No modern airport terminal is complete without an ATM, and Pyongyang’s now has two. But they don’t work — because of new Chinese sanctions, according to bank employees — and it’s not clear when they will. ATMs are an alien enough concept in North Korea …

China’s trading partners alarmed by food import controls

BEIJING (AP) — China’s trading partners are bringing the top U.N. food standards official to Beijing in a last-ditch attempt to persuade regulators to scale back plans to require intensive inspections of food imports — including such low-risk items as wine and chocolate — that Washington and Europe say could …

Senior China government adviser criticizes web censorship

BEIJING (AP) — A senior Chinese government adviser has warned that the country’s internet censorship is hampering scientific research and economic development, in a rare public criticism of a sensitive policy that the government has vigorously defended. Slow access to overseas academic websites have forced domestic researchers to buy software …

Hong Kong ivory trade faces uncertain future as bans loom

HONG KONG (AP) — Wong Lai-ngan hunches over a battered workbench, his electric rotary tool whining as he carves two phoenixes facing each other into a smooth white tusk. Decades ago, Wong’s canvas would have been elephant ivory. But since a 1990 ban on international trading, Hong Kong’s dwindling tribe …

How Google Chromebooks conquered schools

NEW YORK (AP) — The Google Chromebook, a type of stripped-down laptop, isn’t a practical mobile device for many people — mostly because it basically turns into an expensive paperweight whenever it can’t find a Wi-Fi connection. Yet Chromebooks have defied expectations and made major inroads in an unexpected environment …