The DailyBrief

Tuesday December 20, 2016

China has returned a US underwater drone taken by one of its naval vessels in the South China Sea last week after “friendly” talks between the two countries, China’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday. China’s seizure of the unmanned underwater vehicle triggered a diplomatic protest and speculation about whether it will strengthen US President-elect Donald Trump’s hand as he seeks a tougher line with Beijing.

Japanese civil society and businesses are gradually moving to help refugees gain acceptance via assisting them in setting up their own businesses, writes Satoko Horii, an assistant professor at Akita International University. The country is known for its negative attitude to immigration: while the door has been slowly opened to professionals, the Japanese government has been very reluctant to welcome refugees, despite being one of the top donors to the UN refugee agency. Activists hope that by engaging refugees in self-supporting economic activities, public attitudes will towards them will change.

China’s quantum science satellite project is part of the country’s first space exploration program and intended purely for scientific research; but its experiments have significant military implications too, writes Michael Raska – an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore – for Asia Times.

Heavy smog suffocated northeast China for a fifth day in a row on Tuesday, with hundreds of flights canceled and road and rail transport grinding to a halt under the low visibility conditions. More than 20 cities have entered a state of red alert since Friday evening, implementing emergency measures aimed at cutting emissions and protecting public health from the toxic miasma.