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VOA Asia Weekly: Pacific Allies React to Final Security Pact Funding Approval [Video]

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VOA Asia Weekly: Pacific Allies React to Final Security Pact Funding Approval

US House passes measure that could lead to TikTok sale. Deadly northern China gas leak explosion. Japan’s commercial space setback. Filipino sailors return home after Houthi missile attack.

What is the top news of the week from Asia, the U.S., and around the world? VOA Asia Weekly rounds up the week’s major headlines, along with expert analysis, all in five minutes, produced from Washington, DC.

Pacific island allies react to the U.S. passing critical security aid for the region.

Welcome to VOA Asia Weekly.

I’m Chris Casquejo in Washington.

That story is just ahead, but first, making headlines: The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that would give TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, about six months to sell its U.S. assets. Lawmakers are concerned that the short video app, which has about 170 million U.S. users, poses a national security threat. The measure now goes to the U.S. Senate, where its prospects are unclear.

China, Iran, and Russia have launched a joint naval drill in the Gulf of Oman, just northwest of the Red Sea. The three countries deployed more than 20 ships, support vessels, combat boats, and several naval helicopters for this collaborative exercise. According to Iranian state media, this marks their fourth drill since 2019. The goal is to improve trade and the joint efforts to counter piracy and terrorism.

A suspected gas leak caused an explosion at a restaurant in China’s northern province of Hebei, tearing off building facades, damaging cars, and scattering debris. The state-controlled broadcaster CCTV said the blast killed at least two people and injured 26 others. Beijing issued detailed safety instructions for gas cookers and appliances last year after a restaurant blew up, killing 31 people.

A commercial rocket exploded shortly after liftoff on Wednesday morning in central Japan. The cause is under investigation. Space One aimed to achieve Japan’s first private-sector launch, deploying a government-made satellite into orbit around the Earth for information gathering and monitoring potential threats from North Korea.

Eleven Filipino sailors safely returned to the Philippines on Tuesday, nearly a week after surviving a Houthi missile attack off the coast of Yemen. They were part of the crew aboard the Barbados-flagged Greek-operated merchant ship, True Confidence. Three sailors died in last week’s attack, including two Filipinos.

Long-awaited critical funds to counter China in the Pacific have been approved for three U.S. allies: Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. Over the weekend, U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law $7 billion over 20 years in funding for the Compacts of Free Association as part of a partial government funding bill, as VOA’s Jessica Stone reports.

Full script here:

Visit for the most up-to-date stories.

I’m Chris Casquejo.

Finally, it’s the holy month of Ramadan.

Muslims in Indonesia began celebrating Ramadan this Monday. Dozens of congregants gathered at the Istiqlal Grand Mosque waiting for prayer time and to break their fast later in the evening.

Thanks for watching VOA Asia Weekly.

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