Top Asian News 3:57 a.m. GMT

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China's civilian aviation authority has ordered all Chinese airlines to temporarily ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes after one of the aircraft crashed in Ethiopia. The Civil Aviation Administration of China said the order was issued at 9 a.m. Beijing time Monday and would last nine hours. It said the order was taken out of safety concerns because the crash was the second after another of the planes fell into the ocean off the coast of Indonesia in similar circumstances in October, killing all aboard. It said further notice would be issued after consultation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing on safety measures taken.

SHAH ALAM, Malaysia (AP) — An Indonesian woman held two years on suspicion of killing the North Korean leader's half brother was freed from custody Monday after prosecutors unexpectedly dropped the murder charge against her. Siti Aisyah cried and hugged her co-defendant, Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam, before leaving the courtroom. She told reporters she had only learned that morning that she would be freed. "I am surprised and very happy. I didn't expect it." The two young women were accused of smearing VX nerve agent on Kim Jong Nam's face in an airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 13, 2017.

NEW DELHI (AP) — India's Election Commission announced Sunday that national elections will begin April 11, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party seeks a second term. About 900 million people are eligible to vote in a staggered process that allows the government to deploy tens of thousands of troops around the country to prevent violence and the capture of voting stations by party activists. Chief election commissioner Sunil Arora said the election will be held April 11, 18, 23 and 29, and May 6, 12 and 19. The votes will be counted May 23. Modi's Bhartiya Janata Party, or BJP, hopes the government's recent tough stand against Pakistan will help it retain its popularity despite suffering a setback in December when it lost three key state elections to the opposition Congress party.

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Millions of North Korean voters, including leader Kim Jong Un, went to the polls on Sunday to elect a new lineup of roughly 700 members for the next session of the national legislature, though the vote was more of an endorsement than a competitive contest. Voters were presented with just one state-sanctioned candidate per seat and cast their ballots not to select but rather to show their approval or, at least theoretically, disapproval of that candidate. The elections, last held in 2014, are for the entire Supreme People's Assembly, which on paper is the highest organ of power in North Korea.

BEIJING (AP) — China's civilian aviation authority ordered all Chinese airlines to temporarily ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes Monday after one of the aircraft crashed in Ethiopia. The Civil Aviation Administration of China said the order was issued at 9:00 a.m. (0100 GMT) on Monday and would last nine hours. It said the order was "taken in line with the management principle of zero tolerance for security risks," because the crash was the second after another of the planes fell into the ocean off the coast of Indonesia in similar circumstances on Oct. 29, killing all aboard. Further notice would be issued after consultation with the U.S.

BEIJING (AP) — China is defending its often-criticized rule in Tibet 60 years after the Dalai Lama fled into exile amid an abortive uprising against Chinese control, saying those who question its policies are merely showing their anti-Chinese bias. The statements in official media came as Tibetans and their supporters marked the anniversary Sunday and called for greater international support. Despite decades of such calls, however, the Himalayan region appears no closer to gaining greater autonomy, particularly as China's global influence grows. China's official Xinhua News Agency said in an editorial dated Saturday that economic growth, increases in lifespan and better education in the region refute the claims of critics that Tibetans suffer oppression from Beijing.

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese tech giant Huawei's tensions with Washington, which says the telecom equipment maker is a security risk, stretch across four continents from courtrooms to corporate boardrooms to Canadian canola fields. In the latest twist, Huawei Technologies Ltd. is asking a court in Texas to strike down a legal ban on the government using its equipment or dealing with any contractor that does. Washington is trying to persuade European and other allies to shun the biggest maker of network technology as their phone carriers invest billions of dollars in upgrading to next-generation communications. The company denies accusations it might facilitate Chinese spying or is controlled by the ruling Communist Party.

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A company run by a donor to President Donald Trump claimed it could provide Chinese clients with a chance to mingle and take photos with the president, along with access to his private club in Palm Beach, Florida. It remains unclear how much Li Yang charged for the services and whether she was ever hired to provide them. But the company's claims and other eyebrow-raising activity, which were first reported by The Miami Herald and Mother Jones, mark the latest in a litany of complications and ethical issues stemming from Trump continuing to own and operate a private club where dues-paying members and their guests rub shoulders with the president of the United States and his family, friends, White House staff and members of his Cabinet.

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Nine policemen were killed in an attack in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine by the increasingly active Arakan Army rebel group, the country's Information Ministry said Sunday. The ministry's website said 60 Arakan Army insurgents on Saturday night attacked the police post, which was safeguarding question and answer sheets from the national high school matriculation examination. The Arakan Army, which is aligned with Rakhine's Buddhist population, seeks autonomy for the region. Rakhine is better known as the site of a brutal counterinsurgency campaign by the military against the Muslim Rohingya minority, causing more than 700,000 to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

BEIJING (AP) — A prominent activist campaigning for the release of ethnic Kazakhs caught in a sweeping crackdown on Muslims in China has been arrested in the Kazakh city of Almaty, his wife and a lawyer said Sunday. Leila Adilzhan told The Associated Press by phone that her husband, Serikzhan Bilash, head of the advocacy group Atajurt, called her Sunday morning from a policeman's phone saying he had been arrested and had been taken to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. "When he called me I was so shocked, I couldn't say a single word," Adilzhan said. "I'm afraid our government will give him to China." Adilzhan said Atajurt's offices were also being searched in a further sign Kazakhstan is cracking down on the group.

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