What drives Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar who this week defended her country at the International Court of Justice against charges that it carried out genocide against its Muslim Rohingya minority?
There was a time when Suu Kyi was the hero of human rights advocates, whose nonviolent struggle against her country's military dictatorship was admired by people around the world and won her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. She spent a decade and a half under house arrest, more or less in solitary. She was the target of an assassination attempt. She never wavered.
Now she is seen by many of her former admirers as an apologist for war crimes. More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape a brutal 2017 counterinsurgency campaign by the army, which the U.N. and rights groups say involved murder, mass rape and the razing by fire of entire villages.
U.N. investigators suggested the military was guilty of genocide. Myanmar denied any large-scale human rights violations and said its actions were a response to surprise attacks by militants that killed a dozen members of the security forces, a position Suu Kyi repeated at the court in The Hague.
"Aung San Suu Kyi tried to downplay the severity of the crimes committed against the Rohingya population," Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International's regional director, said in an emailed statement. "In fact, she wouldn't even refer to them by name or acknowledge the scale of the abuses. Such denials are deliberate, deceitful and dangerous."
Fellow Nobel Peace laureates who once lobbied for her freedom now hold similar sentiments.
"We urge her to exercise her personal and moral responsibility towards the Rohingya and acknowledge the genocide committed under her watch," seven of them wrote in a joint statement released Wednesday. "Aung San Suu Kyi must be held criminally responsible, along with her army commanders, for crimes committed."
Scholars and analysts believe several factors are motivating Suu Kyi's actions.
There are signs that she shares the paranoia of many of her predominantly Buddhist countrymen about Muslims, most recently evidenced during a visit with Hungary's right-wing leader, Viktor Orban, in which the two issued a statement saying that "coexistence with continuously growing Muslim populations" posed a challenge for their respective countries."
Leadership runs in her blood. Bravery and sincerity accounted for much of her appeal when she helped found her party, the National League for Democracy, in 1988 during an abortive anti-military uprising. Her credibility was assured because she was the daughter of the country's martyred founding father, Gen. Aung San, and she acts accordingly as a woman of destiny.
"Arguably that's exactly how she's seen herself all along," Peter Popham, author of her biography, "The Lady and the Peacock," said in an interview by phone. "And by putting herself in The Hague when she didn't have to go there, she is once again doing everything she can to imitate him in this."
Just as her father defended the country against British colonialists, she sees herself defending it against their modern manifestations, such as the U.N., Popham said.
A consensus among the experts is that there is a strong element of domestic politics in her recent actions, especially her trip to The Hague.
Although her taking office in 2016 nominally reinstated democratic rule, she is handicapped by a constitution guaranteeing the military continued powers in government, including enough seats in parliament to block reforms and constitutional change.
The army is little loved except for its position against what it calls "illegal immigration" by the Rohingya and "terrorism" by its militants. Most of Myanmar's ethnic Burman majority hold views on the Rohingya similar to the military's, as do many members of other minorities.
By taking on the mantle of protector of the nation, and even defending the military against international criticism, Suu Kyi can win over Myanmar nationalists, putting her party in a stronger position for next year's general election. She can also leverage public sentiment to pressure the military to agree to the constitutional changes she has been seeking.
Suu Kyi "is presenting herself as defending Myanmar at The Hague and quite a large number of her supporters see her as doing just that. Many people in Myanmar see the Rohingya issue as a kind of Muslim conspiracy to take over Myanmar," Jane Ferguson, a senior lecturer in anthropology at The Australian National University, said in an email interview.
By representing Myanmar at the International Court of Justice, "she draws upon her aura as a champion for the Myanmar people (as vague as that might be) and as a politician. If she is seen to be defending Myanmar in the eyes of enough of her supporters (and it is read that way by many, as far as I can tell) then it will attract votes in 2020."
There is such prejudice against the Rohingya throughout Myanmar society that Suu Kyi's presence is a political statement looking toward the 2020 elections, agrees David Steinberg, a professor of Asian Studies at Georgetown University in the United States.
"Her speech (in the court) will probably help the NLD in the elections, and perhaps give her a bit more space with the military, but neither trusts each other. Although she talks a lot about democracy, I think she has a more messianic concept of her present and future role, based on her father's reputation."
Mark Farmaner is the director of Burma Campaign UK, which was closely allied with Suu Kyi for years in her fight for democracy. Now that she has come to power, he has become disenchanted.
"Aung San Suu Kyi's actions have nothing to do with political realities or constitutional constraints," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Nothing obliges her to defend the military in this way. Aung San Suu Kyi has chosen to defend the military driven in part by her own racist prejudice against the Rohingya."
He speculated that this position is also a useful tactic ahead of next year's election.
"She is whipping up nationalism, portraying herself as the defender of the nation against foreign interference. Aung San Suu Kyi may also see this case as an opportunity to further her so far failed approach of persuading the military that civilian rule is not a threat to them," Farmaner said.
"Aung San Suu Kyi is showing the same traits now as she did when she was fighting the military dictatorship," he said. "She is refusing to back down and stubbornly sticking to the course she has set for herself."
Chinese negotiators are in "close communication" with Washington ahead of a possible U.S. tariff hike, the Ministry of Commerce said Thursday, but gave no indication whether trade talks were making progress.
A ministry spokesman gave no indication whether Washington was preparing to delay the increase due Sunday on $160 billion of Chinese imports as some news reports indicated.
Those reports said President Donald Trump's advisers were preparing for a possible delay of the duty increase as negotiators work on details of an interim "Phase 1" agreement announced in October.
"The economic and trade teams of both sides have maintained close communication," said the Ministry of Commerce spokesman, Gao Feng. He said he had no additional details to release.
Beijing has threatened to retaliate if the U.S. tariff hike goes ahead but Gao didn't respond to a question about what China might do.
The two sides have increased tariffs on billions of dollars of each other's imports in a fight over Beijing's technology ambitions and trade surplus.
The conflict has disrupted global trade and threatens to chill economic growth.
The planned weekend U.S. tariff hike would extend punitive duties to almost everything the U.S. buys from China. Imports last year totaled more than $500 billion.
China has retaliated by raising duties on $160 billion of American goods but is running out of imports for retaliation due to their lopsided trade balance. Beijing also has tried to limit losses to its own economy by avoided imposing tariffs on high-tech components and other goods required by Chinese manufacturers.
In a conciliatory gesture, the Ministry of Commerce announced Friday it was waiving punitive duties on U.S. soybeans and pork.
Taiwan prosecutors say they have detained 10 people, including a former staff member of the China-friendly opposition party, and are investigating them on suspicion of falsifying documents to bring thousands of mainland Chinese to Taiwan, possibly including some who spied on the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing.
The investigation comes just weeks before presidential and legislative elections in Taiwan in which Beijing has been accused of intervening in hopes of unseating independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen.
The suspects allegedly sent letters containing false information that allowed at least 5,000 people to visit Taiwan from China between early 2017 and June this year, according to Chen Yu-ping, spokesman for the Taipei city prosecutor's office.
The letters issued by Taiwanese front companies and civic groups let the Chinese citizens enter for "professional exchanges" as a way around the stricter vetting required had they applied to visit as tourists, Chen said.
Some of the visitors were "high-level" Communist Party officials and intelligence operatives "who would otherwise be barred from visiting," the Taipei Times newspaper reported Thursday. It said two were connected to the Communist Party's United Front Work Department dedicated to infiltrating civic groups, ethnic minorities and Chinese communities abroad.
The chief suspect, Hung Ching-lin, worked for the director of the Nationalist Party caucus of New Taipei City, the biggest in Taiwan, in 2008, a party media liaison said. Any work he did after that year was unrelated to the party, the liaison said.
The prosecutor's office would not rule out Thursday that some arrivals had worked for the government or for China's Communist Party, Chen said.
He declined to say whether prosecutors were investigating the suspects for evidence of spying or other activities that might hurt Taiwan politically.
China and Taiwan have been separately ruled since Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists retreated to the island during the Chinese civil war in 1949. Beijing insists that the two sides eventually unify and has threatened to use force to bring that about, despite government opinion polls in Taiwan that show that almost 80% of the people on the island reject the idea of unification under China's authoritarian one—party Communist government.
The risk of spies runs high because hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese invest in China, and mainland Chinese blend in inside Taiwan due to ethnic and linguistic similarities.
Taiwan has allowed tourists from China for the past 11 years as a way to stimulate its economy, but frowns on giving entry to Chinese government officials who could take back sensitive information. Those who visit for professional exchanges, however, can avoid background checks aimed at identifying state or party officials.
Since 2016, Taiwan's armed forces have stepped up development of submarines and aircraft that could be used to repel any attack from the more powerful China, but the island's defense remains highly dependent on the armed forces of chief ally, the United States.
Despite their violent history with China's ruling Communists, the Nationalists advocate close relations with Beijing and advocate eventual unification. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party officially advocates Taiwan's formal independence and Beijing has sought to increase economic, diplomatic and military pressure on the administration since Tsai took office in 2016.
Taiwanese authorities may never know what the thousands of Chinese did on their trips because they went home months or years ago, analysts said.
"You need to see who each person was and check each one, plus these people already left so there's some difficulty in checking them out," said Liao You-lu, professor of department of criminal investigation at Central Police University in Taiwan.
Police also raided three travel agencies in Taiwan before prosecutors took the case this week, Chen said. Hung's wife and a daughter were among those detained for questioning. Other suspects were connected to travel agencies.
The suspects had earned a combined NT$10 million (US$330,000) by charging NT$1,000 to NT$2,000 fees to get the letters, domestic media said.
Pakistan on Thursday leveled "treason" charges against 250 lawyers who were part of a mob that stormed a hospital in the eastern city of Lahore the previous day, kicking and punching doctors and staff and trashing equipment and property, police said.
Three patients at the hospital died when physicians and medical staff left them unattended for several hours, to flee and escape the mob, officials said.
The exceptionally high level of charges reflects the authorities' frustration over the violence. The incident drew nationwide condemnation and the government says those linked to the violence will be tried in anti-terrorism courts and that maximum punishment will be sought for them.
The mob of about 500 lawyers — apparently angered over alleged misbehavior by some of the hospital doctors toward one of their colleagues the month before — stormed the Punjab Institute of Cardiology on Wednesday, punching and beating doctors and other staff.
They also beat the doctors and medics with sticks, and smashed windows, doors and medical equipment at the only government-run heart hospital in the province of Punjab.
A police vehicle was burned near the hospital while several cars and motorcycles were damaged in the parking area of the facility. Police say they had to use tear gas to disperse the mob. The situation took several hours to bring under control.
Under Pakistani laws, assaults on government buildings and other property can carry the charge of treason. Such cases are then handled by anti-terrorism courts, which were primarily set up by to try suspects linked to acts of terrorism.
It wasn't immediately clear how many of the charged 250 lawyers are in custody.
"We have arrested some lawyers and no one linked to the attack on the hospital will be spared," said Zulfikar Hameed, the city's police chief.
Additional police forces were deployed on Thursday to the hospital as the staff went on a partial strike, demanding harsh action against all those who had attacked the hospital.
Lahore police were carrying out raids Thursday to sweep up all who were part of the mob. Meanwhile, representatives of the lawyers announced a strike of their own against what they claim was one-sided police action against them.
Authorities say tension had been brewing between the city's lawyers and doctors since November when one Lahore lawyer reported to the police that he was mistreated by the doctors when he brought an ailing relative to the hospital. It was unclear what the mistreatment involved.
North Korea accused the United States of "hostile provocation" on Thursday for criticizing its ballistic missile tests during a United Nations Security Council meeting and warned that the Trump administration may have blown its chance to salvage nuclear negotiations.
An unnamed Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the "foolish" U.S. comments helped North Korea reach a "definite decision" about its next steps as it approaches an end-of-year deadline set by leader Kim Jong Un for Washington to offer mutually acceptable terms to revive the nuclear talks. The North did not specify what those steps were.
At a Security Council meeting on Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft said North Korea's "deeply counterproductive" ballistic missile tests risk closing the door on prospects for negotiating peace but said the Trump administration is "prepared to be flexible" and take concrete, parallel steps toward an agreement on resuming talks.
"The U.S. talks about dialogue, whenever it opens its mouth, but it is too natural that the U.S. has nothing to present before us though dialogue may open," the spokesperson said in a statement released through North Korean state media.
"U.S. did a foolish thing which will boomerang on it, and decisively helped us make a definite decision on what way to choose," the statement said.
Negotiations faltered after the United States rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of the North's nuclear capabilities at Kim's second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump last February.
Kim has said North Korea could seek a "new path"" if the United States persists with sanctions and pressure against the North.
North Korea has conducted 13 rounds of ballistic missile and rocket artillery tests since May to pressure Washington, and has hinted at lifting a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests if the Trump administration fails to make substantial concessions before the new year.
The United States has continued to push for talks, but North Korea has said it is unwilling to continue rewarding Trump with meetings and summits he could chalk up as foreign policy wins unless it gets something substantial in return. There are doubts about whether Kim will ever voluntarily give away a nuclear arsenal he may see as his biggest guarantee of survival.
On Sunday, North Korea's Academy of National Defense said a "very important test" was conducted at a long-range rocket facility on the country's western coast, touching off speculation that the North could have tested a new rocket engine for either a satellite-launch vehicle or an intercontinental ballistic missile.