World News in Brief: December 20

China's foreign ministry said on December 20 that a Canadian national is undergoing "administrative punishment" for working illegally, after Canada's government said a third Canadian citizen had been detained in China.

* Britain can still hold a second Brexit referendum, France's European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said on December 20.

* Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told an Italian newspaper on December 20 he was not ready to give up his job in favour of Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini after a European election in May.

* Tens of thousands of the Republic of Korea taxi drivers walked off the job and held a rally on December 20 to protest against a carpooling service that they say would destroy their jobs and threaten their livelihoods.

* The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) announced on December 19 that its Board of Governors has approved the membership applications of six more countries, bringing AIIB's total approved members to 93. The new group of approved members is comprised of Algeria, Ghana, Libya, Morocco, Serbia and Togo.

* Thailand has announced the arrival of the 10 millionth Chinese visitor in 2018 in Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, a milestone for the country's tourism industry.

* The Bank of Japan (BOJ) on December 20 opted to maintain its ultra-low interest rates amid a backdrop of largely stagnant inflation, well below the bank's lofty 2 percent target, and as a consumption tax hike to 10 percent in October 2019 looms closer.

* Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on December 20 appointed a new 30-member cabinet after the reinstatement of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last Sunday (December 16).

* US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah in Washington on December 19 to discuss Omani efforts to mediate Yemen issues.

* China's railway police seized 314 train ticket scalpers and over 40,000 tickets, mostly fakes ones, in its latest campaign against ticket scalping ahead of and during the Spring Festival travel rush.

* The state-owned Myanmar National Airlines (MNA) will launch direct scheduled flight from Myanmar's Yangon to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province of China, beginning on December 28, according to the airline on December 20. Chengdu will be the sixth international destination for the Myanmar airline to fly.

* The Turkish police on December 19 detained at least 19 foreigners in Istanbul for their suspected links to the Islamic State (IS) militant group, local media reported.

* Libya's UN-backed government on Decemebr 19 condemned the military escalation in the Al-Sdada area, some 280 km east of the capital Tripoli, between the eastern-based army and an armed group.

Reuters, Xinhua