Thailand was on tenterhooks following an announcement on Wednesday that 88-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej remains in an “unstable condition”. Despite official efforts to discourage rumor and speculation, it is known that Crown prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has the support of Thailand’s military junta to succeed the world’s longest serving monarch.

Japan has protested to China over signs that Beijing is pressing ahead with maritime gas exploration in the East China Sea despite Tokyo’s repeated requests for it to stop. Japan believes China is ignoring a 2008 agreement to maintain cooperation on resource development in an area where no official border has been drawn.

Local governments in China will be issued with guidance from the National Development and Reform Commission on repayment of existing debt, we report in our round-up of market-moving news in Chinese language media. The move is aimed at helping local governments attract private investment.

Freedom, censorship and government oppression will be themes running through two of Asia’s biggest literary festivals next month – in Hong Kong and Singapore. In particular, the controversial American author Lionel Shriver – whose darkly satirical novel The Mandibles was published this year – will bookend the events.

Recent exchanges indicate there are stumbling blocks to the ‘normalization’ of relations between Iran and the EU. However, it’s clear that European leaders see President Hassan Rohani’s reforming instincts as representing a potential antidote to economic stagnation at home and geopolitical stability in the Middle East.

Kenny Hodgart is an editor for Asia Times.