Under the Radar News, 12.11.09

Posted on Friday, December 11, 2009 by Kolby Hanson

A weekly compilation of underreported developments in Asia.

China Pushes Domestic Consumption (Xinhua) Unable to rely as heavily on recession-ridden American markets, the Chinese government is working harder to increase domestic consumption, especially in rural areas. They are extending rural subsidies for cell phones and other appliances, may consider improving their social safety net, and have encouraged banks to open village banks to encourage rural lending.

Japanese and Australian Companies Sign $90 billion Natural Gas Deal (The Australian) Tokyo Electric Power, and as a result the city of Tokyo, will get much of its electricity over the next 20 years from Australia’s Wheatstone Natural Gas.

China Launches Remote Sensing Satellite (Xinhua) The Yaogan 7, the latest in a series of sophisticated observation satellites, was launched by the Chinese government this week. They say it will be used for crop yield estimates, scientific surveys, and disaster response, but many suspect it will be valuable in observation of foreign forces and other military uses.

North Korea’s Foreign Trade Increasingly Goes to China (Korea Times) Thanks to rapid growth in bilateral trade, more than 50% of North Korea’s foreign trade is now with China. Some say it is a result of Chinese rural development plan and other nations’ hesitancy to allow trade. The results of this dependence are yet to be seen.

Indonesia Considers Death Penalty for Corruption (Antara) A special commission of the House of Representatives in Indonesia advised that the nation implement a reversed burden-of-proof (meaning indicted figures would have to prove their innocence) and a possible death penalty in corruption cases to fight the nation’s corruption issues.

Chinese Government Embraces Websites as a Platform (Xinhua) More than 45,000 websites have been set up by the Chinese government at various levels to disclose official information and to interact with the public. Supposedly a tool for transparency, these websites offer a wider audience for the government. The Ministry of Defense website has received over 1.25 billion hits in 3 months.

Hatoyama Proposes Support for Asian Democracy (Yomiuri Shimbun) Japan’s PM Yukio Hatoyama announced on Thursday that Japan intends to provide assistance for democracies in Asia. He also said that his planned East Asian Community should provide election monitoring and other international support for democratic transitions.

Korea to Build Nuclear Plant in Jordan (Chosun Ilbo) South Korea’s Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute and Daewoo beat out companies from Argentina, China, and Russia for a nuclear plant contract in Jordan. It is Korea’s first exported nuclear plant and shows the nation’s growing influence in the energy market.

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