Under the Radar News, 1.15.2010

Posted on Friday, January 15, 2010 by Prashanth Parameswaran

A weekly compilation of underreported developments in Asia

  • Taiwan allegedly plans to buy eight second-hand Perry-class frigates from the United States despite the recent thaw in cross-strait relations, according to the Taipei-based China Times. Once procured, they would be armed with the Aegis Combat system and sophisticated missile launch technology. The country’s defense ministry, however, has denied that a decision has been made.



  • Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama vowed to uphold Japan's ban on arms exports, ending months of speculation that the nation might consider revising the decades-old stance.



  • Myanmar assured the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that promised national elections would be held this year and would be fair. ASEAN, which has faced criticism for not taking a firmer stance against Myanmar, said it hopes the issue will be resolved this year so the region can move on to a “new era of relations”.



  • South Korean businesses are positioning themselves to gain a strategic foothold in Asian markets to capitalize on the region’s burgeoning middle class, focusing on areas like information technology, automobile exports, electronics and finance.



  • China’s possible $1.4 billion purchase of Australian sugar company CSR Ltd., while a potential capital boost for Australia’s embattled sugar industry, has revived debates about the foreign ownership of national assets. Beijing’s previous investments in Australia were primarily focused on the strategic resource industry.



  • Japan’s parliament will begin debate on a bill granting voting rights to about 600,000 ethnic Korean permanent residents. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is optimistic the bill will pass, but Japanese conservatives are opposed to granting such rights to foreign residents.



  • Vietnam plans to market $1 billion of its dollar-denominated 10 year-bonds next week in order to free up funds for infrastructure development and energy projects. The move is expected to be a key test for investor confidence in the country, which has been shaken by inflation.



  • Russia gave a boost to South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak’s comprehensive rewards package for North Korean by announcing that it is willing to construct gas pipes, electrical grids and railways to bridge the two Koreas and Moscow if Pyongyang surrenders its nuclear arsenal.



  • New economic statistics released by China’s central bank indicated a record 1.4 trillion U.S. dollars in loans for the country in 2009, an amount that is almost double the amount of the previous year. In part due to fears that this ‘lending boom’ could spark inflation, Beijing announced that it would raise the bank reserve requirement ratio to rein in liquidity.
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