Under the Radar News, 1.22.2010

Posted on Friday, January 22, 2010 by Prashanth Parameswaran

A weekly compilation of underreported developments in Asia

  • Indonesia will soon offer new incentives for investors in infrastructure projects as part of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's plan to boost economic growth to at least 7 percent by 2014. The fresh measures are expected to resolve previous problems stymieing infrastructure development, such as the country's notoriously weak land acquisition laws.

  • China launched a new orbiter into space as part of its effort to build an independent global navigation network to compete with foreign systems. The system, known as Beidou, will have a total of 35 satellites and provide worldwide navigation services by around 2020.

  • As Thailand extended a nearly five-year state of emergency in its insurgency-wracked, Muslim-majority south, its Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva says he will propose an amnesty law for Islamist militants next month to break the continued cycle of violence. But some analysts say a prolonged state of emergency will only perpetuate a culture of impunity there and exacerbate the situation.

  • In a significant shift, South Korea broke its silence on North Korea's human rights record and released its first national assessment of abuses there. The report will be delivered to the United Nations and international organizations to spread awareness on the atrocities in Pyongyang.

  • In an attempt to shore up support ahead of elections this year, the Burmese junta accelerated a wave of privatizations of state-owned buildings and factories. Analysts are skeptical that such efforts will liberalize the economy, which remains one of the world's least free.

  • China objected Japan's claim around the Okinotori atoll which, if construed as an 'island', would give Tokyo the right to claim the surrounding area as an exclusive economic zone. Beijing insists that the atoll is merely “a rock”, and has continued to beef up its own presence in disputed waters and contested island chains.

  • Malaysia intensified security along its eastern maritime border due to fears that Filipinos could flood into the country amidst a Philippine government crackdown on Islamic militants and local politicians. The deteriorating situation also caused the U.S. State Department to issue a travel warning that criminal and terrorist groups were plotting attacks in the area.

  • In a clear separation of political and humanitarian concerns, the United States allowed a Taiwanese military plane to transit its territory for the first time in 30 years so that it could make its way to disaster-struck Haiti despite potential backlash from China. Haiti is one of just 23 countries that recognize Taiwan as a country, and Taipei is contemplating debt relief for its ailing ally.
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