Under the Radar News, 1.29.2010

Posted on Friday, January 29, 2010 by Prashanth Parameswaran

A weekly compilation of underreported developments in Asia

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that Japan’s rising debt could be unsustainable by the mid-2010’s as its aging population reduces the market’s ability to absorb public bonds. Japan’s debt is already the highest in the industrialized world as the government pours money into lifting the country out of recession, exacerbating market concerns about its fiscal health.

  • A top Chinese official announced Beijing will push for an investment surge in its restive, energy-rich Xinjiang region to quell unrest following deadly riots there last year. While the strategy underscores Beijing’s belief that ethnic discord can be cured with economic development, experts caution that the plan could fail without true input from the Uighur minority there.

  • Indonesia, one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, plans to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign governments to fund green infrastructure projects in order to meet its target of slashing emissions by 26 percent by 2020. But environmentalists say Jakarta’s corrupt forestry sector will undermine its ability to attract foreign finance for climate change mitigation.

  • South Korea plans to increase its nuclear exports in a bid to become the supplier of choice across the developing world. Seoul, already the world’s sixth largest nuclear reactor exporter, forecasts that it will sell 80 reactors by 2030, earning some $400 billion.

  • The Chinese State Council said that the country’s pollution problem “has yet to be controlled” and “is still severe” despite previous efforts to resolve it. It recommended increased investment in environmentally-friendly industries and tougher standards on water resource management to tackle the issue, which has caused violent protests in some parts of the nation.

  • Vietnam announced that it will tighten its monetary policy in 2010 in order to curb concerns about inflation. The move is part of a government effort to balance surging economic growth with accelerating inflation, which analysts say will be Hanoi’s biggest economic challenge this year.

  • Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said his administration will study a possible reorganization of ministries after July elections. The measure is part of his campaign pledge to streamline government by wresting power from bloated government bureaucracies and handing more responsibilities over to political appointees.

  • A survey of Australian investors regarding China’s role in the country’s business found that they harbored deep concerns, with a majority seeing statist Chinese firms as potential threats to the “national interest”. These concerns come as Beijing’s footprint increases in Australia under the Rudd government, which has approved more than 110 Chinese investment applications thus far.

  • In a nod toward an increasing wave of privatizations, Myanmar's ruling junta allowed its close associate and tycoon Tay Za to co-found an association to control its highly lucrative gasoline and diesel fuel sales. The move confirms fears that privatization will only put the country's economy firmly in the control of the junta's cronies rather than freeing it up.

  • China's national ocean agency announced that record-high sea levels in the past three decades threaten the safety of thousands of people in the coastal areas of the country in the future. It urged the government to beef up sea level monitoring systems and take sea level rise into account in subsequent economic development plans.
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