Under the Radar News, 2.12.2010

Posted on Friday, February 12, 2010 by Prashanth Parameswaran

A weekly compilation of underreported developments in Asia

  • China has decided to draft new poverty reduction guidelines for the next decade. Measures include intensifying relief work by integrating the development of urban and rural areas and strengthening rural per capita net income.

  • A new set of polls indicates that almost 50 percent of South Koreans think the U.S.-ROK alliance is strong, a sharp rise from a dismal 19 percent two years ago. A full 85 percent also considered the U.S. the most important foreign country to Seoul's national security, a thirteen percent increase from 2007.

  • Vietnam's central bank devalued the dong for the second time in three months amid widespread concerns about soaring inflation and a burgeoning budget deficit. Analysts expect further devaluations and markedly higher interest rates as the depreciation pressure continues throughout this year.

  • Su Chi, the head of Taiwan's National Security Council and President Ma Ying-jeou's right-hand man, announced his resignation after his involvement in a row involving U.S. beef. Su had helped broker a deal with the United States to lift import bans on American beef, an unpopular agreement believed to be instrumental in the ruling KMT's poor results in recent local and legislative elections.

  • Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva pushed for the Environment Ministry to draft a bill on marine resources in order to deal with coastal area erosion and conflicts over maritime territory. Thailand has various maritime disputes, including in the South China Sea, and has lost substantial coastal area over the last few years due to the effects of global warming.

  • In its fourth-quarter monetary policy report, China's central bank announced that potential risks to price stability have risen in the country. It says it will strictly control loans to investment projects, the clearest indication yet of a policy shift to scale back its massive stimulus policies amid concerns of an overheating economy.

  • The Burmese military stepped up its attacks on the Karen ethnic minority, razing dozens of houses and causing 2,000 villagers to flee. The move is part of a government campaign to quash armed ethnic rebels ahead of scheduled elections this year, which human rights groups allege has resulted in mass displacement, torture, rape and death.

  • Japan's economy grew at its fastest pace since the start of 2008 as growing world trade fueled demand for its exports. But some say the export-oriented recovery is fragile, and that Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama may still go ahead with a planned stimulus package to further boost growth ahead of legislative elections despite the optimistic trajectory.

  • Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis said that a new decree imposing restrictions on U.S. film imports to Indonesia could “disrupt bilateral trade” between the two countries. The decree, Marantis believes, unfairly strengthens the country's small film “oligopoly” while hurting many stakeholders and cutting off film access to the Indonesian public.

  • The U.S. naval presence in Pacific will shrink in the coming years as China and South Korea boost their submarine fleets, according to a fresh report by the U.S.-based Heritage Foundation. It projected that by 2025, the number of U.S. submarines would shrunk to 27, while China would have 78 and South Korea 26.
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