Under the Radar News 3.11.10

Posted on Friday, March 12, 2010 by Matthew Hallex

A weekly compilation of underreported developments in Asia

  • North Korea’s foreign trade shrank for the first time since 1998 due to UN sanctions to following its nuclear test last May. The drop in trade along with last year’s unsuccessful currency reform is likely to put great pressure on the fragile North Korean economy.

  • Foreign workers rallied in Tokyo demanding greater job security and employment benefits. While Japan has very restrictive immigration laws its shrinking labor force makes it increasingly dependent on workers from abroad.

  • Australia and Indonesia have reached an agreement to combat human trafficking. This agreement comes as part of an Australian-Indonesian effort to improve military and counterterrorism cooperation and to fight transnational crime.

  • North Korea has established a new army division to manage its growing force of intermediate-range ballistic missiles. These missiles could target American bases in Okinawa and Guam in the case of a conflict on the Korean peninsula.

  • Officials in China have announced plans for a high speed rail network extending from China to Europe and Southeast Asia. Should the ambitious plan be realized it would reduce China’s dependence on sea lanes that it lacks the naval forces to effectively patrol and protect.

  • Burma has deployed troops to its border with Thailand and China in anticipation of conflict with ethnic rebels. This is the first time the government has deployed troops to the area since the 1995 cease fire agreement with ethnic Mon rebels.

  • Thailand denied a visa to the sister of the Dalai Lama who was planning on visiting a Tibetan cultural festival there. The Thai government expressed concerns that her speech would criticize China’s role in Tibet and damage Sino-Thai relations.
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