Under the Radar News 3.5.2010

Posted on Friday, March 5, 2010 by Matthew Hallex

A weekly compilation of underreported developments in Asia

  • China has announced plans to amend its election laws to increase the number of deputies representing rural areas in the National People's Congress. Currently each rural deputy represents four times as many people as his or her urban counterparts.

  • South Korea has grounded most of its F-5 fighter fleet after two aircraft crashed into a mountain during a training exercise. South Korea operates 170 F-5 fighters which originally entered service in the United States in the 1960s.

  • The Vatican has secretly appointed a new delegate to China. China and the Holy See have no official diplomatic relations due to tensions over the Vatican’s recognition of Taiwan as well as control over the appointment of bishops in China.

  • China has sent three million US dollars in aid to Chile following the massive earthquake which racked the South American country. China has been expanding its aid and development efforts in Latin America in an attempt to expand its trade and influence in the region.

  • Japan’s second plutonium fueled nuclear reactor entered operation in Ehime Prefecture. Reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel and reuse of plutonium in new reactors reduces the amount of nuclear waste produced by Japan’s nuclear power plants and reduces Japan’s dependence on foreign sources of uranium. Critics of reprocessing point out that it creates a supply of plutonium that could be used in a nuclear weapon.

  • Malaysian peace monitors have returned to the Southern Philippines in order to support peace efforts between the government of the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF.) The peace monitors were withdrawn in 2008 after MILF rebels broke the cease fire agreement that the two groups had reached in 2004.

  • The Singapore Navy issued a warning that terrorists may be planning attacks on oil tankers transiting the Malacca Straits. While international naval patrols have substantially reduced piracy in Southeast Asia, terrorism remains a significant concern.

  • China has passed a new National Defense Mobilization Law. This law outlines the process for mobilizing the PLA for war as well as dealing with natural disasters or civil strife.
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