Under the Radar News 10.1.10

Posted on Friday, October 1, 2010 by Alexandra Matthews

A weekly compilation of underreported developments in Asia

  • The completion of a Russia-China crude oil pipeline was hailed as an important step for energy cooperation between the two neighbors. The pipeline, which stretches almost 1,000 kilometers, is part of a deal in which China provides Russia with a $25 billion loan in exchange for 300 million tons of oil over the next 20 years.

  • The US and South Korea conducted anti-submarine drills in the Yellow Sea as part of a series of joint military exercises is intended as a show of strength against North Korea. The next stage of the joint drills, which the North calls a “military provocation”, will be held at the end of October and is reported to include the USS George Washington.

  • Taiwanese Premier Wu Den-yih expressed that the time is not right for cross-strait political negotiations. Premier Wu cited the constraints China continues to place on Taiwan’s presence at international events as a reason for not moving forward on developing military confidence-building mechanisms or engaging in political talks.

  • Resource-poor Japan will withdraw from an offshore Iranian oil field project in an effort to avoid US sanctions. The Japanese company, Inpex, was originally set to develop the oil field, which contains about 42 billion barrels of oil. Meanwhile, Indonesia has reaffirmed its support for Iran's nuclear program. Indonesia maintains that all nations have the right to develop nuclear technology for civilian use.

  • The world’s first “cyber superweapon”, Stuxnet, has infected millions of computers in China. The virus, which may have been created to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, has the potential to not only break into computers, but to take control of plants and industrial systems including pumps, motors, alarms and valves.

  • The Taliban has posted messages on its website threatening Bangladeshi leaders after Foreign Minister Dipu Moni was asked by Richard Holbrooke to deploy Bangladeshi combat troops to Afghanistan. Bangladesh currently has aid workers stationed in Afghanistan and is the second largest contributor of troops to the United Nations peacekeeping missions.

  • According to the United Nations, opium production in Afghanistan has decreased by almost 50 percent this year as a result of a disease that affected poppy fields. As Afghanistan’s opium output decreased, the drug’s value skyrocketed by 38 percent to $604 million, five percent of the country’s GDP.

  • Bilateral free trade agreement talks will resume between Malaysia and Australia next month after being disrupted by Australian general elections and the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand regional trade pact, which came into effect earlier this year. The resumption of the talks is another step towards furthering Canberra’s economic integration with Southeast Asian nations.

  • China will resume exports of rare earth metals to Japan. The dispute between the two countries over the Senkaku/Diaoyutai islands halted shipments last month.

  • China has launched its second lunar probe, the Chang'e-2, to conduct tests in preparation for what China hopes will be its first unmanned moon landing in 2013 and first manned moon landing in 2020. The launch of the probe occurred on China's National Day, which marks 61 years of communist rule.
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