Under the Radar News 12.23.10

Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 by Ian Easton

A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia

• India and Russia pledged 30 billion dollars to co-develop a 5th generation stealth fighter during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s state visit to India. The visit also produced an ambitious oil and gas deal, but failed to seal a commercial pact for nuclear reactors.

• Pakistan test fired a medium range ballistic missile, the Ghauri Hatf 5, capable of carrying both nuclear and conventional warhead up to 1,300km. The missile is named after Afghan Muslim conquerors.

• Taiwan’s state-run National Nano-Device Laboratories scientists announced a breakthrough in advanced microchip technology, producing a 9 nanometer circuit. A chip using the new memory technology would have 20 times the storage capacity of chips currently on the market, and use 200 times less electricity to run.

• The U.S. expressed serious concern that China and Taiwan have yet to submit the ECFA bi-lateral trade deal inked in June to international observers. WTO regulations require members to report such agreements before they can take effect.

• It was revealed that New Zealand defense officials have been warning the U.S. that China’s military is fueling instability in the South Pacific. Likewise, New Zealand diplomats warned that China is on “rapacious quest” for natural resources, undermining good governance in the region.

South Korea-China relations at “an all-time low” this week due to the combination of Beijing’s continued support for North Korea and an incident in the Yellow Sea in which an illegal Chinese fishing boat rammed a South Korean coast guard vessel and sunk. Beijing demanded Seoul pay for the damage and punish the coast guard officers.

• Japan Airlines (JAL) unveiled a bamboo wheelchair that doesn’t set off metal detectors, saving passengers time and intrusive security checks.

• In a controversial move, Philippine President Aquino granted amnesty to 400 mutinous soldiers that staged three coup attempts against former president Gloria in 2003, 2006 and 2007, respectively.

• Eight Chinese suspects are given short prison sentences for selling over 530 fake rabies vaccines in China leading to the death of a ten year-old boy.

• China opened an ambitious high-speed rail line between the Three Gorges Dam in Yichang, and mega city Chongqing, marking the country’s most expensive rail project per kilometer to date. As part of the project some 50,000 workers dug 159 tunnels and built 253 bridges.

• Reporters Without Borders, a rights group, called for Beijing to investigate the near lethal beating of an investigative journalist, now brain-dead, who was doing research for a politically charged story in Xinjiang. The official Xinhua news agency sought to place the blame for the beating on the journalist.

• In a surprise move, North Korea threatened South Korea with a nuclear "sacred war" just days after making conciliatory gestures, suggesting that tensions on the Korean Peninsula are far from over. This is due, in no small part, to the ongoing leadership transition underway in Pyongyang.

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