Under the Radar News 02.04.11

Posted on Friday, February 4, 2011 by Lana Buu

A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia

  • Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Japan will consider backing efforts to conserve forests in Indonesia spearheaded by U.S. billionaire investor George Soros.

  • China will invest 4 trillion yuan ($608 billion) in water conservation projects during the next decade, eradicating the problem of unsafe drinking water in rural areas by the end of 2015.

  • A French aerospace giant wants to make Singapore a launch pad for commercial space flights. European Aeronautic Defense and Space (EADS), a leading defense and military contractor, hopes it will eventually rival Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, which is to launch the world's first commercial space flight this year.

  • The Vatican's appointment of its first official representative to Vietnam signals a detente between the country's communist rulers and the Catholic Church that could represent the first step towards establishing formal diplomatic relations. The Catholic community in Vietnam is the second largest in Southeast Asia, trailing only the Philippines.

  • North Korea has proposed holding parliamentary talks with South Korea in order to soothe tensions between the two divided countries

  • Jhalanath Khanal, from the ruling Unified Marxist Leninist party, was elected Prime Minister of Nepal.

  • China and Japan are considering a vice-ministerial meeting in late February in Tokyo to discuss measures to prevent maritime run-ins similar to the one near the Senkaku Islands last September that severely strained bilateral ties. It will be the first time Japan and China have held a strategic dialogue since a June 2009 meeting in Beijing.

  • The deployment of the GPS-guided “Spike” missile in Yeonpyeong is a part of the ongoing efforts by South Korea to fortify five islands vulnerable to North Korean provocations.

  • Thailand has ignored calls from the United Nations and prominent human rights groups to access 200 detained Rohingya asylum seekers.

  • The Association of South East Nations (ASEAN) aims to commence cross-border trading this year. It hopes to form an economic community modeled after the European Union by 2015.
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