Under the Radar News 03.11.11

Posted on Friday, March 11, 2011 by Lana Buu

A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia

  • The Dalai Lama said on Thursday he would seek an amendment allowing him to resign his political office when the exiled Tibetan parliament meets next week in the northern Indian hilltop town of Dharamshala. Beijing labels this move as "deceiving.”

  • Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard addressed a Joint Meeting of Congress in Washington DC. Underlying it all was the observation that, with China and India on the rise, the Asia-Pacific region would become the world's most important region in economic and military terms. And Australia wanted American leadership in the region, both global and economic.

  • The Ministry of National Defense in South Korea said Tuesday that it will speed up plans to deploy stealth jet fighters and high-altitude spy drones to build up its surveillance capability and bolster deterrence toward North Korea.

  • India tested its indigenous interceptor missile, called Advanced Air Defense (AAD), on Sunday. It is capable of destroying any incoming hostile ballistic missile. India plans to establish the initial phase of a robust Ballistic Missile Defense shield by 2012.

  • The “Peace-11 exercises” kicked off in Pakistan on Tuesday. Naval exercises were conducted by delegations from 40 countries, including the U.S., China, Australia, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia. In particular, the issue of piracy at sea was recognized as a growing concern in the Indian Ocean.

  • Malaysia tries to build the world’s largest refinery for rare-earth metals— the first rare earth ore processing plant to be built outside China in nearly three decades—to break China’s grasp on the strategic metal monopoly. The Project 2049 Institute on China’s rare-earth monopoly.

  • The Philippine navy said yesterday it had bought a large Hamilton-class patrol craft from the US to help it guard its waters, amid tensions over territorial claims, notably with China.

  • Taiwan planned to slash the number of its troops by 9,200 this year amid warming ties with China, adding that the cut would be offset by more advanced weaponry. The reduction is part of a five-year plan aimed at trimming the size of Taiwan’s armed forces by 60,000, or more than 20 percent from the present level of 275,000 troops.

  • Prior to the first session of Burma's new Parliament, junta chief General Than Shwe signed a law that gives the commander-in-chief of the military—who is currently Than Shwe himself—the absolute authority to use unlimited “Special Funds” in performing his duties of protecting the Constitution and preserving national sovereignty.

  • A three-day ASEAN senior officials’ meeting concluded in Yogyakarta on Wednesday with several new ideas raised but left one crucial issue — the Indonesian-backed migrant worker regional deal — untouched. For Indonesia, the migrant workers issue is among top priorities as millions of its migrant workers are in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

  • The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs praised the Philippine government on Tuesday for deporting a Taiwanese suspect in a fraud case to Taiwan rather than China, where 14 Taiwanese suspects in an unrelated fraud case had been sent early last month.

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