Under the Radar News 04.01.11

Posted on Friday, April 1, 2011 by Lana Buu

A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia

  • According to 2011 Census report released by New Delhi, India's population has reached 1.21 billion people (623.7 million males and 586.5 million females). The 181-million person increase since the country's last census marks a growth rate of 17.64%, the biggest reduction in India's population growth rate ever.

  • Pakistan has embraced China as its new arms partner, overshadowing the United States. China will send Pakistan 250 JF-17s over the next five to 10 years, Beijing says. Also, a $1.3 billion deal has been reportedly signed to buy J-10 fighters and six submarines. Check out Isaac Kardon's new paper, "China and Pakistan: Emerging Strains in the Entente Cordiale".

  • Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has approved a 7.7B baht purchase of six second-hand, U-206 class submarines from Germany for the first-ever missions to protect national interests in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. Also the Thai Army has received three Russian MI-17 V-5 helicopters (US$29.1 million).

  • The Philippines has increased air and naval patrols and plans to upgrade an airstrip on an island it occupies in the South China Sea to strengthen its claim on the Spratly Islands. General Eduardo Oban said the army had about 8 billion pesos (S$233 million) to buy faster boats, long-range maritime aircraft, surveillance and communications equipment.

  • The UN has asked China to release a prominent human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, saying his detention violates international law. Gao is a major figure in the rights movement, advocating constitutional reform and arguing landmark cases to defend religious dissenters, including members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. Check out Project 2049's Kelley Currie commenting on democracy and human rights in China.

  • Indonesia's Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa on Monday said that Egypt and Tunisia have asked Indonesia to help them in their election process, including how to regulate and make laws on political parties.

  • ASEAN firms are set to benefit from Japan’s $300 billion reconstruction program. The plan would possibly create opportunities for Japanese firms to move factories to ASEAN countries, allow Southeast Asian comapnies to help support the supply-chain, and make ASEAN goods more attractive due to the uncertainty of the Japanese export market.

  • China, India, and Brazil—eager to lock in new energy resources to sustain rapid economic growth—target Mozambique. The African Development Bank predicts that by 2020, Mozambique will become the second-largest coal producer in Africa with projected coal exports of 110 million tons a year with total reserves estimated at 10 billion tons.

  • Germany has provided over 31 million euro for development projects in Laos. The financial and technical assistance will expand vocational education and human resource development for a market economy, improve the access to aid for people living in rural areas, and promote sustainable development in the mining sector.

  • Malaysia will station more police in human trafficking hotspots like the Strait of Melaka and South China Sea to battle against human trafficking. In similar fashion, 32 nations in the Asia-Pacific region agreed to take a regional approach to human trafficking and people smuggling during the Fourth Bali Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime. While the framework is non-binding, it is the world’s first such agreement.

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