Under the Radar News 04.08.11

Posted on Friday, April 8, 2011 by Sophia Tsirbas

A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia

  • South Korea has agreed to grant greater humanitarian aid to North Korea despite continued tensions between the two countries. North Korea has been in a food emergency state since the 1990s, with increasing dependence on foreign aid to feed its population.

  • The Ivory Coast conflict may be a boon for Indonesia’s cocoa market. The Indonesian government announced a 15% tax on cocoa exports and plans to increase cocoa production in hopes that Indonesia will be the world’s largest cocoa producer by 2014.

  • India expresses concern at China’s buildup of PLA troops along the volatile 778-km-long Line of Control between Pakistan and India. The Indian army is engaging in pro-active measures to address the possibility of a two-front war with China and Pakistan.

  • China is seeking to cooperate with ASEAN in accessing natural resources located in the oil and mineral rich Spratly Islands. China asserts that its priority is to ensure political stability and peace in the South China Sea, despite territorial disputes.

  • The European Union plans to proceed with the first ASEAN-EU business summit, scheduled for next month, despite concerns over human rights abuses in Myanmar. Some experts attribute the EU’s reversal stance as indicative of a decreased bargaining power and a desire to not lose out on economic gains to China.

  • North Korea has made some changes to its top leadership with new appointments to the positions of Minister of People’s Security and member of the National Defense Commission. Kim Jong-il and heir apparent, Kim Jong-un, were not present at the ceremony despite rumors of an expected promotion for Kim Jong-un.

  • A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry asserts that dissident artist Ai Wei Wei’s detention has 'nothing to do with human rights.’ Currently, he is being held and under investigation for ‘economic crimes’. Ai’s case reveals that no one is exempted from the surge of recent government crackdowns on political dissidents. Read more about why Beijing is targeting Ai.

  • ASEAN, Japan, South Korea, China, and the ADB plan to allocate US$700 million to secure a private bond market. The aim of this market, the Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility (CGIF), is to curb emerging volatilities and safeguard the stability of financial markets.

  • Japan managed to restore main grid power to three nuclear plants in the wake of a 7.1 magnitude aftershock from last month’s earthquake. The Fukushima disaster, as well as this recent episode, demonstrates the dangers of relying on diesel emergency generators.

  • Australia rejects Singapore’s proposed merger between the two countries’ SGX and ASX exchanges claiming that it would violate Australia’s “national interest.” A future merger might occur if Australia changes financial rules or establishes a working group to evaluate changes, stated Australian treasurer Wayne Swan.
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