Posted on Friday, June 3, 2011 by Luke Warnock
A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia
- Chinese Confucius Institutes face numerous administrative challenges as planners look to expand global footprint. Shortages of qualified multilingual teachers and vast differences in cross-border instruction standards and cultural norms have hampered efforts to swiftly export Chinese cultural education.
- Chronic drought, pollution, and rapid urbanization prompted Chinese government officials to undertake the aptly named $62 billion South-North Water Diversion Project, which is expected to divert 6 trillion gallons of water from the Yangtze to the north China plain, while displacing and relocating 350,000 villagers. This as Hunan Province is struggling with a devastating drought of its own, hurting its fishing and agricultural sectors. See Project 2049 past analysis.
- Dissatisfaction with the response of Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s government to the recent triple disaster prompted a parliamentary vote of no-confidence. The Prime Minister survived, but the vote highlighted a growing concern within Japan and across the region for the dangers posed by natural disasters and their implications for national security.
- Singapore unveiled its first motorized infantry unit touting increases to operational efficiency provided by the nimbler and smarter vehicles. New communication systems will integrate these units into Singapore’s greater military complex enabling forces to engage in a wider variety of operations at much longer ranges.
- U.S. Senator John McCain traveled to the Burmese capital Naypyidaw where he met with Burmese lawmakers, before traveling to Rangoon where he met with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. McCain encouraged Burma’s new government to begin the process of internal reconciliation, release political prisoners, and take further steps toward democratic reform.
- Tensions in the Spratly Islands continued as Vietnamese vessels fishing five miles south of Da Dong Island were confronted by Chinese naval forces. This is just the latest incident in what Vietnamese officials are claiming is a growing trend of harassment, and Chinese officials see as increased efforts to secure their sea claims.
- The Australian House of Representatives has moved to suspend cattle exports to Indonesia in a move Indonesian authorities are calling a blatant political maneuver intended to increase Indonesia’s Australian frozen meat imports. Indonesian authorities deny accusations that the 11 affected slaughterhouses engaged in cruel treatment of animals.
- Indian security forces in Kashmir have killed three suspected members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group, including the commander of the Pakistan-based terror outfit.This comes as U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano designated LeT “in the same rank” as al-Qaeda.
- China and Russia signed an agreement intended to increase gas cooperation in what officials from both countries view as the beginning of a long term joint energy strategy. The Sino-Russian oil pipeline came into operation on January 1st 2011, and additional projects like the “east line” and the “west line” expected to transport 30 billion cubic meters and 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas respectively.