Under the Radar News 11.23.11

Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 by Isabella Mroczkowski

A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia

  • During Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s recent visit to Brunei--Southeast Asia’s third largest oil exporter--the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on energy cooperation. The leaders also discussed plans for a joint oil refinery development project worth $6 billion.

  • The Burmese military-dominated government reportedly reached a breakthrough in ceasefire negotiationswith two major armed ethnic groups, the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Shan State Army-South. The government reportedly offered the ethnic groups industrial zones, rights to freedom of travel for unarmed leaders, and other incentives for a cease-fire. These negotiations are the government’s latest attempt to end Burma’s 50 years of international isolation.

  • In what human rights organizations called a setback for political reform, Malaysia’s Parliament is set to pass the Peaceful Assembly Bill next month. The new measure will outlaw street protests and require a 30 day advance notification for all demonstrations.

  • ASEAN member states have set July 2012 as the deadline for a draft of the the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea at the ASEAN-China commemorative summit in Bali last week.

  • Japan pledged to invest $26 billion for infrastructure construction in Southeast Asia. The official development assistance (ODA) paves the way for the development of a Southern Corridor connecting southern Vietnam with Burma.

  • Philippine President Benigno Aquino asked South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak for military assistance during the latter’s visit to Manila on November 20 - 22. President Aquino is seeking aircraft and naval ships to boost the country’s military capabilities amidst rising tensions with China in the South China Sea.
  • Under the Radar News 11.18.11

    Posted on Friday, November 18, 2011 by Jessica Drun

    A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia

  • Prime Minister Julia Gillard created tensions within her party, the Australian Labor Party (ALP), this week by pushing for the ALP to reverse its stance on uranium sales to India. The ALP has long adhered to a policy of only exporting uranium to countries that are part of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which India is not a signatory. Gillard argued for the economic advantages of uranium exports to India, promising that any deals would be made under International Atomic Energy guidelines of peaceful use. China is wary of the move and has called for international dialogue over the possibility of India entering the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

  • On November 14, India and Pakistan started talks on a trade deal, as part of an effort to improve bilateral relations. The respective commerce secretaries, who attended the meeting, are aiming to double annual trade to $6 billion by 2014. New Delhi and Islamabad have also agreed to normalize trade relations in February 2012 and work together to modernize transportation systems along the Attari-Wagah border.

  • The United States joined ten other countries in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade talks, following the APEC forum in Hawaii. The U.S. move followed Japan, Mexico, and Canadas’ endorsements. China, however, remains wary of the TPP, viewing it as a further means of U.S. encroachment into its regional domain.

  • The ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting commenced on Tuesday in Indonesia. The meeting focused on developing a code of conduct for South China Sea claims, Myanmar’s (Burma) bid to chair ASEAN in 2014, and the P5 (U.S., China, Great Britain, France, and Russia) to respect Southeast Asia’s nuclear weapon-free zone.

  • On Tuesday, India successfully tested the Agni-IV missile, as part of its $50 billion plan to upgrade its military. The two-stage missile can carry a one ton warhead and fired from a road mobile launcher. India’s Defense Research and Development Organization stated that the Agni’s range of 2,170 miles can reach China’s eastern borders.

  • Canberra did not reportedly consult Washington before it made the decision back in 2009 to allow Beijing to use a satellite ground station in Western Australia for its space program. Critics of the program indicate that the program is dual-use and China’s military could potentially use the station to pinpoint U.S. and Australian warships in the region.

  • Wang Yi, who serves as the director of the Taiwan Work Office of the CCP Central Committee and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said Thursday that China upholds the “1992 Consensus” as the “essential premise” in conducting negotiations with Taiwan. Wang believes his statement was made at a time critical to future developments in cross-Strait relations, commending current efforts to bolster relations and calling for further moves towards peaceful ties.
  • Under the Radar New 11.10.11

    Posted on Thursday, November 10, 2011 by Jessica Drun

    A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia

  • China’s State Council passed a plan on Wednesday that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by 2015. The Council also released a statement calling for the establishment of a CO2 calculation system and set emissions guidelines for local officials.

  • The South Korean legislature is reviewing a law that would allow the government to seize illegal Chinese trawlers fishing in Korea’s Exclusive Economic Zone. The current version of the law simply fines Chinese trawlers, but Korean officials are calling for an amendment because of the economic impact of allowing Chinese fisherman to keep their illegal catches

  • Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is expected to announce Japan’s participation in Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP) talks which will develop a multi-lateral free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific. He decided to act without the formal approval of his party, the Democratic Party of Japan, which may hinder internal debate on the TPP

  • South Korea and Vietnam are working to improve bilateral ties, following a summit at Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea from November 8 to 10. The meeting between President Truong Tan Sang and President Lee Myung-Bak comes at a time of rising maritime disputes. Seoul and Hanoi agreed to work on a development project to build nuclear reactors in Vietnam. The joint statement also indicated moves to accelerate bilateral trade, sustainable growth, and collaboration in international and regional forums through the ASEAN-RoK partnernship to promote Vietnam’s socio-economic development

  • Former Indian president Abdul Kalam commended the safety features at the Kudankulum nuclear plant in coastal Tamil Nadu, emphasizing that the new facility could prevent an accident of Fukushima-proportions. Kalam’s address in New Delhi comes at a vital time, as the country has been swept by widespread public protests against nuclear energy.

  • The Indonesian Foreign Minister , Marty Natalegawa, suggested this week that countries should reward Burma for its reform progress by loosening trade restrictions and permitting Naypyidaw to host ASEAN. Natalegawa holds that the opportunity with ASEAN would boost Myanmar’s image internationally and give officials further incentive to reform.

  • The Philippines is seeking a multilateral solution for disputes in the South China Sea. The Philippine Foreign Affairs Undersecretary said that the proposal is an extension of the Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation and that any resolution of the conflict must be conducted within ASEAN because of exiting commitments of the Philippines as an ASEAN member state. The proposal will be brought up at next week’s ASEAN summit and is said to include plans that are in line with China’s intention to solve the issue bilaterally.
  • Under the Radar News 11.04.11

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 by Isabella Mroczkowski

    A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia

  • The Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) restart peace talks amidst recent violence in Al Barka that claimed 19 lives. In the final peace deal, the government is likely to offer MILF enhanced autonomy in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao.

  • During the Kazakhstani president’s visit to Vietnam from October 31 - November 2, the two leaders decided to boost cooperation in oil and gas exploration and agree to consider the feasibility of a joint free trade agreement.

  • In response to PLA buildup, the Indian army proposes an addition of 100,000 troops to enhance border security. The expansion plan also includes setting up new airstrips and helipads along the India-China border.

  • China and Nepal strengthen military relations while Nepal pledges to adhere to a one-China policy and to never allow anti-China activities on Nepalese territory.

  • Japan and Vietnam strengthen energy and resource cooperation through sharing of nuclear technology and agreeing to jointly develop rare earth elements (REEs).

  • South Korea plans a unification fund to start raising billions of dollars for reunification with North Korea. The estimated amount needed to ease a peaceful transition within the next twenty years is $50 billion.

  • Indonesia announces plans to launch cultural centers abroad as part of its international cultural diplomacy initiative.

  • Japan claims 49 islets as exclusive economic zones (EEZs) amidst bids by other Asian countries to expand influence over maritime affairs.

  • The U.S. and South Korea announce plans to conduct a joint simulation exercise against a possible nuclear attack from North Korea.
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