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.
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