Under the Radar News 12.19.11

Posted on Monday, December 19, 2011 by Isabella Mroczkowski

A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia.

  • On December 12, Japan launched a new satellite, as part of a larger plan to have an intelligence surveillance system in place by 2013 to monitor Pyongyang. Prime Minister Noda emphasized the importance of this move for Tokyo’s national security. The same rocket that carried the satellite, the H-2A, is set to launch a South Korean satellite through a commercial agreement with Seoul.

  • Beijing sent its largest and most technologically advanced patrol ship, the Haijian 50, into the East China Sea under the objective of securing its “territorial rights and marine interests.” The next day, the Philippines sends it newest warship, the U.S.-developed Gregario del Pilar, to patrol the South China Sea, another site of Chinese territorial disputes.

  • The U.S. embassy in Seoul has sent officials to visit the offices of South Korean businesses with investment interests in Iran. The move is directed at companies which have or are aiming to conduct ventures without formally consulting the national government. The U.S. is asking its allies to apply heavier sanctions against Tehran in light of its nuclear development program.

  • The Seychelles offers the Chinese Navy its first military base abroad in a move to improve defense against piracy. Additionally, Chinese officials are considering setting up “supplies facilities” in the archipelago. India has expressed concern over the military base. Former intelligence chief, Vikram Sood said that the base gives China a strategic advantage in protecting its interest through military interventions in Africa.

  • The murder of a South Korean officer at the hands of a Chinese fisherman has prompted Seoul to call for an expansion of its coast guard. The government is considering doubling its large patrol boat fleet, increasing emphasis on firearm use for self-defense, and enhancing collaborations between the navy and army.

  • The Burmese government announced Wednesday that it was allowing locals to mine rubies in the Moegoke for the first time since the junta came into power in 1962. Allowing private companies access to the mine is seen as way to foster economic growth by creating new jobs. Likewise, government officials believe it will help reduce poverty and aid in regional development. The move is the latest in a chain of reforms by the new government.

  • The upcoming presidential elections in Taiwan have become a popular topic among Chinese netizens. Internet users in China have been wondering when “Taiwan is going to take us back?” reflecting perceptions of the island as a model for Chinese democracy. Related search terms have yet to be blocked by China’s censorship.
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