Under the Radar News 10.28.11

Posted on Friday, October 28, 2011 by Jessica Drun

A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia

  • Japan’s government agencies continue to be plagued by cyber attacks. On Thursday, viruses were discovered on over two-thousand computers in both houses of the national Diet. Japanese missions abroad have also been targeted; computers at nine diplomatic offices were reportedly infected. Meanwhile, further investigation into the Mitsubishi Heavy Industry hacking earlier this month revealed that confidential information on fighter jet and nuclear power plant designs may have been compromised.

  • U.S. and Philippine marines conducted an amphibious assault drill this past Sunday on Scarborough Shoal, an island disputed between China and the Philippines. Originally, a Filipino-controlled Spratley island was suggested as the practice site, but was rejected so as to not antagonize other claimants. Officials would not comment on whether the exercises were related to growing tensions in the South China Sea.

  • South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on November 2nd to increase efforts toward strategic cooperation and economic modernization in Russia. The two will also discuss the 2007 proposal to construct a natural gas pipeline from Russia to South Korea through North Korea.

  • China raises its minimum wage by 21.7 percent to increase countrywide consumption and spending power, in a move to counteract rising costs. If the current trend were to continue, Indonesia and Bangladesh could edge out China in low cost manufacturing.

  • China and Pakistan plan to conduct a joint military exercise next month. The two-week long drill focuses on strategies in Pakistani areas of “Low Intensity Conflict Operations.” This will be the fourth collaborative effort between the two forces, with one previously held in Pakistan and two in China.

  • India’s plans to expand its nuclear sector face challenges from both local governments and the general populace. State-level officials have blocked government initiatives to construct facilities and citizens across the country are protesting the use of nuclear energy in light of the Fukushima disaster. The national government has also been charged with a Public Interest Litigation, to be deliberated at the Supreme Court.

  • On Monday, the Philippines bombed rebel bases on Mindanao island in an airstrike against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The attacks were in response to ongoing violence in the south. The MILF seeks to establish an independent Muslim state in the region and has been in peace negotiations with the national government since 2003, though their campaign for sovereignty has endured for over 30 years.
  • Under the Radar News 10.21.11

    Posted on Friday, October 21, 2011 by Jessica Drun

    A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia

  • The Japanese delegation to the upcoming U.N. Climate Talks will propose a new international framework to guide greenhouse gas reductions after the Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2012. The new plan will include a transition period from 2013 to 2015 (the suggested year of adoption) that allows signatory countries to gradually work toward the voluntary targets set under the Cancun Agreement.

  • Nigeria has invested over two billion dollars in the development of three oil refineries in Indonesia. Indonesian state-owned oil company, PT Pertamina, will import crude oil from Nigeria and process it at these refineries, which are each expected to generate 300 barrels per day.

  • President Ma Ying-jeou raised the idea of reaching a peace agreement with China within the next ten years. Ma emphasized that such an accord would only be considered if backed by the popular support of the Taiwanese people and with the consensus of Taiwan’s legislature. Another precondition, according to Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, is the removal of the 1,600 missiles aimed at Taiwan.

  • China rebuffed Norway’s attempts to normalize political ties between the two countries. High-level contacts were severed by Beijing last year following the announcement that political activist Liu Xiaobo was selected as a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Chinese officials hold that Norway should demonstrate more “tangible efforts” at reconciling differences before any further reconsideration of normalizing relations.

  • Early next year, Japan and the United States will jointly undertake an energy experiment near the shores of Alaska. Oil and gas companies from both sides will cooperate in technology-sharing, as they work to extract methane hydrate, an alternative energy source, from deep under the seabed. Japan will conduct an independent venture later this year near Tokai. Previous research has indicated that the Earth’s methane hydrate supply may store between 350 to 3500 years of energy.

  • Experts believe that North Korea has substantially more uranium reserves than originally assessed. This information follows a report from a U.S. scientist, who was invited to visit North Korea’s uranium enrichment facility last year. The complex was completed in a year and half from essentially the ground-up, indicating to observers that the North Koreans may have long been investing in a uranium-based nuclear program and that there may be other unknown facilities.

  • India has extended a $500 million loan for infrastructure development projects in Burma, following the suspension of the Myitsone dam project. The move is seen as a sign that India is reinvigorating its “Look East” strategy and working to counteract China’s dominant presence in resource-rich Southeast Asia. India has also accepted visits from high-level officials from Vietnam to discuss improved bilateral relations and strategic ties.
  • Under the Radar News 10.14.11

    Posted on Friday, October 14, 2011 by Isabella Mroczkowski

    A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia.

  • Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced that his administration will ease the long-standing arms export ban. The lifting of these restrictions will allow Japan to export weapons and technologies to countries that have agreed to international arms exports regulations, and thereby boost Japan’s defense industry.

  • A cargo ship off of New Zealand’s coast reportedly spilled 200-350 tons of oil in what is considered the country’s worst environmental disaster ‘in decades’.

  • Burma announced plans to release over 6,300 prisoners including journalists, pro-democracy activists, and political dissidents. Human Rights groups question whether the amnesty plan reflects genuine reform or government efforts to stave off international economic sanctions.

  • Beijing is building its first megawatt solar plant. When completed at the end of this year, the plant will generate 3,600 kilowatt-hours of electricity daily—the capacity needed to power 1,150 homes.

  • Japan’s Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba establishes new maritime security partnerships with Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia in an effort to deepen regional cooperation amidst growing tensions and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

  • Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are reportedly close to finalizing a gas deal that will bring China 70 billion cubic meter of gas to China annually for the next 30 years.

  • Vietnam and India’s leaders join hands to strengthen ties and defend the right of an Indian state-owned oil and gas company to begin exploration in waters claimed by both Beijing and Hanoi.

  • Indonesian citizens urge their government to back the United Nations Human Rights Council’s new mandate on accountability for serious crimes and human rights violations.

  • Australia’s House of Representatives and Senate pass the Carbon Tax proposal into law. The law is unpopular with the Australian public because it imposes extra costs on households and businesses for clean energy.

  • China unveils plan to invest $600 billion in comprehensive water-security projects to overcome water shortages that threaten the country’s economic growth.

  • Vietnam and China ink deals to address their maritime border dispute. The new plan establishes a defense hotline and the mechanism for a high-level biannual meeting to discuss long-term solutions to conflicting territory claims in the South China Sea, the islands, and resource reserves.

  • Taipei and Beijing are negotiating plans to swap imprisoned spies. Earlier this year spy agents for Taiwan and Beijing were caught and handed life sentences.
  • Under the Radar News 10.07.11

    Posted on Friday, October 7, 2011 by Jessica Drun

    A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia.

  • China influence continues to expand in Latin America. Governments across the region vowed to strengthen economic and bilateral ties with Beijing in commemoration of the PRC’s National Day celebrations.

  • The immediate effects of the Myitsome Dam suspension by the Burmese government are starting to come to light. China, a major investor of the project, sought consultation talks with Naypyidaw following the announcement, citing the need to protect the interests of its companies. The termination of the project also encouraged the Karenni minority to protest dam construction in the northern part of Burma.

  • The South Korean government indicated this week that it will not permit the United States navy to use the proposed Jeju naval base as a permanent station. The complex will also not support a U.S. missile defense system, as had been rumored. Officials further asserted that the purpose of the base is to deter North Korean attacks rather than to counteract China’s growing maritime presence.

  • Doctors Without Borders ceased its operations in Thailand. The decision was spurred by the organization’s inability to overcome administrative barriers posed by the Thai government, which blocked access to vulnerable groups. Their departure leaves over 55,000 undocumented migrant workers from Burma, Laos and Cambodia without healthcare.

  • Japan plans to introduce a proposal to enhance regional maritime security at the ASEAN East Asia Summit next month. The initiative will bring top government officials together at working-level meetings, helping to establish a framework that will guide future dialogue on dispute resolution in the South China Sea and beyond.

  • Military exchanges between China and Japan will resume on October 19th, after a yearlong suspension following a dispute near the Senkaku Islands. An agreement between the chairman of the Sasakawa Japan-China Friendship Fund and General Ma Xiaotian has set to maintain the exchanges for another five years.

  • Taiwanese aborigines plan on protesting the centennial celebrations of the Republic of China to reflect their discontent. Their grievances include having their lands taken away and having their land serve as a nuclear waste disposal sites.
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