According to the official-Xinhua News Agency, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun voiced Beijing’s concerns to North Korea’s ambassador to China, Ji Jae Ryong, about the DPRK’s plan to launch a satellite next month. North Korea claimed that the launch is for peaceful scientific purposes rather than a long-range missile test.
On March 13, Bank Tejarat, Iran’s third-largest bank, was blacklisted by Japan for its alleged assistance to Tehran in developing its nuclear program. According to Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, an asset freeze has been imposed on the bank and there will be “slight impact” on the Japanese economy.
Vietnam denounced Chinese actions of opening bids for oil exploration near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi asked China to “cease all activities” and respect Vietnam’s sovereignty over the islands.
Since European insurers refused to insure crude shipments exported from Iran, Shipping Corp of India—the country’s largest shipping firm—has reportedly held talks with local insurance companies to cover cargoes and vessels for imports from Iran.
Burma’s ‘new law’ revokes the ban on public assembly and allows peaceful protests, however, New-York-based Human Rights Watch criticized the law for not reaching international standards. More specifically, the advocacy group urged Burma’s parliament to rule out “the threat of imprisonment as a penalty for permit violations.”
The Chongqing Daily, a state-run media, reported on March 16 that local officials and residents should toe the party line and pledge loyalty to President Hu Jintao and the new party-secretary in Chongqing, Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang.
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