Under the Radar News 05.07.12

Posted on Monday, May 7, 2012 by Isabella Mroczkowski

A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia.
 

  • The U.S. is set to double military aid to the Philippines and engage in “real-time information sharing” on the Philippines’ maritime territory. The increased aid arrives at a time when China and the Philippines are at a stand-off over a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi premiered in the Burmese Parliament last week, taking public office for the first time since her two-decade long house arrest. Meanwhile 2,000 government forces have moved into a key rebel stronghold in the north and are preparing for a major assault on Kachin minority rebels.
  • Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda made his first official state visit to the U.S. to meet with President Barack Obama last week. The leaders issued a Joint Statement, calling for a stronger and more “dynamic” U.S. – Japan Alliance and made provisions for energy cooperation and joint combat training operations.
  • At the sixth round of bilateral strategic dialogue discussions, the foreign ministers of India and Japan announced new cooperation mechanisms on cyber and maritime security, including joint naval exercises off the coast of Japan scheduled for June 1. The number two and number three Asian economies also reached an agreement to jointly develop rare earth elements.
  • South Korean arms contractor LIG Nex1 developed long-range radar technology capable of tracking aircraft approaching the Korean Peninsula, including North Korea’s long-range missiles. South Korea is just the fourth country to produce such radar technology, which will boost self-sufficiency of the domestic defense industry and defense technology exports.
  • Against the backdrop of mass protests on April 28 and the upcoming elections in Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the country’s first minimum wage. Thailand, Vietnam, and Taiwan are also in the midst of introducing minimum wages to address growing wealth disparity.
  • Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense formed a special airborne unit capable of reaching the disputed Spratly Islands in a matter of several hours. The increased security measures come at a time when Vietnamese fishing boats are visiting the disputed waters of the South China Sea in increasing numbers.
  • The White House appears to be considering the sale of Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighter aircraft to Taiwan, after acknowledging that Taiwan has a “legitimate need” for “new aircraft.” Taiwan Ministry of National Defense is carefully mulling submitting a letter of request for F-16s.
  • During the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue, President Hu Jintao called for a firm commitment to advancing bilateral cooperation, while warning that worsening relations pose “grave” global risks. During her statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the two nations are inescapably interdependent and there is no other option than to get this relationship right.
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