Posted on Monday, June 11, 2012 by Rosalind Reischer
A weekly compilation of under reported news in Asia.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin visited his Chinese counterpart, President Hu Jintao to discuss the trajectory of Russia-China relations, which have reportedly “reached new heights.” The two United National Security Council members reiterated their shared stance on Syria, namely their support for the Kofi Annan peace plan and opposition to armed foreign intervention and forced regime change. The leaders also discussed plans for Russia to increase natural gas exports to China and signed 17 diplomatic and trade agreements, which will support their booming trade relationship.
- Following the Shangri-La Dialogue last weekend Defense Secretary Leon Panetta travelled to India to encourage India to play a larger role in Afghanistan. India plays a key role in the U.S.’s new “strategic focus” on Asia and is a key partner on security issues in the Indian Ocean. Secretary Panetta urged his counterparts to increase India’s share of defense spending in American technologies. In return, Panetta also agreed to move forth on information and technology sharing talks.
- U.S.-Japan talks on Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) came to a standstill last week. The U.S. insists that Japan liberalize its automobile, insurance, agriculture and beef markets and ease the tariffs that are artificially favoring these industries. Meanwhile, Japan is concerned that abolishing long standing tariffs on products such as produce will eradicate the nation’s agricultural industry.
- The appointment of Satoshi Morimoto as Defense Minister drew some controversy in Japan, as he is the first unelected official to serve in this post. In his new position, Morimoto seeks to enhance the U.S.-Japan security alliance and to relocate the controversial Futenma base. Dr. Morimoto’s was a professor of security and diplomacy issues at Takushoku University and he also worked as an adviser on national security when the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was in power. His new appointment is part of a reshuffling of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s cabinet in an effort to secure bipartisan support for the consumption tax in Japan.
- The 2012 Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit concluded last week, with its six member states reiterating their hopes for peace, stability and prosperity in the region. They also voiced their opposition to foreign intervention or unilateral sanctions in Syria. President Hu Jintao announced a $10 billion USD loan to develop the economies of SCO members, with the goal of the SCO driving regional economic development. Afghanistan also obtained observer status in the SCO this week, an achievement accompanied by President Karzai’s visit to China, where the two leaders elevated Afghanistan-China relations to a strategic and cooperative partnership.
- Amidst two recent Tibetan self-immolations in Lhasa protesting new rounds of monastic repression, China has banned non-Chinese foreign tourists from entering Tibet. Since March 2001 there have been 36 self immolation cases in Tibet.
- In his visit to the United States, Philippines President Benigno Aquino met with President Barack Obama to discuss security, economic, and regional issues and to reaffirm his commitment to the Philippines-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). In a joint statement, both leaders reiterated their commitments to the principles of freedom of navigation and respect for international law.