Under The Radar 07.23.12

Posted on Monday, July 23, 2012 by Rosalind Reischer

A weekly compilation of under reported events in Asia.

  • In response to renewed friction between Japan and China over Tokyo’s plan to nationalize the Senkaku (Daioyutai) Islands, Japan recalled its ambassador to China, Uichiro Niwa, ostensibly to brief him on how best to inform China of the country’s island purchase plan. In a survey conducted by the Yomiuri Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, 65% of respondents were in favor of the plan to purchase the islands.
  • Taiwan conducted a military exercise with aircraft and helicopters to prepare for the event of a Chinese attack. Taiwan is also scheduled to acquire several more aircraft from the United States next year. Taipei signed an agreement with the United States to upgrade their existing 146 F-16A/B Block 20 fighter aircraft.
  • In what appears to be a military purge to further consolidate the power of Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea received the highest military rank of marshal, while the chief of army’s general staff, Ri Yong-ho, was relieved of all posts.
  • China announced that Jiaolong, its record-setting deep-sea submersible, will dive into the South China Sea by next year. The purpose is reportedly to prepare for commercial mining of the sea bed. Chinese researchers believe that the hydrocarbon reserves in the sea might be the equivalent of 80 percent of the reserves held by Saudi Arabia.
  • After disagreement over the South China Sea issue led to the failure to form a joint communiqué at the conclusion of the ASEAN meeting last week, the foreign minister of Indonesia went on a tour of Southeast Asia in an effort to form a consensus. Indonesia has no claim on the South China Sea and is seen as a neutral country in the area. In a meeting with his counterpart in Vietnam, both ministers agreed that ASEAN should play a central role in the region and the South China Sea issue should be resolved with respect to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • At the fifth ministerial meeting of the Forum on China-Africa cooperation in Beijing, Chinese President Hu Jintao announced US$20 billion in new loans to Africa. South African president, Jacob Zuma, welcomed the investment, saying it would be spent on support for infrastructure and education, but also cautioned against the continuation of the current unequal trade relationship between Africa and China, a trade pattern he called “unsustainable in the long term.”
  • Russia seized two Chinese fishing vessels and detained 36 fishermen for “poaching” in Russia’s EEZ. According to one Russian media source, the Russian ship chased one Chinese boat for three hours before opening fire, ramming, and finally boarding their boat. There were no casualties but one man was reported to have fallen overboard in the chaos.
  • After a diplomatic push from Seoul, China released four South Korean human rights activists they had detained in March. The activists had been criticizing China’s repatriation policy for North Korean defectors when they were arrested. Details on the arrests have not been released, but many human rights activists are known to help Korean defectors escape to the South at the North Korean border with China.

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