Posted on Monday, August 6, 2012 by Michael Chen
A weekly compilation of under-reported events in Asia.
- The U.S. State Department accused China of stirring up tensions in the South China Sea by the establishment of a new military garrison on the disputed islands. Patrick Ventrell, acting deputy spokesperson of the State Department urged ASEAN and China to work together on establishing a Code of Conduct. In response, Beijing officials summoned the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to warn Washington not to challenge China's sovereignty over the islands.
- In Japan’s annual defense white paper Defense of Japan, released on July 31, Tokyo took note of China’s growing military influence on its foreign policy decisions, and called for a tougher defense strategy and a Cold War-style hot line between Tokyo and Beijing. Despite praising South Korea as a close ally, the report also reasserted Japan’s claims over disputed islands also claimed by South Korea, a move that angered officials in Seoul.
- Massive floods between July 18 and 29 devastated parts of North Korea, reportedly killing hundreds of people and submerging vast swaths of the isolated country’s farmland. Calls for immediate assistance by North Korea and UN officials who visited the flooded areas were followed by the UN World Food Program (WFP)’s announcement of shipments of emergency food aid to the impoverished country.
- India suffered two major power outages in two days. The blackout at one point reportedly left half its population (or 600 million people) without electricity. While power has since been restored, the power outages casted looming doubts throughout the international community as to whether India can become a superpower with its unstable infrastructure.
- Chinese courts in Xinjiang jailed 20 Uighur Muslims on charges of terrorism and separatism, prompting an exiled rights group to accuse the Chinese state of trying to oppress their culture and religion. Authorities in Xinjiang have also banned Muslim officials and students from fasting during Ramadan.
- In a joint forum between China and Taiwan’s ruling party, the fourth-top ranking Chinese official, Jia Qinglin, offered a rare, explicit definition of Beijing’s “One-China” Policy, stating that China and Taiwan both belong to “one nation.” Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party called Jia Qinglin’s statement part of Beijing’s ‘step-by-step move toward unification,’ and called on President Ma Ying-jeou to protest the move.
- Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou proposed the East China Sea initiative to address the disputes over Diaoyutai, or Senkaku islands, claimed by Taiwan, China, and Japan. Ma urged all parties to establish a code of conduct and create mechanism for joint development of resources.
- Researchers found that a growing middle class in Asian countries, especially China, is likely to cause a food crisis in the near future. The study pinpointed growing appetites for meat and poultry fed on grains and legumes as a major driver of the recent record-high prices of corn, wheat and soybeans.