Posted on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 by Michael Chen
A weekly compilation of under-reported events in Asia.
- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travels to Beijing after visits to the Cook Islands and Indonesia. While her trip to the Cook Islands underscored U.S. competition with China in the midst of a growing Chinese footprint in the South Pacific, Clinton’s trip to Beijing seeks to ease tensions. China’s foreign minister recently called for a “new type of major country relationship" with the U.S., while his spokesperson warned Washington not to take sides over the South China Sea disputes.
- India and China will resume military exercises after a four-year freeze. The announcement was made during the Chinese Defense Minister General Liang Guanglie's visit to New Delhi, the first such visit in eight years. Analysts say Beijing will use this meeting to urge India to stay out of ongoing South China Sea conflicts, while New Delhi may pressure Beijing to ease its confrontational posture in territorial disputes.
- Japan’s government will be forced to go on an unprecedented spending freeze, if the bond-issuance bill fails to pass in the current parliamentary session ending September 8, a likely scenario amid political deadlock. The latest standoff came as opposition lawmakers, eager to force an early election, passed a censure motion against Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on August 29. Analysts have warned that the spending freeze would threaten the government’s ability to apply fiscal stimulus, leading to a “fiscal slope.”
- China pledged to invest in more European debt and signed a contract for 50 Airbus jets after German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Beijing on August 31. While seemingly successful, Merkel’s visit drew criticism back home for not pressuring Beijing on human rights.
- Japan and North Korea held talks for the first time in four years on August 29th. Representatives from both countries met at the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, China. Japan is reportedly pushing to bring the North's abduction of Japanese citizens on the table for future talks, while the North is using the talks to ask for economic assistance. The meeting was seen as a preliminary discussion to pave the way for broader talks in the future.
- North Korea and Iran signed a scientific and technological cooperation agreement on September 1, tightening relations between the two countries and paving the way for further military technology collaboration. Washington has long accused North Korea of providing Iran with advanced missiles, a charge Tehran denies.
- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned that North Korea’s nuclear program is a "matter of serious concern.” In a recent report, the UN nuclear watchdog cited satellite images showing significant progress in the construction of a light water atomic reactor.
- Washington has made it clear to Seoul and Tokyo that the Dokdo/Takeshima islets are not covered by each country’s bilateral security treaty with the U.S. The U.S. is dismayed to see its two key allies at odds and has called for both sides to “work it out peacefully.”
- A London-based monitor issued a report saying that China’s attempt to slowly assimilate Taiwan through economic integration will likely fail due to stiff Taiwanese opposition to any ‘one country, two systems’ solution. The report also warns that forced reunification would result in “a bloodbath” and be “extremely risky for Beijing.”