Posted on Monday, September 10, 2012 by Michael Chen
A weekly compilation of under-reported events in Asia.
- Following a week of massive protests that forced Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to scrap plans for a new curriculum designed to boost Chinese national identity, Hong Kong citizens headed to the polls to choose a new legislature. Pro-democracy parties won over one-third of the seats, enough to veto any changes to the constitution, but still fell short of expectations. Pro-Beijing political parties with greater financial resources proved more skillful in navigating Hong Kong’s complex electoral system.
- Speaking at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on September 8, Chinese President Hu Jintao warned that China's economy faces "notable downward pressure" and addressed the need to upgrade infrastructure to promote stable growth and recovery. China’s trade data released on September 10 reported falling imports and lackluster growth in exports for August.
- A report released by Asia Business News and Corporate (ABN) revealed that Taiwan's gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 0.18 percent year-on-year in the second quarter. This data coincides with a public opinion poll released by Taiwan Indicator Survey Research (TISR) on September 10 that showed the president’s support level at a record low with 69% disapproving. Opposition lawmakers blamed the central government for the poor economic standing.
- The U.S. Marines plan to set up an "advance command post" on the western Philippine island of Palawan that faces the South China Sea, a senior Philippine marine officer told Kyodo News on September 4. The officer also stated that several other “choke points” – strategically located areas that can be used by both the U.S. and the Philippine forces – have also been opened for access for U.S. forces.
- Chinese President-in-waiting Xi Jinping’s absence from public view for more than a week is fueling speculation online. Most rumors centered on the leader’s back problems, while other less credible sources claim that Xi was injured in a staged traffic accident that was part of a revenge plot by Bo Xilai’s supporters. Over the week, scheduled meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Singaporean prime minister and the Danish prime minister have all been allegedly cancelled.
- A newly released report by the Taiwan military indicates that China has boosted its arsenal aimed at Taiwan to 1,600 missiles, including the new advanced medium-range DF-16 ballistic missiles. This revelation serves as a warning that while relations across the Taiwan Strait have improved, China has not slowed its military buildup across the Taiwan Strait.
- Japan's central government will purchase three Senkaku islands for 2.05 billion yen ($26.15 million) from private owners "as quickly as possible," its cabinet secretary confirmed on September 10. The announcement drew fire from China, which called the deal "illegal and invalid." Taiwan’s government also reaffirmed its claim over the islets in response to Tokyo.
- The ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party gear up for party chief elections. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is expected to retain leadership of DPJ, but polls show the demoralized ruling party almost certain for election defeat. LDP president Sadakazu Tanigaki, after failing to secure a key faction’s support, quit his reelection bid on September 10. Meanwhile, Osaka’s populist mayor Toru Hashimoto announced the launching of a national party expected to make a spectacular debut in the upcoming legislative elections.