Under The Radar 10.15.12

Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012 by Hong Hanh Dinh

A weekly compilation of under-reported events in Asia.

  • Myanmar (Burma) President Thein Sein visits Seoul to meet with South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak to negotiate trade and investment opportunities for both nations. South Korea plans to develop gas and power plant projects, and both sides will cooperate on improving energy and resources development, infrastructure and construction. In addition, the two leaders signed a framework agreement on grant aid and a memorandum of understanding to establish Myanmar's first state research think tank on economic development.
  • North Korean fishing boats violates the Northern Limit Line, which the South Korean government claims was intended to stir up tensions and influence the upcoming elections in South Korea. The South Korean government responded firmly to the provocation and stated that it was North Korea's attempt to sway voters towards the opposition, which is more soft-lined towards North Korea.
  • Suggestions to "jointly manage" the disputed Diaoyu/Takeshima islands by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto has sparked tensions within his party, Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party). Although Hashimoto believes the islands are Japanese sovereign territories, he believes "sovereignty and utilization are different matters." This has resulted in divided opinions by Japanese experts.
  • Amidst increasing trade barriers against Chinese solar firms set up by the European Union and the U.S., China's top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, has approved several overseas energy projects. Chinese solar firms are now moving towards the establishment of solar power stations in Europe and the U.S. to promote local employment, thereby lessening trade frictions.
  • From 2013-2015, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) will provide $144 million to implement a three year plan in the Kachin, Kayin, Chin, Rakhine and Shan ethnic states of Myanmar (Burma). The plan's three main objectives includes the "eradication of poverty and hunger, assurance of environmental sustainability, and the development of democracy and human rights through good governance."
  • At last week's IMF's semi-annual meeting, the China's central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, withdrew the Chinese delegation in Tokyo that included senior finance officials and state-owned bank representatives. A reaction ostensibly in response to Japan's sovereignty claims over the disputed Diaoyu/Takeshima Islands.
  • China commissions its first aircraft carrier called Liaoning into its navy. Yet, the new aircraft carrier is not yet fully operational due to the absence of an air wing off of its flight deck.
  • As a result of its rice intervention scheme, the Thai government expects a loss of 80 million baht ($3.2 billion). The Thai government bought rice from farmers at 15,000 baht per tonne of paddy, which was well above the 9,000 baht per tonne quoted by traders. This was implemented under the populist scheme last year in order to bring Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to power.

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