Under the Radar 11.05.12

Posted on Monday, November 5, 2012 by Hong Hanh Dinh

A weekly compilation of under-reported events in Asia. 

  • A closer business tie appears to be developing between the United Kingdom and China as the China Investment Corporation (CIC) recently bought a 10% state in the Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd, previously known as BAA Ltd. Unlike other countries that have been more protective of national assets from Chinese investments, the UK has displayed an open attitude towards the influx of capital. Amidst the Euro Crisis, the UK has remained a relatively stable investment environment, a very attractive sign for foreign firms during the economic slowdown.  
  • About 30 foreign ambassadors and other delegates were invited to Pyongyang to watch a musical performance that celebrated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the prestigious Kim Il Sung Military University. Seated closely to the new North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, this is an unconventional move from such a closed society since only Russian and Chinese ambassadors were permitted in the past. This may be interpreted as the new regime's efforts to be more open to the international community.
  • With the upcoming leadership transition, Chinese leaders are taking no chances as they render a lists of stringent rules restrictions to stem all possible threats to stability. Elite paranoia over propaganda leaflets has barred the use of any handles for rear windows in taxis, balloons, remote control model planes, and pigeons must be caged when congress starts. These concerns stems from the political dissidents in southern China that released pigeons, carrying slogans written on ribbons tied to the birds' feet in the late 1990's. 

  • After strong criticism of inaction, China has reportedly proposed a set of new initiatives to stem the violence in Syria. The initiatives were presented to Lakhdar Brahimi, the Algerian veteran United Nations peace envoy and advisor on Syria, and include “concrete” suggestions to resolve the 19-month old conflict. China will not change its stance on its opposition to the conviction of Assad's government, but is rather pushing efforts towards "a ceasefire region by region and phase by phase, and establishing a transitional governing body," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.

  • Constitutional reform is under debate among the South Korean presidential candidates vying in the upcoming elections in mid-December. There is current discussion regarding the possibility of future presidents serving two four-year terms in office, a bicameral legislative system to enhance the rights of provinces, and additional clauses to enhance basic rights.The current ruling Saenuri Party candidate, Park Geun-hye, is assessing outdated elements of the constitution and is in favor of a two-term presidential system. Main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) candidate Moon Jae-in also advocates for a two-term presidency, along with a vice president. However, independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo remains reserved on this issue.
  • Peace between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Philippine's largest Muslim insurgent group, is moving forward as the two sides signed an agreement calling for the creation of a new autonomous regional government, to be called "Bangsamoro," that will replace the failed Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The shape and size of the new Bangsamoro region will be decided through a plebiscite by 2015.

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