Posted on Monday, November 19, 2012 by Lucy Wen-Chin Lo
A weekly compilation of under-reported events in Asia.
- At a Washington forum on Asia policy in the second term of the Obama administration, National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon said that North Korea can imitate Myanmar-style reform in economic development. Both North Korea and Myanmar(Burma) have been in isolation and under sanctions by the U.S., and reforms in North Korea’s economic sector could allow for its reentry into the international community.
- Philippines’ President Benigno Aquino urged Southeast Asian countries to present a united front against China over the South China Sea issues. "We can talk to the other claimants that aren't ASEAN members but since we want to maintain ASEAN's centrality, we must have just one voice in Asean... in this regard," President Aquino told reporters.
- The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, and the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Army Gen. James D. Thurman, visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Dempsey also met with his South Korean counterpart, Jung Seung-jo, to discuss the success of the U.S.-Korea alliance and an alternative joint command system between the two forces after the expected transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) to Seoul starting in 2015.
- North Korea is suspected of attempting to ship graphite cylinders, ballistic missile components to a Syrian company. The cylinders were disguised as lead pipes in a Chinese ship, which was uncovered by South Korean authorities in the port city of Busan. The shipment violates UN sanctions against North Korea. China has promised to investigate the incident, which was reported last month to the UN Security Council North Korea sanctions committee.
- Preceding a visit from U.S. President Barack Obama, the Burmese government began releasing prisoners under an amnesty. However, the extent of these releases is still uncertain with an estimate of 300 prisoners still in jail. Human rights groups continue to criticize the release of prisoners, stating that they are lying about the release of political prisoners.
- The National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) in Singapore estimates that there may be a need to increase the number of foreign manpower in Singapore particularly in health care, construction, and domestic help sectors. NGOs express concern on the quality of foreign manpower that would come to Singapore while the country strives to increase productivity.