Under The Radar News 03.26.12

Posted on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 by Ai-Shan Lu

A weekly compilation of events in Asia.

  • Taiwan will reportedly lift barriers on public infrastructure development by Chinese investors. The plan could go into effect as early as at the end of March. The main opposition party—Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), however, criticized the government’s plan, highlighting that China is not yet a member of the World Trade Organization’s Government Procurement Agreement (WTO-GPA) and has poor labor practices and standards that could expose Taiwan to many risks.

  • According to Hanoi’s Party Secretary Pham Quang Nghi, the Communist Party of Vietnam will implement a vote of confidence on officials in state agencies to assess their prestige and qualification. Mr. Nghi believes that this mechanism could supervise personal asset declaration of party members so as to curb corruption.

  • On March 22, the Japanese government concluded negotiations on a trilateral investment accord with China and South Korea with the aim to sign the agreement at a summit in Beijing in mid-May. The trilateral accord reportedly includes provisions concerning the protection of intellectual property rights and a prohibition on demanding technology transfer.

  • Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, secretary of state of Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, reportedly stated that the country would strengthen its comprehensive cooperation with China.

  • On March 23, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a reform of the nation’s gas pricing policy to stimulate natural gas production. New Delhi has also invested in the creation of large-gasification facilities in a bid to cater to the growing demand for gas.

  • On March 25, the 1,200-member Election Committee declared the former convener of the Executive Council, Leung Chun-ying, as the new Chief Executive of Hong Kong. In his victory speech, Leung pledged to maintain the freedoms and rights Hong Kong people enjoy today.

  • Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who served in United Nations (UN) forces in Bosnia, announced that Indonesia will provide UN peacekeeping forces with three Russian-made Mi-17 transport helicopters after meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on March 20.
  • Under The Radar News 03.19.12

    Posted on Monday, March 19, 2012 by Ai-Shan Lu

    A weekly compilation of events in Asia.

  • According to the official-Xinhua News Agency, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun voiced Beijing’s concerns to North Korea’s ambassador to China, Ji Jae Ryong, about the DPRK’s plan to launch a satellite next month. North Korea claimed that the launch is for peaceful scientific purposes rather than a long-range missile test.

  • On March 13, Bank Tejarat, Iran’s third-largest bank, was blacklisted by Japan for its alleged assistance to Tehran in developing its nuclear program. According to Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, an asset freeze has been imposed on the bank and there will be “slight impact” on the Japanese economy.

  • Vietnam denounced Chinese actions of opening bids for oil exploration near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi asked China to “cease all activities” and respect Vietnam’s sovereignty over the islands.

  • Since European insurers refused to insure crude shipments exported from Iran, Shipping Corp of India—the country’s largest shipping firm—has reportedly held talks with local insurance companies to cover cargoes and vessels for imports from Iran.

  • Burma’s ‘new law’ revokes the ban on public assembly and allows peaceful protests, however, New-York-based Human Rights Watch criticized the law for not reaching international standards. More specifically, the advocacy group urged Burma’s parliament to rule out “the threat of imprisonment as a penalty for permit violations.”

  • Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa stated that the deployment of U.S. marines in Australia's northern territory would improve regional stability as he and Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro discussed defense agreements with Australian counterparts on March 15.

  • The Chongqing Daily, a state-run media, reported on March 16 that local officials and residents should toe the party line and pledge loyalty to President Hu Jintao and the new party-secretary in Chongqing, Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang.
  • Under The Radar News 03.12.12

    Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 by Ai-Shan Lu

    A weekly compilation of events in Asia. 

  • In an attempt to assert Vietnamese sovereignty over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, a delegation of six Buddhist monks will be sent to restore the shrines on the islands. China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim parts of the islands.

  • Singapore and Mongolia have agreed to collaborate in information technology through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on March 6. According to the MOU, projects will include e-Government, enterprise architecture, and cloud computing.

  • India’s ruling Congress Party faced a crushing defeat in a local election on March 6. In the state of Uttar Pradesh—located in northern India—the Congress Party won only 35 seats in the 403-seat state assembly while the Samajwadi Party attained 224 seats to establish a clear majority.

  • According to the Korea National Oil Corporation—one of South Korea’s most important industrial powerhouse—rising oil prices in the country are caused by international sanctions imposed on Iran. Thorny problems like inflation, soaring energy costs and a weak currency are causing political difficulty for the Lee Myung-bak administration as the parliamentary and presidential elections approach.

  • In light of Indian farmers concerns over falling prices of cotton, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ordered a review of the decision to ban cotton exports by the Commerce Ministry. China’s cotton industry, which reportedly purchased 80% of Indian production, also criticized the ban as irresponsible.

  • The Thai and Japanese prime ministers emphasized the importance of the economiccooperation between the two nations during their talks in Tokyo on March 7. The two sides agreed to collaborate closely on disaster management, especially on flood control measures.

  • According to the Chinese minister of water resources, Mr. Chen Lei, China is willing to share its experiences in water conservation and will sign an agreement regarding water management with the European Union during the World Water Forum in Marseille, France, from March 12 to 17.
  • Under The Radar News 03.05.12

    Posted on Wednesday, March 7, 2012 by Ai-Shan Lu

    A weekly compilation of events in Asia.

  • According to senior Japanese diplomatic officials, Tokyo has ruled out imposing carbon tax or introducing a carbon price as the country continues to face power shortages after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck the country last March.

  • The Vietnamese government accused Chinese authorities of assaulting its fishermen in the South China Sea. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei denied the accusation and stated that Vietnam should respect China’s sovereignty over the Xisha Islands, also known as Paracel Islands.

  • The United States and South Korea launched its annual military exercise codename ‘Key Resolve’ on 27 February. Pyongyang denounced the exercise as "an unpardonable infringement upon the sovereignty and dignity of the DPRK." The exercise involves a 12-day drill including computer-simulated war games.

  • The United States is reportedly planning to send 20,000 tons of food aid to North Korea per month for a year in response to North Korea’s reported agreement to suspend its uranium-enrichment tests. Concerns remain over how the aid may be distributed in North Korea.

  • India’s biggest shipping company, Shipping Corp of India, was reportedly coerced to cancel crude oil shipment from Iran due to European insurance companies’ refusal to provide necessary insurance coverage. New sanctions imposed by the European Union this January restricts European insurance companies from compensating ships delivering Iranian crude and oil products anywhere in the world.

  • According to Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) Deputy Director Khin Maung Win, Myanmar’s Information Minister agreed to grant visas to journalists based outside the country. Previously, reporters from non-state sanctioned broadcasters would face criminal charges if they were caught covering events in Burma.

  • Consumption of sugar continues to increase in the world’s two largest sugar consumers: China and India. According to Tom McNeill, director at an Australia-based company Green Pool Commodity Specialists, the Asian region faces a long-term sugar deficit, which will help to absorb excessive supply of sugar from other regions.
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