A weekly compilation of under reported events in Asia.
- Violence between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists in Rahkine state in Burma has displaced thousands of people (estimates range from 2,000 to 90,000). Burma views the Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. Meanwhile the refugee situation has intensified with Bangladesh closing off its borders to additional Rohingya refugees.
- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda ordered the restart of two nuclear reactors last weekend, marking the first restart after last year’s earthquake and tsunami. Noda argued that Japan is dependent on nuclear power and that the economy would suffer without it. Opponents continue to call into question the safety of nuclear reactors in Japan, a country prone to natural disasters.
- India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) and China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) announced plans to strengthen existing partnerships and expand future projects, including a pipeline to extend from Burma (Myanmar) into Southwest China and to India. The two nations arrived at this partnership with the notion that “it is better to cooperate than compete.”
- New EU-imposed sanctions will prohibit member countries from importing or insuring Iranian oil starting July 1. In an effort to circumvent the EU’s new stringent sanctions, Japan has passed a law that will allow oil companies to insure tankers carrying Iranian crude. Japan, China, South Korea, and India combined import a third of Iran’s oil and depend on European companies to insure their oil from Iran. Japan is the first of Iran’s oil importers to evade new EU sanctions.
- The dispute over the Scarborough Shoal continued as Philippine president Benigno Aquino threatened to send Philippine ships back to the shoal if Chinese vessels did not leave. Meanwhile Chinese authorities issued a statement criticizing the Philippines for “stirring public opinion” instead of focusing on mending bilateral ties. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday that the Chinese had removed all ships from the lagoon, but Chinese officials have yet to confirm this statement.
- Two Tibetan men self immolated in Qinghai province on Wednesday, leaving a note explaining that repressive Chinese rule made it impossible to contribute to the good of the Tibetan people. They also encouraged Tibetan youths to unite and “uphold the cause of the Tibetan race and nationality.” Since February 2009, there have been 41 reported instances of self-immolation.
- The militaries of Korea, Japan, and the United states carried out exercises in the Yellow Sea, between the Korean peninsula and China, on Thursday and Friday. The exercises served to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the Korean War and to promote trilateral defense cooperation which has been stymied by rocky Korea-Japan relations. Meanwhile, the use of a North Korea (DPRK) flag as a target in live fire exercises drew criticism from the international community as a gratuitous provocation, and North Korean state media condemned the drills and the use of the flag as a precursor to invasion.
- At an investment summit in Burma (Myanmar), President Thein Sein set a new goal for the per capita GDP to triple in three years-- a target which would require a growth rate of over 25 percent each year. While over 300 foreign businessmen attended the summit looking to invest in the newly-opened country, consultants warned that investors considering Burma should wait until laws change and infrastructures improve.
- Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was ousted Tuesday when the Supreme Court ruled him ineligible to rule, marking the first time the Pakistani Supreme Court has acted to remove a prime minister. Makhdoom Shahabuddhin, the first candidate for Mr. Gilani's replacement, was brought up on corruption charges for drug trafficking and also deemed ineligible. Raja Perves Ashraf, former water and power minister, was voted in as the next candidate for PM on Friday. Mr. Ashraf also faces corruption charges, but has taken office despite legal obstacles. In his first public speech on Sunday, Mr. Ashraf called on Taliban militants to put down their weapons and join mainstream life.