A weekly compilation of under-reported events in Asia.
- China tested the CSS-4 Mod 2 silo-based ICBM at the Wuzhai Missile and Space Test Center on August 20. This is reportedly the third missile test in the past four weeks. U.S. intelligence analysts expect China to upgrade to multiple warhead missiles in the near future, but Pentagon officials say that the tests are a result of deficiencies on the part of Chinese missile technologies.
- The dispute between South Korea and Japan over the Dokdo/Takeshima Islets intensified this week as the two nations clashed over the handling of diplomatic letters between the heads-of-states. On August 23, the U.S. called on South Korea and Japan to resolve their differences peacefully through consultation and constructive dialogue.
- Amid strong public anti-nuclear sentiment, Japan is considering the elimination of nuclear power over the next 20 years in the formation of a new long term energy plan. This formula would mark a departure from earlier predictions, which forecasted nuclear power to make up between 10 and 20 percent of Japan’s energy mix. A new Asahi Shimbun survey released on August 26 showed a plurality of Diet members in favor of full elimination.
- While Chinese activists take to the streets to protest Japan’s claim over the Senkaku (Diaoyutai) Islands in the East China Sea, Beijing has taken steps to reign in the protests for fear that they might jeopardize relations with Tokyo or escalate into domestic dissidence. The Chinese government warned its citizens not to blindly boycott all Japanese products because of China’s bilateral economic relations with Japan.
- South Korea imported oil from Iran in July, in an apparent departure from earlier government statements against importing Iranian oil due to the EU insurance ban. Seoul officials claimed that delayed June shipments led to the cargo’s July arrival. Other government sources said that Iranian crude imports would resume in September, upon shifting the responsibility of insurance to Iran.
- In the name of national security, India has blocked over 300 internet sites, including many Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter accounts. The government claims it seeks to censor accounts that publish “objectionable content,” such as rumors of revenge attacks by Muslims on migrants in the Northeast. Indian journalists, internet experts, and the U.S. State Department have all called on India to respect internet freedom.
- Philippine President Benigno Aquino named the country’s first female Supreme Court chief justice on August 24. Aquino praised Maria Lourdes Sereno’s ability to lead much-needed reforms of the judicial system. Yet, critiques questioned her ability to remain neutral, noting that she would be “politically indebted” to Aquino for her appointment.
- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit the Cook Islands, a nation of just 11,000 people in the South Pacific, to attend the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). Lack of U.S. presence in the small island states has allowed China to increase its influence, experts say, and Clinton’s visit reflects Washington’s renewed focus on Asia-Pacific.