Under the Radar 12.17.12

Posted on Monday, December 17, 2012 by Henna Sharif

A weekly compilation of under-reported events in Asia.

  • North Korea’s missile launch last week brought about strong concerns from the international community. South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jin said Wednesday's missile had a range of about 10,000 kilometers, which would be enough range to reach the mainland U.S., deepening U.S. concerns on the issue.

  • On Sunday, voters in Japan returned power to the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the parliamentary election. Public broadcaster NHK said the LDP grabbed 294 spots in the lower house and the ousted Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won only 57. Shinzo Abe, party president of the LDP, is slated to become the country’s prime minister for the second time.

  • Anti-China protests took place in Vietnam in response to what is seen as Chinese aggression and expansionism. Although the protests were quickly stopped, public anger has been growing in Vietnam over issues including maritime claims in the region, the sabotage of the PetroVietnam survey vessel, and the new Chinese passports infringing the sovereignty of other nations.

  • Li Chuncheng has been removed from his post as deputy Party secretary of Sichuan Province in China and is suspected of "serious violations of discipline." Li is alleged to have bribed supervisors for promotion and taken kickbacks from the construction industry. He is the highest-level official to be sacked since Xi Jinping vowed to crack down on graft when he was elected as head of the ruling party last month.

  • India is investigating how Swedish-made weapons bought by its army turned up in Myanmar (Burma), a minister visiting Yangon said Dec. 15. The minister denies New Delhi had supplied arms in contravention of EU sanctions. Sweden asked India to clarify how the weapons wound up in Myanmar after being informed by the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls that the weapons had come from India.

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will help vulnerable communities in Cambodia raise their ability to respond to and cope with natural disasters by providing a $35 million U.S. dollar loan to manage risks stemming from extreme floods and droughts. The Cambodia project includes upgrade to irrigation systems and other infrastructure, a strengthened national flood forecasting center, and training and support to farmers for community-based disaster risk management.

  • Former Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva has been charged with murder over the death of a taxi driver shot by soldiers during political violence when thousands of protesters took to the streets in 2010 demanding his government step down. He gave orders allowing troops to use live ammunition on protesters, who had shut down parts of Bangkok.
  • Under the Radar 12.10.12

    Posted on Monday, December 10, 2012 by Henna Sharif

    A weekly compilation of under-reported events in Asia.

  • Satellite images have shown an increase in activity at a North Korean missile launch site. North Korea plans to launch a missile in an attempt to put a polar-orbiting observation satellite into space. The international community has warned of the violations to UN Security Council restrictions and are preparing for any deviations from the launch trajectory.

  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) opened its 11th prime ministers' meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The meeting laid the foundation for future development of the SCO including enhancing mutual trust, cooperation and common prosperity, while maintaining peace and stability among its member states.

  • U.S. and Chinese armed forces held a joint tabletop exercise on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. This was the 8th exercise between the Chinese and American armed forces since 1997. The drill involved a joint rescue and relief operation after an earthquake.

  • The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) are in talks to jointly launch a humanitarian mission for refugees of the deadly conflict between the Rohingya and Rakhine ethnic groups in Myanmar. The violence between the Buddhist Rakhines and the Muslim Rohingyas has claimed more than 80 lives, displaced 22,000 people and damaged 4,600 houses. The organizations would send food and help rebuild homes in the area.

  • The U.S. has exempted Taiwan from complying with sanctions it has imposed on Iran, but encouraged Taipei to keep reducing its Iranian oil imports. The U.S. called on Taiwan to continue limiting its relations with Iran as a new area of cooperation between the two countries to ensure global security.

  • In a Yomiuri Shimbun survey conducted in Japan prior to the 16 December House of Representatives elections, the opposition-Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) could win more than a working majority of seats. According to the survey, the LDP is poised to lead both the single-seat constituency and the proportional representation section. The survey also indicated that the New Komeito Party will have a firm hold of its seats.

  • In the 11th Vietnam-UK dialogue, both countries discussed prevention and fighting against corruption. British Ambassador to Vietnam Antony Stokes made assessments on Vietnam's anti-corruption work, noting three major developments including a revision of the Law on Anti-corruption; reports on anti-corruption with in-depth analysis and research made public; and commitment made by local authorities to anti-corruption.

  • A gas tanker has sailed through the Arctic waters, demonstrating the seas utility as a Suez Canal alternative and providing a Northeast sea route linking Europe and Asia. The route is not without political tensions as Russia continues to look for proof that the Lomonosov and Mendeleev ridges are part of Russia’s continental shelf.
  • Under the Radar 12.3.12

    Posted on Monday, December 3, 2012 by Henna Sharif

    A weekly compilation of under-reported events in Asia.

  • More trouble was stirred up last week over China’s new passports, which highlights the territories that Beijing claims belong to the People’s Republic of China. These areas include India’s Arunachal Pradesh state and Taiwan, and the waters of Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, and Malaysia. Such actions by Chinese authorities continue to demonstrate China’s persistence in its claims over the South China Sea.

  • South Korean and U.S. intelligence are keeping a close watch on North Korea as it prepares to launch its own rocket. Satellite imagery has shown an increase in activity at North Korea's Sohae Satellite Launch Station (also known as the Tongchang-ri launch station), which was used in the unsuccessful launch attempt in April. Another launch attempt is predicted in the next few weeks.

  • China will launch a campaign for the study, promotion and implementation of the spirit of the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) among its entire military. The General Political Department of the People's Liberation Army will send publicity teams to army units across the country to give lectures on the spirit of the congress, focusing on upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics and the important significance of the 18th CCP National Congress to the development of the Party, the country and the army.

  • South Korea’s nuclear envoy visited China to discuss the Korean Peninsula and North Korea. With the increased activity at a North Korean missile launch site, the talks will include a focus on China’s policy towards North Korea.

  • Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra survived a no-confidence vote orchestrated by her opponents in parliament who accused her of failing to crack down on graft. Yingluck was accused by the main opposition Democrat Party of overseeing corruption – particularly in a controversial government rice purchase scheme – and of being the puppet of her brother.

  • Pakistan, Afghanistan and China met at the second meeting of the Trilateral Dialogue. Issues discussed included the regional situation with a focus on Afghanistan, the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a counter-narcotics campaign, and the importance of continued dialogue for peace and stability in the region.

  • The United States welcomes China’s participation in U.S.-led joint naval Rim of the Pacific Exercise in 2014. The invitation appears intended to reassure China about the U.S. strategic pivot to the Pacific. “Cooperating with China to realize shared goals is important to the maintenance of peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region and central to our approach,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said.

  • Mynamar’s government immigration officials are conducting a census-like operation in the island village of Sin Thet Maw verifying the citizenship of the Muslims living in the village. This has been of concern for the Rohingyas, who are originally from Bangladesh and viewed as foreigners in Burma. However, President Thein Sein has promised to consider new rights for the Rohingya, as stated in a letter to the United Nations
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