Under the Radar 1.28.13

Posted on Monday, January 28, 2013 by Henna Sharif

A weekly compilation of under-reported events in Asia.

  • The Philippine government brought the South China Sea disputes to an Arbitral Tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). According to Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario: "The initiation of Arbitral Proceedings against China on the nine-dash line is an operationalization of President Aquino's policy for a peaceful and rules-based resolution of disputes in the West Philippine Sea (international name: South China Sea) in accordance with international law.”

  • The Republic of Korea’s president-elect, Park Geun-hye, sent special envoy Kim Moo-sung to Beijing. Kim said that his visit emphasized the importance of maintaining bilateral relations and demonstrated that the new administration was ready to advance the bilateral partnership. Kim’s visit followed Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun, who visited the ROK earlier this month to deliver a personal message from Xi Jinping.

  • Russia has expressed its readiness for trilateral economic cooperation with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and South Korea on a variety of economic projects. Russia welcomes high-level exchanges with the DPRK and South Korea on projects such as gas supplies and trans-Korean railroad.

  • During the January 21-22 visit by Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony to Myanmar (Burma), the two sides reportedly discussed a working roadmap on border management. This move has been seen as an effort to check China’s entry into the Indian Ocean region.

  • North Korea threatened to carry out a nuclear test as part of an “all-out action” against the United States, which it called the “main player” behind recently tightened international sanctions. Intelligence experts in Seoul and Washington have speculated for months that the secretive police state is preparing to conduct its third nuclear test, based on satellite photos showing activity at the North’s test site. Pyongyang’s state news agency also has made several opaque references about bolstering the nation’s “nuclear deterrent.”

  • Japan launched an intelligence-gathering satellite from a rocket launch site in the southern Japanese prefecture of Kagoshima. The launch took place as planned at 1:40 pm local time at Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island of the prefecture, and the satellite has successfully gone into orbit around the earth.

  • A labor activist and former magazine editor was sentenced to 10 years in prison for insulting Thailand’s king, the latest in a string of convictions under the country’s strict lèse-majesté law. The case of the activist and editor, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, 51, stood out because Mr. Somyot directly challenged the lèse-majesté law in court, saying it violated the right to free expression.

  • Taiwan held a military exercise simulating an attempt by rival China to seize an airport on its east coast, one of the key crucial military installations on the island. Hundreds of soldiers and a fleet of main battle tanks were mobilized in the drill at Hualien airbase, while F-16 fighters were scrambled. Persistent threats from China have prompted Taiwan to keep modernizing its military forces.
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