Under the Radar 2.11.13

Posted on Monday, February 11, 2013 by Henna Sharif

A weekly compilation of under-reported events in Asia.

  • Former vice president Annette Lu of Taiwan proposed an initiative to demilitarize the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (known as Senkaku in Japan) and turn them into a protected marine zone. The former vice president stated that her initiative – contrary to President Ma’s call for joint development – advocate the “joint non-development” of the area’s resources by all claimants.

  • The U.S. pivot to Asia will not mean any new bases in the region, but existing alliances will be strengthened and modernized. Adm. Samuel Locklear, the chief of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), said “the U.S. has no intention of establishing more bases” in Asia, but “what we hope to do with our partners . . . is to continue to operate closely.”

  • China is North Korea’s sole remaining major diplomatic and economic benefactor but has been showing signs of exasperation with its isolated neighbor. Beijing expressed serious concern after Pyongyang stepped up its bellicose rhetoric and threatened to conduct a third nuclear test in response to what it sees as "hostile" sanctions imposed after a December rocket launch.

  • ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh and the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) to ASEAN agreed to further strengthen coordination and cooperation between member states and the secretariat in order to effectively implement the goals and objectives of the association. "There is a need for the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN Member States to improve our coordination, cooperation and communication as well as among the ASEAN sectoral bodies in implementing the three ASEAN Community Blueprints” he said in the meeting last week.

  • In efforts to boost bilateral cooperation, Thailand and France have signed five accords and memorandums of understanding during French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to Thailand last week. These five agreements cover cooperation in defense, production of four vaccines, research and development in agronomics, vocational curriculum development, and education under which a number of French teaching volunteers will come to teach in various schools in Thailand between June and September 2013.

  • China continues to crackdown on self-immolations in the Tibetan region. In the past few months, the government has begun a new tactic to discourage the protests, detaining and jailing people it deems to have incited the burnings. The latest detentions took place in the northwestern province of Qinghai, where police detained 70 "criminal suspects", 12 of whom were formally arrested, meaning they will be charged.

  • As North Korea prepares a third nuclear test, South Korean soldiers on the world's most heavily armed border now have orders to shoot back immediately if they come under attack, a move that risks escalating any small-scale conflict. "We will respond immediately to any enemy provocation," said Captain Kim Sang-min, a 29-year old company commander at the "Invincible Typhoon" unit that is stationed just 800 meters from the demarcation line that separates the two countries which remain technically at war.

  • The Maldivian Elections Commission said that presidential elections in the island will be held on September 7. This will be the first presidential polls held in the nation after President Mohamed Waheed replaced former president Mohamed Nasheed in February last year.
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