|Asia News Digest
Alejandro "Ding" Lichauco signs resolution for a new Bretton Woods
Alejandro "Ding" Lichauco has signed the resolution issued by Helga Zepp LaRouche, which calls for a new Bretton Woods System as laid out by her husband, economist Lyndon LaRouche.
Lichauco, who joined LaRouche associate Mike Billington at the podium in his Manila press conference in June, is about to release a book on the disastrous impact on the Third World of the post-1971 floating exchange rate system. Lichauco wrote in his message endorsing the call: "You people are doing great stuff for which the peoples of the Third World would have much to be grateful.... I think the American people need to be reminded that at the end of the last world war, the U.S. stood out as the sole industrial superpower and to contrast that with the situation now where the U.S. finds itself reduced to a Third World economy, outpaced in manufacturing power by such Third World states as India, Brazil, and South Korea."
Colin Powell rebuts Cheney on North Korea and Rumsfeld on China
Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking in Thailand on June 13, rejected Cheney and the neo-con hysteria regarding North Korea: "I believe the six party talks will eventually bear fruit. I am not concerned that North Korea will threaten or use their nuclear weapon. They are not suicidal. They are clever. The only thing they have is their nuclear weapon program. They will use it to get more in return."
On China, Powell said the rising strength of China's military is not a threat to the international community, just days after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld bluntly stated in Singapore that China's military spending was higher than officially admitted, and that this development jeopardizes the military balance in the Asia-Pacific region.
"I, for one, do not see China as an enemy that is emerging as a threat, but as a nation taking its rightful place in the world," Powell said. "What the Chinese have learned is that power no longer comes out of the barrel of a gun. It comes out of the power of being part of the international system.... The threat comes from the capability to execute these plans and the intention to do so. My analysis in the last four years is that China has no such intention."
Powell, speaking on June 13 to a forum organized by Business Week magazine, said the U.S. is watching the Chinese military modernization with great interest, but "does not yet see that military build-up turning into a threat, either to other nations in the region and certainly not to the United States."
Washington must extend a security guarantee to North Korea
Former South Korean President Kim Dae Dae-Jung called on Washington to grant North Korea a security guarantee, as was the premise for the six power talks. The United States and North Korea have the power to resolve the Korean nuclear crisis "if they approach each other in a spirit of give and take," Kim wrote in a Reuters interview released June 10 to impact the talks between current South Korean President Roh and President Bush. North Korea, he said, must assure regional powers it will give up its nuclear programs, while Washington should deliver a security guarantee.
The former President wrote: "A breakthrough could be achieved if the United States and North Korea have the will for a rational negotiation, where both sides give what should be given and take what should be taken. First, it is imperative for North Korea to immediately return to the six-party talks and resume dialogue. North Korea must show its willingness to completely give up its nuclear weapons program and accept thorough inspections.
"North Korea is suspicious and fearful of the United States, Therefore, the United States should clearly state its position on providing security guarantees and lifting sanctions on the North Korean economy in order for North Korea to have a firm belief in it."
Kim "DJ" said he believed Kim Jong-il wanted to improve relations with the United States. "He [Kim Jong-il] said that the U.S. military presence on the peninsula should continue even after unification to keep the neighboring powers in check. Of course, he said it under the condition that the U.S. troops should not attack North Korea." Kim Dae-jung advised Washington to have direct dialogue with Pyongyang and said the June 10 meeting between Roh and Bush was critical: "The coming R.O.K.-U.S. summit meeting can be a turning point for full trust and cooperation, overcoming the slight discord that has existed between the two countries."
U.S. delegations to the talks thus far have insisted that Washington will only give the North a security guarantee and economic aid after it abandons its nuclear ambitions in "a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner." Pyongyang rejects this as a call for its unilateral disarmament with no security, which in fact it is.
North Korean Leader points to possible talks in July
In a surprise move, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has declared that the six-party talks might be restarted as early as July. Kim said this in an unscheduled meeting with South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young. Minister Chung was heading up a delegation to Pyongyang which was invited to celebrate the anniversary of the re-establishment of ties between the two Koreas, but the meeting with Kim Jong-il was unexpected. Chung was also the highest South Korean official to meet with Chairman Kim in three years.
Upon his return to Seoul, according to BBC News June 17, Minister Chung said, "Chairman Kim Jong-il said [North Korea] could rejoin six-party talks even in July if the U.S. surely recognizes and respects the country as a partner." A Russian diplomat knowledgeable about the area pointed out the significance of the statement in a discussion with EIR. "This is the first time that North Korea has mentioned a date and it came from Kim Jong-il himself," he said. The diplomat also noted that North Korea had not reacted in its typical abrupt fashion at the blatantly provocative meeting of President Bush with a North Korean defector in the Oval Office earlier last week. President Roh also sent a message to Kim Jong-il promising economic aid to the North if it decided to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
The Philippines plans to build up trade relations with North Korea
Philippines Ambassador to South Korea Aladin Villacorte announced the plan, aimed at "lessening tensions." He said that "the U.S. should tone down its rhetoric in dealing with North Korea. North Korea is very much like us: Asian. We feel insulted when you attack us on a personal level.... If you want to deal with us diplomatically, be diplomatic, and don't use labels like 'outpost of tyranny' and 'axis of evil.'"
This coheres with the Philippines' moves to strengthen ties with China over the past year, which has proceeded despite the screaming from the neo-cons in Washington. The Ambassador praised the "Sunshine Policy," the train links between North and South Korea, and the increased exchanges. A group of leaders from the Philippine Congress will visit North Korea later this year.
Study of Thai, Laos rail link almost ready
Engineers from the French Development Agency are studying the feasibility of building a 3-km long railway line at the Friendship Bridge, which spans the Mekong River connecting the Thai town of Nong Khai with its Laotian counterpart on the other side. This would create the first completed rail route across the Mekong.
A French Foreign Ministry official said the timeframe for completion is a matter of months, but for years, Laos has pressed Thailand to go ahead with the project, over Thailand's view that it has little to gain from the project.
This cross-Mekong railway project will be on the agenda in July during a summit meeting in Kunming, China which will bring together leaders from Mekong-Basin countries: Burma, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The project would fulfill landlocked Laos' long-sought dream of having a railway network extended to the sea. Once there's a rail bridge across the Mekong, a Thai company will build the 25 kilometers of track from the river to the capital in Vientiane.
Myanmar's Military Junta opens trial of former Prime Minister
Myanmar's Supreme Court has opened the military junta's case against former premier and military intelligence boss Khin Nyunt, who was sacked in October and accused of corruption.
The court heard charges against the general in an earlier secret hearing, but sources could not detail the charges, nor could they say if he had a lawyer to defend him.
Khin Nyunt, who announced military-ruled Myanmar's "roadmap to democracy" in 2003, had been expected to face charges including high treason, abuse of power and graft. He was seen as a moderate who favored limited dialogue with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. He was replaced by junta hardliner General Soe Win.
Some 300 people linked to the former premier, including two of his sons, are standing trial at secret tribunals created inside Insein prison. The junta arrested hundreds of people during a purge in October 2004, which was described as a crackdown on corruption that toppled Khin Nyunt and led to the dismantling of his powerful military intelligence network.
Khin Nyunt had been held under house arrest since he was sacked, but sources close to the junta said June 12 he had been taken from his home to Insein prison in preparation for trial. As of June 13 military sources said his trial had not yet begun.