|Asia News Digest
Pakistan Struggles with Earthquake Victims
The Pakistan-held part of Jammu and Kashmir experienced yet another aftershock Oct. 19 of the massive Oct. 8 earthquake, sending rocks and boulders rattling down the mountain slopes. Even without any major landslide reported, relief work has gotten more difficult with the winter setting in on the hills. Pakistan's relief commissioner said the official number of dead rose by another few thousand to reach 49,700, and the number of injured were tallied to 74,000. Reports indicate more Pakistani soldiers died in the earthquake than in the 1965 border war with India.
According to Andrew McLeod, chief operations officer in the UN Emergency Coordination Center in Islamabad, "it is the most difficult humanitarian crisis ever, because the scale is huge, the logistics are so difficult and there is a brutal winter coming on." Reports indicate almost 3 million people are homeless with the winter setting in fast. (For further coverage of the earthquake, see InDepth, this week.)
Four-country Land and Air Exercises To Be Held in Russia
The United States, Russia, India, and the UK will conduct joint exercises in Russia, according to Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. Ivanov, who was in India last week, in connection with the recently-concluded India-Russia military exercises, said Russia "hopes to organize and host" the four-country land and air exercises next year.
Though most of these countries have held bilateral exercises between their special forces, this would be the first time that such large-scale war games would be held.
Meanwhile, the Russian Navy is now holding consultations with Indian Defense Ministry officials to invite India to hold joint naval exercises in the Pacific Ocean, Russian Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Pacific Fleet, Vice Admiral Sergey Vickorovich Avramenko, said in Vishakhapatnam, where India and Russia concluded their naval exercises, INDRA-2005.
Indian Company To Produce 1 Million Courses of Tamiflu
CIPLA, the Indian drug company, which makes 75% of the AIDS drugs used in Africa, will produce 1 million 10-capsule courses of generic Tamiflu, to fight avian flu, beginning December. The Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche, the only one producing Tamiflu, says it doubled production in 2004, doubled it again this year, and will double it again by 2007. Annual reports suggest the drug produced amounts to 40 million courses a year, which means Roche will not be able fulfill the orders it now has, before 2007.
Roche, who holds the patent on Tamiflu, had opposed CIPLA's move. But, in a dramatic turnaround, Roche said it would not oppose companies that want to strike a licensing deal. As it is, CIPLA could have sold Tamiflu in less developed countries, including some of Africa, without Roche's permission. These countries need not recognize patents until 2016. As a result, CIPLA is in a position to sell it in India as well.
Arroyo Government Hoses Down Protest March in Manila
The Philippines government hosed down a protest march led by several bishops and a former Vice President on Oct. 14. The government in Manila has taken another reckless step towards police-state measures, enforcing their new "calibrated preemptive response policy," which bans all demonstrations not approved by the government, by turning fire hoses on a march which included three bishops, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, and a Senator, during a peaceful protest near the Presidential palace. The country is in an uproar. Guingona said that this administration "is much worse than Marcos," while the church, which has remained neutral in the growing conflict, denounced the violent dispersal of the march. Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, incoming president of the Catholic Bishops Conference, said the march had been "a crusade for good governance, which is sadly lacking and very much needed in economic progress." Opposition Sen. Serge Osmena said of President Arroyo, "This woman is going bananas"; Sen. Joker Arroyo said "it was a fascist response." Opposition leader Sen. Nene Pimentel said, "Gloria and her minions will rue this day."
'Unholy Alliance' Between Arroyo and Ramos Charged
"There seems to be an unholy alliance between Mrs. Arroyo and Mr. Ramos," observed Philippine Sen. Nene Pimentel, referring to President Gloria Arroyo and U.S. agent of influence Fidel Ramos. Pimentel's remarks were reported in the Manila Times of Oct. 13.
Pimentel said that four years after the Congress mandated a review of the corrupt contracts signed with the IPP (Independent Power Producers), which are "onerous and grossly disadvantageous to the government," Arroyo has done nothing, even while the five "most notorious" are driving energy prices ever higher. Three of the five contracts were imposed by then-President Ramos under emergency legislation which allowed him to give away the country without any Congressional or other oversight. Said Pimentel: "And yet none of these IPP contracts has been renegotiated, much less cancelled."
EIR Intervention Finds Enthusiasm for Cheney Demise
A Sasakawa Peace Foundation-sponsored event held Oct. 19 at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington featured Dr. Jin Linbo of the China Institute of International Studies, and two U.S. Asia scholars, one being Dr. Eric Heginbotham of the Council on Foreign Relations and the RAND Corporation, on "The Current Dilemma of Sino-Japanese Relations." The presentations were of some interest, but devoid of reality, leaving out the current global revolutionary crisis. EIR asked the panel: "What has been the impact on Sino-Japanese relations of the Bush/Cheney preemptive war policy, and, in that regard, as you surely know, we are now looking at the demise of the Cheney era, with criminal indictments imminent against the Cheney crew in the White House (at which point the entire audience broke into a knowing and approving laugh!), and a growing recognition that the Iraq war has been an absolute disaster. How will the removal of Cheney and Rumsfeld and the others impact Asia?"
Both Drs. Jin and Heginbotham had broad smiles. Dr. Jin answered that the "neo-con preemptive war strategy has definitely strengthened those Japanese who take the anti-China position, both in the population and in the government. Koizumi expects that he'll get support from the US with an anti-China policy, visiting the shrine, and so forth. On the second question [what happens if Cheney goesed.], that's much too difficult, but perhaps Dr. Heginbotham can answer (translation: YES! The sooner the better!)"
After the event, Dr. Heginbotham told EIR that he very much appreciated the question.
Ex-Taiwan President in U.S. Endorses Neo-Con Agenda
Former Taiwan President Lee Teng Hui, allowed to speak in New York and Washington for the first time, used his Oct. 20 speech at the Washington Press Club in Washington, D.C. to openly express his devotion to the neo-con agenda and his fascist roots. Although his trip is described as a "private visit," this is the first administration to allow the rabid war-provocateur to speak in major U.S. cities. He was hosted by anti-China Congressmen in Washington, such as Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif) and Gary Ackerman (D-NY). Lee has used the trip to assert Taiwan's independence, demanding the change of name from the Republic of China to the Republic of Taiwan, and requested offensive weapons from the U.S. with which to threaten the Chinese mainland with an attack.
China Completes Railroad to 'Roof of the World'
China has completed construction of a 1,956 km railroad, the first ever to the "roof of the world" in Tibet. A ceremony was held at the new rail station in Lhasa, the capital. The rail line goes from the city of Xining in western Qinghai province to Lhasa. It is by far the highest-altitude railroad in the world, and was built over some of the most difficult terrain in the entire world. At its highest point, the rail line is over 5,000 meters (over 15,000 feet) above sea level. Chinese President Hu Jintao called the railroad an "unprecedented triumph" in the history of railway construction.
Test runs of trains will not begin until next summer, due to current severe weather conditions. In the coming years, the railroad will be extended further west in Tibet.
Greenspan Fuels Energy Hoax in Tokyo Speech
Alan Greenspan did his best to fuel the energy hoax, in a speech to Keidanren and other Japan business groups in Tokyo Oct. 17, lying that "increased demand and lagging additions to productive capacity" will lead to higher higher prices until we learn to live without oil. "In such tight markets, the shutdown of oil platforms and refineries by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was an accident waiting to happen," he said. He singled out China for consuming too much"roughly twice as much oil per dollar of GDP as the United States," and said that if China continues to grow, it will be hard to wean the world off oil.
It is not known yet what Greenspan said in his private meetings Oct. 18 at the Bank of Japan, but it's likely that he promised his Japanese creditors that high oil prices will hold up the dollar, another aspect of the hoax.