|Asia News Digest
China and India To Institutionalize Military Training
India and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to institutionalize military training, during Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to China. the Press Trust of India reported May 29. "This is the first-ever agreement of its kind between the two countries, and I am confident that it will serve as an efficient process for facilitating our defense dialogue and exchanges," said the Indian Defense Minister in Beijing, at a joint press conference with his Chinese counterpart, Cao Gangchuan.
The MoU is considered a major confidence-building measure in the defense field between India and China, and will contribute in a major way to develop greater understanding and trust, Mukherjee said.
Boeing Offers T-45C Goshawk Trainer Aircraft to India
U.S. defense companies continue to bombard India with fresh offers of new and more advanced weapon systems and defense hardware. The latest offer made is for T-45C Goshawk trainer aircraft for the Indian Navy. A team from Boeing arrived in New Delhi in late May with the offer of the T-45C along with F-18 Super Hornet that it wants to sell to the Indian Air Force to meet its multi-role combat aircraft requirement of 126 jets.
India is presently in the market shopping for trainer aircraft for the Admiral Gorshkov that it is buying from Russia. Because the Russians could not extend carrier-landing training to the Indian Navy, Washington seized the opportunity to push the T-45C.
Washington has also made clear that it wants interoperability with the Indian forces for commonality in weapons and systems. It was with this view that the Pentagon offered to train the Indian pilots. Since Russia could not match that offer, it is a certainty that the Indians will accept the American offer.
Bangladeshi Garment Workers Protest Low Wages
Thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers took to the streets of an export zone near the capital Dhaka, demonstrating against low wages. Garments are impoverished Bangaldesh's main export, and the industry employs more than 2 million workers, with 45% of its exports going the United States. Bangladesh beats out many competing nations by paying abysmally low wages to the workers.
Patricia Butenis, the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, issued a thinly veiled warning about the protests. "Events like this affect the international reputation of Bangladesh as a safe place to invest and a reliable business partner," she said. Translation: U.S. investors will move their funds to other locations, where workers will smilingly accept slave wages.
As a result of these outbursts against the effects of globalization, and Dhaka's adherence to the free-market path Finance Minister Saifur Rehman, an asset of the World Bank, has indicated that he would resign. He has already met with the World Bank representative in Bangladesh, Charles Wallich.
Non-Aligned Likely To Endorse Iran's Nuclear Aims
According to a draft statement prepared for the forthcoming ministerial meeting of the 114-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), its member nations are likely to endorse Iran in its nuclear aims.
The draft made no criticism of Iran's nuclear activities and said Tehran is cooperating with the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It also stressed the need for cooperation to continue, and warned against any military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.
"The ministers reaffirmed the inviolability of peaceful nuclear activities and that any attack or threat of attack against peaceful nuclear facilities poses a great danger to human beings and the environment.... The ministers reaffirmed the basic and inalienable right of all states to develop research, production, and the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes...."
International Outcry vs. Philippines Police State
Death squad assassinations of members of left-wing organizations and reporters have skyrocketed in the Philippines (600 leftists and 70 reporters in the five years of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's Presidency). Now, although Arroyo's week-long "emergency rule" of February was lifted, and warrantless arrests during that time were ruled by the Supreme Court to have been unconstitutional, at the end of May, five leading supporters of former President Joseph Estrada were kidnapped by the military police, and at least one of them was tortured for two days, while the military at first denied even having them. For whatever reason, the five were then released. Criminal charges are being sought against the military and the government.
Philippine journalist Rod Kapunan compared these developments to the "Dirty War" in Argentina and the Pinochet Operation Condor killings.
A team of lawyers from the U.S. National Lawyers' Guild and others have arrived in Manila to investigate these killings and the impunity of those responsible.
Philippines Daily Urges U.S. Adopt Hamilton Economics
A Daily Tribune editorial June 1 writes that the collapse of the U.S. economy is due to its failure to learn the lessons of Alexander Hamilton. "The truth is, and this is what George W. Bush still has to grasp," writes the Tribune: "The U.S. has been reduced to the status of a Third World economic power. Its manufacturing sector, which at one time accounted for some 30 percent of the economy, has dwarfed to some 15 percent. The U.S. has in fact become what is essentially an agro-service economy and much of its once highly paid manufacturing labor forcethe highest paid in the worldhas been led to flipping hamburgers in America's fast food stores, serving as night watchmen, making a living as salesmen, waiters, gardeners, and working overseas to constitute part of the industrial labor force in India, Japan and even China. To top it all, America which only 30 or so years ago was the largest creditor country in the world, is now the world's largest debtor country with almost 50 percent of its foreign debt held by China and Japan."
They then ask: "What has this to do with an American named Alexander Hamilton? Well, Hamilton was America's first secretary of the Treasury and he it was who laid the ideological foundations of America's industrial might. He did that by rejecting the suggestion of EnglandAmerica's former colonizerthat America should take to free trade as its economic ideology. Hamilton rejected the British suggestion and argued that since America at the time was an overwhelmingly agricultural economy, free trade would permanently incapacitate America from developing into the industrial power that Britain was then. The greatness and power of any nation, Hamilton argued, lay in a dynamic manufacturing sector and such a sector can only come to being through economic protectionism. Not through free trade."
Then the U.S. turned away from Hamilton. "America in brief is the major casualty of the free market ideology. And the message is this: If free trade can bring to economic ruin a once economic superpower like America, what more can it do to an already impoverished country like the Philippines? And so, do you wonder why Filipinos are now hungry and why this country is now the economic outcast of Asia? GMA [President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo] should think about this."
War Erupts in Philippines Over Separation of Powers
The Philippines Senate is slashing the budgets to zero for government agencies which defy Congressional oversight, the Daily Tribune reported June 1. A war is raging in the Philippines over the separation of powers. The Senate has moved to reduce or eliminate the budgets for:
*The Armed Forces Intelligence Service, for numerous illegal arrests without warrants, even after the lifting of the emergency of February;
*The National Printing Office, for printing up propaganda for the supposedly private effort to change the Constitution to a parliamentary system, eliminating the Senate;
*The National Security Council, because NSC head Norberto Gonzales (who has backed all the moves toward dictatorship) has refused to testify on the budget itself;
*And the National Commission on Good Government, for acting without Congressional concurrence.
Is Washington watching?
U.S. Attempt To Bring Myanmar to UN Security Council Foiled
An effort by the U.S. to bring Myanmar to the UN Security Council has been stymied. The U.S. announced that it would try again to bring a resolution before the UNSC on Myanmar for refusing to release Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, a move which would potentially lead to sanctions and military force against one of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's "Outposts of Tyranny." However, not only Russia and China, but even Japan, rejected the plan. Japan's Ambassador to the UN, Kenzo Oshima, said the "Security Council is a body that is primarily responsible for threats to international peace and security. We don't take up any matter whenever somebody is arrested or someone is kept in house arrest."
A recent UN envoy to Myanmar, Gen. Ibrahim Gambari, was allowed to visit Suu Kyi, and was invited to return to see firsthand the regions of continuing conflict with the ethnic Karen. To John Bolton's dismay, Gambari said that Myanamar's junta leader, Than Shwe, wants to cooperate with the UN, and he "saw an opportunity to turn a new page."