From Volume 6, Issue 29 of EIR Online, Published July 17, 2007
Asia News Digest

India Completes Triad of Nuclear Weapons Delivery Systems

July 11 (EIRNS)—New Delhi has announced the successful test-launch of a nuclear missile from a submarine. Defense officials also said they have successfully developed and tested a submarine-based cruise missile, called Sagarika.

With the induction of Sagarika, India's Defense and Research Development Organization (DRDO) said that India has now completed the triad of nuclear weapons delivery systems. The other two—missile-launched and fighter aircraft-launched—have already been tested successfully.

Submarine-based nuclear missiles are considered the most reliable, because they are extremely difficult to detect. New Delhi has announced that the submarine-based delivery system will project India's military power in the adjacent Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.

India has on paper a no-first-use doctrine, and the DRDO claims Sagarika would give the military its most reliable second-strike capability.

India-Bangladesh Train Link Reestablished

July 10 (EIRNS)—After 42 years, the train link between India and Bangladesh has been reestablished. The trial run took place on July 9, and full service is expected to begin on Aug. 2. Train service between the two countries were suspended following the Indo-Pakistan War in 1965.

The 250 mile rail line will eventually connect two major cities, Kolkata in West Bengal on the Indian side, and Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital. At the initial stage, however, the train would link Kolkata to Joydebpur, about 36 miles west of Dhaka.

The train link will be reestablished at a time when Bangladesh is under an interim regime backed by its military. It has been noted in New Delhi that the interim government is very keen to connect Bangladesh with its neighbors. For years, Bangladesh was becoming increasingly isolated because of the intense political struggle within between two major political parties—the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. The inability of both political parties to prioritize developmental activities which could lead the country forward economically, resulted in the rise of violence, economic stagnancy, and growing instability.

A Major Step Forward Toward Nepal's Development

July 13 (EIRNS)—The government of Nepal has issued a 30-year operating license to India's Power Trading Corporation (PTC) and Australia's West Seti Hydro (WSH) to build a 750 MW hydropower project in Nepal's remote Doti district. Power-starved Nepal had been sitting on the project for a decade. The delay has further pauperized the population, and given rise to a decade of Maoist violence.

The stability of Nepal through economic development is crucial, not only for its own people, but also because of its strategic location in an area which has remained unstable. A Himalayan kingdom, Nepal is sandwiched between India and China, near the border of Bangladesh.

The $1.2 billion project will deliver power to the Indian high-voltage grid with a transmission line to Bareilly in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said that the power project will change the face of India's far western district, which is one of the country's most neglected and inaccessible regions.

A Police State Is Descending on the Philippines

July 11 (EIRNS)—Philippine President Gloria Arroyo is again deploying armed troops into Manila, to counter "communists." Arroyo pulled troops out of the poor regions of the city before the May elections to deceive the international election observers, but has redeployed them, just a few days before the implementation of an anti-terror law goes into effect. The law provides the government with police-state powers, including wiretapping, arrest and detention without warrants, and seizure of property without due process. Reviving Cold War hysteria, Col. Lizardo Visaya, chief of the Philippine Army's Civil Military Operations Battalion, told the Philippines Inquirer regarding the troops: "We will inform the residents about the recruitment activities of the NPA [New People's Army]. We will conduct lectures." Visaya said the soldiers will visit daycare centers to inform children about the evils of communism. "We have to start with the next generation," he said.

The anti-terrorist law, called the Human Security Act of 2007, takes effect on July 15, before rules on the law's implementation are enacted. Several senators who voted for the bill are now regretting being bum-rushed into backing it, while the Inquirer, the leading establishment newspaper, editorialized today: "Like lemmings, those rodents that jump off cliffs in a kind of mass hysteria, our officialdom seems to have committed to the so-called Human Security Act (HSA) unthinkingly, and wants to rush its implementation with a self-destructive firmness of purpose. The other day, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines appealed to the government to review the anti-terror law. But President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's response was a firm no. With or without implementing rules and regulations, she said, the law goes into effect on Sunday."

The government also said it would ask the courts to outlaw the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People's Army, and the Abu Sayyaf, as soon as the HSA is implemented. All this comes as the "Operation Condor"-style killings of social activists by networks within the military continues unabated. Despite official complaints from the U.S. Congress about the killings, the Bush Administration has praised the anti-terrorist law as proof that the Philippines is a friend in Cheney's war on terror.

In the real war on terror, the Abu Sayyaf, an Afghansi network in the southern Philippines, killed 14 Philippines marines, beheading 10 of them; they were searching for a kidnapped Italian priest.

Japan High Court Slams Hedge Fund as 'Predatory Acquirer'

July 12 (EIRNS)—Steel Partners, a San Francisco-based hedge fund run by Warren Lichtenstein, was declared a "predatory acquirer" by the Japanese High Court, in a ruling which turned down Steel Partners' effort to stop defensive "poison pill" measures by a takeover target, Bull-Dog Sauce Company. About 10% of Japan's listed companies have now implemented poison pills, which dilute the hedge fund predator's stock holdings so as to limit their voting rights. According to the Japan Times, the Court ruled that Lichtenstein was "trying to exploit the Japanese firm for a quick profit," which would be "harmful to the targetted firm's corporate value," and thus, normal shareholder rights no longer applied.

Lichtenstein's Steel Partners has worked with corporate raider Carl Icahn in predatory takeovers in South Korea, which have also provoked fierce defenses. Lichtenstein's other recent adventure is pumping hot money into the U.S. porno industry.

Indonesia Imposes Protection vs. Foreign Takeovers

July 10 (EIRNS)—Indonesia, the world's fourth-largest nation and Southeast Asia's largest economy, has imposed a wide range of protective measures against foreign direct investment (FDI) into most of its national industries.

Despite a dearth of FDI since the 1997-98 speculative destruction of the Indonesian economy, and constant harping from the West to water down the labor and investment laws to accommodate foreign takeovers, the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has done the exact opposite. According to Bill Guerin writing in the Asia Times, the list issued by Trade Minister Mari Pangestu will affect at least 338 business sectors, up substantially from the 83 previously protected.

The bill, declared under the recently enacted 2007 Investment Law, will not require parliamentary approval. Although the change will not affect several major sectors, including banking, oil and gas, power, water, and agriculture (the Indonesian banking system has become majority foreign-owned, with the accompanying loss of sovereignty, since the 1998 speculative attack), it will nonetheless, significantly reduce the percentage of foreign ownership allowed in the areas of armaments, key industries, transportation, telecom, pharmaceuticals, health, and construction, among others—most, to below 50%. It will not be applied retroactively.

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