|Asia News Digest
Myanmar Tries To Peacefully Resolve Demonstrations
Sept. 24 (EIRNS)The Myanmar ruling junta has taken no repressive measures against the rapidly escalating demonstrations by Buddhist monks and others over the past week, which reached the level of several thousand in Yangon today. On Saturday, the junta took the extraordinary step of opening the barricades around the home of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's home, where she has been held under house arrest for a number of years, allowing several hundred monks and supporters to perform prayers outside her home, with Suu Kyi present.
The demonstrations began last month when opposition leaders protested the lifting of subsidies on fuel, forced on the regime by the hyperinflationary rise in fuel costs internationally. When monks first protested last week, the demonstration was suppressed, an act which politically backfired nationally and internationally.
Wan Min, a leading dissident who now teaches at Chiang Mai University in Thailand, was quoted by AFP saying that the opening of the barricades to Suu Kyi's home was a sign that the junta is seeking a non-violent conclusion to the protests. "It's clear that the junta is under pressure from China to solve the situation peacefully," he said.
Earlier this month, a leading Chinese diplomat, State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, told Myanmar's visiting Foreign Minister that China "hoped Myanmar would restore internal stability as soon as possible, properly handle issues, and actively promote national reconciliation."
The Western neo-cons and their fellow promoters of regime change want no such restoration of stability or reconciliation; they are promoting an end to the military's role in government. The Western media is promoting the "All Burma Monks Alliance," a synthetic organization linked to the British Burmanet operations and the George Soros-funded anti-Myanmar groups, which is demanding the overthrow of the government. The demands of the demonstrators, however, are for an apology for the suppression of their first rally, a restoration of fuel subsidies, and reconciliation with the opposition.
Under Pressure, Bank of Japan Holds Interest Rates Steady
Sept. 20 (EIRNS)The Bank of Japan held its interest rate steady at 0.5%, after its board met yesterday. While no change was expected, "The Bank of Japan is eager to tighten its monetary policy and 'normalize' Japan's ultra-low interest rates ... but ... worsening credit conditions have undermined that ambition," according to Jonathan Soble of the Financial Times. There was also massive pressure on the Bank of Japan not to raise rates, from the British, the U.S. Federal Reserve, and the European Central Bank, according to many sources, including the Japanese press.
Although the BoJ board voted against raising rates, governor Toshihiko Fukui expressed dissatisfaction with the slow pace of Japan's monetary tightening, saying Japan's interest rates were "extremely low" given an economic growth trend of 2%, and that keeping rates too low for too long could lead to "distortions" in global financial flows, according to the Financial Times.
Central Bank Pumping Is Triggering Inflation
Sept. 21 (EIRNS)The Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun attacked the U.S. Federal Reserve's half-point rate cut, in its lead editorial today, pointing to the danger of the world's central banks bringing on hyperinflation in their desperate efforts to "reliquify" banks and markets. Asahi Shimbun says the central banks will "open the monetary taps too wide through rate cuts in an attempt to restore stability in financial markets ... and risk worsening the global glut of liquidity, which set the stage for the current turmoil in the first place." This is aggravating a "crisis [that] is threatening to exert a strong downward pull on the U.S. economy because of a serious downswing of the nation's housing market."
"The worst-case scenario could be a serious downturn of the U.S. economy amid rising prices," the paper says. "The economic situation in major European countries is more or less similar. This tricky confluence of factors, with risks of inflation and downshift in growth coming together, poses a serious policy dilemma for financial and monetary policymakers in the United States and Europe."
As for the Bank of Japan, Asahi recognizes that "Japan's unprecedented super-loose monetary policy since the banking crisis in the 1990s has contributed to the global investment booms bordering on speculative bubbles." That is, super-low Japanese interest rates have been the basis for the "yen-carry trade," feeding hedge fund speculation worldwide.
UN Drug Czar Praises Myanmar and China
Sept. 21 (EIRNS)Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the UN anti-drug agency, in an interview with the International Herald Tribune on Sept. 19, said, "From our vantage point, we see a region that is rapidly moving towards an opium-free status.... Three decades ago, the northernmost reaches of Laos, Thailand and Myanmar produced more than 70 percent of all opium sold worldwide, most of it refined into heroin. Today the area averages about 5 percent of the world total, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime." Costa credited Myanmar with a "dramatic 80-percent decline in the past decade."
The IHT also notes that (U.S.-occupied) Afghanistan "is now the source of an estimated 92 percent of the world's opium, according to the United Nations, which bases its statistics on satellite imagery of poppy fields." Even more damning, the UN reports that "the shift to Afghanistan has led to a near doubling of global opium production."
In contrast, a U.S. State Department drug report released Sept. 17, states: "Burma [Myanmar] and Venezuela have failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements and take the measures set forth in U.S. law." Afghanistan, however, although listed as a drug producer in the U.S. report, was not denounced as "failing miserably," despite its record-setting heroin production.
Also striking about the UN report is the recognition that China has played the central role in cleaning up the Golden Triangle.
Inter-Korean Rail Line Hailed as Key for 'Iron Silk Road'
Sept. 18 (EIRNS)The "Iron Silk Road" from Pusan, South Korea to Europe, is the leading issue on the agenda of the Korean Railroad, which marked the 108th anniversary of its founding today, the Korea Times reported. KORAIL (formerly the Korea Railroad Corporation) was started in 1899, and railways are still Korea's primary means of transportation. While the North-South rail link "has been in limbo," since it was built in 2003, now, the Korea Times comments that "Realization of the 'Unification Express' by a Trans-Korean Railroad (TKR) must be one of the most important topics to be brought up at the inter-Korean summit talks slated for Oct. 2-4 in Pyongyang. It is hoped that linking up the two Korean railroads will eventually create an uninterrupted railroad from Far East Asia to Western Europe through Russia and China in the not-too-distant future. Despite intricate political and economic challenges holding up the restoration of the 'Iron Silk Road' linking the Far East and Europe, KORAIL should still plan the blueprint that connects Seoul and Pyongyang, and on to Europe either via the 9,300 km Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR) or similar far-reaching trans-continental route through China or Mongolia."
Kim Dae Jung in Washington for Inter-Korean Summit
Sept. 18 (EIRNS)Former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, the author of the Sunshine Policy of peaceful cooperation and eventual reunification of the two Koreas, spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. today, where he expressed optimism about relations between North and South Korea. Kim's address focused on how the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula will be the main agenda item at the Inter-Korean summit in October. Kim also revealed how South Korea likes the current U.S. approach to North Korea, of diplomacy and talks, rather than the 2001 approach, of breaking agreements, which turned ultimately into the "axis of evil" speech by Bush, and threats to attack North Korea.
Kim's speech also occurred at a time when South Korean officials are denouncing the statements from U.S. and Israeli officials charging that North Korea is secretly trying to arm Syria with nuclear weapons, and to hide its own nuclear program in other countries that the U.S. has labelled as "rogue."