From Volume 7, Issue 1 of EIR Online, Published Jan. 1, 2008
Asia News Digest

New Korean President Must Confront Global Banking Collapse

Dec. 22 (EIRNS)—The newly elected President of South Korea, Lee Myung-dak, must confront the insolvency of the banking system immediately, or he will rapidly lose his current popularity and support, said Haeran Lim, the chairman of the Political Science Department at Seoul National University, and now a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. At a Dec. 20 forum sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, on the Dec. 19 Korean elections, the panel discussed the Korean political and economic situation as though the world financial system had not collapsed over the past six months.

When EIR challenged this view in the question period, noting that the insolvency of the Western banks had an obvious and drastic impact on Asia, Lim concurred, noting that there was a new Asian banking crisis, brought on by the subprime crisis in the U.S., which had not been acknowledged by the recently defeated government. "President-elect Lee won his election by focusing on the economy, promising to revitalize the economy of both South and North Korea," said Lim. "The insolvency of the banking system will be a daunting problem for him. If he does not face it, he will be in big trouble. He will be discredited, and the population will hold him responsible. He will go down fast."

President-elect Lee has promised dramatic new development policies for the Korean peninsula, but the banking collapse confronts him with a stark choice: Proceed with globalization and free trade, and be dragged down with the collapse, or orient towards Roosevelt-style New Bretton Woods agreements among the great powers—Russia, China, India, and a U.S. under new leadership—as LaRouche has promoted.

There will be parliamentary elections in South Korea in April, which will likely be a referendum on Lee's decision on these questions.

Korean President Offers Cooperation To Develop Far East

Dec. 21 (EIRNS)—South Korea's President-Elect Lee Myung-Bak met with Russian ambassador Gleb Ivashentsov just days after his victory, offering Korean collaboration, potentially from both the North and the South, in the development of the Russian Far East. "If we together with Russia carry out the development project, it will be a turning point in economic cooperation in the Northeast Asian region and boost Russia's development as well," Yonhap news agency quoted Lee as telling the envoy. "I'd like to get on this project right after I assume office," which will be on Feb. 25.

Ivashentsov delivered a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin, congratulating Lee on his landslide election victory and inviting him to Moscow. Putin was quoted by the envoy as saying in the letter that "President-elect Lee is well-known in Russia and has always supported the bilateral relationship" and that relations "will rise to a much higher level during Lee's term of office."

Yonhap reports that Lee envisages combining South Korea's advanced technology with North Korea's labor and Russia's natural resources.

Lee pledged during his campaign to maintain the "Sunshine Policy" of working toward reunification of North and South Korea, with some changes. There is serious discussion of a "Marshall Plan" for the development of the North, once the nuclear issue is resolved. Working together on the development of Russia's Far East would solidify that impulse toward peace and development on the peninsula, and in Northeast Asia generally.

Japanese PM: Reflect on History To Change It

Dec. 29 (EIRNS)—Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, speaking to 600 students at Beijing University yesterday, addressed the highly sensitive historical issues of Japan/China relations, including the Japanese occupation of China during World War II, stressing the importance of reflecting on history to change the future.

Fukuda said that when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was in Japan in April, he stressed the principle of "taking history as a mirror and looking forward to the future," which is not meant to prolong hatred but to make a better future. "I took the words of Premier Wen seriously," Fukuda said. In the long river of history, Japan and China, though they "experienced this or that misfortune," have an obligation and responsibility to treat history properly and pass it to future generations.

Japan would "very earnestly" reflect on the "agonizing part of history" and continue to follow the path of peaceful development so as to establish "forward-looking China-Japan relations," Fukuda said. Japan must ponder upon the past and treat it earnestly "to show consideration to victims," he added. Japan should "bravely and wisely reflect on that which should be reflected on," so as to avoid similar mistakes in the future, he concluded, to unanimous applause.

Fukuda is the first Japanese prime minister to speak at Beijing University since Yasuhiro Nakasone did so in 1984.

India's IPO Binge: Following the East India Company Model

Dec. 29 (EIRNS)—"As early as 1553, a British explorer asked the public to fund his voyage to the East, including India, in the world's first 'IPO'—454 years later the word has turned hottest in the great Indian stock bazaar. The IPO of 'The Mysterie and Compagnie of the Merchant Adventurers for the Discoverie of Regions, Dominions, Islands and Places Unknown,' the company formed by London-based Sir Richard Willoughby [i.e., the British East India Company—ed.], was fully subscribed within days, and so were over a hundred public issues launched on Indian bourses in 2007." So begins a Press Trust of India release today. The release goes on to tout the "giant" IPOs (Initial Public Offerings) which have raised over $2 billion on the Indian markets. The trend is supposed to continue next year, with the number of expected IPOs almost doubling from 101 this year to 170-175 as 2008 begins. "The soaring interest in IPOs is justified given their impressive returns, just like the case was with the voyage IPO of 1553. The shares were then offered to a small group of merchants, who lapped up the issue and reaped huge returns after the explorer returned from his journey with riches collected from the Eastern part of the world."

The question to be asked: Will India allow itself to become a victim of the British East India Company a second time?

IAEA Okays Bangladesh's First Nuclear Power Plant

Dec. 26 (EIRNS)—Power-starved Bangladesh, looking toward its first-ever nuclear power plant, has received a positive response from the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Bangladesh is seeking to set up a 700-1,000 MW capacity nuclear power plant in Rooppur in the northwest.

As far back as in 1986, LaRouche associates were involved in planning the nuclear power plant in Rooppur. Invited by the then-Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission chairman, Dr. Anwar Hussain, a number of analysts from EIR, along with at least one IAEA official, spoke at a conference in Dhaka, elucidating the necessity for Bangladesh to adopt nuclear power, in order to move its large population out of extreme level poverty. At the time, the IAEA official speaking at that conference, had expressed concerns about the "competence" of Bangladeshi nuclear scientists and engineers to handle such a project.

Bangladesh submitted the work plan to the IAEA last October, giving details on how the country planned to install the nuclear power plant at Rooppur and maintain safeguards with proper management of wastes. The IAEA was pleased with the government commitment for setting up the nuclear power plant, selection of the project site, and assurance of utilizing the plant for peaceful purposes, a senior power division official said. A five-member delegation comprising nuclear experts from the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) is expected to visit Vienna by mid-January 2008 to discuss the project.

All Thai Parties But One Unite in Coalition

Dec. 29 (EIRNS)—In a direct challenge to the military faction that ran the 2006 coup against Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, all the parties of Thailand except the neo-liberal Democrats have now joined to form a government coalition with the People Power Party (PPP), the newly constituted party supporting deposed Prime Minister Thaksin, which swept the election earlier this month. This gives the coalition 315 seats out of 480 in the Parliament.

The junta had decreed the banning of the very popular Thai Rak Thai founded by Thaksin, while also banning Thaksin and 110 other Thai Rak Thai leaders from politics for five years. However, the reconstituted Thaksin base, under the PPP banner, not only won the election, but has now repeated the process carried out by the Thai Rak Thai, uniting all but the free-trade, globalizing Democrats, who will be the only party in opposition.

Thaksin plans to return from exile after February, when the new Parliament is seated, and may well be pardoned by the new Prime Minister, Samak Sundaravej, of all charges brought against him by the junta. Questions about whether Thaksin will get the "Benazir Bhutto treatment" are prime topics in Thailand's press this week, but it is discussed in local terms, rather than seeing the threat coming from the Anglo-Dutch financier factions behind the chaos and violent destabilizations around the world. Thaksin's popular policies supporting the general welfare long ago put him on the target list of these forces. With the hysteria being mounted against Myanmar by the Anglo-American interests, a destabilization in Thailand could explode the crucial crossroads between India, China, and Southeast Asia.

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