From Volume 7, Issue 17 of EIR Online, Published Apr. 22, 2008
Asia News Digest

Bush, Neocons Ready To Expand Military Action in Pakistan

April 13 (EIRNS)—Britain's fifth column inside the United States, the Cheney-led neocons, are ready to move inside Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghanistan border, to "smoke out" al-Qaeda. As a prelude to that, President Bush, in an interview with ABC News on April 12, said, "If another Sept. 11-style attack is being planned, it probably is being plotted in Pakistan and not Afghanistan." He claimed that if terrorists planning such attacks were in Afghanistan, they would be routed out: "We've got plenty of firepower to take on al-Qaeda cells in Afghanistan."

The U.S.-NATO foray inside Pakistan at this juncture could bring Pakistan to its knees and prepare the ground fully for a British-planned break-up of the country. This would wholly undermine the new Pakistani government, which has acknowledged public resentment against the foreign occupiers carrying out military actions on Pakistani soil, against Pakistani citizens. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has said that Islamabad will be moving away from the old "war on terror" script, and would open a dialogue with the tribal leaders. An invasion of the FATA could lead to an uncontrollable level of violence and loss of lives.

Bush's threat followed a series of violent acts by the anti-U.S. and anti-NATO Afghan insurgents. Afghan and NATO forces fought a series of clashes with insurgents on April 12, in what may be a sign of increasing guerrilla activity as the Spring weather allows more freedom of movement for the fighters. Three Indians and one Afghan driver working on road construction in southwestern Afghanistan were killed in a suicide car-bombing, Afghan officials said. The Defense Ministry reported that 24 Taliban fighters had been killed in a battle with Afghan and NATO forces in the southern province of Zabul.

China Links Uighurs with Tibet Violence

April 13 (EIRNS)—China has arrested nine Tibetan Buddhist monks on charges of bombing a government building on March 23, amid simmering tension following widespread riots, Xinhua news agency reported today. The bombing of a building in the town of Gyanbe was carried out by monks from the town's Tongxia monastery, the news agency said.

Chinese officials have warned that groups campaigning for independence in Tibet have joined Muslim Uighurs fighting for an independent "East Turkistan" in the northwest region of Xinjiang. Wen Wei Po, a mainland-backed paper in Hong Kong, reported this week that Tibetan and Uighur forces were collaborating with al-Qaeda for actions against the Olympic Games in Beijing in August.

The link drawn between Uighur and Tibetan separatists by Beijing is nothing new, but it is significant since it provides a window on how the violence in Tibet occurred. What Beijing has not said, is that the Uighur separatists are under the control of Britain's MI6, and the alliance of these Uighurs with Tibetans is primarily a British objective to break up China, or demand concessions from China which would strengthen the City of London, just as the British East India Company did in the 19th Century, in the First Opium War.

China Changing Perspective on Poverty

April 15 (EIRNS)—The Chinese government is raising its official poverty line, in reaction to the pressure on the poor of fast-rising inflation, and to demonstrate that the government will take action on its "the population first" policy, China Daily reported today. By saying that the number of really poor people, 80 million, is twice the current official level, Beijing is acknowledging that it faces the huge challenge of bringing tens of millions more people out of severe poverty. In 2006, the government launched a program to eliminate rural poverty, funding very basic infrastructure and other programs, but an enormous amount remains to be done.

The new official poverty level is still abysmal—the current classification of "impoverished" is a per capita annual income of 1,067 yuan ($152) or less; it will be raised to 1,300 yuan ($186) a year, 20% higher, stated the Poverty Alleviation Office of the State Council. The new figure takes into account fast-rising inflation, especially in food prices, and also the changes in the yuan-dollar exchange rate.

Chinese Arable Land Just Above 'Critical' Level

April 17 (EIRNS)—China lost 40,700 hectares of its total arable land bank last year, and, with 123.73 million hectares available, China is barely about the "critical" level of 120 million set by the government, the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) said yesterday. China is a big country, but most of it is mountainous, grassland, or desert. China has about 22% of the world's people, but barely 7% of its arable land, so food security is a huge challenge. Urbanization, industrialization, desertification, and reforestation programs have all contributed to reducing the land available for growing food.

The government has been able to slow down the land loss: Last year was the smallest annual decrease since 2001, when the arable land bank was 127.6 million hectares. Now Beijing is working on a long-term land usage plan that will run until 2020. Hu Cunzhi, head of the MLR planning commission, said that the plan "is to better protect the limited arable land and make more efficient use of areas designated for development. Unless there is a biological revolution (that boosts per-hectare grain yields), we will adhere to the bottom line to ensure people are fed," Hu said.

The government has taken strict measures to stop urban expansion on arable land. If construction or transport projects are not approved, "No water, power or gas shall be provided to these projects, and no financial institutions shall be permitted to offer them loans," according to a recent government circular.

In another measure to protect agriculture, China will impose an additional 100% export duties on chemical fertilizers and some raw materials from April 20 to Sept. 30, the Ministry of Finance said today. This covers all regions and all kinds of exports. This is the second such measure in 2008. The duties will be 100-135%.

Gutting Agricultural Research Kills!

April 15 (EIRNS)—"Now we're paying the price for decades of neglect of agricultural research," said Robert Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute, based in the Philippines. The IRRI is one of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) institutions around the world, set up under the initiative of Franklin Roosevelt's Vice President, Henry Wallace, which have been the backbone of the Green Revolution since World War II. Zeigler, in an interview with EIR in December 2006, warned precisely of the current grain disaster if the collapse of grain stocks (due to globalization), the gutting of research funding to the CGIAR and related institutes, and the insanity of biofuels were not immediately reversed.

The IRRI newsletter for April-June 2008 quotes the former head of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, claiming that the price of rice "will have to rise to the point where rice can compete financially with fuel crops."

The newsletter also reports that recent pledges of funding for IRRI from Japan, Germany, and the U.K., are being eaten up by cuts in aid from the United States. IRRI is increasingly dependent on donations from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to sustain even their slower pace of research, even while the growth of per-acre yields stagnates, and famine spreads.

During the same time period that IRRI and sister R&D centers experienced funding cuts, research results for seed improvements were—for the first time in history—allowed to be patented by Cargill, Monsanto, and others of the agro-cartel, which are now making a killing from biofuels and food shortages.

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