From Volume 7, Issue 24 of EIR Online, Published June 10, 2008
Asia News Digest

India Proposes 'New Security Architecture' with China

June 6 (EIRNS)—Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, in a speech at Beijing University today, said that, "India is ready to ensure peace and stability in Asia, and beyond, by joining hands with China to evolve a new flexible security architecture. Such a security architecture would take into account the conditions prevailing in Asia, in an "open and inclusive" framework, flexible enough to accommodate the great diversity in Asia, he added.

Mukherjee's statement is significant for a number of reasons. First, by including the phrase, "and beyond," he is deliberately including Russia and other Eurasian countries. Second, discussion on security matters has always been conducted sotto voce, in both India and China. The reasons were many, but most importantly it was perceived, prior to this speech, that two countries have different security concerns, unique to them.

In defining the "open and inclusive" architecture, Mukherjee said that security issues could be discussed at some forums, such as the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Regional Forum, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

"India and China should try to work together for a new framework from these basic building blocks," he said. This would help both nations address common concerns, such as the security of sea lanes of communication, which are critical to trade and energy flows in the region, and on which the future of both nations would depend, Mukherjee pointed out.

Mukherjee: Reform Global Institutions

June 6 (EIRNS)—India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, in his speech at Beijing University today, made clear that India's foreign policy is to work with China to make the global institutions like the United Nations and World Bank more conducive to Asian requirements.

"These global institutions are based on the world order which is more than 60 years old," he said. "There is an urgent need to restructure and democratize these structures, attuned to the ground realities of today." He pointed out that cooperation between India and China has global implications, and it is now recognized that the center of gravity of international relations is shifting towards Asia. Speaking on bilateral relationships, Mukherjee said: "India wants closer relations and friendship with China, and I believe that China reciprocates."

Another aspect of the speech that was striking, was Mukherjee's formulation on the border dispute issue. On June 5, when he left for China, Indian observers were of the view that he would exert pressure on Beijing to speed up the resolution of the five-decade-old dispute. Instead, Mukherjee told the students: "We have to be patient on the border issue. China and India should work together on security issues in the region. Both of us have a common responsibility and a common interest in saving our border. We have gained experience to maintain peace and tranquility on our borders." This is exactly the formulation that has been used by the leadership in Beijing over the years.

Vietnam Plans To Ensure Long-Term Food Security

June 6 (EIRNS)—Vietnam, a rice-surplus nation, plans to protect at least 3.9 million hectares of prime rice fields to ensure long-term national food security, the state-run newspaper Tuoi Tre announced.

The move comes amid the global surge of grain prices, and aims to preserve a core growing area from the burgeoning demand for industrial parks and urban development. In China, the rapid growth of urban areas and industrial facilities took away almost 8 million hectares of arable land.

Urban development has seen thousands of Vietnamese rice farmers lose their ancestral lands, driving a steady series of demonstrations outside government offices by farmers, who typically complain they received insufficient compensation. In a protest last month, hundreds of farmers in central Nghe An province set up roadblocks to stop the building of an industrial park, claiming they were short-changed by developers, the Thanh Nien daily reported.

To ensure food security and win back the confidence of the farmers, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has instructed the Agriculture Ministry to prepare a Rice Cultivation Land Management decree and submit it for approval in the third quarter of this year. The ministry also plans to set up a national rice reserve of 100,000 tons to help stabilize distribution and meet domestic demand when market prices fluctuate, the state-run Vietnam News Agency reported.

Undermined, Britain Tries To Destabilize Sri Lanka

June 6 (EIRNS)—An explosion in a crowded passenger bus near Colombo, Sri Lanka, today, killed at least 22 people and injured scores. Brigadier Nananyakkra, Sri Lanka's military spokesman, said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)—better known as Tamil Tigers—were behind the explosion.

In recent months, the British-run Tigers were marginalized, partly because of President Mahinda Rajapakse's adroit diplomacy, which made the nation's ports available for naval ships of China, India, and the United States. Former colonial ruler, Britain, where most Sri Lankan elites were educated, had a firm grip on both sides of the nearly 25-year-old civil war. However, Britain is fast losing control over the geographically strategic island in the Indian Ocean. Rajapkse's speech on June 3 at the FAO Summit at Rome reflected his opposition to globalization and resentment toward the international financial institutions.

As a result, Britain is now helping the Tigers to destabilize Rajapakse, and prolong the civil war.

In the early 1970s, the LTTE began establishing training camps and secret arms caches under the cover of a chain of Refugee and Rehabilitation Farms of the Gandhian Society. Funds for the farms came from Oxfam (Oxford Famine Relief), a non-governmental organization with British intelligence connections.

Author John Glover wrote to the Western Mail in Wales about the training of Tamil youth by British mercenaries in the 1980s: "A band of mercenary soldiers recruited in South Wales is training a Tamil army to fight for a separate state in Sri Lanka. About 20 mercenaries were signed up after a meeting in Cardiff and have spent the last two months in southern India preparing a secret army to fight the majority Sinhalas...."

The main fundraising centers of the Tigers are South Africa, Canada, Australia—all former, and not-so-former, British colonies—and Britain itself, which has long been the Tamil headquarters.

Chinese Technology for Large-Scale Desalination

June 4 (EIRNS)—The largest project using a "dual membrane process" for desalinating seawater has been operating in China for two years now, China Economic Net reports in an article on desalination as "a sunrise industry in the 21st century." The Yuhman power plant has a daily disposal capacity of 35,000 tons, and demonstrates Chinese know-how for designing, building, and operating large seawater desalination projects. The project demonstrates how to guarantee water for industrial use as well as the local populations' daily supply. However, most of the desalination projects in China are smaller, with a daily capacity of several hundred to several thousand tons. China needs to develop more projects with a daily capacity of over 10,000 tons, to say nothing of a "large-scale power plant totally applying seawater desalination for water supply overseas," the commentary states.

China is a sea power, with a 18,000-km coastline, so it has the potential for this. The coastal regions have only 25% of the current water resources of the whole country, and up to now, overexploitation of ground water has led in some areas to large sinkholes, due to the water drainage, back-flow of sea water into river mouths, and other serious problems. The "shortage of desalinated water has become one of the bottlenecks restricting a sustainable economic development" in these regions, the article states.

The Beijing CNC Water Technology company went ahead to experiment with developing a new "dual membrane" process, which involves a much-improved pre-treatment which is much faster and more efficient at cleaning the water than the current membrane process. The new process also greatly reduces the high energy requirements for the process. With this process, the Yuhuan Power Plant not only supplies its own daily water consumption, but another 10,000 tons per day for the town, adding 33% more water to total consumption.

This project "lays a foundation for establishing large-scale seawater desalination projects with a daily disposal capacity of over 100 thousand tons," and makes the goal of "demanding water from the seas" a realistic option for meeting the water needs of China's coastal regions, to ensure development of these areas. Investment in desalination will reach the equivalent of $8 billion by 2020.

In 2005, the Chinese government issued a Special Program on Seawater Usage, to enhance processing and use of seawater in the coastal regions, especially for high-water-consumption enterprises such as electricity generation, petrochemical, and metallurgical industries. New enterprises in these industries are requested to set up a "matched" desalination project, and existing enterprises are to be eventually converted to using desalinated water. The 11th Five Year plan calls for desalinated water availability reaching 800,000 to 1 million tons daily by 2010, and eventually, after 2020, to reach 2.5-3 million tons, or 90% of all water use.

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