|Asia News Digest
Japan To Help India Build Freight Railroad
Oct. 19 (EIRNS)Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso has signed the $4.5 billion, largest-ever loan for a single construction project, to help India build a high-speed freight railroad between Delhi and Mumbai. The signing was on Oct. 22 during Indian Premier Manmohan Singh's visit to Japan.
The freight railroad is the centerpiece of the $90 billion Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), which is expected to triple industrial output and quadruple exports from the regions within five years, and create 3 million new jobs. The work will begin immediately. Under the project, India will establish a 1,468-kilometer (912-mile) rail connection between the two cities by 2015.
The DMIC was formally announced in December 2006 by Singh on a visit to Japan, with the Tokyo-Osaka industrial corridor being cited as a model. An Indo-Japanese task force to further the project was subsequently constituted.
Pakistan Is Under the IMF Grip Now
Oct. 22 (EIRNS)Facing the threat of a break-up of its western wing bordering Afghanistan, Pakistan is also bankrupt, and is now slipping into the grip of the International Monetary Fund. On Oct. 21, Pakistan began its annual economic health check-up meeting with the IMF at Dubai. Although Economic Advisor Shaukat Tareen told the media that the talks with the Fund will "ensure" that the IMF acts quickly when a loan request comes from Pakistani authorities, diplomatic sources in Washington told the news daily The Dawn that the IMF has already agreed to provide $6 billion to "stabilize" the economy and to help avoid defaulting on foreign debt repayments due next year. The country has revoked subsidies on petroleum and petroleum products to meet the IMF demands, causing misery to the millions of poor in Pakistan.
The war along its border with Afghanistan and the horrendous internal security situation have added to Pakistan's woes, compounded by the global financial collapse. Pakistan is experiencing 25% inflation; domestic debt rose by $2.25 billion in the first two months of the 2008-09 fiscal year, to reach a record $400 billion; and now the commercial banks, strapped for dollars, are allowing withdrawal of a maximum of $200 from customers' foreign currency deposit accounts.
Pakistan is desperately seeking cash. "In 24 months, we must correct the imbalance we have created. Immediately we don't need more than $10-15 billion," Shaukat Tareen told Dawn News TV. But, the help is not coming. The multilateral lenders and the Friends of Pakistan, set up last month in New York, have refused to give cash advances. Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari, who travelled to China earlier this month, will be in Saudi Arabia in early November to seek cash.
Malaysian Leader Demands End of 'Casino Principles'
Oct. 20 (EIRNS)Nor Mohamed Yakcop, Malaysia's Second Finance Minister, who was the sole ally of then-Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad ten years ago in outsmarting George Soros's attempt to loot Malaysia's economy, has reasserted the demand of Dr. Mahathir at that time to end the speculators' power over the real economy. "The world financial system which operates on the 'casino' principles," he said, "must be changed to ensure stability in the international economy, thus allowing developing nations to implement their development programs. The casino principles have proven to only benefit a small circle of investors, while creating a huge damage to the affected nations. Currency speculators made several billions of profit from the 1997 Asian financial crisis, but the damage they created in the region was worth hundreds of billions," he was quoted in New Straits Times today.
In 1998, while financier Soros and his hedge fund allies were draining billions out of the Asian nations, Mahathir, drawing directly on Lyndon LaRouche's policy proposals (and EIR's exposure of Soros), working with Yakcop, imposed currency controls and fixed the exchange rate of the ringgit currency, stopping the speculators cold.
Thai Professor Challenges the Monarchy
Oct. 23 (EIRNS)Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a political science professor at Thailand's Chulalongkorn University, has directly challenged the country's draconian lèse majesté law, and the myth of the adoration of the royal family among the population, by identifying the Queen Sirikit as a crucial part of the fascist movement behind the recurring operations to destroy democratically elected government in favor of military-backed dictatorship by the Privy Council. The professor even identifies the "monetarist" economics of this anti-democratic movement, against the "general welfare" policies of the deposed elected governments.
Ungpakorn, a well-known political analyst, described in an essay published in the Asia Sentinel today, the coups and outrageous court decisions which have dismantled two elected governments, disbanded the nation's largest and most popular political party, and banned dozens of leading political figures from politics. This has been run, Ungpakorn writes, by "politicians of the Democrat Party, bureaucrats, army generals, the ultra-rightwing PAD protestors and members of the Royal Family, especially the Queen." Note that the King has been near death and has participated very little in the political upheavals, leaving things to the Queen and her controllers on the Privy Council.
"Today in Thailand," Ungpakorn writes, "every public institution is compromised by double standards. This includes the Royal Family, the courts, the media and most of academia.... The PAD have powerful backers which allow it to break the law. Meanwhile the King has remained silent ... [while] the Queen supports the PAD."
China's Economic Growth Rate Stalls
Oct. 20 (EIRNS)China announced GDP growth of 9.9% for the first three quarters of this year, falling 2.3% lower than that of a year ago, and well below the double-digit growth of recent years. National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) chief economist Yao Jingyuan said that the growth rate "is a hard-earned achievement," given the world crisis, Xinhua reported. "It was achieved on the basis of the current macro-control efforts."
At a Beijing news conference, NBS spokesman Li Xiaochao said that this growth was achieved on a large economic volume. "There are no signs of a definite recovery from the financial crisis," Li said. "The growth rate of the world economy has slowed down noticeably. There are more uncertain and volatile factors in the international economic climate. All these factors have started to release their negative impact on China's economy." Li also said that export growth is slowing, and some companies are running into trouble.
Japanese Exports Falling
Oct. 23 (EIRNS)Japan's trade surplus contracted 94.1% in September, as import growth outpaced export growth. Exports grew only 1.5% in September from a year earlier, the Times of India reported today. Exports to the United States fell for the 13th straight month, while those to the European Union fell four out of the past five months.
The trade surplus was 95.1 billion yen ($970.1 million), down from 1.61 trillion yen a year earlier, the Ministry of Finance reports. Exports climbed 1.5% to 7.26 trillion yen, while imports climbed 28.8% to 5.65 trillion yen. In August, Japan posted a trade deficit of 327.56 billion yen.