From Volume 7, Issue 47 of EIR Online, Published Nov. 18, 2008
Asia News Digest

Pakistani Militants Flex Their Muscles

Nov. 11 (EIRNS)—On Nov. 10, Pakistani Taliban militants hijacked 13 trucks without firing a shot, as they passed through the Khyber Pass. The gunmen later posed for photographs in front of two Humvee military vehicles and some of the trucks. Officials said the trucks were carrying two Humvees and wheat, but "no weapons or ammunition." The militants released three of the trucks and their drivers after unloading the wheat, one official said.

Almost 70% of supplies, including fuel, for U.S. and NATO forces battling a Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan land in the southeastern Pakistani port city, Karachi, and travel about 1,200 miles by road through Pakistan. The point through which the supplies enter Afghanistan is the legendary Khyber Pass, a 45-mile stretch winding between high hills. Historically, the Pass was considered one of most dangerous stretches to negotiate in time of war.

To keep the supply line open is key to the survival of the Western forces in Afghanistan and the U.S.-led war on terror. As the border areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan became increasingly chaotic, with various militant groups gathering strength, Washington has become concerned about this. This incident will not only put pressure on U.S. and NATO troops, but also on the Pakistani security forces, in charge of keeping the supply line open.

Pakistani Taliban Kidnap Iranian Diplomat

Nov. 13 (EIRNS)—Not far from where the Taliban militants shot dead a U.S. aid worker on Nov. 12, four armed men kidnapped the Iranian commercial attaché, Hashmatullah Atharzadeh, at the consulate in Hayatabad. It is evident that Peshawar, capital of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP), which borders Pakistan's tribal areas and Afghanistan, is slipping out of Islamabad's control. If the militants get control over Peshawar, almost 70% of the supplies to U.S. and NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan, could fall into the militants' hands.

The kidnapping of the Iranian diplomat and the killing of the U.S. aid worker are the handiwork of the Saudi-British network that includes the virulent Wahabi Sunnis and anti-U.S. forces. It is evident that the Saudi-British nexus, which is financed chiefly by the Al-Yamamah arms deal that created a multibillion-dollar off-the-books slush fund, is used not only to undermine U.S. influence in Pakistan, but also to undermine Iran.

Meanwhile, in Jalalabad, in the bordering Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, more than 18 civilians and an American soldier were killed in a suicide bomb attack against a U.S. convoy on Nov. 13.

China and India Face Huge Job Losses

Nov. 14 (EIRNS)—Massive job losses confront Chinese and Indian authorities as Washington, London, and Brussels push through the "bailouts" and "IMF conditionalities" to "stabilize" the collapsed financial system. A local paper in Shenzhen reported today that some 9,000 of the 45,000 factories in the cities of Guangzhou, Dongguan, and Shenzhen are expected to close in the next three months, according to estimates of the Dongguan City Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment. Those closures could lead to 2.7 million job cuts, as overseas demand for consumer goods fades. That number means more than 50,000 workers will be losing their jobs every day. The association pointed out that their estimate shows that demand will shrink by about 30% by the end of January 2009.

On the same day, the Federation of Hong Kong Industries said that about 25% of the 70,000-strong Hong Kong-owned companies in southern China could cease to exist because of massive contraction of demand. One other report indicates that tens of thousands of migrant workers are leaving the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou after losing their jobs, railway officials say. The increase to 130,000 passengers leaving the city's main station daily is being blamed on the credit crunch. Guangzhou is one of China's largest manufacturing hubs, but many companies that export products have collapsed.

It is no better in India, which earlier had jumped into the globalization cauldron, forsaking nation-building for garnering foreign exchange reserves. With an anticipated 30% decline in export turnover during the current fiscal year, 15,000-20,000 workers in the knitwear industry in the southern Indian town of Tirupur are facing loss of their livelihoods. Sources in the Tirupur Exporters Association told the Indian media that exports have nosedived during the first half of this fiscal year.

Thai 'Democracy' Movement Proves To Be Killers

Nov. 10 (EIRNS)—The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), the mob which has occupied the central government office building in Bangkok for nearly three months, with full and open support from the monarchy and the Army (against the government and the police force), has been proven to be exactly what EIR has documented it to be—provocateurs and killers.

Police have arrested two of the PAD'S "guards" (mostly former or off-duty military) with a stash of grenades, ping-pong bombs, a home-made bomb, together with guns, swords, and slingshots. While the PAD leaders claim that the two were no longer guards and that the arrests were a frame-up to discredit them, it is a fact that several police have been shot and otherwise injured in the various PAD riots, and the demonstrators who died in the PAD effort to close down the Parliament may have been killed by PAD bombs.

Big Cuts in Power Production in China

Nov. 11 (EIRNS)—Many Chinese power plants have cut output by as much as 50%, China Daily reported today. In Shanxi province, west of Beijing, a power sector administrator told China Daily that one-third of its generating facilities had been shut down due to falling demand. Earlier this year, Chinese power production was short of demand, although fast-rising coal prices have been undermining the sector all year. Various official estimates put China's power consumption growth rate at one-third to one-half that of last year as of September; a collapse in energy consumption came in October.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is reporting that over 18% of both state-owned and private industry, with an income over 5 million yuan, faced losses in the first eight months, especially in power, textile, and nonferrous metals. In the energy sector, some companies are suffering losses of hundreds of millions of yuan, and overall, net profits in the sector this year where down 78.5% just through August, the National Development and Reform Commission reported.

Former Taiwan President Arrested for Embezzlement

Nov. 12 (EIRNS)—Chen Shui-bian, the former President of Taiwan and leader of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was jailed yesterday. He is accused of embezzling around 15 million Taiwan dollars (about US$450,000) while in office, as well as money laundering, taking bribes, and forging documents.

Just last weekend, Chen had also made the headlines in Taiwan when he led noisy and sometimes violent demonstrations against the visit of a high-ranking mainland Chinese representative, to conclude important trade and transport agreements.

Chen and hardline spokesmen in the DPP are accusing the KMT (Kuomintang, the ruling party) of "political persecution" and conducting "a political witch hunt," and insist that the case is nothing but a "bid by the island's current government to curry favour with Beijing."

However, Chen's problems began even while he was in office. In 2006, his son-in-law was arrested for insider trading, convicted, and sentenced to seven years in prison. Chen has admitted to submitting falsified expense forms while in office, but said the money was used for "secret diplomatic missions" and not for his personal benefit. And, in a separate money-laundering case, prosecutors say US$21 million was sent to Swiss bank accounts belonging to Chen's daughter-in-law in 2007.

All rights reserved © 2008 EIRNS