|Asia News Digest
Indian Vice President Promotes 'Partnership' with China
Nov. 24 (EIRNS)Three days before U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met today in Washington, Indian Vice President Mohamed Hamid Ansari called for an "active partnership between New Delhi and Beijing, and mutual sensitivity to each other's concerns [which] is thus vitally necessary if stability, security, and prosperity in the shared spaces in their near and distant neighborhood are to be effectively ensured." He was speaking at a Conference on Asian Relations organized by the Indian Council of World Affairs in New Delhi from Nov. 21-23,
Ansari quoted the assassinated Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who said, in 1988: "What must not be forgotten in a listing of differences is a listing of commonality in our [India's and China's] world outlook. There has been significant parallelism in the views expressed by India and China on a wide range of issues relating to world security, the international political order, the new international economic order, global concerns in regard to environment and space."
Ansari then said, "The joint vision of the leaderships in India and China is to ensure a global order in which our simultaneous development will have a positive impact for our peoples and economies, as also for the rest of the world," and cautioned that "community building in Asia should not be a reflection of the emerging redistribution of global or regional power nor should it be a platform for projection of narrow economic and political interests of a nation or group of nations."
He reminded the broader audience that "the global political and economic institutional framework has weakened and is evident in the diminished role and influence of bodies such as the United Nations, IMF, World Bank, and WTO. Nations have resorted to regional political and economic institutions to resolve problems and cooperate for mutual gain. This phenomenon is most visible in the economic arena."
Singh-Obama Meeting Did Not Resolve Bilateral Issues
Nov. 25 (EIRNS)China's Xinhua news service reported today that the visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Washington did not resolve any disputed issues between the two countries. Although Obama and Singh signed a series of memoranda of understanding covering global security and anti-terrorism efforts, a green partnership, trade and agriculture, education, and health, the differences between the two countries remain, the article said.
Xinhua pointed out that India and the United States had reached a bilateral accord on civil nuclear cooperation during the tenure of President George W. Bush. "However, the accord is not yet in force, with the United States demanding India sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Treaty for the Prohibition of Weapons of Mass Destruction, which India has refused. Many Indians also hold that the U.S. requirement that India place all its civil nuclear facilities under IAEA scrutiny represents an infringement of its sovereign rights," Xinhua said.
"The two countries also have disagreements about combatting terrorism in South Asia," Xinhua reported. "India hopes the United States will stop military assistance to Pakistan and press the Pakistani government to disband extremist groups which the Indians believe were behind last year's bomb attacks in Mumbai.... However, Obama's policy of linking Pakistan and Afghanistan strategically suggests continued cooperation with Pakistan and only agreement in principle on the Indian requirement to ban the Pakistani groups. The United States, in fact, appears to want to stay out of the dispute between India and Pakistan regarding the Mumbai bombings."
Philippine Leader Pins Mindanao Massacre on Arroyo Administration
Nov. 30 (EIRNS)Fr. Jun Mercado, who has been at the center of Christian/Muslim relations in the Philippines for many years, and served for several years at Justitia et Pax in the Vatican, issued a report on the Nov. 23 massacre of over 60 people in the Maguindanao Province in the southern island of Mindanao, pointing directly to the Gloria Arroyo Administration as complicit in the carnage. Mercado was earlier offered a Cabinet level position in the Arroyo Administration, as a government representative to the Islamic community, but he refused the offer.
The Ampatuan clan, which has a lock on the government of both Maguindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), is being held responsible for the mass murder of members of the opposing Mangudadatu clan, who were filing papers for one of their members to run for governor. The clan has delivered the region to Arroyo and her party (through notorious vote fraud), in every election since 2001.
Mercado writes: "The convergence of the political and electoral agenda of President Arroyo and the Ampatuans is well known both in the national and local levels." He notes that the government's Commission on Elections" (Comelec) had moved its headquarters three weeks earlier to the provincial capital of Maguindanaoknown to be controlled by the Ampatuan clan's private army. "Comelec cannot feign ignorance of these realities nor wash its hands in the ensuing mass murder," writes Mercado.
The caravan delivering the registration of candidacy was made up of mostly lawyers, and journalists, including women, on the expectation that Muslims would not murder women or outside observers. Requests to the National Police and the Armed Forces for military escort were denied. The caravan was then "stopped by forces of the Philippine National Police, accompanied by hundreds of armed civilian volunteer organizations under the command of the National Police," writes Mercado. The caravan was directed to a pit which had been dug with provincial engineering equipment, and the slaughter began, "with so much brutality that can only be compared to victims of savage animals in the wild."
Arroyo is frantically trying to distance herself from the atrocity, and has granted Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno sweeping authority to exercise administrative control over the region, including the power to suspend all officials who may have had a role in the crime, including members of the Ampatuan clan. Although several leading Ampatuans have been arrested, Arroyo is acting cautiously, as the trials could bring out the buying of the elections and other crimes under the Ampatuan/Arroyo alliance.
South Korea To Develop Huge Area in Mongolia
Nov. 25 (EIRNS)South Korea and Mongolia are preparing a plan whereby Seoul will take responsibility for the development of an area of Mongolia almost as large as South Korea itself. The area is now underpopulated and without significant infrastructure. Korea will build transportation, water, power, and other basic infrastructure, as well as agricultural and industrial projects around newly created cities. A Mongolian delegation will be in Seoul in early December to move the project forward.
Mongolia is part of The Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI), which includes China, North and South Korea, and Russia, supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other donors, aimed at integrating the infrastructural development of Northeast Asia. Mongolia is also engaged in bilateral projects with Russia and China. South Korea is in discussion with Russia on joint development of Russia's Far East, but stalled relations with North Korea are holding back agreements on pipelines and transport routes.
Retired Generals Join Thai Opposition, Blast Royal Privy Counselor
Nov. 28 (EIRNS)Six retired senior military officers have joined the opposition Puea Thai Party, saying that Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, who also has a military background, is partly to blame for the deep-rooted divisions in Thai society. This comes close to identifying the Crown's role in the turmoil of the past years, since the 2006 military coup against the very popular Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Lt. Gen. Udom Ketprom (ret.), former chief of staff of the Lop Buri Special Warfare Command, said the group will expose the real cause of the political rift in Thailand. It has been widely acknowledged that royalist General Prem Tinsulanonda was the mastermind of the coup that ousted Shinawatra in 2006.
Udom and the other five retired officersall of whom previously served at the Special Warfare Commandspoke at a press conference where key party members were present, including Gen. Panlop Pinmanee, former deputy head of the Internal Security Operations Command.
Since September, over 50 of ousted Premier Thaksin's former classmates from the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School joined Puea Thai, after retiring from the service. Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyudh (ret.), who was Thailand's Prime Minister from 1996-97, joined the pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai Party in November, and soon became its official chief advisor.