From Volume 37, Issue 18 of EIR Online, Published May 7, 2010
Asia News Digest

China Begins Construction of Hainan Nuclear Power Plant

April 26 (EIRNS)—China's National Nuclear Corp., its biggest operator of nuclear power plants, started building a $2.8 billion nuclear power plant on the southern island province of Hainan. It will consist of two CNP600 pressurized water reactors, each with a capacity of 650 megawatts. The first reactor will be completed and connected to the grid by the end of 2014, according to the provincial government.

China, the world's second-largest energy user, wants 15% of its energy to come from renewable sources by 2020. The country currently has 9 gigawatts of nuclear capacity in operation, the China Electricity Council said in August. That will exceed 70 GW by 2020, Wang Binghua, chairman of the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp., said in March. Mainland China has 11 nuclear power reactors in commercial operation, 21 under construction, and more about to start construction soon. Additional reactors are planned, including some of the world's most advanced, to give an almost eight-fold increase in nuclear power generation capacity by 2020. China is rapidly becoming self-sufficient in reactor design and construction, as well as other aspects of the fuel cycle.

Hainan needs more energy to sustain and boost its rapid development. The safe and clean nuclear power was chosen to avoid affecting the island's ecology, said provincial Gov. Luo Baoming. The province has little coal resources, while 66% of its hydropower resource has been utilized, leaving little potential for future hydropower development, Luo added.

Japan Agrees to Civilian Nuclear Cooperation with India

April 30 (EIRNS)—After years of reticence to develop official civilian nuclear cooperation with India, which is a non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and a possessor of nuclear weapons, Japan has agreed to set aside past differences and now work towards a civil nuclear treaty, with the establishment of a Joint Working Group on civil nuclear cooperation.

Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (MITI), Masayuki Naoshima, during the fourth ministerial-level meeting today of the India-Japan Energy Dialogue in New Delhi, finalized the agreement. The chairmen of leading Japanese companies including Toshiba, Mitsubishi, and Hitachi, who are accompanying Naoshima, formed the core lobbying group that has been encouraging the Japanese government to work out a civil nuclear deal with India.

Besides opening up the potential to export nuclear reactors to India, the agreement may also enable joint studies of thorium-fueled nuclear reactor development. Japan has already been working secretly with India on the thorium fuel cycle. However, Japan's area of work had been the use of enriched uranium oxide, in a mix with thorium oxide, to breed fissile U-233, as opposed to India's research using plutonium-239 to breed fissile U-233 from thorium. Not meeting with much success, Japan had abandoned that approach. It seems the new agreement may now help Japan to work closely with India to develop a reactor and fuel, based on a plutonium-driven U-233 breeding cycle.

Pushing 'Asian Integration' Is Tougher Now, as Euro Collapses

May 1 (EIRNS) —The Washington-based ASEAN Studies Center held a forum to release a book titled Realizing the ASEAN Economic Community, published by the Singapore Institute for Southeast Asian Studies. The U.S. State Department supported the project, and the State representative at the meeting said it was intended to overcome the opposition to integration by nationalist interests who fail to see the value of giving up old-fashioned notions (e.g., sovereignty).

The panelists seemed oblivious to the fact that the model for integration—the European Union and the euro bloc—were in a state of freefall, acting as if their projections of prosperity from the globalization process would soon win over the Asian nations to their free trade, imperial views.

Only one question was allowed from the floor, which went to Mike Billington of EIR, who stated that everyone in the room knew full well about the disintegration that was going on in Europe, and certainly recognized that any sane Asian leader would reject following Europe's lead in sacrificing sovereignty in the face of a global financial collapse. After a stunned silence and then nervous giggles, one speaker said sheepishly: "Well, it's certainly true that in all our negotiations, the European Union was the gold standard, so there must be a bit of concern." The other panelist, a former member of the U.S. Trade Representative's office, and now at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (free-trade fanatics), acknowledged that the Asian nations were "snickering up their sleeves" at the collapse in the West, since the West failed to follow any of the dictates it had imposed on the Asians after the 1997-98 crisis—but, not to worry, globalization is not the problem, as shown by the fact that Asia is doing so well, and now is the perfect time for integration.

Thai Government Raises the Stakes: Monarchy Is Now the Issue

April 27 (EIRNS)—The Thai government's Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situations claims that the entire opposition movement is a plot to overthrow the monarchy. The CRES said the network behind the plot included key leaders of the UDD (Red Shirts), members of the Opposition Puea Thai party, and former banned politicians, academics, and hosts of community radio programs. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday that the CRES had put together the pieces of the "political jigsaw." He said people involved in the network could face legal action (lèse majesté).

The CRES handed out diagrams to reporters that detailed a network of conspirators working to undermine the royals. "They have orchestrated attacks on the monarchy on the Internet and in their newspapers.... Red Shirt media are always insulting the monarchy," Army spokesman Col. Sunsern Kaewkumnerd told reporters. Ex-prime ministers Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, chairman of the opposition Puea Thai party, and Somchai Wongsawat (one of the prime ministers thrown out by the corrupt royalist courts) are among those named as anti-monarchists plotters.

"I condemn both of you—Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban—as murderers," Chavalit answered at a press conference. "You will be haunted by your murderous acts, and I am certain you will get your deserved punishment."

China To Fund Laos Railroad, Spur to Eurasian Land-Bridge

April 30 (EIRNS)—Lao National Railway Authority director general Khamseng Sayakone said this week that the Chinese government has signed an agreement with Laos to cooperate in building a rail line that will run from the Chinese border to Vientiane on the Thai border, essentially completing the "Asian Railroad" project of a railway from Singapore to Kunming. China will also extend the rail connection from Vientiane southeast along the Laos panhandle, as far as Thakhek in Khammuan province, where it will meet the Asian East-West railroad connecting Vietnam to Myanmar.

An agreement was signed on April 7 to establish a joint venture company to invest in the project. Funding for the railway and associated facilities would come from the Chinese government in the form of a long-term loan, he said. Initial estimations put construction costs at just above US$4 billion.

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