|Asia News Digest
Who's Pushing for War in the Koreas?
May 29 (EIRNS)Following the conclusion by an international investigation last week, that the sinking of the South Korean naval frigate Cheonan in March was carried out by North Koreawith no conclusive proof, and with serious questions about the circumstantial evidenceboth South Korea and the United States are trying to respond in ways that appear to be as serious as the accusations they are making against the North would require, but at the same time to keep the crisis within bounds, and prevent the East Asian war that the British would love to provoke.
On May 24, the Pentagon announced that the U.S. and South Korea will hold joint naval exercises in the area "in the near future," aimed at anti-submarine capacity and stopping North Korean ships with banned cargo. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak announced that Seoul would cut off all aid to the North (but would not shut down the Kaesong economic development zone), and that North Korean ships would be denied access to the territorial waters of the South.
Lyndon LaRouche asserted that the only party with an interest in creating the chaos this crisis portends, for China and the world as a whole, is the British oligarchy, and that investigations should be pursued in that direction.
China has refused to blame the North until more conclusive proof is provided, and has proposed a joint investigation by China, the U.S., North Korea, and South Korea.
Russia has also refused to blame North Korea, and is sending a team to carry out its own investigation. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Moscow was not planning to discuss the situation at the UN Security Council until it possesses "100 percent correct evidence that [North Korea] has anything to do with the ship's sinking.... We should make the conclusions by ourselves, so everything will depend on the evidence."
Konstantine Pulikovsky, Russia's former Presidential envoy to the Far East, said on May 28 that, from his extensive knowledge of the North Korean leadership, he has "serious doubts that it was North Korea that sank the ship. Why do this? For what purpose? I don't see any logic."
On May 25, North Korea, which continues to deny responsibility for the sinking, announced that it was cutting all ties with South Korea in retaliation for the South Korean sanctions, and abrogating the agreement on non-aggression between the two Korean states.
On May 28, the North Korean National Defense Commission held a rare press conference to refute the accusations against the North. Maj. Gen. Pak Rim Su told the press, "We don't have anything like a 130-ton Salmon-class submersible," which the five-nation report claims fired the torpedo that sank the Cheonan. He also refuted the claim that a torpedo fragment dredged up near the scene of the incident was North Korean.
Pak compared the accusations to the U.S. and British false charges of WMD in Iraq, which were used to justify the invasion and occupation of that country, and said that the UN Security Council had been party to that fraud and thus should not be involved in this one.
Hillary Clinton Repairs China-U.S. Relations
May 26 (EIRNS)The just-completed U.S.-China Strategic-Economic Dialogue was marked by increased cooperation on the diplomatic front, and a cooling-out of U.S. screaming about China's currency valuations and other issues that have strained relations. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, leading the largest-ever delegation of about 200 officials and business people, met with China's leaders for two days.
Clinton praised China's cooperation on Iran, although China reiterated its insistence on a diplomatic solution and applauded the agreement that was reached in Tehran a week ago among Iran, Brazil, and Turkey on fuel reprocessing. Clinton said China was working with the UN's Permanent Five plus Germany (P-5+1) on a sanctions resolution for the UN on Iran. The two sides called for "patience" by all involved in the Korea crisis.
China stood firm on the currency issue. Assistant Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said: "China and the U.S. have reached consensus that the U.S. understands that China will independently decide on the specific steps of its exchange-rate reforms, based on its own interests, taking into account world economic conditions and China's own development trends." U.S. Treasury Secretary Geithner acquiesced to this. "This is, of course, China's choice," he said.
China, meanwhile, pressed Washington to lift restrictions on exports of U.S. high technology to China. Earlier, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said a review of export controls would be completed by mid-year, but declined to specify which curbs could be relaxed with respect to China.
Japan-U.S. Conflict Apparently Resolved
May 28 (EIRNS)The simmering conflict over the U.S. airbase in Futenma, Okinawa, Japan has apparently been settled, although the after-shocks will likely be severe. The Bush Administration had agreed in 2006 with the former government in Tokyo to move the base, which is in an urban area, to another Okinawa site which is closer to another U.S. base and in a less populated area. However, Okinawans and many other Japanese wanted the base moved out of Japan altogether, and the current government had campaigned for office on the issue of renegotiating the 2006 deal.
Prime Minister Hatayama, and especially his more leftist Social Democratic coalition partners, has insisted on the renegotiation since coming to power last year, but the United States strongly insists on Japan's living up to the 2006 agreement. Now, the crisis erupting in the Koreas has been used to argue for keeping the full U.S. military presence in the region, and Hatayama has given in. Japan and the United States announced that the 2006 deal will be upheld.
Opposition groups are certain to continue to protest. The head of the Social Democrats, Consumer Affairs Minister Mizuho Fukushima, was dumped from her Cabinet position due to her refusal to back the decision on the base. Prime Minister Hatayama's popularity is already extremely low, and this decision will further weaken his support.
India's President Meets China's Highest Officials
May 28 (EIRNS)Indian President Pratibha Patil arrived in Beijing May 26 for a state visit, the first high-level Indian visit to China in almost ten years. During her meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on May 27, the two pledged to enhance political and economic ties, and to bolster people-to-people contact.
Wen proposed that the two states treat bilateral ties from a strategic and long-term standpoint. "Practicing mutual respect conforms with the fundamental interests of the two states and peoples and will spark new hope for human beings," Wen said.
In her meeting with Chinese top legislator Wu Bangguo, Patil said all the parties of India support the development of relations with China, and that "China and India do not pose a threat to each other and their common interests far outweigh differences."
The Indian President pointed especially to the cooperation between India and China at the Copenhagen climate change summit in December 2009, where that cooperation foiled the British plots to use the "climate change" hoax as a club to beat back industrial development in the two largest Asian nations and the rest of the world.