|Asia News Digest
China Building Industrial Park in North Korea on the Yellow Sea
May 16 (EIRNS)China and North Korea have begun preliminary construction of an industrial park in a North Korean city bordering China's Dandong, the border city where the Yalu River flows into the Yellow Sea. This is the second major industrial development projects to be launched by China in North Korea, the first being the development of Rason in the far Northeast at the tri-border of China, Russia, and North Korea, where China has developed a modern port and upgraded the road from China to the port.
The new industrial park is being developed along the lines of the Kaesong industrial zone in North Korea run jointly by Seoul and Pyongyang. A new bridge over the Yalu is also under construction.
Jang Song-thaek, the brother-in-law of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, will take part in a groundbreaking ceremony on May 28, together with Chinese Vice Premier Wan Qishan.
South Korea PM: Abandoning Nuclear Would Be a Move Backwards
May 17 (EIRNS)President Lee Myung-bak reiterated South Korea's strong commitment to atomic power today. "It would be moving backward to abandon [nuclear power] just because the Japanese nuclear accident happened. It would be for mankind to move backward in terms of technology," Lee told researchers at the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety in the central city of Daejeon.
"Airplanes have a low accident rate, but their fatality rate is high. Do we say we should not take airplanes because of that?" Lee said. "We have to make safer nuclear power plants. We should not give up" on nuclear power.
Senator Kerry Visits Pakistan as Crisis Escalates
May 17 (EIRNS)The crisis of relations between the U.S. and Pakistan intensified, even as Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) completed a visit to Pakistan aimed at easing the crisis, and chaired a hearing in the Senate aimed at cooling heads among his colleagues. Kerry met with President Zardari, Army chief Gen. Kayani, and ISI Chief Pasha May 16, and held a hearing in Washington today, with former National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones as the sole witness.
In the wake of the U.S. raid into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden, anti-U.S. sentiment in Pakistan is intense, aiding Saudi/British efforts to blow the region up.
The Pakistani parliament passed a resolution on May 14 referencing the U.S. drone attacks: "Such drone attacks must be stopped forthwith, failing which the government will be constrained to consider taking necessary steps including withdrawal of [the] transit facility allowed to NATO" through Pakistan to Afghanistan.
Within hours of the Kerry meetings on May 16, a U.S. drone attack killed seven suspected militants in North Waziristan.
Also, two NATO helicopters, reported by Bloomberg to be American, crossed the border from Afghanistan into North Waziristan and drew fire from Pakistani military forces, whereupon the helicopters returned fire, injuring two Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan issued a strong protest to NATO.
In an unusual joint statement issued by the U.S. Embassy and President Zardari after the meeting, Kerry called for pressing the "reset button" on relations, while offering his "personal affirmation" to the Pakistanis that the U.S. had no "designs against Pakistan's nuclear and strategic assets."
In the Senate hearing, Kerry responded to several Republicans who called for cutting off all aid to Pakistan, by insisting that there would be a closed session to discuss Pakistani offers for cooperation.
Lyndon LaRouche noted that any deal with Pakistan will be unsuccessful while the British and Saudis are running operations in the region. They will never agree to a settlement; they want to blow the entire region up, he stated.
East Asian Leaders Meet in Tokyo with G-20 Looming
May 22 (EIRNS)Leaders of the three major economies in East Asia met in Tokyo this weekend after a short visit to the regions damaged by the March 11 earthquake-tsunami-nuclear accident. With the accelerating collapse process and the G-20 summit due later this week in France, economics was high on the agenda.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said in a joint statement that "We decided to complete joint studies among industry representatives, officials and academics on a Japan-China-South Korea free-trade agreement this year, and to follow up by accelerating other joint studies after that."
A major, although not the dominant, chord in post-March 11 discussion in Japan, has been the need for closer economic ties with China to overcome internal difficulties and limitations. China and South Korea have been making new initiatives for both economic and military cooperation with the countries of Southeast and Central Asia.
Nuclear safety was also an important issue in the discussions. China and South Korea have both emphasized the safety of their nuclear programs, and re-emphasized their commitment to a nuclear future after the Fukushima accident. Japan, on the other hand, has shown a marked reluctance to remount the horse.
The countries agreed to cooperate in disaster preparedness and to ensure nuclear power safety, while Japan promised to share with China, South Korea, and the rest of the world, lessons learned from the disaster-triggered crisis at a nuclear plant in Fukushima.
Pakistan Requests Chinese Assistance for Strategic Naval Base
May 22 (EIRNS)A day after Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani returned from a four-day visit to China, Pakistan's defense minister said that Islamabad wanted China to build a naval base in Gwadar, Baluchistan in southwest Pakistan.
"We would be ... grateful to the Chinese government if a naval base is ... constructed at the site of Gwadar for Pakistan," Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar said is a statement. China has already invested $200 million in the first phase of the construction of the commercial port, which was inaugurated in 2007. The port is just 45 miles (70 km) east of the Iranian border, overlooking the Gulf shipping lanes, and was designed to handle transshipment traffic for the Gulf, ultimately including overland traffic into Central Asia and China.
Militarily, this would put China at the door to the Gulf dominated over the past centuries by British and American naval forces. China last dominated these waters under Adm. Zheng Ho in the early years of the 15th Century.