From Volume 38, Issue 35 of EIR Online, Published September 9, 2011
Asia News Digest

Russia-China-U.S. Cooperation May Finally End the Korean War

Aug. 31 (EIRNS)—The last remaining Cold War hot-spot in Asia, the Korean Peninsula, repeatedly used by the British to disrupt potential for Four Power (Russia-China-India-U.S.) cooperation in Asia and elsewhere, may finally be moving towards resolution. The Korean War is officially still in play, as only an armistice—not a peace agreement—ended the fighting in 1953. Now, the diplomatic steps being taken by Russia, by China, and by the U.S., all working with both North and South Korea in their own way (while clearly coordinating these moves among themselves as well), are taking a shape which will be far more difficult for British operatives to sabotage—by basing the cooperation on regional infrastructure development.

South Korea's ruling party chief, Hong Joon-pyo of the Grand National Party (GNP), told reporters yesterday that the Russian plan for a pipeline, and eventually, a rail line through North Korea to the South, "would open a new chapter for inter-Korean relations." He said that the GNP "has been accused of being an anti-unification, warmonger group. But the time has come for the party to change direction." He said that President Lee Myung-bak "has been quietly pushing the inter-Korean gas pipeline project since early on in his term, and the accomplishment is entirely the President's."

In fact, one of Lee's first major initiatives was a trip to Moscow in 2008, where these projects linking South Korea, North Korea, and Russia were first laid out but never implemented.

The U.S. State Department has simultaneously worked closely with South Korea over recent months to reopen discussions by both Seoul and Washington with the North.

On another front, cooperation between Russia, China, and North Korea in building a new port and industrial hub at Rason in North Korea—also long stalled by political crises—is rushing forward. The Pyongyang government hosted a group of journalists last week to visit Rason, a port city on the northeast coast of North Korea, close to both the Russian and Chinese borders. Various reports from these journalists indicate that the road from Rason to China and the rail line from Rason to Russia are both near completion, which will hopefully be attained before the winter sets in. Teams of engineers from China and Russia are coordinating the work with (mostly) North Korean workers.

While access to the port will allow goods from China's northeast to have more direct access to the sea, the Russians are looking to Rason as a stop along the eventual rail connection to South Korea, as part of the development of the Russian Far East.

New, Nationalist Thai Government Undermines Bio-Fools

Aug. 30 (EIRNS)—The new Yingluck Shinawatra government in Thailand has removed a surtax on pure gasoline and diesel fuels in order to alleviate, to some small extent, inflationary pressure.

But the environmentalists are howling; with the extra tax removed from normal gasoline, the price for the ethanol-adulterated bio-fuels is only two cents per liter cheaper than correctly formulated normal fuels. So, the sales of "planet-friendly fuel" have plummeted, since motorists know that the "environmentally correct" fuel is actually far inferior to normal gasoline. It damages engines, produces less power, and has, because of its high volatility, an unfortunate tendency to evaporate before it can be burned.

China Building West 'Like United States Some 150 Years Ago'

Sept. 2 (EIRNS)—With the China-Eurasia Expo in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, China is highlighting its intensified push to develop the western, interior portions of the country and the Asian heartland.

The official news agency Xinhua writes, "China will speed up the opening up of its western inland region, continue to fund cross-border infrastructure projects, and roll out favorable policies to make Xinjiang a key economic hub at the heartland of Eurasia.... Xinjiang, which covers one-sixth of China's land-mass, borders key regional players such as Russia, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan. The region also holds abundant oil and gas reserves. But regional economic activities were slowed partly due to poor infrastructure along the border, which runs across rough territories such as the Pamirs plateau."

The China Daily directly compares the effort to past American policy: "The initiative is part of the Chinese government's second 10-year phase of its go-west strategy, one of world's biggest-ever economic regeneration initiatives. The strategy has been compared to the winning of the West in the United States some 150 years ago, when Americans took to their wagon trains and sought their fortune in new lands such as California following the end of the Civil War."

China's representatives at the Expo, Vice Premier Li Keqiang and Minister of Commerce Chen Deming, were joined by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, Kyrgyzstan President Roza Otunbayeva, Azerbaijan's Vice Premier Abid Sharifov, and Kazakhstan's Deputy Prime Minister Aset Isekeshev.

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