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The latest article is now up at Brooks Foreign Policy Review, here.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), founded 42 years ago, was created to provide a framework to advance regional stability in Southeast Asia at a time when the withdrawal of colonial powers had created a vacuum. This placed the newly independent states of the region in danger of succumbing to ethnic strife and communist insurgencies. Since the conclusion of the Cold War, ASEAN has embarked on a series of free trade initiatives, linking it to some of the Asian-Pacific regions most dynamic economies.

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Africa: Current Intellectual Property Systems Marginalise Continent – Tumelo – This article deals with the need for better a better market regulatory infrastructure for the continent. I like the emphasis placed on African solutions to these problems and not just copying the West. Japan created a system based on Western capitalism but with specific Japanese characteristics that proved exportable to other nations in the region like South Korea and to a less extent Taiwan. Africa also should be encouraged to undertake such innovation for issues specific to the continent.

Ma promises 100 years of peace and prosperity – Ma’s using the boost from the Legislative victory of his party to help him campaign for the office of president.  He sounds even more arrogant than before. (sigh)

Why Europe should thank China – An interesting article on why the EU should THANK China for their dollar peg on the yuan. Strictly going by the article, I guess the judgment should be based on what how does the long term and short term benefit stack up when comparing advantages and disadvantages of a strong euro to USD relationship. The article does not address this. The conclusion is the EU gets “some benefit”, so suck up the cost and just reduce the overhead on your exports. LOL, easier said than done.

Chinese sub, Kitty Hawk in standoff – More “war games” in the Taiwan Strait. I wonder why China is getting provocative all the sudden or is it they are just testing new equipment in realistic scenarios?

Komura: Japan not seeking ‘rewards’ – I blogged about the Japan-Africa relationship before. This article reveals that Japan’s government is renewing its commitment to sustainable development aid measures in Africa and heavily implies they are “not after Africa’s resources like China”. This is not all altruistic, aid allocation never is. Japan is seeking a permanent seat on the security council and Africa has 53 nations. Upping aid from its current 10% on the continent might sway more to back Japan.

S. Korea’s Lee moves to revitalize relations – South Korea’s president elect, Lee Myung Bak, is seeking better relations with Japan. This is somewhat surprising to me since he has a history of being anti-Japanese, but I suppose he is a pragmatist. It is easy to be a anti-Japanese mayor, but not so easy to be an anti-Japanese president in the region. It is positive he is already seeking regional support to deal with the North Korean issue.

Liberia: Charles Taylor Trial Gets Under Way – Considering what this scum is responsible for in Liberia and the neighboring Sierra Leone, the child soldiers; drugs; rapes; mutilations; corruption; mental trauma of the victims. Taylor is a sub-human monster that should be hung like the war criminals of World War II.  Some people are not fit to live, and there is nothing wrong with culling the herd.  Here is a site that is monitoring the trial, Charles Taylor Trial.

Liberia: Market Women Help Revive Economy – There is some good news in Liberia. Not only do they have a woman president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who seems to be respectable; but women are reviving the market! Johson-Sirleaf owed a debt to these women who were instrumental in her election, so she set up a Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund; more about this in the article.  While reading the article, I saw similar dynamics in Liberia as in Sudan during the time of conflict. Women would be the ones foraging for goods, because they were least likely to be killed or forced into a militia. In Darfur, the choice was between a man possibly being killed and a woman raped, so often they sent the woman. In any case, I am quite happy with the industriousness and entrepreneurship I see in Liberia.

‘Iron Lady’ bids public farewell – Wu taitai gone already? I was looking forward to reading more about her after the last Sino-EU summit. Maybe she can consult for some African nations. This woman is a bulldog, and I mean that in a respectful way. Not just anyone could lead the negotiation for China ascension to the WTO.

S Korean military on alert following attacks by hackers – I’m not really surprised Chinese hackers attacked South Korea as there have been some major “beefs” between the two nations over interpretation of overlapping ancient histories.

Overseas Vietnamese eyed for hi-tech sector – Saigon Hi-tech Park is trying to recruit overseas Vietnamese tech workers to make up for the shortage of domestic talent. As one would expect there are growing pains.

China to Switch to Lethal Injections – China said they will stop shooting people in the head and use lethal injection, which is funny due to the fact America is debating if “lethal injection” is cruel and unusual punishment. Cruel and unusual punishment is against the U.S. constitution.

Li Yinhe on the recent porn crackdowns – An interesting post on porn crackdowns in China.

Japan pledges to help China curb pollution – A lot of confidence building came out of this meet, which was good. I lived in Shanghai and I can tell you about the throat and lung infections from the pollution, all the days that were so dark you could not see the sun, etc. China needs all the help it can get with this. It is a beautifully diverse country and although I think they “have to” go through this industrialization, just as everyone else has, itis good they are taking steps to limited the environmental degradation. For more information on other points discussed check here. On a side note, sometimes people underestimate the power of goodwill programs (i.e. exchange students) to change public perception, but I do not. 3,000 students can saw a lot of thinking at home when they get back.

Taiwan presidential candidate cleared on graft – Told ya so, here.

Shuffled off to history, veneration of Ro Moo Hyun will follow – French plays the requiem for the Roh Administration in South Korea. I’m sorry but I think he overplayed Roh’s statesmanship here, in large part, due to his dislike of the Bush Administration. I’m not a fan of George W. either, but even he was not stupid enough to try military action against a potentially nuclear armed N.Korea when there was so little intelligence and N.Korea could potentially nuke Seoul and Tokyo; especially with so many American troops exposed. Sorry, Mr. French; don’t buy it. It seems the S.Korean people did not either, as they elected the political opposite of Roh.

Nigeria’s graft catcher is sent for training – This is not good; just when I was congratulating Nigeria on its anti-corruption crackdown. Although it is likely Nuhu Ribadu did not go out of his way to “bite the hand that feeds”; any crackdown on corruption is better than none at all. The people know this and that is why he has popular public support. $380 billion in graft is nothing to sneeze at.

Tokyo opposes Taiwan’s UN referendum: Fukuda – This is not shocking coming from a Fukuda Administration. He appears focused on making good relations with America and China; both oppose the referendum. Although I recognize this as the most pragmatic position for all involved I have moral issues with it. I do not understand why Britain and Canada can allow or would allow significant segments of their country to vote for independence and Taiwan, a self governing democracy, can not democratically decide what it wants to do. It makes no difference to me if they voted for independence or voted to seek political unification with China immediately. What matters is they have no choice and countries that pride themselves on democracy and human rights are doing everything they can to smoother their right of self determination.

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Update: It seems the Fukada Admin is sneaky. He said exactly what China wanted to hear in relation to Taiwan and then a couple of days later revised clarified his governments position:

Japan has recently explained that it “does not oppose” the plan to hold a referendum on its bid for a seat in the UN under the name Taiwan, but hopes the referendum will not raise tension in the Taiwan Strait, a senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.

-Turnout is heavy in Kenyan election – Well it is election time in Kenya. I covered the candidate that is expected to win, here a few days ago. It seems to come down to a battle between Kibaki and Odinga; Kibaki being the incumbent establishment candidate of the dominant Kikuya tribe, and Odinga; the up and comer from a less affluent tribal group. Turn out is very high and from earlier reading it seems many people from the various other ethnic groups are tired of the Kikuya running things, but besides that education and the economy seem to be big issues. Whatever happens, I’m glad the vote is being judged “free and fair”.

Taiwan opposition presidential candidate awaits verdict on corruption case – I am pretty sure the verdict will be upheld and Ma will not go to jail or be disqualified from running for president. I’m also sure he is guilty but you know… 🙂

Japanese PM looks to boost ties through China visit – Well, looks like Fukuda will have a good trip as Beijing seems to approve of him and no major typical issues of “Chinese outrage” are on the table. This usually means that China wants something, like more Japanese investment (as they asked for a few weeks back). China is Japan’s largest trade partner and Japan is China’s largest investor. It seems most of the outstanding issues revolve around economics and military buildups on both sides. Could this be the dawn of new relations? I wouldn’t count on it, but money unites all. 🙂  The capital must flow!

Is the sun setting on Japan’s economic power?: GDP drops to 18th among major nations – This is nominal per capita, not purchasing power parity. Japan is still the second largest economy on earth in terms of GDP. Japanese people are also not poor, PPP is more accurate to measure this. This has to do more with exchange rates.

Asia: Lure of China proves irresistible for Japanese seeking fame and fortune – Maybe relations are getting better, after all. This is a very interesting article, worth the read; especially the last part concerning the Japanese companies problems.

Africa Brings New Financial Frontier to American Investors – This article speaks primarily  about African Americans investing in Africa.

U.S. and China relations going through a rough patch – There definitely have been “bumps” lately, as documented on this site. Once, a few years ago, a Bush Administration official said that China is both a strategic partner and a competitor. I have rarely heard this administration speak so practically in relation to foreign policy. It seems the realities of America’s interests have weighed on the Bush Admin, just as it did on Clinton. An entrenched power such as America and a rising power such as China, with radically different cultural norms; economies; geo-political realities; and political frameworks are not going to always share the same interests. My worry is that both sides, due to these inevitable frictions, will stop focusing on pragmatic mutual benefit and polarize their positions in an adversarial way. This can happen if we allow ignorance and populist pressure to run rampant in Congress over the latest and biased over-hyped sex media story about “bad China”. For China’s part, I think, many at the senior level in the CCP still do not understand how to deal with the West, especially the United States, due to an experience gap and cultural distance.

Nigeria: Yar’Adua in White House, Ready to Partner U.S. On Africom – There have been some results from the recent visit of Yar’Adua. This could be a positive thing for security on the continent, but as with most things of this nature, America is not doing it out of a sense of altruism; so the issue is the extent of mutual benefit. There appears to already be backlash in Nigeria, which s not surprising. African nations, since independence and especially since the Cold War, are fiercely protective of their sovereignty. I wonder how much of this is America trying to keep stability in a region where a good percentage of future oil supplies will come from, as well as intimidate China on the continent.

South Africa: Troops to Reinforce UN in Congo – This is a good sign. Yesterday, I was calling for more action in the Congo. I will be keeping watch of the progress made against the rebel insurgency.

Sierra Leone: Whose Quota, Exactly? – I am not sure how I feel about this. I know some Scandinavian countries have quotas for women in government, but unequal outcomes in every sphere of life is not always evidence of a problem. I’m not saying women are not discriminated against in Sierra Leone, but even in the most liberal nonsexist country does the average women really have as much interest in running for office or even politics as the average man?

Sudan: U.S. Senate Targets Asian, European Firms – This is a great move, too bad it is several years TOO LATE. After Rwanda, the world said never again, the United States said never again and we have watched it happen again for 6 years, and the biggest thing we have done is send in a rag tag team of underfunded African Peace Keepers who have a pathetically weak mandate , which causes them to run from and take notes on the Janjaweed while civilians get slaughtered in front of them. We continually allow China and Russia to block us at the UN. This is definitely not the first time this administration has failed pathetically in its diplomacy. How many years has it been since Colin Powell, as Secretary of State, declared the Darfur situation genocide? Apparently genocide is not important to the U.S. government if there is no one important to demonize with the charge.

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Hat Tip to Confidential Reporter:

…according to an international opinion poll conducted by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German foundation.

SNIP

On average, half of those surveyed would already call China a world power alongside the US.

Although the US remained the undisputed leader with 81 percent, China gained 5 percentage points compared to a similar poll conducted two years ago.

The Chinese placed even more trust in their country’s future prospects. 65 percent of respondents already perceived their country as a global player. Within China, this figure has risen 21 percentage points in the past two years.

In terms of the future, 57 percent of people around the globe expected China to be a superpower in 2020, while a mere 61 percent thought the US would still hold this position.

Among Chinese respondents, 80 percent believed their country would play a global role, but only 59 percent thought the US would be a world power at that date. In 2020, the Chinese expect the leading nations of the world to also include Russia (37 percent), the UK (31 percent), the European Union (29 percent) and Japan (23 percent).
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Last night I had a major dispute with the owner of the Political Forum, W.E.B Dubois, concerning Japanese War Crimes, here. It originally started as a post I created making light of the lunacy of a Japanese Right Winger who claims the Rape of Nanjing was a co-conspiracy, promoted by Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai Shek (Jiang Jieshi).

I always find it so amazing how people, whom I consider highly intelligent, lose their composure and fall back on logical fallacies when they hear something they do not like. I try to look at every issue from as objective a point of view as possible. I do not care if it is personally offensive to me or not. I’m interested in the truth not to hear and echo-chamber or to reinforce my stereotypes.

I will repost my last reponse to Dubois; with a few more links from other post made to fortify my poisitions for people unfamiliar with our discussion, below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

If there are people who are more nationalistic than Koreans in the “Confucius-sphere”, it is the Vietnamese. If they were not, they likely would not be a united country today, like the Koreas. The Vietnamese overthrew 1,000 years of Chinese rule. They kicked out the French and the United States; always with inferior military strength. Since Vietnam is as communist as China, at this point an authoritarian oligarchy trying to become capitalist, all political expression like this must be allowed. This is a message directly from the Vietnamese Communist Party.

The objects of dispute, the Spratlys, are composed of over 100 small islands; some of which are barely big enough for 2 people to stand on. The draw is that they can extend international waters for these countries, which means extended fishing territories and possible access to much coveted fossil fuels; which are thought to be present in the waters around the islands. There location is obvious ambiguous and historically various nations have claimed them, as they do today. To my knowledge, ASEAN has been trying to mediate a solution to this conflict, but apparently it is not working.

Personally, I do not believe anything big will come of this. There is just too much at stake to risk conflict between Vietnam and China over this issue. I do not believe either Communist Party will allow this to get out of hand. Well, I hope not. Then again Vietnam has had issues with Taiwan too.

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Vietnamese hold rare demonstration to protest China’s move to control disputed islands

Sunday, December 9, 2007
AP

HANOI, Vietnam — Several hundred Vietnamese held a rare public demonstration Sunday to protest China’s latest effort to claim control of two disputed island chains in the South China Sea.The demonstrators, mostly university students, gathered near the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi and chanted “Down with China!” and “Long Live Vietnam!”

Police let the demonstration continue for about an hour before breaking it up.

The protesters were supporting the government’s position that Vietnam has sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel islands, a contentious issue between Vietnam and China for years.

The largely uninhabited islands and surrounding waters are believed to have large oil and natural gas reserves. They straddle busy sea lanes and are rich fishing grounds.

Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also claim sovereignty over all or some of the Spratlys.

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