You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘ASEAN’ tag.

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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Japan to amend textbook accounts of Okinawa suicides -My grandfather served in Okinawa during WWII. He told me stories about Japanese people hiding all over the island (i.e. caves) believing that Americans would eat them, because that is what they were told by the government. The Okinawans would jump in the ocean before surrendering or even stab themselves in the throat. Due to historic discrimination against the Okinawans, due to their “impure” status, many Okinawans believe they were used as cannon fodder. My wife thinks that this is not an example of anti-Okinawan discrimination, as all Japanese were instructed to behave similarly. The main difference is that the war never got to the main islands, where they would have been expected to exercise these instructions; Okinawa actually became a battlefield for Japanese civilians.

In any case, I think most Japanese people know about this. It is clear to me that most Japanese people over 30 are aware of this; my wife certainly is and she is no history buff. It is good to acknowledge it formally in history texts though.

Chinese goods transform life in Southeast Asia – Cheap Chinese goods are apparently a benefit to poor Southeast Asian states, despite their low quality.

Government to stop energy subsidies next year – Relying more on the market should help control inflation, at least a little bit. This is always a good thing, as price ceilings and floors are inefficient; basic Econ 101. It is also good to see Vietnam moving away from such intricate state intervention in the market.

Vietnam plans Mekong mega-dam in Laos – Laos wants to become the hydro-capital of Southeast Asia and Vietnam will contract to build it?

I often remark on ASEAN+3 because of its awesome potential, despite the fact that ASEAN has fell short, I’m hoping S.Korea, China, and Japan can not only expand the organization, but provide enough centrifugal force to create greater unity among the nation-state members. Chinese and Japanese leadership is key (with Singapore behind the scenes) to cementing this thing. The U.S. and Australia have a lot to do with the hollow nature of the organization as they were both against a trade bloc they could not join and dominate.

The People’s Daily has an entire section of their site dedicated to everything you wanted to not know about Wen Jiabao’s trip to ASEAN+3 and Singapore. The link is quite informative, I have not gone through every link yet though.

The People’s Daily has a nice editorial of the meetings from China’s perspective. I will highlight the good stuff. Some of the main things China is concerned about, border disputes (S.China Sea Islands), instability in some member-states (Myanmar), environmental degradation caused by economic development, piracy and separatism are all issues that China has or have a heavy say in.

I am sure though that the “interference by external forces in member-states is focused on America and maybe Japan interfering in Tibet and Taiwan. I’m also certain that the only issue China sees with the S.China Sea borders is that everyone else in bordering the sea does not realize everything in it belongs to China. 🙂 Although piracy in China has been amazingly overstated; it is still a major problem, especially in relation to Chinese trade with the West and Japan. Well, at least China is joining a group that provides a platform to discuss these issues.

UPDATE: I found a conspiracy theory over at Midnight Sun, that China has conspired to bloc any possible entry of Australia and New Zealand from ASEAN. I can believe that, but I do not think China is the only nation that feels that way. I am willing to bet that Malaysia and Singapore do as well. They have long supported an “Asian Values” stance as a unifier for the region, the Anglosphere nations on the periphery do not fit.   They would just be a proxy for the U.S. anyway.


East Asia faces eight challenges

Recently, the 11th ASEAN-China Summit, the 11th ASEAN 10+3 Summit (ASEAN plus China, Japan and South Korea) and the 8th meeting of Chinese, Japanese and South Korean leaders, were held in Singapore. For East Asian countries, these meetings are crucial for deepening mutual understanding, strengthening mutual trust, and promoting cooperation in various fields including the economy, trade, science and technology, energy, environment, finance, culture, education, and tourism.

Despite problems and conflicts in East Asia, all countries share the common interest of building a “harmonious East Asia” and promoting peace and development. In fact, this emerged as a new trend in East Asia in the early 21st Century. This “harmonious East Asia” refers to a region existing in harmony, cooperation between countries, and coordination of the ecological environment and economic development. Through bilateral and multilateral dialogues and cooperation, a “harmonious East Asia” can sustain regional development and security.

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China, Japan hold high-level economic dialogueChina has been quite busy “dialogging” lately. Their goals in the talks seem to center around 4 points: “According to Zeng, four major problems exist in Sino-Japanese economic ties: a slowdown in the growth rate of bilateral trade, unsatisfactory business environment, obstacles in technological cooperation and fluctuations of Japanese investment in China...Japan is China’s third largest trade partner and the second largest source of foreign direct investment. China is Japan’s largest trade partner and one of Japan’s fastest growing export markets.” The International Herald Tribune also did an article on this.

China to provide free textbooks to all rural students in compulsory education – China is enacting a plan to create 9 years of compulsory education for all 150 million rural students.

Chinese to undergo compulsory HIV testing – Although China has relaxed laws concerning HIV positive foreigners entering the country on visits; they are increasing screening for Chinese citizens returning to China after a year or more abroad. When I was in China in 1999, they already had a law that made it compulsory for foreign nationals to undergo HIV testing if they wanted to stay in China for more than a year. I think the now rule is a good thing, but I fear that publicly known HIV status could lead to increased discrimination against the carrier.

Taiwan: Law change to aid migrant spouses – This law is important because Taiwan is one of the many regions of Asia with a female shortage. Due to this, Taiwan has seen a dramatic increase in the number of foreign brides, mostly Southeast Asian and Mainland Chinese women. There needed to be more regulation on this front, and the resulting laws seem fair.

U.S. to set 3 more tasks for N. Korea – Well, I see America is still dreaming. North Korea will never show its complete hand, that is not in the leaders interests, even if it is in the people’s. Even the reporter who wrote this, Takashi Sakamoto, does not believe North Korea will do this, so they will remain on America’s “Boogeyman” list for the foreseeable future. Then again, maybe that is what the Bush Administration wants. So much for America’s optimism.