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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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Rice Rebukes Bush Envoy Who Criticized Policy on North Korea – Jay Lefkowitz, President Bush’s special envoy on North Korean human rights said the current Bush Admin policy will not solve the nuclear issue in North Korea before Bush leaves office. Well, he is right, that is obvious to someone of the meanest intelligences.

Roadblocks on the Great Asian Highway – Interesting article about overcoming infrastructural barriers between Thailand, Laos, and China to create more efficient trade; and some immediate negative externalities for the local Laotian people.

Corruption-fighting Vietnamese granny gets award – Transparency International awards Vietnamese grandma for fighting the good fight for 25 years against death threats from local government officials. This woman is 150 cm (4’11” inch) tall and 40 kilograms (88 lbs) and has more “balls” than 99% of the politicians in Washington D.C., unfortunately for us Americans.

China closes 44,000 pornographic websites in 2007 – The Chinese government is not fond of “adult entertainment”. This is part of the increasingly common crackdown on various facets of the sex industry in China. I’m sure shutting down 44,000 websites has kept the thought police quite busy.

Science with Africa: Accelerating Science and Technology in Africa – Information on a conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 3 to 7 March. The themes of the conference will be science and innovation policy, science themes and innovation and will consist of plenary sessions and workshops.

Africa: ‘U.S. Recession a Threat to Third World Exports’ – There has been a recession fear going through North America, Europe, and East Asia lately but any economic downturn for the United States will also significantly effect some of the world’s poorest nations, which are already on the margin. This will not just hurt trade but also aid revenues.

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?

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