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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: Africans Stuck With EU Deals – Europe attempting to screw Africa economically again. Wow, big shock.

Ghana 2008: Who Benefits from the $ One Billion ACN Merchandise Sales? – The spending boom in Ghana with the African Cup at its epicenter benefits China the most? Benin Mwangi thinks so and I have to agree. It is an interesting that this trade boom is being lead by African women who are outsourcing production to Asia! That is just amazing, in a bad way. Then again they may have no choice due to Ghana’s poor infrastructure it might not be possible to manufacture the amount of product they need faster and cheaper than it is to import it.

Ma ‘never intended’ to hide green card – Apparently the new big scandal in Taiwan. I suppose if I was voting for a president to lead my nation and he was a permanent resident in another nation that would disturb me. I would think he was not completely loyal or was looking for a back door to exist quickly if things started to fall apart. Not good Ma Shensheng.

Permanent mechanism to close urban-rural gap – More ideas on that harmonious society that the CCP has been talking about since the the 17th Party Congress. As I mentioned before, the Chinese government is in a race against time to secure the future stability of China. This article focuses on investments in rural infrastructure as an attempt to improve the economic condition of the hinterland.

Desperately seeking students (Japan) – What is interesting about this is that Japan’s government is fully aware of the increasing student shortage and will allow the market to decide which schools stay open. This is something Americans should let happen with HBCUs.

Bloggers push China to prosecute beating death – What is most interesting about this is that the Internet was instrumental in pressuring the government to adhere to the rule of law. This is a powerful tool for public outcry, that despite government efforts; they really can not effectively control.

Asia: ‘Internet forces’ in China and Taiwan step up cyber attacks – Last time it was Chinese hackers attacking South Korea, now it is Taiwan v China. This article is a little different from the one I read on the South Korean attack. It goes into a lot more detail about the nature of the attacks. The United States and German governments also appear concerned as well. The article also mentions that due to security measures Taiwan is less vulnerable to cyber attacks than Japan, the U.S., and EU.

Japan asked China to tone down Nanjing Incident exhibits – This is somewhat shocking to be honest. I have said all I have to say on Japan’s WWII issues here, but I do not think it is wise for Japan to make statements like this.  Instead they should demand for a international panel of historians from China, Taiwan, South Korea, and the United States to decides what occurred during WWII and in its aftermath once and for all and have high ranking government representatives sign it and agree to abide by the findings.  As I said before I do not think China would ever agree to that, for reasons obvious to me.

West Africa: Food Prices Still Climbing, Crisis Feared – This is not good at all.

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?

I blogged about legal changes in regard to a growing number of immigrant spouses in Taiwan. This is interesting, because Mainland Chinese spouses are not considered immigrants/foreigners due to the political history between China and Taiwan.

I believe this issue should be up to the Taiwanese people. They can have a referendum on this as it has to do with the islands security, but also a significant change in society.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008
TAIPEI: As Taiwan gears up for two elections, more than 200,000 residents are barred from voting, in part because of questions about their political loyalties.These are the mainland Chinese-born spouses, mostly women, of Taiwan citizens. Their numbers have grown steeply over the past decade, in pace with Taiwanese investment and other business activities on the mainland.

Kenya’s Odinga Calls for Mediator to Resolve Crisis – Sitting president Kibaki called for a power sharing plan, which was rejected by Odinga.  Odinga wants international mediation lead by John Kufour, Ghana’s president. He is insistent that the true winner of the election is not known and needs to be discovered.  This makes sense to me to uphold the rule of law.  In this situation, if there was significant ballot box stuffing; a recount will not help. They will need to do a new election that is heavily supervised by foreign monitors. I believe Kibaki will oppose this as long as he possibly can, for obvious reasons.

China planning Taiwan Strait route for commercial aviation – China appears to be muscling in on airspace very close to what has been traditionally controlled by Taiwan. This has the effect of limiting Taiwan’s military exercises in the straight.  I see this as a duel maneuver for China.  They can reinforce the idea to Taiwan that their is “one China” and the shots are called from Beijing.  At the same time; China can relieve air congestion between Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Beijing without opening up strategic airspace over the Mainland. Taiwan is crying foul to Washington, and the Bush Admin is doing some behind the scenes mediation. If I were Taiwan I would use whatever leverage I have to resist this.   I believe China is trying to intimidate; as well as, test the resolve of the U.S. over the Taiwan issue.

Smear tactics dominate Taiwanese parties’ campaign for parliamentary vote – Just some old old Taiwanese mudslinging election politics.  Legislative Yuan seats are up for election and Pan Blue/Pan Green are duking it out. Example: “‘The Nationalists are joining hands with China to suppress Taiwan’s democracy,’ the commercial says.”

Nigeria: Ribadu Remains EFCC Chairman – Presidency – I blogged on this before. The controversy was that Ribadu appeared too successful at his job and was being “sent away” for an extended period. Here is an update of the brouhaha this has caused. The fact it has caused major outrage is a good thing though.

UK Doubles Contribution to African Development Fund – This is great! $863 million will go far on the continent. The monies will be tracked through projects of the Millenium Development Goals, which include “improving the productive capacity in Africa, promoting economic integration, investing in infrastructure, private sector development, developing the skills needed to be competitive, as well as stepping up engagement in fragile states”.

Uganda: Fuel Prices Double As Stocks Run Out – This is a great example of a relatively stable and prosperous landlocked nation hindered by its much larger unstable conduit to the sea.  A common problem in Africa as so many nations are landlocked.

China and Japan really need to have a “hot line” for communication on these issues. That being said, I a hot line would not likely have helped in this situation, as I fully believed this was a message to Taiwan and Japan. Japan needs to use the leverage it now has over China to settle this issue in a favorable way. Just as relations seemed to be going well…then again I’m not sure if the top levels of the CCP approved this or not. There is a lot of internal wrangling at Zhongnanhai.

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China’s sudden show of force sent SDF jets scrambling

01/02/2008

BY TSUYOSHI NOJIMA, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN TAIPEI–Aggressive military action by China’s air force in the East China Sea triggered alarm in Japan that resulted in emergency scrambling by Self-Defense Forces fighter jets on two days in September.Chinese bombers made more than 40 sorties in airspace around the disputed Chunxiao gas field, known as Shirakaba in Japanese. SDF jets were scrambled 12 times, according to Taiwanese military sources.Japanese government sources later confirmed the account.China’s action initially was seen as provocative. However, Japanese experts say the exercise could have been part of the Chinese military’s readiness in the East China Sea in the event of an emergency situation in Taiwan.

China regards Taiwan as one of its provinces.

Japan and China remain locked in a dispute over natural gas resources under the seabed.

It remains unknown whether the Chinese sorties had any connection to political wrangling between Tokyo and Beijing on this issue.

Clearly, though, the strategic value for China of the area around the gas field cannot be underestimated.

Hong-6 bombers stationed at the Huaining air force base in Anhui province made 20 sorties to the area on Sept. 11 and 23 the following day, each time taking almost an identical air route.

Japan’s Air Defense Identification Zone extends to waters west of the gas field as part of the nation’s overall national security interests.

Because of this, F4 fighter jets scrambled from Naha base in Okinawa Prefecture four times on Sept. 11 and on eight occasions the next day.

The Japanese pilots came within just 5 kilometers of the Chinese planes, according to a Taiwanese military source.

The waters around the Chunxiao gas field are used by U.S. aircraft carriers stationed at Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and other areas of Japan when they embark for Taiwan.

“Hong-6 bombers can carry long-range air-to-sea missiles,” said Kensuke Ebata, a critic on military issues. “So it is possible for the bombers to attack vessels at sea. Personally, I think the bomber pilots were undergoing a training exercise under the scenario of blocking the arrival of U.S. aircraft carriers in Taiwan in the event of an emergency situation there.

“The flights may also have been aimed at trying to contain U.S. forces following large-scale maneuvers near Guam in August under a scenario that the United States was at war with China.”

China’s military regards areas off Okinawa to the Philippines, including Taiwan, as the so-called first line of islands.

Based on that view, long-term military planners have sought to make the waters around the Chunxiao gas field part of China’s “inland seas.” In recent years, Chinese military forces have been intensifying their activities in the East China Sea.

In May 2007, a fleet of Chinese warships departed for the Pacific Ocean via waters close to Okinawa.

“Even in the neighborhood of the Taiwan Strait (located between Taiwan and China), there has been a sharp increase in the presence of Chinese military aircraft,” said a Taiwanese military source.

“The aircraft are not only engaged in training but also showing off their abilities. China clearly is trying to show its neighbors that it regards these waters as Chinese territory.” (IHT/Asahi: January 1,2008)

Uganda’s Economy Grows By 7% – I found this over at Booker Rising. Apparently, Uganda has discovered more oil. I mused about my concerns, which mainly center around “Dutch Disease“, at Booker.

The East African Standard (Nairobi) – The Kenyan Election Committee Chairman, Samuel Kivuitu, announced that he was pressured to announce the incumbent, Kibaki, as the winner. He is urging the matter to be reviewed by a court and the commission has condemned the violence. There is more background information on what is happening in Kenya here.

MAC rejects PRC asylum seeker – Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has refused to help an asylum seeker from the Mainland who is facing imprisonment in a Laogai. The committee’s response:

“‘As unfair judicial rulings exist in many countries, he should deal with this problem via the legal system in his country. We ask that he leave when his trip finishes [today],’ Liu said on Friday.” Basically that means, “we don’t care“.

Vietnam economy grows nearly 8.5 pct in 2007 – More good news on Vietnam’s economy. I’m very impressed by the industrial mix of the economy; agriculture is only 20% of the economy. I also did not know America was their largest export market; followed closely by the EU. Vietnam also has over 20 billion in investment pledges pending. This is outstanding!

Foreign journalists report continued harassment in China – I fully expect this to increase for reasons I outlined previously. The new law is nice, but I doubt they will be widely enforced at a local level. Local officials do not want to lose face before their superiors, especially during the Olympics. I would be a lot of these assaults are due to these officials acting on their own (by the use of plain clothed thugs) to prevent any embarrassing details from leaking out to foreign press.

China Will Make Hong Kong Wait to Elect LeaderTold ya so.

One Test and 600,000 Destinies in South Africa – This is similar to how things are done in many nations in Europe as well as Japan, South Korea, and China. I wish we would adopt this system of education  in the United States. It would never work as parents would have a fit when some school informs them there child is not “college material”. There will be law suits, arguments of discrimination, different “forms of intelligence”, etc.  Going back to S.A.’s test.  They mention that the % passed has steadily decreased over the last 5 years, but due to shoddy reporting we do not know if this is because more people talking the test than before.  The less “elite” the background of the test takers the more likely the average will drop.  In any case, it sounds like S.A. is heading in the right direction, but there are still problems of inequality based along class/racial lines, which exist in every society, but in S.A. this is critical as the imbalance is extreme.

The African Front – A long, but interesting article of how modernity and Islam mix in Kenya.

Govt to keep ‘hooligans’ away from G-8 summit – Always vigilant, Japan is taking steps to prevent barbaric foreigners, and locals who have fell under their spell, from disturbing Japanese societal harmony and making Japan lose face before foreign guest. LOL

Offering viable options for the future of Japanese society – An interesting editorial concerning the current political dynamic in the Japanese Diet.  It includes summaries of the current problems facing Japan in the way of budget, tax reform, defense concerns, foreign relations, and the environment. 

Does China have fuels reserves for Taiwan Attack? – Thought provoking post from good natured sinophobe Michale Turton. 🙂  It appears that China could sustain an attack on Taiwan for no more than 15 days.  I would imagine that China would just need to get immediate air superiority and then blockade Taiwan.  Trying to “take” the island would be a fool errand.  China does not have the force projection to occupy the island without extreme casualties on China’s side.  Then again I would not put “human wave” tactics above China, not even the 2008 incarnation of the CCP.  At that point, if they lose, the loss of face with be so bad it could likely end the CCP and lead to civil war.  No I’m not joking, it is that serious.  The CCP can not afford a loss of face that big at this point; on top of the economic penalties it would  bring to China in the short term.

WOW!! I was not expecting this. I did know that Lee was starting to distance himself from Chen and he was also becoming less anti-China and less pro-independence, but this was a drop-kick to Chen Shuibien and his party. I honestly do not know where he is headed with this; other than to sway popular sentiment to his party or maybe in his old age he is just becoming more pragmatic.

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Lee Teng-hui pans Chen, has hopes of third election force

CHANGE NEEDED: The nation’s political scene is a never-ending brawl led by the DPP and KMT, the TSU spiritual leader and former president said

STAFF WRITER
Saturday, Dec 29, 2007, Page 3 A local newspaper yesterday quoted former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) as lashing out at President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for having “no concept of democracy.”

The Chinese-language China Times, which interviewed Lee, quoted Lee as saying Chen had overstepped his powers.

Chen has used his position to amass personal wealth and only worked to serve the interests of his own family, Lee said.

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