|Asia News Digest
'Afghan' Rebels Not All Afghans
A few Afghan rebels who were killed in Pakistan's tribal areas July 17 had Kazakh passports, Islamabad told the media. The Pakistani media say that there were native Uzbeks among the rebels.
From time to time, Islamabad and others have informed EIR that the "Afghan" rebels are not all Afghans. A large number of them are Central Asians. EIR has pointed out in the past that during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, anti-Communists from Soviet Central Asia (at the time, most of the "stans" were part of the U.S.S.R.) and anti-Communist Arabs were brought in by the CIA to help the Afghans to defeat the Soviet invaders. Following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, Arabs and Central Asianswell-trained and well-armedremained in Afghanistan. Within Afghanistan, the Afghans fell out among themselves, and from this chaos emerged the Taliban. The Taliban leadership allowed the Arabs and the Central Asians to stay in Afghanistan.
When the United States invaded Afghanistan in the winter of 2001, Pakistan, with the approval of the United States, protected the Central Asians for future use against Russia, China, etc. Reports from sources indicate thousands of them live along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Karzai Ally Lynched by Taliban
A close ally of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Malik Agha Jan, was lynched in Zabol by the Taliban, as violence in Afghanistan intensifies. Agha Jan was a prominent tribal chief in the province. His murder, in the Pushtun heartland, is a sign of how far the situation has deteriorated in recent months, and how emboldened the Taliban have become. Agha Jan, along with his brother and two sons, were abducted on July 15. His relatives were released unharmed but Agha Jan was labelled an American spy and hanged.
President Karzai will be visiting London this week and is expected to take a high-profile stand against militant Islamic beliefs.
CFR: Myanmar Spreads AIDS
Continuing the U.S. line of attack on Myanmar for its "non-democratic government," the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, in a study released July 18, said the heroin users and prostitutes in Myanmar have spread the HIV virus through large parts of Asia.
"With the exception of one serious outbreak in China, virtually all the strains of HIV now circulating in Asiafrom Manipur, India, all the way to Vietnam, from mid-China all the way down to Indonesia, come from a single country," Laurie Garrett, author of the 67-page report, "HIV and National Security: Where Are the Links?" told a news conference.
The purpose of the report became evident in the conclusion, which said: "Burma (Myanmar) is a failed state, rife with civil war and rival gangs of drug, gem and sex-slave smugglers."
U.S. Offers Civilian Nuclear Cooperation to India
During their talks in Washington on July 18, U.S. President George Bush offered the visiting Indian Premier, Manmohan Singh, an agreement to achieve full civilian nuclear-energy cooperation with India. This would mean India would be able to procure nuclear reactors from all over the world, and the fuel requirements would also be met by the reactor suppliers.
However, the accord needs agreement from the U.S. Congress to adjust U.S. laws and policies to make possible the cooperation. Congress does not allow nuclear reactors to nations like India, who are non-signatories of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and also have developed nuclear weapons illegally.
In return, India has agreed to abandon its decades-old opposition to opening up the Indian nuclear-power plants for surveillance under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN watchdog. In addition, India also agreed to work with the United States for the conclusion of a multilateral Fission Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT), refraining from transferring enrichment and reprocessing technologies to countries that do not agree to international efforts to limit their spread. FMCT has not been ratified internationally yet.
Free Aceh Movement, Indonesia To Sign Peace Treaty
Following talks in Helsinki, negotiators for the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian government have reached a tentative agreement to end the more than 30 years of war in Aceh province in North Sumatra, the Washington Post reported July 17. Speaking for the Acehnese delegation, Damien Kingsbury, an Australian academic who is serving as a member of the Aceh delegation at the Helsinki peace talks, said the main sticking point in the talks was the political role of the GAM. The parties are to meet again in Helsinki in August to formally sign the agreement, thereby ending a war that started in 1976.
Controlled Revaluation Will Benefit China
The Chinese revaluation of the renminbi was a controlled affair. High-level Chinese financial sources have told EIR that such a controlled revaluation would be beneficial to China, and the reasons for that are clear.
The 2.1% adjustment, making the renminbi slightly more expensive, will make Chinese exports a bit more expensive, and this could have a gradual "cooling" effect on the overall situation which has seen Chinese exports, and its foreign exchange reserves soaring so far this year. Imported oil will also cost slightly less. In addition, purchasing foreign assets will also be cheaper, another way for China to lower its hugeU.S.$711 billionfund of reserves. The U.S. trade gap with China hit a record $162 billion in 2004, and the National Association of Manufacturers is saying the deficit will hit an astonishing $225 billion this year.
But any further appreciation of the renminbi will be gradual, nothing compared to the 40% rise of the euro against the dollar over the past three years, for example.
China and Japan To Build Power Plant in Vietnam
For the first time, China and Japan are cooperating on building a power plant in a third country: Vietnam. Marubeni and Dongfang Electric will build two 300 MW coal-fired plants in Vietnam, a 50-billion-yen (about $450 million) project.
Lien Chan Calls for Taiwan-China Talks
Lien Chan, former leader, and now honorary chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT), was in Washington July 17-18 to attend the annual International Democratic Union conference, the Taipei Times reported July 20. During his address to the conference, Lien Chan spoke about how the KMT's historic trip to China created conditions for better relations between Taiwan and mainland China.
Lien also discussed how the world can assure cross-Strait peace: "The international community needs to encourage President Chen Shui Bian to resume cross-strait talks. He pointed out that the international community can help by persuading the DPP administration to, at a minimum, avoid any unwarranted provocations and resume dialogue with the other side of the Taiwan Strait as soon as possible for the good of mankind."
ASEAN To Hold First Summit with Russia
The annual summit meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will take place in Vientiane, Laos this year from July 25-29, according to the Manila Times July 16. Highlights of this year's summit will include the signing by New Zealand, South Korea, and Pakistan of ASEAN's agreement on cooperating against terrorism, a Thai official announced on July 16. In addition, ASEAN will launch the first ASEAN-Russian summit on July 25. ASEAN member states include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Fourteen other nations also participate in the ASEAN Regional Forum, which is the region's main security forum, including the U.S.A., China, Japan, North and South Korea, and Russia, the European Union, Australia, India, Canada, and Pakistan. East Timor will attend for the first time this year.
However, the scandal this year is the absence of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who insists that more pressing matters will keep her away. The U.S. will be represented by her deputy Robert Zoellick.