|Asia News Digest
Chinese Arms in Nepal and India's Northeast
Despite India's continuing embargo on arms to Nepali King Gyanendra, China has decided to supply arms to Kathmandu. Indian military contacts pointed out that a large contingent of the Royal Nepali Army escorted 18 Chinese trucks12 were spotted on Nov. 22 and another six on Nov. 23entering Nepal via the Koduri Highway, the only road linking Nepal and China. When asked, Royal Nepalese Army Brig. Gen. Deepak Gurung declined comment, neither confirming nor denying the reports. Observers claim that the Chinese decision to supply arms to Nepal followed a series of high-level visits by the Nepali officials to Beijing. Arrival of arms indicates that China has ignored moves by the U.S., the EU, and India to exert pressure on King Gyanendra by choking arms supplies to his army. These countries are of the view that RNA will use these weapons against pro-democracy forces.
Meanwhile, seven Chinese arms dealers (four from Hong Kong and three from Macao), who visited Bangladesh in September and October, have reportedly struck a deal with one of the Indian rebel groups, ULFA, operating in India's northeast. The arms dealers visited Dhaka, Chittagon, Cox's Bazaar, and Jessore, at the time and met with the ULFA leaders. Indians report that the arms shipment went through northern Myanmar to the destination.
Taiwan Defies Patent Laws To Produce Tamiflu
Roche Pharmaceuticals refused to grant Taiwan a license to produce Tamiflu, but Taiwan is proceeding to produce it in defiance of the patent laws, AFX reported Nov. 27. Roche assured Taiwan that it would provide adequate supplies of Tamiflu, but Taiwan's Bureau of Pharmaceutical Affairs said it could not depend on that promise, and must be prepared to "protect our people in case of a bird flu outbreak, so mass production is scheduled for next year." The government told Roche they would only use the domestically produced drug if Roche failed to come through with the promised quantity.
Myanmar Extends Aung San Suu Kyi House Arrest
Myanmar extended the house arrest of opposition figure Aung San Suu Kyi for another six months, the government announced Nov. 28. The arrest-extension of the much-heralded British agent, which provoked howls of protest from Washington and elsewhere in the West, comes a week before the reconvening of the Constitutional Convention, which is at the center of the process to bring peace among the many ethnic entities in the nation, for the first time since the British left the nation divided among ethnic units. If the Convention proceeds as planned, there will be a new constitution in place by the time Suu Kyi is eligible for release again. Suu Kyi is boycotting the Convention.
Myanmar officials have informed EIR in the past that the last time Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, just preceding the opening of the Constitutional Convention in the late 1990s, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright immediately visited and convinced Suu Kyi to boycott the Convention, although she had planned to have her opposition party participate.
Security Council Refuses To Be Bullied by Bolton
The UN Security Council shot down U.S. Ambassador John Bolton's effort to call a debate on Myanmar last week, but Bolton threatened to raise the demand again, and force a vote. Bolton went berserk when Myanmar extended Aung San Suu Kyi's detention for six months (see previous item), and wrote a letter to the Security Council demanding that they bring Myanmar to the floor. Such action would require a demonstration that Myanmar is a "threat to international peace and security." Since this is patently ridiculous, Bolton included in his letter that Myanmar is "seeking nuclear power capability"!
It is worth remembering that President Eisenhower provided Myanmar (then called Burma) with a test nuclear reactor in the 1950s, as part of Atoms for Peace, even though Burma was then close to the Soviet Union.
The majority of the UNSC rejected the Bolton demand, saying that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should determine whether Myanmar is a threat or notand they clearly say it is not.
On Dec. 2, the Security Council refused again to place Bolton's demand that Myanmar's supposed human rights violations be put on the agenda. Placing the issue on the official agenda would have opened up the possibility of sanctions, which China, Russia, and others refused to do. To deal with Bolton's brute tactics on the matter, the UNSC agreed to an "off-agenda" closed door briefing from Kofi Annan on the situation in Myanmar.
In Yangon, the regime announced that the Constitutional Convention will begin again on Dec. 5, after an eight-month recess, bringing all the ethnic entities together, with the hope of achieving national peace and cooperation for the first time since the advent of British colonialism.