|Asia News Digest
South Asian Nations: Expand Eurasian Land-Bridge
June 22 (EIRNS)In a study published on June 21, the South Asian Association for Regional Conference (SAARC)-led Regional Multi-Modal Transport Study (SRMTS) has proposed for Nepal four regional-level roads and two railroads to strengthen interlinking of SAARC nations. SAARC nations are part of the southern corridor of the Eurasian land-bridge. The study has asked Nepal to give priority to the railroads to enhance its trade volumes with neighboring nations.
The report said that the road network could be instrumental in giving Nepal access to seaports in member nations. It has identified a total of 18 road networks, 14 of which are in operation. While the study suggested linking up Kathmandu with the Indian port of Kolkata and the Bangladeshi port of Chittagong by two separate roads, it also proposed a road which would link Kathmandu to Karachi in Pakistan running through New Delhi and Lahore. The fourth road will be to link the Indian city of Lucknow in the state of Uttar Pradesh, to Kathmandu.
The first railway line would link Nepal from Birgunj to Bangladesh's port of Chittagong via India s Raxaul and Katihar. The second railway track will pass through Birgunj-Raxaul and reach the seaport of Kolkata in India.
Thailand Fight for Generic Drugs Backed by U.S. Lawmakers
June 22 (EIRNS)Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and 34 colleagues issued a letter June 20 to Amb. Susan C. Schwab, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), urging her to reexamine the administration's decision to put Thailand on a "Priority Watch List" because of steps taken by the Thai government to secure generic versions of three drugs for its citizens. The letter states that Thailand, "in doing so, was acting within its international rights and obligations under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property, as specifically affirmed by the United States and other nations in the Doha Declaration."
Thailand has been subjected to a massive campaign of lies and slanders by neo-conservatives linked to the pharmaceutical industry since December, when they exercised their legal and moral right to put the lives of their citizens above the drug companies' profits by purchasing generics. Thailand has a model program for HIV/AIDS treatment, and since 2003, the national health program, which covers all Thai citizens including nearly 600,000 living with HIV/AIDS, has provided broad access to anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs at almost no cost.
The Waxman letter states: "This response runs counter to the United States' obligation to respect the rights of all nations to implement their intellectual property rules in a way that is supportive of public health. We urge you to adhere to this principle and reassess U.S. policy toward Thailand to reflect this commitment."
It concludes that, "USTR's treatment of Thailand in the Special 301 calls into question the United States' commitment to the Doha Declaration ... [which] states that intellectual property obligations should be 'interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO members' right to protect public health, and in particular, to promote access to medicine for all.' "
British Expert: Afghanistan Is Going the Way of Iraq
June 22 (EIRNS)Richard Norton-Taylor, the security affairs editor of the London Guardian, wrote on June 21, that senior British military officers, defense officials, and even cabinet ministers, are now privately admitting that the spiral of violence in Iraq is plainly being repeated in Afghanistan, albeit without the sectarian violence.
One of the reasons that violence is spiralling upwards in Afghanistan, and it is almost never addressed by the U.S. or NATO member-nations, is the indiscriminate killing of Afghans by occupying forces under the pretext of eliminating the Taliban. On June 22, a United States-led airstrike killed at least 12 members of an Afghan family and 20 alleged Taliban fighters in the volatile southern province of Helmand, provincial police chief Hussein Andiwal said. As many as 25 civilians died in the raid, including women and children, according to villagers and the district police chief. NATO has confirmed that the incident occurred and that casualties were involved, but said it could not confirm if these included civilians.
In Britain, cabinet ministers describe Afghanistan as a "noble cause" because, they say, vital British interests are at stake, but Norton-Taylor says it is clear that the policy of the West, as enacted by the NATO in Afghanistan, remains hopelessly confused and contradictory. "Without a huge injection of foreign aid, it may not be long before British commanders start saying: Let's get out of Afghanistan as well as Iraq," he wrote.
Philippines Nuclear Meet Hears from LaRouche Movement
June 22 (LPAC)The Philippines LaRouche Movement was invited to the second half of the first government-sponsored conference (since the 1986 demise of nuclear power in the Philippines) on the potential for reviving nuclear power development, where they quickly established the authority of the LaRouche movement on the nature and the urgency of the international renaissance in nuclear power. Butch Valdes, the head of the Philippines LaRouche Movement, had written to the organizers of the June 20 conference, co-sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Energy, and the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, offering to present a global overview on nuclear power and its applications, but was sent a letter rejecting the offer and informing him that the LaRouche movement was not welcome at the event.
The Philippines LaRouche Youth Movement (PLYM), along with several older members of the movement, attended the event anyway, and distributed a beautifully prepared packet of material which included the EIR "Isotope Economy" article (Oct. 6, 2006), and other articles.
First Road Through Laos To Connect Yunnan and Thailand
June 22 (EIRNS) China, Thailand, and Laos agreed on June 21 to build a bridge across the Mekong River that will directly link Yunnan province with Bangkok by road through Laos for the first time, the Asian Development Bank said. To be completed in 2011, the bridge will be jointly financed by China and Thailand. It will cross the Mekong River at Chiang Khong, in northern Thailand near the Myanmar border. It will be the third bridge across the Mekong to be built under a 15-year-old regional cooperation program to link the economies of Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.
It is also the final link in a North-South road system through the Mekong region being developed by nations in the area and the Asian Development Bank since the Greater Mekong Subregion initiative was launched in 1992.
'Mr. Yen' Sakakibara Says Carry Trade Bubble Must End
June 22 (EIRNS)Speaking at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco on June 21, Eisuke Sakakibara, the former Japanese Ministry of Finance official who is known as "Mr. Yen," said that "Japan's interest rates are absurdly low and creating a carry trade bubble, and this is very dangerous." He added, "The cheapness of the yen has reached absurd levels, and the only cause for that is low interest rates.... The Bank of Japan needs to normalize interest rates as quickly as possible." He suggested that the yen interest rates should be increased from the current 0.5 percent to 1.25 percent within the year.
The current governor of the Bank of Japan, Toshihiko Fukui, has called for raising Japan's interest rates to stop the very real threat that the yen carry trade, in the hands of international hedge fund speculators, could blow up the world financial system. However, at last week's Bank of Japan meeting, Fukui held back on raising rates until later in the year, leading to a further fall in the yen and an increase in the carry trade.
Lyndon LaRouche backed Fukui's attack on the hedge funds, but added that it is urgent for Japan to "end the carry trade altogether and raise interest rates to international levels." Continuing, he said that every time Japan postponed raising rates for fear it would undermine the international financial system, that system simply got worse.