|Asia News Digest
Chinese Official Press: We Are Not Immune to Crisis
Jan. 28 (EIRNS)Although leading figures in Europe, Russia, and some in China have claimed that their nations were "immune" to the crash emanating from the U.S. dollar collapse, China's official People's Daily today rejected such foolishness, and warned the nation to be "vigilant." The editorial states: "China's exports will be hit badly if U.S. consumption weakens, since the two are so closely linked. Second, the financial markets shock in the U.S. will put China's capital on a rollercoaster ride, against the backdrop of financial globalization. In effect, the direction of the most robust financial market in the world will directly impact China's capital markets through capital liquidity....
"Emerging economies, China's included, seen by some as substitute economic supports for the world, are unlikely to be immune from the U.S. slowdown due to ties with the U.S. economy, need to heed the risk of being dragged down along with the largest economy in the world."
China Expanding Land-Bridge to Central Asia and Europe
Jan. 29 (EIRNS)China is planning to begin construction this year on two key rail links to Central Asia: One is a supplement to the Euro-Asian Continental Bridge, which goes through the Alataw Pass to Kazakstan, and the other is the long-planned railroad from western-most Xinjiang, over the Tian Shan mountains, to Kyrgyzstan and the Fergana Valley, to Uzbekistan and Europe. This railroad will go over passes close to 3,300 meters or 13,000 feet high, and should be completed by 2010. It will be a key link in the southern passageway of the new Euro-Asian Continental Bridge, Xinhua reported on Jan. 27, two days after the Eurasia Continental Express arrived in Hamburg, Germany in a record 15 days. The regional government of Xinjiang, China made the announcement about the Central Asia lines.
The first rail link will connect Korgas on the China-Kazakstan border with China's inland railways, and should be finished this year. It will extend west from Korgas into Kazakstan, to join the Sary-Ozek railway, to become the second cross-border rail link between China and Kazakstan, since the Urumqi-Alataw Pass to Kazakstan rail link was finished in 1992. The new rail line will ease the burden of Alataw Pass, which is the largest land port in northwest China. The Alataw pass handled 5 million tons of rail exports in 2007, up 60% from 2006.
The second rail line is still in preparatory stage, and will be an enormous undertaking. It will extend west from Kashi in Xinjiang, the city farthest in the world from any ocean, through Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan.
India Wants To Export Small Nuclear Reactors
Feb. 2 (EIRNS)For the first time ever, the Indian Atomic Energy Commission chairman, Anil Kakodkar, throwing a challenge to the nuclear policemen of the world, said that India is prepared to export small civilian nuclear reactors to other developing nations, if it is allowed to do so by the Indian government and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
"India is capable of making viable commercial nuclear reactors of 220 MW and 540 MW capacity. Small reactors are the best bet to export," he told reporters at the Koodankulam nuclear power plant site.
Kakodkar said that the government, in principle, had allowed the construction of six 1,000 Mw light water nuclear reactors at Koodankulam, and hinted that the number could be raised to eight to make this site a "nuclear park," if the distance between any two reactors was narrowed down.
He said the nuclear power sector could be opened up to private players. However, as per existing laws, the government should have a 51% stake in any such project, he said.
U.S. and NATO Troops Getting Ready To Fight in Pakistan
Jan. 31 (EIRNS)According to Indian intelligence estimates, U.S. and NATO troops are preparing to take significant action against the Pakistan-based al-Qaeda Central (AQC) and the Taliban in 2008 and beyond. Although the plans go back to early 2007, when U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney visited Pakistan and apparently discussed the formation of a U.S.-Pakistani special-forces unit that would target AQC and its leadership in Pakistan, recent events in the Pushtun-dominated North West Frontier Province (NWFP), may have expedited the U.S.-NATO timetable. Indian intelligence points out that the United States had worked out a tentative deal with former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated on Dec. 27, that would have allowed U.S.-NATO forces to openly operate and target AQC and the Taliban in the autonomous border regions of Pakistan.
The decision to invade Pakistan by foreign troops is fraught with danger, especially the threat that the militants would pose to Islamabad following an invasion. It is acknowledged that the militants have a wide presence east of the Indus River, in the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Sindh. Open military activities by foreign troops inside Pakistan could trigger a massive response by the militants throughout Pakistan, precipitating a civil war-like situation.
In a recent interview with a senior Pakistani journalist, closely associated with the Pakistani Army, an Afghan Taliban commander pointed out that since Pakistani tribal militants in the border region had started fighting Pakistan's Armed Forces, the Afghani Taliban had cut all ties with them. The commander said that the Taliban had a clear policy of refusing to fight any other Muslim country, especially Pakistan or its Army.
U.S. Links Nuclear Deal with India to WTO Concessions
Jan. 31 (EIRNS)Washington is presenting the U.S.-India nuclear deal as a carrot, to try to pry open the Indian market for U.S. cartel farm products, according to P.K. Vasudeva, trade professor at a business school in Chandigarh, Punjab. Until now, India and the United States have had diametrically different positions on almost all issues of the World Trade Organization's Doha agenda, thanks to differing economies and trading patterns. On agriculture, the two countries have fought a protracted battle. A senior Indian trade negotiator told the chief U.S. farm trade negotiator that Washington's proposal "is not worth the paper on which it is written," because of the lack of symmetry between what the U.S. was asking for and what it was ready to give.
On the other hand, the U.S. has noticed the eagerness of India's weak Manmohan Singh-led coalition government to get the U.S.-India nuclear deal through. The deal, which is fraught with serious problems, is considered by Prime Minister Singh as a "marvelous" legacy of the present government.
It is said in New Delhi that the U.S. will influence the commitments that India undertakes at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to get the nuclear deal ready for the U.S. Congress to pass it. It would be naive to expect America to play no role in the IAEA Board of Governors' vote on the final version of the safeguards agreement.
Lieberman Organizes Musharraf-Barak Meeting in Paris
Feb. 1 (EIRNS)U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) was in Islamabad organizing meetings between Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The meetings took place Jan. 25-26, in Paris. Pakistan does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, but the two countries have maintained contact. Islamabad had initially denied that the meetings occurred, but later confirmed it.
Israeli media claims the two discussed Iran's nuclear program. The intentions of Lieberman, who promotes military intervention to stop Iran's nuclear program, are suspect. Although Tehran did not officially respond to the meeting, one item in Iran's Press TV indicates displeasure. It said that Iran should break ties with that begging-bowl of a country Pakistan once and for all; that Pakistan is a British-created cancer in the region and its very existence as a pawn of the Western imperial powers is an affront to the Muslim world; and that it is no surprise that Pakistani leaders meet with Israelis, because they were created by their British masters for these very reasons.