|Asia News Digest
Britain Covers Up Bhutto Assassination
Feb. 9 (EIRNS)After helping to remove Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader and former two-time prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, from Pakistan's political scene, the British, called in by President Pervez Musharraf, sent in Scotland Yard investigators to cover up the trail of murder. On Feb. 8, Scotland Yard investigators came to the conclusion that a bomb blast, and not gunfire, killed Bhutto. The PPP disagreed, and continues to insist that she was killed by an assassin's bullet.
The PPP's claim is corroborated by many witnesses who saw her body bathed before it was put inside the coffina Muslim tradition. Those who were there claim that there was a clean hole that pierced her throat. The hole is so clean that some estimate that a laser beam could have been used to kill her.
Also, a number of individuals who were following her van by foot were hit by bullets and some died. Some of these victims were as far as 20 yards behind the van. In other words, hundreds of bullets were sprayed around the area in addition to the blast, which also took some lives.
But, the British do not want any further investigation. That Bhutto was killed by a suicide bomber, who came from somewhere in Pakistan's tribal areas, is what they want officials to accept, and close the case.
Impoverished North Korea Receives Food Aid from India
Feb. 7 (EIRNS)On Feb. 5, North Korea received the first consignment of food aid from India aimed at easing the severe shortage in the country, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. The quantity of aid was not specified in the report. Indian Ambassador to Pyongyang Zile Singh and North Korean officials were present in a ceremony at Nampho Port.
Once a food-short nation, India, with about 1.2 billion people, now has a slight food surplus, although with adequate investment in infrastructure and the agro-industrial sector, India could become world's granary. However, infrastructure in the vast agricultural land areas remains dilapidated.
On the other hand, North Korea has relied on foreign handouts to feed its 23 million people for more than a decade, after natural disasters and incompetent management devastated its economy in the mid-1990s. Famine is believed to have killed 2 million people over the years.
The World Food Program has recently predicted that North Korea will fall some 1.4 million tons short of its food needs this year, because of last year's flooding, caused by the heaviest rainfall in 40 years. The floods, which left some 600 people dead or missing, also destroyed more than 11% of the country's crops, according to North Korea's state media.
Shame on You, New Delhi, Tehran Says
Feb. 6 (EIRNS)Iran said on Feb. 5 that it had lodged an official complaint with New Delhi over India's commercial launch of an Israeli spy satellite, blasted into orbit from southern India on Jan. 21. Israeli press claimed that the satellite can "see through" clouds, carry out day and night all-weather imaging, and will be used to spy on Iran's suspect nuclear program. Indian analysts predicted that the satellite launch could have major implications for relations between Israel and India.
Following the launch, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported: "The launch of an Israeli satellite atop an Indian missile from a launch site in India bears a number of additional advantages. First, it enables Israel to establish a new point of view in space, allowing it photographic angles and reception of Iranian communications, which were unavailable in prior satellite launches."
"The Indian government says the issue is a technical and commercial one," Iran's ambassador to New Delhi, Sayed Mahdi Nabizadeh, told reporters, "but we hope that the matter can be considered from the point of view of protocol. We hope that an independent and wise country like India will not give their space technology to launch any instruments of espionage. Our officials have expressed our point of view."
There is no doubt that Sayed Mahdi Nabizadeh is being kind. The stupidity of India's Manmohan Singh-led government in carrying out the launch is colossal. In addition to the fact that India has long-term historical relations with Iran, and Iran is a nation in the neighborhood of the subcontinent, India's entire trade with Russia and Central Asia is carried out through Iran.
U.S. Economy Is 'Collapsing,' Warns Indian Labor Minister
Feb. 4 (EIRNS)Oscar Fernandes, India's Union Minister for Labor and Employment, warned yesterday that the U.S. economy is "collapsing," and said India must take steps to ensure that it will be able to maintain economic growth, Press Trust of India reported. Fernandes was speaking in Kochi, a port in the southwestern coastal state of Kerala. "The American economy is collapsing and it is going to be a big issue in their election. It is telling upon the world economy and will also affect India to some extent. We should think of remedial measures to meet the contingency and yet keep to our target growth rate of 9% or above. If we can put in more hard work we can even reach the double digit of 10%," Fernandes said.
Comments from China: Time To 'Rethink' Economic Policy
Feb. 4 (EIRNS)A commentary in today's China Daily called for rethinking economic policy before the March 5 opening of the annual People's Congress, given the economic problems of the United States and the snow disaster in China. A number of eminent policy experts were cited. Wu Jinglian, at the State Council Development Research Center, said that the "economic situation has become complicated with the new factors cropping up," including inflation. Infrastructure must be rebuilt after the snow damage; at the same time, the U.S. "recession" will cut into economic growth by "a large margin."
Tang Min, deputy secretary general of the China Development Research Foundation, warned of "high inflation" from rising costs of imported resources, and rising labor costs.
Wang Jian, a well-known economist, said that despite the government efforts to control "overheated" investment, China's "investment spree cycle will be over soon and we need new ways to keep our growth rate high."
There is also the factor of export-dependency. This was covered in another China Daily commentary, with focus on the Pearl River delta region, on the southeast coast of China. In measures to help shift China's economy from its current export-dependency, in July, Beijing cut export tax rebates on 2,831 commodities, 37% of all Chinese exports, including clothing, textiles, iron, and steel. A new labor law in effect from the beginning of 2008, will raise labor costs by increasing wages, benefits, and job security.
This will all hit the region hard, especially with the U.S. "slowdown." Since the 1980s' reforms, this areaGuangdong provincehas been generating one-third of China's exports, but export growth has been lagging behind the national average for the past five years, and at the end of 2007, a large number of local enterprises closed down. Some 80% of Chinese exports are paid in U.S. dollars, and the continued rise of the yuan to the dollar has imposed big losses on exporting companies. Shanghai Security News quoted one exporter saying: "For every 1% in yuan appreciation, the profit of clothing industries decreases 4%, but the average profit margin in the industry is only 3.3 to 3.4%." Raising prices will cut orders, so the result is that many enterprises have gone to either the poorer internal provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou, or to India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Indonesia, to find lower costs.
The IMF Planned Today's Genocide in Indonesia
Feb. 4 (EIRNS)In 1997-98, the hedge funds and the International Monetary Fund combined to loot and destroy the Indonesian economy by devaluing its currency by two-thirds, removing President Suharto, and imposing conditions which any honest observer recognized would eventually kill millions of peopleas EIR documented at the time. Today, a New York Times "human interest" story admits, ten years after the crime was committed, that the intended victims are indeed being killed.
Tempeh, a soybean cake which is the staple food and protein source for the poor in Indonesia, and whose production and sale is the source of employment for millions, was produced entirely by locally grown soy beans until the late 1990s, when the IMF "reforms" were imposed, and Indonesia was forced to drop protective tariffs against imported soy. Now, 70% of this staple is imported.
The price of soy, of course, is now hyperinflating, along with most foods and natural resources, as a policy of the Western central banks. The price for imported soy is double what it was a year ago, and rapidly increasing. Government subsidies have been implemented, but cannot keep up with the inflation. With 92,000 small factories producing tempeh, "the industry is important for the economyit absorbs a huge part of the workforce, and its consumers range from common people to the President," said Fauzi Aziz, the director general for small business at the Industry Ministry.