|Asia News Digest
China Joins Russia, Continues Fuel Aid to North Korea
Dec. 20 (EIRNS)China has joined Russia in stating publicly that it is not cutting fuel shipments to North Korea, despite the bogus claim by the U.S. State Department that an "understanding" was reached by Russia, China, South Korea, Japan, and the United States to cancel previously contracted fuel deliveries until North Korea accepted new demands regarding verification of the closure of their nuclear program.
On Dec. 12, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack indicated that there was an understanding with the other parties that "future fuel shipments aren't going to move forward absent a verification regime" in North Korea.
On Dec. 13, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and chief North Korea negotiator Alexei Borodavkin said that Russia would ship the third batch of 50,000 metric tons of fuel oil in December, and complete the supply of all 200,000 metric tons due from Russia in the near future. He expressed surprise at the McCormack statement, saying that no such agreement had been made with the Russian delegation.
Nonetheless, on Dec. 15, U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Wood reiterated that "there is an understanding among the five parties" that without a verification protocol, it will be difficult to move forward with fuel shipments.
The next day, China added its voice to denying any such "understanding." Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao said the economic and energy aid was to be provided as agreed in October, in exchange for nuclear disablement, making a distinction between disablement and signing of a verification protocol. The Chairman's Statement issued at the end of last week's six-party talks says, "The Parties agreed, as described in the Oct. 3 Second Agreement, to complete in parallel the disablement of the Yongbyon nuclear facilities and the provision of economic and energy assistance equivalent to 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil by other parties."
It is the "distinction between disablement and signing of a verification protocol" that is at issue. The U.S. position, insisting that there is no disablement without an (intrusive) verification proposal, reneges on the actual written agreement between North Korea and the United States.
Wildlife Fund in Mekong: Save Rats, Millipedes, Pitvipers
Dec. 15 (EIRNS)Perhaps trying to outdo their campaign to glorify the vampire bats in Mexico, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF, set up by Britain's Prince Philip and the late Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands to reduce world population by several billions) released a report called "First Contact in the Greater Mekong," saying that between 1997 and 2007, at least 1,068 species believed to have been extinct or believed to be "new species" were discovered in the Mekong River Basin. Arguing that many of these species were "at risk from development," the WWF gushes over "a rat thought to have become extinct 11 million years ago, a cyanide-laced, shocking pink millipede, and a pitviper first noted by scientists after it was found in the rafters of a restaurant at the headquarters of Thailand's Khao Yai national park in 2001."
"It doesn't get any better than this," Stuart Chapman, director of WWF's Greater Mekong Programme, was quoted as saying in a statement by the group. "This region is like what I read about as a child in the stories of Charles Darwin," said Dr. Thomas Ziegler, curator at the Cologne Zoo, who was involved in the research.
The Mekong region has been a primary target for development along the lines of FDR's Tennessee Valley Authority, including in Lyndon LaRouche's "Great Projects" campaign of the 1980s and since. Presidents Roosevelt and Johnson both sent teams to the region to apply the methods of the TVA, plans which were sabotaged by the British-instigated Indochina wars. The WWF is simply continuing the British dirty work. The Mekong runs from the Himalayas through China's Yunnan province, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Anglo-Thai Elected as Thai Prime Minister
Dec. 15 (EIRNS)The Thai Parliament elected Anglo-Thai Abhisit "Mark" Vejjajiva, head of the pro-monetarist Democratic Party, as prime minister, after several factions of the coalition backing former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra jumped ship to join the Democrats, following the disbanding of the pro-Thaksin party by the corrupt Constitutional Court. The vote, 235-198, was only sufficient because the Court had banned 37 parliamentarians from politics for five yearsthe exact difference in the vote.
"Mark" is the son of Thai doctors who practiced in London. He was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, attended Scaitcliffe School (now Bishopsgate School) and Eton College, then on to St. John's College, Oxford, for his degree. (The rumor that he learned Thai from the London Berlitz School has not been confirmed.) He returned to Bangkok to teach at Chulalongkorn University for a short time, but quickly returned to Oxford for a Masters in Economics.
He has appointed a fellow Oxford man, Korn Chatikavanij, who has been working at bankrupt investment bank JP Morgan Chase, as his Finance Minister.
An official of Abhisit's Democratic Party was a leading member of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), the fascist mob that occupied the seat of government for three months, with protection from the monarchy and the Army, before going on to shut down the Bangkok airports for a week, with the same protection, bringing the already suffering Thai economy to its knees.
The vast majority of the Thai population still supports Thaksin and his general welfare policies, but all semblance of democratic rule has been obliterated by a British-run Thai monarchy and the Army factions they control. Now, with an effectively British prime minister, the nation is facing a showdown. Thaksin himself addressed 50,000 people in a Bangkok rally by video (from exile) on Dec. 13, and has asserted that he intends to continue the fight. The monarchy itself is on the line.
Warnings on Chinese Job Losses
Dec. 22 (EIRNS)More Chinese economists are warning that unemployment is much higher than the official figures. The latest survey from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security reports that 4.85 million jobless migrant workers had returned to their home towns by the end of Novembermuch earlier than the usual New Year/Spring Festival mass migrationand over 10 million migrants are out of work. There are some 200 million migrant workers in China.
On Dec. 19, State Council advisor Chen Quansheng told a Beijing forum that some 670,000 small firms have closed this year, and that some 6.7 million jobs recently vanished, especially in Guangdong, China Daily reported. The official unemployment figure is 8.3 million, Chen said. "The real figure is much higher than the official statistics, which only report urban registered jobless. The major problem in China now is employment, especially for university graduates and young migrant workers."
The paper also quoted Prof. Guo Weiqing of Sun Yat-sen University saying that "there is a strong sense of insecurity among migrant workers, college graduates and even white-collar workers, amid the global financial crisis. It's like an epidemic, and everyone is now worried about their jobs." Sun Yat-sen University is located in Guangzhou.
The "Blue Book" report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, issued last week, said that the unemployment rate for new graduates is over 12%, with 1.5 million of them without work by the end of this year, even while 6.1 million more will enter the job market in 2009.
Over 71% of China's domestic automakers are planning production cuts in 2009, while 42% will most likely have to impose layoffs and pay cuts, according to a survey of the industry by the China Securities Times.
The Finance and Human Resources Ministries yesterday announced that employers will be allowed to delay their payments to pension funds and even reduce payments to other worker insurance, in exchange for guaranteeing to keep workers employed, China Daily reported today. The statement says that "companies are expected to pay hundreds of billions of yuan less in insurance and pension payments while tens of millions of jobs can be secured. The rates of basic medical, unemployment, workplace injury and maternity insurance for urban residents can be reduced (in some areas) by a proper margin for a maximum of 12 months" in 2009, while social security payments can be delayed for up to six months. At current rates, an employer pays 20% of wages to a pension fund, and 6% for medical insurance.