|Asia News Digest
Crushing Defeat Stares at Tamil Tigers
Jan. 6 (EIRNS)Sri Lankan troops, after overrunning the capital of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam (LTTE), better known as the Tamil Tigers, are now poised to strike Mullaitivu, the last bastion of the terrorist group. Sri Lankan military officials said security forces were poised to retake Elephant Pass, at the entrance to the Jaffna peninsula. The Tigers had dislodged the Army from the pass in April 2000.
The crushing defeat of this massive terrorist group, which is considered by experts as the largest, best armed, and most financially sound among the world's terrorist groups, has been welcomed widely, and well beyond Sri Lanka. An Indian analyst, Sandhya Jain, in an article with Vijayvaani Online on Jan. 6, said: "In a world that dithers in the face of minority separateness and secessionism, tiny Sri Lanka has demonstrated lion-hearted resoluteness in crushing the three-decade-old Tamil insurgency, refusing to surrender to minority unreasonableness in order to maintain national unity."
NATO Pays Taliban To Get Its Supplies into Afghanistan
Jan. 7 (EIRNS)Taliban militants have struck terror into the container business that handles NATO supplies passing through Pakistan on their way to Afghanistan, and have virtually crippled the operation. In December, they destroyed some 400 containers carrying food, fuel, and military vehicles. Zia ul-Haq Sarhadi, the chairman of the standing committee for the dry port of the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce (the chamber for Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, bordering Afghanistan), confirmed in a press statement that the surge of attacks on the 11 terminals in Peshawar had created so much fear that people associated with handling the containers, contractors, and drivers will not do their jobs.
The 40,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, of which 14,000 are American, have found a convenient way to get around this problem. NATO has begun paying bribes to get the supplies across. A recent Canadian report points out that NATO is paying the Taliban to guarantee the security of these supply routes. "We estimate that approximately 25% of the money we pay for security to get the fuel in goes into the pockets of the Taliban," said one fuel importer. Another boss, whose company is subcontracted to supply Western military bases, said that as much as a quarter of the value of a truck's cargo was paid to Taliban commanders. "The Taliban come and move with the convoy. They sit in the front vehicle of the convoy to ensure security."
Western Banks Pull Out of Chinese Banks
Jan. 8 (EIRNS)Western banks, desperate for cash, are pulling large investments out of Chinese banks, while trying to keep on good terms. Over the past week: Bank of America cashed out $2.8 billion of its holdings of China Construction Bank Corp, reducing its share from 19% to 16.6%; UBS AG sold its entire 1.3% stake in the Bank of China, for $808 million; and Royal Bank of Scotland, after being bailed out by the U.K. government, sent a representative to China to discuss divesting of its 4.3% share of Bank of China, about $2 billion worth.
Hongkong's international tycoon Li Ka-shing is cashing out his shares in the Bank of China, for $524 million.
The Wall Street Journal reported that several other banks are also planning to pull some cash out of the Chinese bank investmentsperhaps one of the few places where there is real cash available.
Western Banks Cashing Out Chinese Real Estate
Jan. 9 (EIRNS)The Shanghai Security News today reports that a cash-out by Western banks is taking place in the Chinese real estate sector, in Shanghai and elsewhere. Morgan Stanley is putting its Shanghai real estate on the block, including at least three major plaza complexes. Li Ka-shing's Hutchison Whampoa, which is selling its shares in the Bank of China, is also getting out of multiple retail booths in Shanghai.
Chinese Yuan Trade Experiment
Jan. 7 (EIRNS)The People's Bank of China yesterday announced it will begin a limited "pilot program" to settle overseas trade with the yuan, instead of the U.S. dollar, in 2009. The pilot program will be in trade settlements between China's Guangdong Province and the Yangtze River Delta region, and Hong Kong and Macao. Also, Guangxi and Yunnan, provinces in southwest China, will use the yuan for trade with ASEAN countries. One key issue is the fall of the dollar, although the bank did not say this.
Transnational Institute Wants More and Better Opium
Jan. 9 (EIRNS)Transnational Institute (TNI), a leading outfit of George Soros's far-flung network (with official funding from the EU, the Dutch Foreign Ministry and dozens of other "respectable organizations"), which is in the forefront of drug legalization and "harm reduction" promotion worldwide, released a statement on Jan. 9, "Withdrawal Symptoms in the Golden Triangle: A Drugs Market in Disarray," which demands to stop stopping drugs, to stop stopping farmers from growing poppy, to stop denying high-quality and low-priced heroin to poor users. The report demonstrates the rage of Soros and the Anglo-Dutch drug bankers that they lost their precious "Golden Triangle" drug haven.
The TNI report says that the near-elimination of opium in Myanmar, Thailand, and Laospart of the "Golden Triangle" which once supplied the majority of the world's opium, is responsible for "driving hundreds of thousands of families into poverty.... The rapid decline in production has caused major suffering among former poppy-growing communities in Burma and Laos"as if the poppy producers were once prosperous!
The report continues that "repressive drug control policies and criminalisation of users has caused increased health risks amongst consumers," requiring legalization and drug distribution to cure them of their ills.
TNI denounces the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for declaring the goal of a drug-free Asia by 2015, calling this "unrealistic and counter-productive," arguing that "it would be wise not to enforce the 2015 deadline. It would be far better to take a longer-term perspective."
What we need, says TNI, is better and cheaper dope: "Higher prices and lower quality heroin are leading to shifts in consumer behavior which create serious problems. While total numbers of opium and heroin users may be going down, more people have started to inject (the most cost-effective means of administration) and many have turned to a cocktail of pharmaceutical replacements with largely unknown health risks."
Their conclusion: "Countries in the region and the international community should not abandon former and current opium growing communities and drugs users in this delicate phase of transformation of the Golden Triangle."
Seoul-Incheon Canal To Start in March
Jan. 5 (EIRNS)Construction of an 11-mile canal linking the Han River, in Seoul, South Korea, and the West Sea, the site of Gen. Douglas MacArthur's famous "Incheon Landing" during the Korean War, will start in March. The canal, to cost about $2 billion, will provide a route for 4,000-ton freighters and ferry services to connect Seoul with Chinese ports by 2012. A government official said the canal is expected to ease severe congestion on land routes between metropolitan areas the port of Incheon.
The plan is part of a massive development plan to irrigate, streamline, and protect the Han River and three other major rivers, the thrust of what the government calls a "New Deal" to stimulate the economy and create jobs. The canal project is expected to create about 25,000 jobs and almost $3 billion in economic spillover effects, a government ministry estimated.
600,000 Chinese Migrants Unemployed in One Province
Jan. 8 (EIRNS)An estimated 600,000 migrant workers have left China's southern Guangdong Province, due to unemployment in 2008, a government official said today. Guangdong province contains Canton (Guangzhou) and borders on Hong Kong and Macao.
Guangdong was in the forefront of China's reform and "opening" policy. The Pearl River Delta in southern Guangdong is the country's manufacturing and exporting center.
Beyond the general measures that are being taken to alleviate the problems of the unemployed across China, the government just announced the 2008-20 national plan on the development of the Pearl River Delta. The country pledges to build a highly efficient transportation network in the Delta by expanding capacities of roads, railways, ports, and airports over the next 12 years.
The plan includes the construction of a bridge linking Hong Kong, Macao, and the Pearl River Delta mainland. The main structure of the bridge would stretch 18 miles, the longest in the world.