|Asia News Digest
Regional Powers Getting Active in Afghan Solution
Aug. 10 (EIRNS)Iran, India, and Russia have begun parleying on how to stabilize Afghanistan once the U.S. and NATO call it quits in the war in that country. These three, along with some others in the region, are trying to work out a regional plan for post-war Afghanistan.
Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao held talks with Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov in Moscow on Aug. 4, sources told Indo-Asian news Service (IANS). The Russian side reportedly briefed Rao about President Dmitri Medvedev's plan to hold a trilateral summit later this month with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai.
"Both India and Russia are inching closer to a regional approach and have shared interests in preventing a Taliban takeover after the U.S. troops leave," Arun Mohanty, an expert on India-Russia relations, told IANS.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in an interview with Fareed Zakaria, posted on the Real Clear Politics website on Aug. 1, said he is against deployment of more troops, and he believes "the answer is a political resolution and that political resolution has to come about by engaging to a greater degree with India, with Pakistan itself. But I think we should also engage China, Russia, and I would say to you that the possibility could exist even of Iran playing a role in helping to change the equation on the ground." He insisted that he would talk to Iran, since "they don't like the Taliban. They don't like narcotics being transited. There are reasons that they would want a stable government there."
Iran too has stepped up diplomatic efforts. Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali Fathollahi, who was in India Aug. 5-7, had talks at the Indian Foreign Office and claimed that New Delhi and Tehran "enjoy a close viewpoint on Afghanistan." But Iran does not share India's concern that Pakistan's army and the ISI intelligence services might foist themselves on Afghanistan once the international security forces by 2014. Unlike New Delhi, Tehran wants the forces to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible. Fathollahi said Tehran was also deepening "trilateral dialogue" with Afghanistan's partners and was pursuing talks with Tajikistan, Pakistan and India.
Cambodia Compares Thai Government to Nazis, Calls for Action To Stop War
Aug. 14 (EIRNS)The Cambodian government today warned that the government in Thailand is preparing to launch a war on Cambodia, and compared Thailand's methods to those of the Nazis. The Cambodian Council of Ministers' statement accuses Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva of attempting to "intoxicate" the population to win their support "to take the Cambodian territory by force." It points to Abhisit's statements at a Yellow Shirt rally of his supporters (which Abhisit attended even though the rally was illegal under his emergency rule!), where he called for abdicating the long-standing agreement between Thailand and Cambodia that acknowledges Cambodian sovereignty over a contested area on the border, and said that military means will be used when deemed necessary. The Cambodian statement ridicules Abhisit's claim that he was misquoted, asking why he had not corrected the entire Thai press corps for reporting exactly those words.
Further, it points to the Thai use of a map which has long been rejected by international tribunals as "the same methods as the Nazis under Hitler and the Fascists under Mussolini had perpetrated during World War II when they wanted to invade and occupy foreign lands."
Challenges Facing China's Great Water-Transfer Project
Aug. 8 (EIRNS)China's "Move South Water North" project, the greatest such project being constructed in the world, is facing the challenges of building infrastructure on this scale in a densely populated and economically underdeveloped nation. China being China, however, and despite a recent spurt of nasty criticism in the western press, this work, planned over the past 50 years, is making real progress. The same western critics are still violently attacking the Three Gorges Dam, which is helping control some of the worst floods in China in many decades.
Preparatory work for the South-North project included climate studies by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which showed that northern China was a much greener region 5,000 years ago. The goal of the project is to reverse millennia of expanding desertification in that region.
The Move South Water North project is being built to bring water from China's biggest river system, the Yangtze and its tributaries, to the much more arid northern plain, one of three large population areas, and China's wheat belt. Lack of water is hindering development in this region, not only in agriculture, but also the development of cities and industry.
China, which has a population five times the size of the United States in a similar-sized territory, is planning to become more than 50% urbanized within the coming 10 years, which will mean that some 200-300 million more people will be moving to China's cities. This will greatly increase water consumption overall.
The easternmost route of the project has been under construction since 2002. It is one of what will be three planned, 1,000-km man-made rivers, including dams, locks, and tunnels to move the water. When the first two man-made rivers are completed by 2014, they will carry 8 trillion gallons of water a year. The easternmost river follows the same route of China's ancient Grand Canal, including a huge tunnel under the Yellow River in Shandong province, to take water to the area of Beijing and Tianjin.
Second is the serious issue of water pollution. On July 6, China Daily reported that the poor quality of the water along the eastern route is causing real problems. Much lower energy and industrial efficiency are big issues for developing nations such as China, exacerbated by the huge scale of population size and densityissues which can only be resolved by rapid development of nuclear energy and other advanced technologies.
The national director of the South-North water project, Zhang Jiyao, announced that "there is still a long way to go before local authorities transform the eastern route into a clean-water corridor," meeting the minimal requirement of Grade 3, drinkable, treated water. Thousands of highly polluting small plants have been shut down along the route, and hundreds of pollution-control facilities, including water treatment plants, man made wetlands, and upgraded urban and rural sewage systems, have been built or are under construction. But water quality met the Grade 3 standard only in two-thirds of the existing truck canals, demonstrating the need for rapid advance of technology in China and the rest of the world.
Don't Accept a Bribe Until You've Checked the Envelope
Aug. 14 (EIRNS)In May of this year, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a letter of intent with the Norwegian government to suspend any new development in the country's natural forests and peat lands for two years. "With the agreement, Indonesia will receive $1 billion in grants in phases from Norway to reduce emissions," according to the Jakarta Post at the time.
The official Indonesian press agency Antara reported yesterday that the bribe money will be slightly delayed.
After a meeting with Norwegian Ambassador Elvind S. Homme on Aug. 12, Indonesian Economic Coordinating Minister Hatta Rajasa reported, "The first-phase withdrawal was supposed to be $200 million [in 2011], but it was finally agreed at $30 million [to be realized in 2014], and we will make gradual withdrawals up to $1 billion."
So the grant becomes a loan; $200 million becomes $30 million, and 2011 becomes 2014. Remember, get your money up front when you sell your country out to the Greenies.