|Asia News Digest
Karzai: U.S. Private Security Companies Behind Some Terrorist Acts
Oct. 28 (EIRNS)At a press conference in Kabul on Oct. 26, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that U.S. private security companies, including Xe Services LLC, formerly known as Blackwater, were behind explosions that have claimed the lives of women and children. The President added that they have caused "blasts and terrorism" in different parts of Afghanistan.
The private military firm has been under investigation by the U.S. government for four years, following accusations that it was responsible for numerous murders and other violent crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait.
"In fact, we don't yet know how many of these blasts are by Taliban and how many are carried out by them [U.S. security companies]," Karzai said, and reiterated his commitment to ensuring that all foreign private security firms presently operating in the country leave by January 2011. Only those operating inside embassies, international organizations such as the UN, and military bases, will, he said, be allowed to continue operations, with the majority being replaced by Afghan police forces.
New Promise of Stronger China-India Relations
Oct. 29 (EIRNS)A 30-minute meeting yesterday between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in Hanoi gave promise of stronger China-India relationsa much-needed antidote to the crisis that engulfs the Eurasian landmass. Following the meeting, Wen said he plans to visit India by the end of this year.
During the meeting, reports indicate, Singh said India is willing to join in a concerted effort with China to strengthen their high-level exchanges, as well as consultations at all levels, to expand reciprocal cooperation, and to enhance their coordination on global and regional issues.
Wen said the world is not only large enough for the development side-by-side of both countries, but that it offers enough areas in which the two can cooperate. China and India should safeguard the interests of developing countries through better coordination when addressing global issues, such as the reform of the international financial system, climate change, energy and food security, prevention of natural disasters, relief efforts, and anti-terrorism, he said.
Meanwhile, the largest-ever single business deal between the two countries took place, involving the Shanghai Electric Group, one of China's three largest power equipment makers, and India's Reliance ADA Group, for the supply of power equipment and related services to India over a ten-year period. The deal involves supply by Shanghai Electric of 36 660 MW thermal power generation units, as well as spare parts for three power stations, to Reliance, costing close to $10 billion.
Clinton: Rise of China and India Is Reshaping the World
Oct. 29 (EIRNS)U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, addressing a gathering in Honolulu, on her way to a seven-nation tour, said the rise of the India and China "is reshaping the world." "Our ability to cooperate effectively with these two countries will be a critical test of our leadership," she said. She outlined three pillars of the U.S. strategy in Asia: relations with U.S. allies, new partners, and key regional institutions.
Taking a swipe at those in both the U.S. and China who are trying to sabotage relations, Clinton said, "The relationship between China and the United States is complex and of enormous consequence, and we are committed to getting it right.... There are some in both countries who believe that China's interests and ours are fundamentally at odds. They apply a zero-sum calculation ... so whenever one of us succeeds, the other must fail. But that is not our view.... There are also many in China who still believe that the U.S. is bent on containing China, and I would simply point out that since the beginning of our diplomatic relations, China has experienced breathtaking growth and development."
China, Southeast Asia Building Southern Land-Bridge
Oct. 26 (EIRNS)China and nations of Southeast Asia are speeding up construction of the southern tier of the Eurasian Land-Bridge, building modern and high-speed rail lines in regionsincluding northern Myanmar, Laos, and eastern Bangladeshwhere no rail lines existed before. This system will eventually link landlocked Southwest China with Thailand and Malaysia, as well as Singapore, one of Asia's main seaports. Southeast Asia is China's third-largest trade partner.
Of even more strategic importance, direct rail lines between India and China will be built. China and Myanmar are planning a rail link from Kunming in Southwest China, to the port of Kyaukphyu, and Myanmar and Bangladesh (which has rail links to India) are discussing rail connections. These would, for the first time, connect East Asia to South Asiathe two biggest population centers on Earthby rail.
On Oct. 26, the Parliament of Thailand approved a proposed draft framework for Thailand and China to build a high-speed train system in Thailand. Thai Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum said Bangkok wants to invest with China in particular, because Beijing had been successful in developing high-speed rail routes in Laos.
This week, Cambodia was finally able to re-open a rebuilt conventional railway for freight transport, and Vietnam is currently upgrading its 1,700-kilometer line from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. To expand upon the sole rail link between China and Southeast Asia, through Vietnam, China is building a rail line through Laos, in cooperation with the Laotian government. Impoverished, landlocked Laos only got its first rail connection, to Thailand, in 2009. In addition, a new rail link between Ho Chi Minh City, in Vietnam, and Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, will be built.
The entire system will greatly reduce shipping time, as the Europe-China rail link does. Currently, it takes 14 days to ship goods just from Bangkok to Hanoi, but that will be reduced to three days.
Chinese Commerce Minister: 'Issuance of Dollars Is Out of Control'
Oct. 27 (EIRNS)Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming said Oct. 24. "Given the current situation, companies have thought ahead and prepared for exchange-rate fluctuations as well as an increase in labor costs," according to the state-run China Business News. "But because the issuance of dollars is out of control, and international commodities prices are continuing to rise, China is confronted with imported inflation, which has created major uncertainties for businesses," he said.
Chinese Finance Minister Xie Xuren also spoke out to urge "major reserve currency countries [i.e., the U.S.] to take responsible economic policies."
The Global Times editorially denounced the "wolfpack of anti-China radicals" who "are seemingly joining hands to attack China's exchange-rate policy, political system and regional strategy. Such attacks are bringing uncertainty and tension to the global economy, politics and security. If these people still feel anxious, perhaps the only way they can take solace is from psychological aids. Labeling China as a scapegoat for Western incompetence in fighting the financial crisis is not a creative move. By blaming China, some politicians are seeking to escape from their responsibilities."
South Korea Joins Mekong Development
Oct. 30 (EIRNS)South Korea's relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were elevated to a "strategic partnership" level, to reflect the growing partnership between the two. Currently, China and Japan are the two partners with that status. ASEAN and South Korea also agreed to accelerate implementation of the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Area.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak also proposed establishing a meeting of foreign ministers of South Korea and countries in the Mekong regionCambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailandto boost economic cooperation and reduce the development gaps. The hydroelectric and other development projects along the Mekong have been described as a TVA in the making, due to the vast scale and the potential for improved standards of living resulting from the infrastructure upgrade.