Of all the unresolved territorial disputes that still disfigure the political map of Asia, one of the most trivial in terms of geography may carry the biggest risks of escalation and even conflict in 2014. The five tiny islets and three tinier rocks known in Japan as the Senkakus and in China as the Diaoyu islands are uninhabited but claimed by both countries.
The new India-China border agreement only entrenches the status quo, and reflects India's sinking regional position.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's trip to China last week was, by all appearances, a success. Coming just a few months after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to New Delhi, it left the impression of healthy and sustained working relations. The trip was fruitful, producing nine signed agreements, including the much-discussed-in-India Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA), as well as an agreement on strengthening cooperation on trans-border rivers. A closer look indicates, however, that the visit only institutionalised the status quo at best, or, if one takes a more pessimistic view of India's situation, reflected the deterioration of its regional position. To guard against the latter, India ought to strengthen partnerships with neighbours — China will certainly not be shy about doing the same.
Last month, the ruling coalition in Japan won a resounding electoral victory in the Upper House elections, giving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner, New Komeito, control over both houses in the parliament. With little opposition to speak of, the Abe cabinet can now get to work on the difficult domestic policy choices Japan faces—restoring economic growth, contending with an aging population, and determining the sources of Japan’s future energy supply.
Anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar, which last year had seemed confined to the western state of Rakhine, has exploded across the country. Mobs of Buddhists, some with ties to the militant 969 Movement, have attacked Muslims in the towns of Meiktila, Naypyidaw, Bago, and most recently, in Yangon, the largest city. Many Muslims in Yangon, Bago, and other large towns are afraid to go to the mosque, enter shops catering to Muslims, or show displays of their faith outside their homes or stores. At least 100,000 Muslims have been made homeless in the past two years, and hundreds have been killed.
In the weeks since a woman was viciously gang-raped on a New Delhi bus, the misogyny and parochialism of India’s mostly male, mostly rural politicians have been on full display. Senior politicians blamed the rape on Western culture, on Westernized women, on modern city life, even on bad karma. The government’s mishandling of the popular outrage made the situation worse: Police in New Delhi used tear gas and water cannons on female protesters, many of them college students.
North Korea’s announcement of plans to pursue another satellite launch between December 10 and 22 may have been unwelcome, but it should not have been entirely unanticipated. North Korea defiantly stated that it would continue to test long-range multi-stage rockets on its April 17 response to a UN Security Council Presidential statement condemning North Korea’s failed April 12 launch. Another launch will likely have a disproportionate political impact since it comes prior to national elections scheduled in Japan on December 16 and in South Korea on December 19. Here’s a rundown of the challenges a North Korean satellite launch poses during this political transition period:
Pitching India is no longer a chore for Rajiv Anand, the chief executive of Axis Asset Management, a Mumbai-based money manager that oversees $1.9 billion. Until recently, Anand struggled to persuade would-be investors turned off by corruption scandals, political paralysis, and the slowing economy to give India a chance. A series of power failures in July that plunged hundreds of millions of Indians into darkness didn’t help. Nor did warnings of impending downgrades to the country’s credit rating, which stands just one notch above junk. “Trying to sell the India story just didn’t resonate,” Anand says. “Nobody wanted to hear it.”
Last week the Japanese government signed a contract to buy the Senkaku Islands for 2.05 billion JPY (USD 26.2 million) from its private owners. Being disputed territory (the Chinese call them Diaoyu and the Taiwanese Tiaoyutai) it should come as no surprise that they get politicised from time to time, producing tensions in Sino–Japanese relations.
NEW DELHI – India’s sliding economy has inspired gloom and doom far and wide, but increasingly bearish sentiment is misplaced. India still offers hope, but, to understand why, you have to leave macroeconomic indicators aside and go micro. To take one example: Google the phrase “frugal innovation,” and the first 20 search results all relate to India.
TOKYO – Few recent elections have grabbed world attention in the way that Greece’s vote on June 17 did. Now that the center-right New Democracy, which finished first, has formed a coalition government with the center-left PASOK and the Democratic Left, the key issue for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s administration is whether it can implement the austerity measures agreed with Greece’s eurozone partners in exchange for continued support from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union.
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