Asia Weekly (September 4 – September 10)
Today, The Asianist unveils its new “Asia Weekly”, a summary of key events that either occurred in Asia or were significant to the region over the past week. This will be posted weekly from now on, and you can get it sent directly to you if you subscribe (for free!) to our posts or follow us on Twitter. If you feel we are missing something, or have any feedback please email us at email@example.com.
The United States special representative to Myanmar, Derek Mitchell, arrived in the country’s capital earlier this week Naypyitaw for talks with government officials. Mr. Mitchell’s trip is the first since the military junta handed power over to a fresh nominally civilian government led by president Thein Sein, and comes amid signs of limited reforms in the country.
On Saturday, Japan’s new prime minister Yoshihiko Noda visited the northeastern region which was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami earlier this March. Mr. Noda, the country’s fifth premier in just six years, has a full plate of issues to deal with in Japan, including revising his nation’s energy policy and stimulating the world’s third largest economy.
The Chinese government issued a 13,000-word “Peaceful Development White Paper” on Tuesday to respond to worries about its economic and military rise. The paper defends China’s right to adopt a one-party system, while stressing that China will not interfere with other countries’ internal affairs or seek regional hegemony. The white paper comes weeks after Beijing’s testing of its first aircraft carrier and a new round of saber-rattling with Southeast Asian nations over the South China Sea.
Iran appealed to the International Court of Justice over Russia’s refusal to implement a contract for the supply of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, which Moscow says contravenes international sanctions. Analysts say that while the move could damage a very important relationship for Iran, cooperation still remains robust in other areas.
A bomb ripped through the reception area of the Delhi High Court on Wednesday, killing at least 12 people and injuring dozens more. The explosion was the second in the court in just four months. The Indian government has moved to strengthen surveillance security and has begun interrogating potential suspects, with at least two Islamic militant groups – Harkatul Jihad-e-Islami and the Indian Mujahideen – taking responsibility for the attacks.
Fighting broke out between Libyan revolutionary forces and loyalists of Muammar al-Qaddafi on Saturday in Bani Walid, one of Mr. Qaddafi’s last remaining strongholds, after a week-long standoff. Mr. Qaddafi, who has been a fugitive since the fall of the Libyan capital Tripoli in late August, has issued audio messages to urge his followers to keep fighting, though his exact whereabouts remain unclear. On Friday, Interpol issued an alert for the arrest of Mr. Qaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam, and the ex-chief of military intelligence Abdullah al-Senoussi, for alleged war crimes against humanity.
Tensions rose between Israel and Turkey this week after Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Al-Jazeera that he would use warships to prevent Israeli commandos from boarding a Gaza-bound ship as they did last year (killing nine people) and to challenge Israel’s plans for gas exploration and export in the Mediterranean. Bilateral relations reached a new low after a United Nations report issued a week ago criticized Israel’s actions but stopped short of declaring its blockade illegal, and Israel has refused to grant Turkey the apology it has demanded. The United States urged both sides to cool down.
East African leaders held a crisis meting on the drought and famine affecting the Horn of Africa, which the United Nations warns could result in 750,000 deaths. Some of the measures discussed include a regional coordination mechanism for disaster response and the creation of a regional food market. The UN is expected to host a mini-summit on the crisis on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
In a major speech on job creation on Thursday, US President Barack Obama urged Congress to pass a $447 billion package of spending initiatives and tax cuts designed to boost economic growth. The address came as fears continue to linger about another global recession, and Mr. Obama’s own approval ratings reached a new low of 43 percent.