May 31 – The latest issue of DPRK Business Monthly is now available as a complimentary PDF download on the Asia Briefing Bookstore. The regular magazine looks at current international, domestic, and peninsular affairs concerning North Korea while also offering commentary and tourism information on the country.
In recent international news, British energy company Aminex PLC has withdrawn from North Korea, two years after signing a deal, through its shareholding in Korex Ltd, covering a 50,000 square kilometer area off the country’s east coast. Continue reading
Op-Ed Commentary: Chris Devonshire-Ellis
May 30 – The Indian Embassy in Beijing has issued a rare criticism of China and its approach to the rule of law following a recent editorial in the Global Times written by Wu Danhong, an associate professor at China University of Political Science and Law. The Global Times is a mouthpiece for the Chinese government.
Wu’s article deals with problems in the Chinese city of Yiwu, where Indian traders have been detained for the non-payment of monies, and in one instance, an Indian diplomat has been roughed up. Yiwu is popular with Indian traders for its cheap electrical products, however as is often the case in business, occasional disputes have arisen. On several occasions, these have impacted upon Indian nationals by them being held against their will as effective hostages for disputes over alleged debts incurred by other individuals. In one case, debt was apparently owed by a UAE national, yet it was the Indian purchasing managers who were held hostage and held personally liable. There have also been cases of beatings and attempts at extortion from Indian individuals in order to recover monies owed by their employers. Continue reading
Op-Ed Commentary: Chris Devonshire-Ellis
May 30 – Selling coal to Newcastle? Sand to the Arabs? Refrigerators to the Eskimos? Changing tastes and consumer behavior in China are seeing the country that invented tea – and has it by the millions of tons – importing increasing amounts of the same commodity from India.
For generations, the Chinese have been consuming green leaf tea. However, India treats its tea differently and produces a black tea, often consumed with milk, sugar or lemon. It’s that added sophistication that is now appealing to Chinese consumers – the image of hours-old, cold green tea swilling around in glass jars by the side of taxi drivers and workers across China is indicative of a low-end, proletarian product, and younger Chinese want no part of it. Continue reading
May 30 – China and the Philippines have agreed to exercise restraint in their naval standoff over a disputed island chain in the South China Sea. Philippines Defense Minister Voltaire Gazmin made the announcement after meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Liang Guanglie, during the 6th ASEAN Defense Minsters’ Meeting (ADMM) in Cambodia.
“The reaction of the Chinese defense minister was a welcome gesture, because I sat down with him and talked about the issues concerning both countries. And like I said, we agreed on three points – to restrain our action, to restrain our statements, so that it stops escalating, and then we continue to open lines of communication until we come up with a peaceful solution to the case,” Gazmin said. Continue reading
May 29 – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks and signed a slew of agreements with Myanmar’s President Thein Sein on Monday. Singh’s visit marked the first time an Indian leader has traveled to the strategically located country in 25 years.
A total of 12 agreements have been signed so far during Singh’s landmark visit, according to the foreign ministries of both countries, highlighted by a US$500 million line of credit offered to Myanmar. Singh will also be meeting with the India-educated, pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi today, and is expected to extend an invitation to her to visit India. Continue reading
May 28 – India has requested the reopening of its consulate in Lhasa in response to a diplomatic request from the Chinese government to establish a presence in Chennai. India maintained a consul in Lhasa until 1962, at which time it was closed following the border war between the two nations. Lhasa had long been a major trade route for Western Chinese products passing through en route to India and for export via the port at Calcutta, while Lhasa had served as a trade hub for Indian products going the other way. The city was a major point along the ancient Silk Road, but since 1962 has become largely isolated. Still today, Calcutta boasts the largest Tibetan diaspora outside of Tibet. Continue reading
May 28 – In an important moment for India-Pakistan relations, both nations have signed a commercial agreement to buy natural gas from Turkmenistan, which will be shipped from a pipeline that travels through Afghanistan, Pakistan and into India. This long-delayed project, commonly referred to as the TAPI Pipeline, is worth over US$7.6 billion. When completed, the pipeline will run 1,680 kilometers and will have the capacity to carry 90 million cubic meters of gas a day. It is slated to become operational in 2018.
The United States has played a central role in establishing this agreement, supporting the project for over 20 years. The project has previously been delayed due to due to political and military turmoil in Afghanistan and disagreements between the partners – especially India and Pakistan. The United States hopes that this pipeline will further isolate Iran, who is currently trying to construct a pipeline to Pakistan. Security concerns in the area still exist, due to the Taliban’s control of large areas in southern Afghanistan, and a separatist rebellion that is currently occurring in Pakistan. Nonetheless, the countries involved are determined to follow through with the project. Continue reading