TOKYO (IDN) – When public opinion surveys are carried out in Japan and China, about 90 percent of the Japanese answer that they dislike China and about 80 percent of the Chinese answer that they dislike Japan. These are indescribably sad numbers, but probably have their roots in historical recognition. However, when they visit Japan, Chinese people are very surprised by the extreme kindness of the Japanese. SPANISH | GERMAN | HINDI | JAPANESE
BANGKOK (IDN) - China is keen to demonstrate that its ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, dubbed the “New Silk Route” by the media, is not geared to exclusively serve China’s economic interests, but to build connectivity in the region and beyond for the benefit of all.
This was the message from a high-powered Chinese team taking part in a ‘side-event’ organised by China at the 72nd UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) sessions here May 17-19. It is also an idea that ESCAP is strongly endorsing as it embarks on promoting a new development paradigm for the region.
In an opening address to the event, China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Qian Hongshan said that the ‘Belt’ is designed “to form synergy between the development strategies of various countries, draw on their respective strengths and unleash the huge development potential of this region to achieve common progress”.
BARCELONA (IDN-INPS) - Ever since the ink dried on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), people have become aware of another mega-trade deal being negotiated behind closed doors in the Asia-Pacific region. Like the TPP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) threatens to increase corporate power in member countries, leaving ordinary people with little recourse to assert their rights to things like land, safe food, life-saving medicines and seeds.
RCEP is being negotiated between the ten countries that form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their six biggest trading partners in the region: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
According to the latest leaked draft of the RCEP agreement, dated October 15, 2015 and published by Knowledge Ecology International, the negotiating countries fall into two camps when it comes to legal rights over biodiversity and traditional knowledge useful for food production and medicine.
SINGAPORE (IDN) - Both in the Philippines and internationally, corporate media predicted doom for Philippines’ democracy after Rodrigo Duterte, the tough-talking mayor of Davoa in southern Philippines, won a landslide victory at the presidential polls (on May 9) in one of the world’s most vibrant democracies. Rather than heralding in a new era of dictatorship, it may well bring hope to those who are disillusioned with democracy around the world.
The tough campaign rhetoric to kill criminals and override Congress if it got in his way, and his sometimes crude or vulgar language may have alarmed the Filipino elites, but it hypnotised the masses of marginalised Filipinos who voted for the “Mayor” in droves.
BHOLA (IDN) - Bangladesh is one of the world's countries worst affected by the global warming impact of climate change caused by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – extreme weather events such tropical cyclones, severe floods, rainstorms and river erosion, extreme heat waves and unexpected droughts on vast stretches of land are on the rise.
The country's coastal regions face a rising sea level, higher tides and saline water intrusion which is already encroaching further inland and destroying agricultural opportunities.
The effect of greenhouse gas emissions along Bangladesh’s coast is already evident and experts predict it could be “catastrophic” if appropriate action is not taken now.
Despite efforts to increase resilience, climate challenges continue to result in large economic losses, reducing economic growth and slowing progress in reducing poverty.
BANGKOK (IDN) – Pointing out that three tiny South Pacific nations – Kiribati, Tuvalu and Marshal islands – are “destined to slip below the waves altogether”, feisty Fijian Prime Minister Josaia Bainimarama has appealed to the international community to help Fiji and the other South Pacific island states build resilience to the impact of climatic change, which he described as the “terror of the extreme weather events”.
Addressing the opening of the 72nd UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) sessions (May 17-19) as outgoing chair, Bainimarama said: “History will judge the industrial nations very harshly if they leave small and vulnerable nations to their fate without extending the appropriate helping hand. We have not caused global warming. They have.”
He told ministers and senior officials from over 65 countries in the Asia-Pacific region that the industrial nations “must use a portion of the wealth they have derived from the carbon emissions of their industries to assist those of us who aren't as wealthy as they are and are bearing the brunt of the crisis they created”.
BANGKOK (IDN) - The major United Nations agency overseeing development in the Asia-Pacific region has called for a major rethink in the development paradigm for the region.
In an ‘Economic and Social Survey’ of the region presented to its 72nd sessions here from May 17 to 19, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) says that while the centre of global economic gravity continues to move eastwards, the time has come for the Asia-Pacific region to adopt a development model that relies more on domestic and regional demand.
Arguing that it is futile to continue the exclusive reliance on export-led development, ESCAP is also calling for more rural agriculture and industrial development, with better rural-urban connectivity via transport and communication links.
SINGAPORE (IDN | Lotus News Features) - Buddhist ideas and wisdom are being increasingly adopted by the West as part of a 21st century modern lifestyle, but in the East, youth are increasingly distancing themselves from their Buddhist heritage becoming “free thinkers” or even embracing Christianity from the West. A group of young Buddhist musicians from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia have now come together to reverse this trend by using music to attract youth.
They staged a Buddhist musical show at the prestigious Esplanade arts centre here called “Sadhu for the Music” to mark the Vesak festival. The two shows on May 4 and 5 were a sell-out filling up all four levels of the large concert hall’s galleries.
FRANKFURT (IDN) - Creating quality jobs, developing the private sector, and combating climate change to ensure a vibrant and sustainable Asia top the agenda of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as it marks its fiftieth anniversary this year.
According to Bank President Takehiko Nakao, over the last decade, Asia has grown about 7% annually, even after the global financial crisis. This has supported global growth, he said in the opening address at the 49th Annual Meeting of ADB’s Board of Governors – for the first time held in Germany – from May 2 to 5.
China is expected to grow 6.5% this year, down from 6.9% last year, reflecting its transformation to a new growth model. The region as a whole is projected to grow by a robust 5.7% in 2016, said Nakao.
India, with projected growth of 7.4%, is now the fastest growing large economy. Indonesia is expected to grow 5.2% in 2016, higher than last year despite the negative impact from lower commodity prices. Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Viet Nam are gaining growth momentum backed by reform efforts.
BEIJING (IDN) - If New Delhi's intention is to keep Beijing and Washington guessing as to who it favours, then the mixed signals during recent high-level exchanges with both are right on point. Neither Washington nor Beijing can, at a given stage or on a specific issue, say with any certainty which way New Delhi may swing.
The matter of mixed signals is best illustrated by developments surrounding the second visit of U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to New Delhi; the three-high-level official exchanges between India and China – two in Beijing and one in Moscow; and, the wholly avoidable flip-flop in first granting and then revoking the visa to Dolkun Isa, whom Beijing says is a terrorist leader.
Earlier in April, India's Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was in China on a five-day visit. Parrikar's visit was not only a high-level one, but the first by a defence minister in the National Democratic Alliance government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was received at a high level and had meetings with his Chinese counterpart General Chang Wanquan of the People's Liberation Army and top defence officials.