US-Japan Defence Pact Troubles South Korea

By Shim Jae Hoon* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

SEOUL (IDN | Yale Global) – The front-page picture in Korean newspapers told the story of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. South Korea’s President Park Geun Hye, looking frosty and gazing in the opposite direction, ignored Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe standing next to her at the October 7 APEC in Bali. The two leaders barely exchanged greetings, according to a Japanese news dispatch, and kept their contact to a minimum, “only for a few seconds”.

Behind Crackdown on China’s Bo Xilai

By Shastri Ramachandaran* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) – The abounding speculation over whether bribery, graft and abuse of power were the only reasons for China’s former Politburo member Bo Xilai being sentenced (on September 22) to life and stripped of his political rights and property for life is, perhaps, unlikely to be answered with any certitude for a long time. What is certain though is that, for now, the political phenomenon that was Bo Xilai is dead. So is his brand of mass politics.

Arriving in Jinan, capital of China’s northeastern province of Shadong, a day after the Intermediate People’s Court in the city handed him a life term, I found people going about their business as usual. Nothing appeared amiss in the city: the extra security at the airport could have been for any of several other reasons. There was no buzz about the sensational case, the like of which China has not witnessed in 30 years. To quote a phrase from another time and place, “not a dog barked” in Jinan, Beijing or Chongqin when Bo went down at the end of a well-choreographed trial that met every expectation of form.

Obama’s Absence Intensely Felt At APEC Summit

By Martin Khor* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

GENEVA (IDN) – The winds of change are blowing, bringing shifts in perceived wisdom and the old order, especially in the Asian region. The recent (October 7-8) APEC summit and associated meetings in Bali were marked not so much by results but by perceptions.

In fact, the lack of results, rather than results, was the main story. This lack was not so much in the APEC itself, but in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). The leaders of TPPA countries met in a separate venue away from the APEC summit.

Cambodia: Buddhist Nuns Crucial To Community

By Kalinga Seneviratne | IDN-InDepth NewsFeature

UDONG (IDN) – “When the war ended I had lost all my family. I was alone. I came here 27 years ago and I have found happiness now,” says 71 year old Sentcheant, one of ten nuns spending their old age together in this Buddhist nunnery, only one of two such places in Cambodia.

The Cambodian Khmer people have a proud Buddhist heritage going back to the 5th century, which is epitomized by the ancient Buddhist monuments of Ankor Wat. Even here in Udong, which is a 18th century Khmer capital city (about two hours’ drive from Phnom Penh), some 101 temples have been built by the kings.

“Our kings built temples to preserve our culture, save Buddhism and our Khmer language,” said Chan Sobunvy, secretary general of the Association of Nuns and Laywomen of Cambodia (ANLWC).

China Restraining Small Arms Exports

By Richard Johnson | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

STOCKHOLM (IDN) – “China has been actively involved in three important processes during 2013 to prevent trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and promote greater transparency in international transfers of SALW,” says Tilman Brück, Director of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

EU-China Investment Pact Of Limited But Global Significance

By Axel Berger* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BONN (IDN) – In the debate regarding the transatlantic free trade agreement one issue has remained below the radar: the European Union (EU) is shortly to also commence negotiations with China. On October 18, 2013 the EU member states are set to pass the mandate for the negotiation of an international investment agreement with China.

Beijing hopes that this treaty will result in the harmonisation of the patchwork of bilateral treaties that China has concluded with the EU member states. For the EU, the opening of new markets for European investors is the key issue.

Afghanistan: Reconciling India’s and Pakistan’s Interests

By Shastri Ramachandaran* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) – Although the drawdown of NATO forces in Afghanistan is well under way, there remain many uncertainties about the post-2014 situation. The presence and role of the U.S. military and mercenaries, outcome of President Hamid Karzai’s endgames as he prepares the pitch for the presidential election in April 2014 and the consequences of the Taliban’s opposition to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif aiding the reconciliation process are just a few of the uncertainties.

In the event, the only certainty appears to be uncertainty over the peace-building process taking off as planned to bring about reconciliation and cooperation of those involved in Afghanistan. However, “reconciliation and cooperation of countries in the region” of South Asia refers not only to stabilization of the situation in Afghanistan for peace building, but is also a euphemism for India and Pakistan joining hands in and with Afghanistan.

Malaysia Needs More Than ‘Cyberjaya’

By Murray Hunter* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

BEIJING (IDN – The ritualistic month-long celebration of Merdeka (independence) activities in Malaysia has largely lost its meaning, in part because the history of the roles that different groups played in the road to independence has been rewritten to support the current rulers.

The August 31 celebration, the day that Malaya gained independence from the British, as the major national day seems to exclude the aspirations of Sabahans and Sarawakians, who on September 16, 1963, joined Malaya and Singapore in a union called Malaysia. Groups like the Communist Party of Malaya, which fought and lost many lives against both the British and Japanese, are almost totally excluded from the nation’s Merdeka narrative as well.

This is all occurring in an environment desperately in need of a narrative of inclusiveness.

How Myanmar Philanders With China, India, USA

By Zak Rose* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

DETROIT (IDN) – During the period of strict economic sanctions and export bans that Western countries levied against Myanmar through the 1990s and 2000s, the military government had little choice but to turn to China. China, with its deep pockets and a strategic focus on the periphery, was more than happy to invest in the isolated state, increasing Myanmar’s dependence and furthering Beijing’s own military and economic interests by tapping into the poorer state’s promising energy reserves and vying for coastal access to the Indian Ocean.

South Korea Prepares To Handle Refugee Flows

By Steven Borowiec* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

SEOUL (IDN | Yale Global) –  Near South Korea’s main international airport, the national government is constructing a type of building never seen before in the country – a large complex capable of accommodating more than 1,000 refugee applicants. As South Korea becomes a more developed and better known country, with its TV shows and pop music appreciated around the world, the country is receiving more refugee applicants, and the government is still figuring out how to handle them. South Korea also receives many escapees from North Korea – more than 1,000 per year, which complicates relations with Pyongyang and Beijing.

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