Monday, July 11, 2005

Rice calls for change in Burma (but driving with one hand)

During Secretary Rice's meeting with Thai PM Thaksin in Phuket, the Burma issue once again made it to the surface. The pressure on Thailand is founded in the fact that the South East Asian country has connections with Burma; the US does not.

As usual, Aung San Suu Kyi's name was used to speak for the democratic movement in the country. Is this, however, the right approach and is the US thoroughly interested in making Burma a "freer country"(ie. with 'good folks', not 'evil-doers')? There are few natural resources in the country, which the US cannot live without; the SPDC junta-led country is not a direct threat in the "war on terror"; and there's always the China connection.

The US is trying to put leverage on China as the Middle Kingdom poses a huge economic threat to many a western country. Compounded with the North Korean issue and other trade disputes between the US/EU and China; for the US to confront China in the Burma issue is probably more than the foreign policy hot-air balloon can carry. Instead, the Burma issue has becomes one of the ballast bags--long ago thrown overboard--perhaps with the exception of Bono's admiration for 'The Lady. Yes, the US cares about the human rights abuses in the country, but there's not really energy/resources in the current administration to do anything about it. Who can?

Rice is definitely not showing any more effort in solving the Burma issue, than someone driving a vehicle with one hand, while the radio is on and the other hand is sticking out the window sensing the wind to see which way it is blowing. You don't need a vane, Dr. Rice!!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Let Engagement Prevail: North Korea Agrees to Return to 6-party Talks

Is this good news or what? North Korea has agreed to participate in a new round of 6-party talks. The meeting is due to take place on July 25.

Although the 6-party talks are insufficient to solve the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula, it is a step in the right direction. One thing, however, that is certain. Is that engagement and positive approaches to North Korea will prevail. Major scholars such as Oberdorfer, O'Hanlon and Harrison all argue that sincere and resolute engagement with the Hermit Kingdom is a prerequisite to establishing a nuclear free Korean Peninsula---and perhaps towards full demilitarization.

Remember, it was engagement with the USSR that 'broke the camels' back during the cold war---by the most unlikely of all, Ronald Reagan. Would Bush be able to take a similar jump?

For more information on North Korea:
An interesting blog on North Korea.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Philippines...what is going on?

What's going on in the Philippines?

For weeks, a growing anti-Arroyo movement has been gaining foothold, but the first lady has still kept her grip on the military, the government, the courts and the far. On July 12, however, the Catholic church of the Philippines will convene to create an announcement that states whether they are in support or opposition of the president. This will either "make or break" Arroyo, as the church was crucial in the downfall of Estrada.

Meanwhile the protests carry on. Police has been breaking up more riots, but what will now happen? The Philippines, despite all its turmoil, has always found a way out, in my opinion.

Although previous leaders in the Philippines were 'kicked our' (Marcos and Estrada), things still need to get a lot worse, before we can expect anything radical to happen. That's how I assess the situation.
What is your take on it?
Any locals who would like to chip in?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Our sympathies....

Our thoughts, feelings, and sympathies are with the casualties of today's bombings in London.

May they rest in peace.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Anti-Japanese Protests - 2 months Later

It has now been approximately two months since the anti-Japanese protests took the world media world by (near) surprise and raised the eyebrows of many a Japanese citizen. What has happened in the interim?

First of all, there was the incident, where China's Vice-Premier bailed out on visiting Japan's PM Koizumi. Quite an embarrassment - but noteworthy in the "who bows for who" contest between the old rivals. Elsewhere, new events in China have mainly been surrounding various protests within the 'great firewall' between officials and regular Jane and Johns (or should I say Wangs and Lius). Perhaps the recent turmoil, as we particularly saw in Anhui Province last week, may call for another round of anti-Japanese protest to 'unify' once again. Isn't that what it is for? To have a common purpose that can bring poor and rich alike (and their chasm of a difference) connected and bridged together. China sure is having many balls in the air: authoritarianism, capitalism, nationalism, revisionism, and many others. What happens if one of these falls to the ground?

Do you think there will be more anti-Japan protests in the near future?