Graham | Canberra, Australia | Sept 1
Agonist – A flit through Thailand, Kazakhstan, Papua New Guinea, China, Japan, Vietnam, New Zealand and a look at Tongan – Samoan history.
• Thailand’s Prime Minister toured the country’s troubled south amid tight security, a day after a bomb blamed on Muslim separatists killed one person and injured more than 30. Before returning to Bangkok, Thaksin Shinawatra said his government is gaining the upper hand against insurgents despite a series of attacks in the last week. Mr Shinawatra visited the three worst-hit provinces where bomb attacks and shootings since January have killed more than 280 people. Heavily armed troops and police lined the roads as his convoy passed. Thaksin Shinawatra says the attacks are being carried out indiscriminately by mad people. His government accuses a hard core of 50 Islamic teachers of stoking the separatist violence.
• US-based human rights group, Human Rights Watch, has warned that a libel suit against critics of the Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, is threatening to stifle press freedom in Thailand.
The $US10 million suit was filed by telecoms and media giant, Shin Corp, which was founded by Dr Thaksin and is now controlled by his relatives. The suit targets the head of the Campaign for Popular Media Reform, Supinya Klangnarong, and editors of a local newspaper. Ms Supinya last year wrote an article for the Thai Post newspaper in which she alleged Shin Corp was a major beneficiary of the prime minister’s policies. Shin Corp is claiming the article damaged its reputation and financial standing.
Human Rights Watch says the case highlights how media freedom in Thailand is being squeezed to death.The group says Thai media organisations have documented more than 20 cases in which journalists have been dismissed, transferred or had their work tampered with, to appease the government.
K A Z A K H S T A N
• Kazakhstan President Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev said Tuesday that his country will pursue a more active foreign policy with the continuous increase of its political and economic strength.
Nazarbayev said at a meeting of the national security commission that Kazakhstan will work out a series of plans to strengthen and guarantee its foreign political activities, consolidate its economic ties with foreign countries, promote its economic integration with the world market and further improve the country’s image.
Kazakhstan must adjust its foreign policies because of the changes in the world situation and regional geo-politics and because of the continuing globalization, the president said. He also demanded relevant state departments take measures to boost foreign activities to consolidate Kazakhstan’s position in international organizations and strengthen constructive cooperation with all international mechanisms.
Kazakhstan joined the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank after becoming independence in 1991 and has established diplomatic relations with more than 100 countries.
• ED: Kazakhstan won 6 medals at the Olympics.
V I E T N A M
• Vietnam maintains relatively high economic growth according to the official government mouthpiece: The national economy showed relatively high growth in the first eight months of this year, with high increases recorded in industrial production, services and exports, and progress made in social domains, Government members were told. Forecasts of y high growth across most economic indicators are forecast
• Illegally imported cell phones are creating problems for tax revenue collection in Vietnam.
J A P A N
• Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi wrapped up her Central Asian tour on Tuesday, which political analysts here say was meant to boost Japan’s ties with the nations and increase Japan’s influence in the region.
During her visit, Kawaguchi held talks with presidents of Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on various issues,including bilateral ties, regional cooperation and the reconstruction in Afghanistan.
• 1 Billion Dollar investment for Hitachi, Matsushita and Toshiba
Japanese electronics firms Hitachi Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and Toshiba Corp. said Tuesday that they will form a joint venture to manufacture and sell liquid crystal display, or LCD, panels for flat-screen televisions, beginning in January 2005. The companies also said they will ask other firms, such as television manufacturers who buy LCD panels and LCD panel production equipment makers, to join the alliance. The joint venture will have a maximum capacity to turn out 2.5 million units a year of LCD panels.
P A P U A N E W G U I N E A
• Papua New Guinea is sending soldiers to its southern border with Indonesia, amid reports of clashes between local villagers and suspected pro-independence rebels from the Indonesian province of Papua.
The troops will patrol the border area for the next fortnight. PNG’s minister for border affairs, Sir Peter Barter, says a platoon has been deployed near the remote border village of Weam.
Sir Peter says the government has received a report of an attack on a PNG citizen by alleged pro-independence rebels from across the Indonesian border.
He says the soldiers will conduct regular patrols in the area and will investigate the alleged attack. Sir Peter says the government is also concerned by reports that people from the Indonesian side of the border have been illegally entering PNG to poach fish and other wildlife.
C H I N A
• Politicians from across Asia will gather in Beijing this weekend. For the first time, the Communist Party of China (CPC) will host the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP). Representatives from 84 parties in 35 Asian countries will attend the three-day event, which opens on Friday.
Wang Jiarui, minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, said the theme of the conference will be “Exchanges, Co-operation, Development.” He added conference topics will include regional security and multilateral co-operation, economic growth and social progress and political party building and national development.
The conference will also offer a chance for the Asian friends to learn more about the actual situation of China and the CPC, he said. “We hope that the conference will help other Asian political parties understand the CPC’s policy and ideas on state governance and China’s policy of building a good neighbourly relationship and partnership with its neighbouring countries,” Wang said.
Conducting exchanges with Asian parties is a priority of the CPC, which contributes to state-to-state ties, friendship between peoples and regional co-operation, Wang said. The ICAPP was first held in 2000. The first two conferences were held in the Philippines and Thailand in September 2000 and November 2002.
Preparations for the conference have gone smoothly and its scale will exceed previous ones, officials said. Party representatives from non-Asian countries and organizations have also been invited to attend as observers, officials said.
• Zhang Huazhu, a Chinese top official in atomic energy said here Wednesday that, as an important shift in the country’s energy development strategy, China is taking steps to increase the proportion of nuclear power in its overall energy supply.
• China and the United States share important common interests in opposing Taiwan independence and safeguarding peace in the Taiwan Straits, said Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Zhou Wenzhong.
• English language has never been so popular in China. Among the new additions to everyday Chinese, you find “E-mail”, “WTO”, “SARS” and “MBA”; wherever you look you find English, in newspapers, TV shows and even in government documents. But some academics worry that too much English language will hold back the development of the national language.
T A I W A N – N E W Z E A L A N D
• New Zealand has vetoed a visit by a senior Taiwan government minister, citing sensitivity as Wellington prepares for free trade talks with China. The Labour Governments extraordinary efforts to dissuade Taiwanese Minister of State Lin Yi-Fu from visiting New Zealand are both offensive and cowardly, ACT New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade Spokesman Ken Shirley said today. “Taiwan is an important and valued trading partner for New Zealand. While a closer and enhanced trading relationship with the People’s Republic of China is welcome, we should not kowtow to unreasonable expectations and demands from Beijing.
“Tension across the Taiwanese Strait has been escalating. But it is clear that PRC is the aggressor, deploying more than 120 IBM missiles along the Fujian coast pointed at Taiwan. Labour’s action can only serve to condone that aggression. “Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff’s claim, that it is in New Zealand’s best interests that the Taiwanese Minister of State not visit New Zealand, invites ridicule – particularly when Mr Goff is prepared to strut the world stage and be photographed holding hands with Yasser Arafat,” Mr Shirley said.
• NZ United Future Leader Peter Dunne has his say and also asks are Aussies calling our foreign policy line?.
T O N G A S A M O A
old friends – old enemies