For Dawn's Early Light readers interested in Asia, here are some articles worthy of mention, though due to my cold I will not be able to provide the normal longer commentary. However, they are well worth reading and mentioning in this space.
Japan Draft Constitutional Changes Strengthens Military
"Japan's Draft Charter Redefines Military", Washington Post, November 23, 2005
"The governing Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday released a draft revision of Japan's pacifist constitution that for the first time since World War II would recognize the country's armed forces as a fully functioning military...
The constitutional draft would broaden the government's ability to send forces overseas; such an order now requires special legislation in parliament.
The revision also opens the door to a broader interpretation of the constitution, permitting what some call "collective self-defense" -- or coming to the military aid of other countries. The most likely beneficiary would be Japan's closest ally, the United States, which has urged Japan to adopt such measures. Changes in Japan's constitutional status would have major significance in the region, particularly in the event of a conflict between China and the United States over Taiwan."
DEL posted on this development in "What is Japan's Asia Strategy? (Part II)" on October 29, 2005. After PM Koizumi's crushing September 11, 2005 electoral victory and his ability to purge his LPD party members that were unsupportive, he is in a good position to continue steps towards strengthening the US-Japanese alliance as well as contain China over issues such as Taiwan and check China's growing military strength.
India to unveil new thinking on foreign investment
The Financial Times (subscription required) writes an article on the above title that is important with respect to India's goals in catching up to China and put some extra horsepower into their economy.
"India’s Communist-backed government will on Thursday afternoon consider a sweeping liberalisation of foreign direct investment rules that would kick start a long-stalled programme of economic reforms.
Kamal Nath, India’s minister for commerce and industry, has proposed allowing 100 per cent foreign direct investment in a range of sectors, including airport construction, oil & gas infrastructure and cash & carry wholesale trading."
Indonesia to Again Receive US Military Support
The US wants Indonesia back in its sphere of influence and not that of the Russians or Chinese. Goodwill created by the US in the wake of last year's devastating tsunami helped US standing in Indonesia. This, coupled with its strategic importance as the largest Muslim nation, is the reason for the aggressive US diplomatic move. The Asia Times Online reports:
"Citing 'national security interests' and noting that Indonesia plays a strategic role in Southeast Asia and is a 'voice of moderation in the Islamic world', the US State Department jumped the gun on Tuesday and lifted a Congress-approved arms embargo against Indonesia.
With East Timor now independent and Aceh no longer a theater of war, Indonesia's pressing need is to upgrade its armed forces to cope with internal security, fight terrorism, guard vital sea lanes, protect the country's numerous oil and gas platforms from terrorist strikes and enforce its maritime boundaries to prevent foreign trawlers from poaching its resources.
Smuggling, illegal fishing and maritime piracy are rife in Indonesian waters, and the addition of more sophisticated vessels will go a long way to curbing these threats...After discussions with President George W Bush, Yudhyono, an ex-general, told a news conference, "I am not pleading for a resumption. We deserve it because we have undergone a reform in our military, with an emphasis on respecting human rights and democracy."
The bulk of Indonesia's hardware is US-made and the TNI - as the army is called - suffers shortages as it can't get replacements and spares.
As a result, Jakarta has increasingly turned to Moscow. After Yudhyono's discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin, it was announced that both leaders had agreed to start up intensive negotiations on setting up a joint production facility for certain sophisticated military equipment and to develop a national defense industry in cash-strapped Indonesia."
Read the whole article for the details on Indonesia's Type 209-class submarines, Ahmed Yani-class ships, Tribal-class frigates, Claude Jones-class frigates, F-5 fighter and A-4 attack planes, F-16As, Su-27SKs Su-30MK fighters and Hawk 209 light attack jets.
China's Awkward Relations with the EU
DEL has written before on the failure of Chinese foreign policy to lift the arms embargo from the European Union (thanks to a strong US diplomatic effort against French profit motives). Another Asia Times Online piece discusses the EU-French-Sino relationship.
"The recent state visits by President Hu Jintao to the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain are the latest steps in a continuing effort by the Chinese government and its European counterparts to strengthen their ties, but they also demonstrate some of the contradictions China faces in dealing with Europe and its constituent member states.
Both the European Union and China have described their relationship as strategic, although sometimes this seems no more than a hyperbolic way of saying each considers the other important. It is perhaps true that the relationship is more strategic for China than the EU. The promotion of multipolarity is one of the key foreign policy aims of the Chinese government, and the EU is a crucial element in the policy."
The piece discusses UK, German and French positions within the EU trade and military policy regarding China.
Hope you enjoy the articles.