The End of the Thailand Visa Run

Jay thought that his life as an English teacher in Bangkok was set. There were few hassles with authority, other than traveling off to the Cambodia border once a month to pick up a new Thai entry stamp for his passport. Now Jay may have to change his lifestyle dramatically. He has stopped decorating his…

Did US diplomatic blunders trigger the North Korean bomb?

For Chinese academics in Beijing, US President George W Bush has only his own administration to blame for the nuclear test that North Korea announced on October 9, shocking the world and particularly the Asian region.  While the political debate rages across much of the United States, these academics say the answer is clear from…

Sex Scandal Rocks Kashmir

For an area wracked for decades by terrorism, civil war, invasion and life on the razor’s edge between Pakistan and India, the disputed region of Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir ought to have enough trouble.  But in recent months the conservative area has been preoccupied by a high-powered sex scandal involving government ministers, business leaders and…

Peace Talks in Southern Thailand

Thailand’s junta-appointed premier General Surayud Chulanont visited his Malaysian counterpart, Prime Minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi, Wednesday, at a time when prospects for peace in Thailand’s blood-soaked south haven’t looked as good for years.  Both Surayud and coup leader Sonthi Boonyaratkalin have called for formal talks with militant groups and Malaysia has offered to host them.…

Face Off

One of the Philippines’ top opposition politicians, Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, barricaded himself in his office on Tuesday hours after the government issued an order suspending him and his entire city administration from office. As supporters of the mayor gathered outside his headquarters, police in Metro Manila were placed on alert in anticipation of…

The Grey Man?

In the elite world of the South Korean foreign ministry, where school ties and political connections often pave the way to the top, Ban Ki Moon, the newly named United Nations secretary-general, is an outsider, a self-effacing achiever who rose from the ranks as a plodder. Ban gets more praise from officials for his bureaucratic…

Taking Away Kim Jong-Il’s Nuclear Toys

Most of the world is now preoccupied with getting the North Korean genie back in the bottle – trying through the threat of sanctions to force Kim Jong-Il to abandon his nuclear program.  So far, Kim has resisted all attempts to rein him in.  With Japan having instituted a unilateral complete blockade of North Korea…

And Now What?

North Korea’s first underground nuclear test, conducted on 9 October in the northern mountainous section of the country, was evidently spurred by two imperatives – the need to shock Washington into accepting its demand for one-on-one talks ahead of the November congressional elections in the US and signs of rapprochement between China and Japan following…

China and Iran: New Friends

China's decision to send 1,000 soldiers to South Lebanon with the UNIFIL mission is the latest example of Beijing's increased involvement in the Middle East. The overall importance of the broader Middle East for China's geostrategy is growing. China is searching for new regional allies because it wants to pursue strategic aims such as gaining…

China’s Need for an Eternal Enemy

In what is being called a breakthrough in much of the world’s press, Shinzo Abe was received relatively warmly in Beijing in his first visit outside Japan as the country’s newly installed prime minister.  Driven together to some extent by North Korea’s stunning decision Monday to defy the world and test an atomic weapon, the…