South Koreans Yawns at Nuclear Controversy

South Koreans Yawns at Nuclear ControversyNewspaper headlines and grave warnings from TV anchors about nuclear cataclysm in the Korean Peninsula may give travelers pause. But in South Korea, few people discuss the issue openly, including inside the halls of government or on the parliamentary floor. The North Korean threat tops headlines for sure, but most news reports focus on reactions…

The Bamboo Union Gang: China’s Latest Weapon Against Taiwan

The Bamboo Union Gang: China’s Latest Weapon Against TaiwanThe role Taiwan’s criminal gangs play in China’s unification agenda is in the spotlight over a recent clash between Taiwanese students trying to stop a cross-strait pop concert in Taipei, the “Sing! China: Shanghai-Taipei Music Festival,” and members of Taiwan’s Chinese Unity Promotion Party (CUPP) that left students injured. The CUPP is headed by “White…

Thai Economy a Study in Contradiction

Thai Economy a Study in ContradictionThe Thai economy presents a paradox. On the one hand it can boast about the best-underpinned currency in Asia, with a huge current account surplus and reserves. On the other, domestic demand continues to splutter, partly because of a household debt overhang which, though past its peak, is about 79 percent of gross domestic product…

Final Chapter for Another Hong Kong Bookstore

Final Chapter for Another Hong Kong BookstoreFlowbooks, one of the last independent bookstores in Hong Kong, will shut its doors on October 2 due to financial difficulties. The 20-year-old bookstore in Central, which sells mostly secondhand volumes, was padlocked in May when it was unable to pay the long-overdue rent. After raising more than HK$152,000 from the public, it reached an…

Pakistan’s Costly Plunge into China Debt

Pakistan’s Costly Plunge into China DebtWherever China’s One Belt, One Road initiative goes, it appears that the Chinese lenders including the Bank of China – the government’s flagship bank – aren’t far behind, and that Beijing is using the financial power of the government-owned banks to its advantage, along with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Asian International Investment Bank. Chinese banks…

US Mining Giant Takes on Indonesian Government over Mine Divestiture

US Mining Giant Takes on Indonesian Government over Mine DivestitureFreeport-McMoRan Inc, the US-based mining giant, has come out swinging publicly against plans by the Indonesian government to take over a controlling interest in its Grasberg Mine, the world’s largest gold mine and the second largest copper mine, located on high on the side of a remote mountain in the province of Papua. The Phoenix,…

Japanese Politics: Exciting for Once

Japanese Politics: Exciting for OnceThe stage is set for an epic general election in Japan, pitting the longest-serving post-war prime minister, Shinzo Abe, against the first woman to have a decent shot at becoming Japan’s first female premier, Tokyo’s popular governor Yuriko Koike. The epic struggle was triggered by Abe’s decision Monday to dissolve Parliament and call a snap…

India: Journalists on Edge

India: Journalists on EdgeIndia, where journalism has always been a hazardous profession, has become a killing-field, with eight murdered in the first nine months of 2017. That followed the murders of six in 2016 and five in 2015. Two were killed in 2014 and 11 in 2013. Across the country, reporters are also regularly beaten, often by the…

Singapore’s Birth Rate Continues to Decline

Singapore’s Birth Rate Continues to DeclineThe Asian Development Bank, via its latest Asian Development Outlook, is urging the Singapore government to spend more to spur domestic demand and rein in its current account surplus. But the latest population data shows just why the government remains cautious. The coming demographic challenge is getting more menacing by the year, with the world’s…

Filipino Police Seek Drug Informants via ‘Drop Boxes’

Filipino Police Seek Drug Informants via ‘Drop Boxes’Want to get rid of your mother-in-law, or a creditor, or just an unpleasant neighbor you don’t like in the Philippines? The Philippine National Police have established public “drop boxes” for informants to anonymously submit the names of alleged drug dealers and users in President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous drug war, which is thought to have…