Asia Daily: October 28, 2023
Li Keqiang: former premier had fatal heart attack during swim in Shanghai, sources say. The former Premier of China, Li Keqiang, reportedly suffered a fatal heart attack while swimming in Shanghai in the early morning of Oct. 27, according to multiple sources. The specific circumstances surrounding his demise remain under investigation. South China Morning Post, October 27
Thailand's ruling party chooses a Shinawatra as new leader. Thailand's governing party has selected Paetongtarn Shinawatra of the influential Shinawatra family as its new leader. This decision further consolidates the Shinawatra family's political influence in the nation, given their already notable presence in Thai politics which includes three former premiers. Panu Wongcha-um, Reuters, October 27
US military says Chinese fighter jet came within 10 feet of B-52 bomber over South China Sea. The US military reported an incident where a Chinese fighter jet flew alarmingly close, within just 10 feet, of a U.S. B-52 bomber over the contested South China Sea. Such encounters amplify tensions between the two countries amidst other tensions in the reason. The U.S. has been vocally critical of China’s territorial claims and conduct in the South China Sea. David Rising, AP News, October 27
Central Asia: New trade deals signed on sidelines of BRI forum. During the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) forum, several Central Asian countries inked new trade deals with China. These agreements are set to enhance economic cooperation and are a significant step toward bolstering relations within the region. The BRI Forum serves as a platform for nations to come together and discuss developmental projects and collaborations. Eurasianet, October 27
1 million nuisance calls made to Japan embassy in China over Fukushima. The Japanese embassy in China has reported receiving approximately one million nuisance calls, allegedly related to the Fukushima incident. The significant volume of calls has disrupted embassy operations and is seen as a reflection of tensions between the two nations over management of the nuclear disaster even over a decade later. Kyodo News, October 27
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi urges ‘in-depth’ Sino-US dialogue ahead of Antony Blinken meeting. Ahead of a scheduled meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi has called for a comprehensive and "in-depth" dialogue between the two countries. Wang expressed hope that both nations can engage in constructive discussions to manage differences and promote stable relations. Amber Wang, South China Morning Post, October 27
China nudges Mongolia to join Eurasian security bloc. China is pushing Mongolia to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a key Eurasian security bloc. This effort by Beijing is viewed as a strategy to bolster its regional influence and counterbalance U.S. and allied powers. The SCO, comprising nations like Russia, China, and India, serves as a prominent forum for regional collaboration, particularly on security issues. Reuters, October 27
Agreement reached for Biden-Xi talks, but details still being worked out, official tells AP. Officials have informed AP that an agreement for talks between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping has been reached, though specific details are still under discussion. The potential talks are seen as a move to alleviate tensions between the two major powers amid various global challenges. However, no official announcement regarding the date or format of the dialogue has been made yet. Didi Tang, Matthew Lee, and Aamer Madhani, AP News, October 27
India unlikely to join global cooling pledge at COP28 - govt sources. According to government sources, India is not expected to join a global commitment on cooling during the upcoming COP28 climate conference. The reluctance is attributed to concerns over costs and technological challenges. The global pledge aims to promote efficient, climate-friendly cooling solutions, but India's decision could prove significant due to its rapidly expanding demand for cooling across sectors amid rising temperatures. Sarita Chaganti Singh and Gloria Dickie, Reuters, October 27
Relaxed visa policy opens new period of Việt Nam-Hong Kong partnership: Diplomat. A revised visa policy between Việt Nam and Hong Kong signals the beginning of a new era in their partnership, according to Vietnamese Consul General in Hong Kong Phạm Bình Đàm. The relaxed rules are expected to bolster tourism, trade, and investment between the two regions. This development is seen as a reflection of the strengthening bilateral ties and mutual understanding. Vietnam News, October 27
Myanmar's Spring Revolution: A Unique Uprising. Unlike previous uprisings in Myanmar, the Spring Revolution is led by tech-savvy middle-class youth who have experienced democracy and are unwilling to let it go. The movement's leadership comes from diverse social backgrounds, adding complexity to the resistance. The National Unity Government faces the challenge of coordinating older Ethnic Armed Organizations with newly formed People's Defense Forces. By Rajeev Bhattacharyya for The Diplomat, October 27
From EVs to Digital, South Korea Bags Deals in Tense Middle East. South Korea is fortifying its business ties in the Middle East, led by President Yoon Suk Yeol. The country has signed multiple deals in sectors like electric vehicle manufacturing, digital development, and energy. Notably, Hyundai Motor and the Public Investment Fund have agreed to a $500 million contract to set up a joint venture in Saudi Arabia. South Korea's top internet company, Naver, also inked a $100 million deal with the Saudi government to establish a digital platform. By Kim Jaewon for Nikkei Asia, October 27
India's Platform Workers Being Flexed to Death. Crimes against platform workers in India are on the rise, with companies like Uber and Swiggy often denying responsibility for incidents. These events are part of a larger issue termed 'necrocapitalism,' where companies exploit human debilitation and death for economic gain. The absence of a distinct professional identity for platform workers in India's employment laws exacerbates these risks. Government initiatives like the Rajasthan Gig and Platform Workers Act aim to provide some relief, but challenges remain. By Anjana Karumathil for East Asia Forum, October 28.
Continuing Down the Reformist Path Is the Best Way to Remember Li Keqiang. China mourns the loss of Li Keqiang, the former premier and President Xi Jinping's second-in-command for a decade, who passed away unexpectedly. Known as the "people's premier," Li was instrumental in guiding China through economic and geopolitical challenges. His partnership with Xi was marked by complementary skills—Xi as the strategist and Li as the detail-oriented executor. Li's legacy is deeply felt in areas like economic reform and his empathetic approach to governance. The best tribute to him would be for China to continue on its path of reform and modernization. South China Morning Post, October 28
South China Sea: Philippines Collision Could Be a Trigger for US Escalation. A recent collision between a Chinese coast guard vessel and a Philippine resupply boat off the Second Thomas Shoal has heightened tensions in the South China Sea. While neither Beijing, Manila, nor Washington seem eager for conflict, the incident raises questions about the potential for accidental escalation. China's focus on economic recovery and the U.S.'s involvement in other global conflicts make a "third front" in Asia undesirable for both. Meanwhile, the Philippines grapples with domestic challenges that would only be exacerbated by armed conflict. By Collin Koh for Channel News Asia, October 28
Amaravati: When an Urban Vision Stalls in India. Amaravati, once envisioned as a smart capital city for Andhra Pradesh, has been left in limbo due to political changes and allegations of corruption. Initially backed by half a billion US dollars from the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the project was designed to be a greenfield capital with state-of-the-art facilities. However, the change in government in 2019 led to a shift in focus, and the new administration proposed decentralizing the state's administrative functions across multiple cities. This has left Amaravati's future uncertain, as well as the fate of the 33,000 farmers who had given their lands for the project. By Nava Thakuria for Asia Sentinel, October 28.
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