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China: Sparking the ‘Exile is Not Freedom’ Debate

On 27 April, 2012 blind Chinese lawyer and activist, Chen Guangcheng, escaped from a remote village surrounded by security forces in the middle of the night. International media widely covered the story, and the events turned out to be a diplomatic headache for both the Chinese and American governments, which were getting ready for their annual summit in Beijing.

Since Chen ran towards freedom, it made sense that he sought refuge at the American Embassy. While at the embassy, however, Chen made a surprising statement: he did not want to leave China, nor did he want asylum. If Chen was a headache for the US, so was the US for Chen.

 

“More Glorious than the Sun” by Crazy Crab of Hexie Farm for China Digital Times.

Chen Guangcheng: “Premier Wen, I have three requests!”
Uncle Sam: ”Wait, wait! Give me a promise!“
Wen Jiabao: ”Trust me! Fairness and justice are more glorious than the sun.“
‘More Glorious than the Sun’ by Hexie Farm’s Crazy Crab for China Digital Times. » More

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India, Pakistan: Working Towards Thawing the Siachen Conflict?

Pakistan Army rescue operation at the world's highest border Siachen Pakistan Army rescue operation at the world’s highest border in Siachen. Photo by Mohsin Hassan © Copyright Demotix (April 8, 2012)

On April 7, 2012, a deadly avalanche hit a Pakistani military camp in the Gayatri Sector, 30km west of the Siachen glacier, killing over 130 people, most of them military personnel. The scale of the tragedy once again brought into focus a long-standing conflict between India and Pakistan over Siachen, often referred to as “the world’s highest battlefield.” » More

Chinese Investment: Boon or Bane for Southeast Asia?

Spontaneous protests against Myanmar’s power blackouts received news coverage in May because the government seldom permits anti-government activities. Even more significant were the protests that took place in front of the Chinese embassy in Yangon.

Protesters came together to raise their voice against the government’s decision to sell Myanmar’s limited energy reserves to China. Below is a comment from the Facebook page of Eleven Media Group [my], one of the largest private media organizations in Myanmar, which echoed the sentiment of many consumers in Myanmar:

“70% of electricity supplied to Yangon is from Law Pi Ta and Ye Ywar hydro-powered stations, that from the Shwe Li station goes to China, so there is a shortage of electricity in Yangon. Why? Go and cut China’s power!”

Protest against electricity shortages around City Hall, Yangon. Image from Facebook page of CJMyanmar.

Protest against electricity shortages around City Hall, Yangon. Image from Facebook page of CJMyanmar.

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Southeast Asia: Home to the World’s Longest Ongoing Civil Wars

Southeast Asia is more than just white sand beaches, temples and resorts: it is also one of the most war-ravaged regions of the planet. Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, for example, were among the most heavily bombed countries in the world over the past century. Nearly a third of the cluster bombs dropped by the United States in Laos between 1964 and 1973 failed to detonate and are still scattered across the country. Anna MacDonald, head of Oxfam International’s Control Arms Campaign, outlines the quiet but dangerous rural scenery of Laos:

“Stepping off the plane at Xieng Khuang province we were in a very rural area. Fields with water buffalos and rice paddies abound, and the hilly countryside is criss-crossed with farmer’s fields and small traditional wooden houses. It’s a gentle, peaceful setting that belies the deadly war-time legacy which is all around – 100% of villages here have UXO (unexploded ordenance) in their fields and surroundings.” » More

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