I just came across this revamped version of what purports to be North Korea’s official website. Even if it is not, and is just a fan site, it is a credit to what is described on the homepage as a genuine workers’ state in which “all the people are completely liberated from exploitation and oppression”.
I’ve never been to North Korea (visa still pending) but, from what I can make out from this site, it sounds like a pretty wonderful place. It is apparently the only country where “the workers, peasants, soldiers and intellectuals are the true masters of their destiny” and in a “unique position to defend their interests”. Read more
A pro-democracy protester holds a placard with picture of blind Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng outside China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong. Photo AP
First Wang Lijun. Now Chen Guangcheng. If anybody else sneaks into a US diplomatic mission in China we might really have a story on our hands.
The events that have electrified China over the past few months come safely under the category of things you couldn’t make up. In February, Mr Wang, chief of police of Bo Xilai, China’s most charismatic politician, turned up in the US consulate in Chengdu. He brought with him piles of documents, including what is said to be evidence of the murder of a British businessman, allegedly by Mr Bo’s wife. Read more
It’s hard to see why a Shakespearean play about a Scottish king should be controversial in Thailand. Nevertheless, the Thai film board has seen fit to ban a local film version of Macbeth.
One of the producers says the film board obviously thinks the story of Scottish regicide retold in the film, Shakespeare Must Die, is an allegory about Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister. Mr Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup, is disliked by many Thai royalists for allegedly challenging the authority of the king, something he has always denied. Read more
Few can now doubt that Japan’s economy, hardly in the most robust of shapes anyway, has taken a battering from last year’s tsunami. On Monday, data showed that output fell between October and December for the third time in four quarters as companies battled a perfect storm of problems. Read more
Rick Perry eat your heart out. According to the Jakarta Post, Indonesia’s government plans to dissolve 10 of 88 state bodies deemed inefficient or with overlapping authority.
That easily beats the timid reform proposal from the Republican presidential candidate who appears content to get rid of just two government departments – or was it three? Read more
(Top row L to R) Thai deputy prime minister Kittirat Na-Ranong, Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, Peruvian president Ollanta Humala Tasso and (front row L to R) Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Chinese president Hu Jintao and Canada prime minister Stephen Harper – Image AFP/Getty
There may be a leadership crisis in Europe, but Asian leaders attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in Honolulu mostly appeared as relaxed as the bronzed holidaymakers stretched out on Waikiki beach.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian president, was so laid back he began his presentation at the parallel business leaders’ forum with a song of his own composition.
The tune, accompanied by sappy lyrics worthy of a charity single, was about saving the environment, a sentiment that Indonesia sometimes honours in the breach.
Still, the retired general credited with bringing political stability and economic growth to his country of 240m people, appeared in confident mood. He said that the economy, which has been growing steadily above 6 per cent, was fairly resilient to the troubles in Europe. He pointed to a deficit of just 2.5 per cent of gross domestic product – which he said would be lower next year – and public debt/GDP levels of 25 per cent. Are you listening Lucas Papademos? Read more
The Chinese are voting again. Having lost their chance to determine the outcome of Happy Girls, an audience-participation talent show that has mysteriously vanished from next year’s schedules, they are voting instead for Ai Weiwei, the artist and thorn in Beijing’s side. Read more
“I almost left the country thinking they’re moving a little too fast. I never thought I would say that about Myanmar.”
Those are the words of Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s deputy foreign minister, after a trip this week to Burma, which the Norwegians call by its official name of Myanmar. Mr Barth Eide said that political reformers in the country “have the upper hand” and were moving quickly to try to consolidate their position before there was a counter-offensive from hardliners. “The danger is not that it’s not sincere,” he said of the push to open up the political process, “but that the counter forces will set in.” Read more
At least one newspaper in China has finally come out in strong support of pro-democracy demonstrations and mass sit-ins. An opinion piece in the official China Daily objected to what it called a “blackout imposed by major news media” of the growing protest movement.
The country being so criticised is not, of course, China.
Rather, it is the US, the latest leg of the global revolution, where news of the Occupy Wall Street movement has allegedly been suppressed. Read more
China’s definition of what constitutes its “core interest” appears to be spreading. Such interests used to be confined to a few areas, about which the Communist party would brook absolutely no dissenting view. These included its national security, national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Tibet, where there is a strong separatist element, quite obviously forms part of China’s definition of territorial integrity. So does the island of Taiwan, ceded to Japan in 1895, and now a self-governed democracy. Beijing has made clear that, if Taiwan were ever to declare formal independence, it would invade. More recently, the term has been applied to Xinjiang, the huge area of western China that has been the scene of clashes between local Muslims and Han Chinese. Read more