APAC Assistance Director Paul Quaglia discusses Main Issues in East Asia Pacific.
Main Issues in East Asia Pacific
Firstly, in CHINA
- China’s 13th National People’s Congress is set to meet from today until March 15. More than 3,000 representatives will discuss the country’s plan for the next one year including the economy, security and political issues.
- The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory, will also meet at the simultaneously. As a result, the annual March meetings are also known as “Two Sessions”. Important issues such as China-US trade war, slowing of Chinese economy, arrest of Huawei executive are expected to be discussed in the meetings.
- Security has been tightened in Beijing. Clients are advised to expect travel delays due to increased security measures in the city and access to Virtual Private Networks are also blocked making it harder to communicate with others outside China from Beijing.
- In a recent poll by Australian market research company Roy Morgan showed President Joko Widodo and his running mate Ma’ruf Amir was leading with 58% while the Prabowo Subianto and his Vice-President running partner Sandiaga Uno were lagging behind with 42%.
- President Joko Widodo won the 2014 presidential election by 6.2%, but his recent lead puts him ahead by 16%. Strong growth in the economy and confidence among the citizens have led to the success of President Jokowi’s popularity.
- The election campaign team of Prabawo-Sandiaga, however, contested the accuracy of the survey results, saying that its own internal polls indicate the race was much closer.
- Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad will be on an official visit to the Philippines for two days from tomorrow. This will be the first visit to the Philippines by Prime Minister Mahathir since he assumed power as seventh prime minister of Malaysia in 2018.
- The visit is crucial to both sides as it is expected that they will discuss the issue of Sabah province which both the countries claim as their own territory.
Also in The PHILIPPINES
- More than 1,500 living exotic turtles were found inside a passenger luggage at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The passenger was travelling from Hong Kong to Manila in Philippine Airlines.
- The turtles were handed over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit. Illegal trading of wildlife is punishable by a prison sentence of up to two years and a fine up to USD 3861.
- Smuggling of wildlife is a major concern by the authorities. More intense security checks are likely at the airports to clamp down on illegal trafficking.
- Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to debut in the election campaign as the prime ministerial candidate of the Palang Pracharath Party on March 10 at Nakhon Ratchasima city which is also the birthplace of Prayut.
- It is expected that more than 20,000 voters from all fourteen constituencies of the province will attend Prayut’s first public speech. Key leaders of the Palang Pracharath Party will also attend the rally.
- The Civic Election Participation Partnership which is a network of election watchdogs endorsed by the Election Commission said, they will monitor Prayut’s speeches to observe whether they are in compliance with the election law on campaigning.
Main Issues in South Asia
Firstly in PAKISTAN
- The Government of Pakistan has decided to crack down on extremist and militant organizations by seizing their assets which are in accordance with the National Action Plan 2014 and the United Nations Security Council (Freezing and Seizure) Order 2019.
- No timeline was announced for the operation against groups including Jaish-e-Mohammed, Jammatud Dawa and its charity wing Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation. All the groups in the sanctions list have been accused of terror activities by India.
- Such action will help in addressing concerns raised by the Financial Action Task Force which promotes effective control of money laundering and terrorist financing.
Also in PAKISTAN
- Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority yesterday said airspace has been fully reopened for commercial traffic. The air space was closed from February 27 after airstrikes conducted by India inside Pakistan.
- The closure led to the disruption of major flight routes between Europe and South and South East Asia.
- Clients are advised to be aware of the delays in air travel due to increased security measures by the airport authorities.
- Railway Locomotive Engine Drivers Union secretary said railway drivers have launched an indefinite strike from midnight today.
- The decision was made after the department of railways decided to recruit drivers who are above the age of 45 which is against the government procedure.
- Clients are advised to avoid traveling by train and expect increased congestion and delays in road and air travel.
- The Indian Air Force yesterday allegedly shot down a Pakistani military drone near Bikaner, in western Rajasthan.
- It was second such situation that a spy drone was shot down, the first was shot down near Gujarat border on February 27.
- The shooting down of the alleged drone came after India and Pakistan came close to war after India conducted airstrikes inside Pakistan after a suicide attack allegedly conducted by Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group based in Pakistan.