Author Archives: Howard Tsang

Digital Generation in Papua New Guinea Emerges

Memo #194 – Next month, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr will make his maiden visit to Papua New Guinea (PNG), Australia’s nearest neighbour and second largest recipient of Australian foreign aid. This visit comes 10 months after the then brand-new foreign minister threatened PNG with sanctions following suggestions from within the PNG government that national elections might be delayed. Not surprisingly, these threats did not go down well with Papua New Guineans. But ironically, Foreign Minister Carr can take partial responsibility for inspiring a new, digital generation of Papua New Guineans to engage in public discussion. Continue reading

Posted in Pacific Islands, Papua New Guinea | Tagged foreign aid, foreign policy, mobile, mobile phone, political change, social change, social media, telecom | Comments Off

Thailand Increases Controls on Cyberspace Through Use of Archaic Laws

Memo #193 – Laws meant to protect the monarchy from “defamation” are increasingly being used to suppress free speech and discussion of politics in Thailand, particularly on the Internet. In the last six years, there has been a surge in prosecution of these “lèse-majesté” cases – some estimated as high as 1,500 per cent. Continue reading

Posted in Thailand | Tagged cyberspace, internet, law, lèse-majesté | Comments Off

Upcoming Canada-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement – Lessons Learned from Korea

Memo #192 – Canada and Japan are set to begin negotiations to develop an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) on November 26th, 2012. Canada hasn’t completed a preferential trade agreement with any of its Asia Pacific partners, and Japan has yet to finalize an EPA with a G8 country. As negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Korea have entered their seventh year and as regional competitors, like Australia, are forging new trade partnerships in Asia, Canada feels pressured to assert itself in the region. If Canada can learn from the stalled Korean negotiations, the Canada-Japan EPA can become the platform to accomplish such a task. Continue reading

Posted in Canada, Japan, South Korea | Tagged Business, Economic Partnership Agreement, Free Trade Agreement, negotiation, trade | Comments Off

Pocket Social Networking in India – SMS GupShup Expands

Memo #190 – The communication revolution has spread to small towns and even villages in India through a Twitter-like Small Message Service (SMS) social marketing networking alternative called GupShup. The low-cost text messaging service for phone, web, or mobile communication facilitates “pocket social networking” for people without smart phones. It is estimated to currently process two billion messages per month in India, compared to 480 million a year ago. Continue reading

Posted in India | Tagged GupShup, mobile, mobile phone, SMS, social media | Comments Off

Senkaku Dispute: the Fallacy of seeing a Monolithic Japanese Government

Memo # 189 – Foreign policy may not be the result of a rational, calculated, and well-coordinated act. Instead, it may stem from messy domestic politics or bureaucratic inertia and oversight. This idea applies to the Japanese government’s actions in the Senkaku dispute, even though critics paint a portrait of a monolithic Japanese government masterminding a Senkaku strategy. Continue reading

Posted in China, Japan | Tagged bureaucracy, foreign policy, islands dispute, political science, Senkaku Islands | Comments Off

Islamic Roots of Identity in Xinjiang, China

Memo #188 – Among the numerous cultural restrictions aimed at China’s Uyghur population, the Chinese government focuses particularly intently on control of religious activities. This past Ramadan saw an increase in state-imposed restrictions on ordinary Islamic practices among the Uyghurs. Since Beijing proclaims support for a distinct Uyghur identity while suppressing Islamic practices, it is worth reconsidering the historical connections between identity and Islam among the Uyghurs and their ancestors. Continue reading

Posted in China | Tagged Chinese Communist Party, history, Islam, Muslim, uyghur | Comments Off

Child Trafficking and Local Protectionism in China

Memo # 187 – Child trafficking in China is an explosive issue. Although the precise scale of human trafficking in China is unknown, children are reported to account for about 40 per cent of the total victims – a twofold increase in less than a decade. We assume the demand for child forced labour comes from illegitimate actors. But the surprising and tragic truth is that local government entrepreneurialism taps on the opportunities offered by child forced labour. This is a key contributing factor to this development. Continue reading

Posted in China | Tagged child trafficking, criminology, decentralization, labour, local protectionism, trafficking, 地方保护主义 | Comments Off

Asia in the World (Video Interview with Dr. Yves Tiberghien)

Memo #186 (Video) – Europeans, particularly the French are terrified about the rise of China. This is the first book that presents China not as an ugly, totalitarian, and repressive state, but as a multifaceted player. China is fragmented and pluralistic and can offer a diverse portfolio to the world. It is a partner that can engage in social and collaborative processes like the G20. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, China, Europe, Japan, South Korea | Tagged Chinese Communist Party, economy, G20, political science, soft power | Comments Off

Buddhist Monks and Militant Violence in Laos

Memo #185 – Many, especially outside Asia, are under the mistaken impression that Buddhists are inherently non-violent, especially in comparison with other world religions such as Christianity and Islam. Despite this impression, violence is often linked with Buddhism and perpetrated by Buddhists. Monks in Theravada lineages are not allowed to directly engage in violence, but some have become involved with militancy. Although I am unaware of any Lao monks who have directly participated in violent acts, a few have been shot in Thailand by those opposed to them for providing support to insurgents. This indicates that their support is perceived as substantial and significant. Continue reading

Posted in Laos | Tagged Asian religions, Buddhism, militant violence, nationalism, religion | Comments Off

Tokdo/Takeshima Island Dispute: A Call for Educators to Act towards Mutual Understanding

Memo #184 – The tiny island that lies between Japan and Korea – Takeshima (竹島) in Japan and Tokdo (독도) in Korea – is at the centre of a territorial dispute and serious bilateral tension. This is nothing new. The island, along with other remnants of Japan’s colonial aggression in Korea, has sparked diplomatic issues throughout postwar history. Despite unprecedented levels of cultural, academic, and economic exchange between the two nations, the dispute continues to be defined by a persistent legacy of colonialism and growing nationalism. Japanese and Korean political leaders demand that educators legitimate territorial claims by including these in their national curricula. But if educators comply uncritically, we will undermine future generations’ development of mutual understanding and respect. Continue reading

Posted in Japan, South Korea | Tagged Asia Pacific War, Dokdo island, education, islands dispute, nationalism, Takeshima island, territorial dispute | Comments Off