Mar 28, 2008

Welcome new interns!

Three new interns joined AAI yesterday. The AAI team welcomes them and hopes that they will have a fruitful internship. We hope that they meet their expectations! The new interns are:
  1. Jennifer Doyle, University of California Riverside
  2. Mindy Chen, University of California Davis
  3. Hanayo Oya, University of California Santa Barbara

Again, welcome guys!

Crunching rice supply in East Asia

The FT has a nice story about rice supply, rising prices brought about by declining production, and its implications on security and social stability in Asia, particularly East Asia. Rising prices have already forced major rice exporters like Vietnam, Australia, and Egypt to curtail exports. Meanwhile, India has banned temporarily banned exports as well to satisfy domestic demand. This is going to put further upward pressure on rice price in the internatinal market. This is going to hit the South Asians (and to some extent East Asia and the Pacific) the most because rice is a major component of daily lunch and dinner (rice is consumed almost 365 days a year in South Asia). More on food prices here, and here (UN Secretary General writes about food crisis), here (People eating mud coookies in Haiti). For those interested in more economic interpretation of the rising food prices check this one out by Nobel laureate Gary Becker and Richard Ponser.
Some experts aruge that the Filipino rice shortage problem is exacerbated by the government and some special interest groups. It is said that the government is trying to siphon off a huge amount of money while importing rice from foreign countries. It is alleged that the Filipino government and special interest groups are trying to dissuade farmers not to grow rice, which would give them an exclusive control over rice sourcing and distribution in the whole country.

...Rice prices jumped 30 per cent to an all-time high on Thursday, raising fears of fresh outbreaks of social unrest across Asia where the grain is a staple food for more than 2.5bn people.

...The increase came after Egypt, a leading exporter, imposed a formal ban on selling rice abroad to keep local prices down, and the Philippines announced plans for a major purchase of the grain in the international market to boost supplies. Global rice stocks are at their lowest since 1976.

...The Philippines, the world’s largest buyer of the grain, said on Thursday it wanted to purchase 500,000 tonnes after it failed to buy a similar amount earlier this month. It is struggling to import 1.8m-2.1m tonnes to cover a production shortfall and on Thursday confirmed it would tap emergency stocks maintained by Vietnam and Thailand.

Oppression in Tibet: Is it about mainland Tibet or natural resources in Tibet?

The director of Asia America Initiative (AAI), Mr. Albert Santoli, has written a brief about the real intention of China in Tibet. He argues that the Chinese are more interested in controling natural resources in Tibet. He writes:

"The struggle for survival of the Tibetan people under Chinese occupation has been largely depicted as a human rights tragedy. There is, however, a significant strategic dimension to China's behavior.
Beijing's control of Tibet's vast landscape, its water resources, mineral and natural wealth, as well as its strategic location on "the roof of the world," is a major component of China's plans for expanded political, military and economic influence on a global scale"

Here are some of the little know facts about Tibet

  • Tibet is the largest region of China, encompassing one-eighth of the empirical land mass. This does not include the historical and resource-rich Tibetan provinces of Kham and Amdo, which are larger than the Chinese official Tibet Autonomous Region, and were annexed by China after the 1950 invasion.
  • Deposits of uranium in the hills around Lhasa are considered the largest in the world. Tibet is also rich in gold, copper, zinc, lithium and other scarce minerals.
  • There are at least three major nuclear weapons bases in Tibet. The "Ninth Academy," China's primary nuclear weapons research and design facility is located in Haibei on the Tibetan plateau.
  • Deforestation by Chinese loggers is rampant. At least 50 percent of Tibet's ancient forests have been destroyed, causing severe environmental damage, flooding and ecological devastation.
    Tibetans are now a minority population in the capitol Lhasa and the Tibet Autonomous Region, and are vastly outnumbered in the annexed territories. In the Amdo region, now the Chinese Qinghai province, in 1953 there were only 100,000 Han Chinese. According to the official Chinese Statistical Yearbook, in 1985 there were 2.5 million Chinese compared to only 750,000 thousand Tibetans.
  • The ethnic ratio has gotten much more out of balance since 1992, when Deng Xiaoping began advocating the settlement of Han Chinese from other regions to Tibet and the Muslim Xinjiang region. Han settlers were given economic subsidies and other incentives and had houses and shops built for them by the government.
  • The UN and the West have enabled and funded this cultural genocide by investing in the railroad into Tibet, which was opened in 2006. Under "economic development," as well as the relocation of thousands at least 130,000 Han settlers into the fertile Lhasa Valley.