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Posts Tagged ‘China’

23rd April 2014

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the President of the United States is set to visit Japan in order to begin a multi-nation trip around North and Southeast Asia. Currently on the itinerary are South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Apparently, the trip is being undertaken in an effort to strengthen ties with those nations and to further showcase the administration’s commitment to the “pivot” policy whereby the United States will further concentrate upon ties with the nations of the Asia-Pacific region.

It is interesting to note that this recent trip comes during a time where there are perceived to be increasing tensions between the United States and the Peoples’ Republic of China. Moreover, recent Chinese claims to territories in the Eastern and South China seas have caused further tensions between China, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia (to name only a few). The issues surrounding dealings with China, which is one of the United States’ largest trading partners as well as a competitor for influence in the Asia-Pacific region, are likely to be at the forefront of discussions between the American President and his counterparts in the various countries to be visited. As economic growth in Southeast Asia continues, it stands to reason that building long-lasting economic ties with the region is a substantial concern. Meanwhile, smaller Asian nations may seek support from the United States in an effort to counter what some view as an overly expansionist China. All of these issues arise at a time when the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is preparing for further economic integration in the form of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) which is set to come into effect in 2015. How ASEAN integration, Chinese expansion (both militarily and economically), and American foreign policy will interact in the months and years ahead remains to be seen, but clearly Southeast Asia remains at the forefront of geopolitics.

With respect to the Kingdom of Thailand, it appears that Thai officials are preparing for ASEAN economic integration by encouraging the creation of an ASEAN trading hub in Southern Thailand. As Hat Yai is currently a significant trading center in the Southern region of Thailand and boasts of an international airport along with multi-cultural demographics it is a logical location to capitalize upon ASEAN economic integration which would result in significant benefits for Thailand domestically as well as Malaysia and ASEAN as a whole. The economic benefits which could arise from ASEAN economic integration are virtually limitless and perhaps one day the ASEAN trading bloc could be as economically dominant as the economies of the USA and China.

 

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5th November 2013

In recent postings throughout the internet, speculation regarding the future of Southeast Asian economics abound. Meanwhile, further analysis of the Thai economy in particular is rife. In a recent article on Forbes’ official website evidence has been cited which would appear to point to the possibility that Thailand may experience an economic bubble burst akin to the crash of 1997. Various Thai government officials as well as Thai businesspersons were quoted as saying that certain aspects of the Thai economy are troubling. Notably, inflows of foreign capital specifically targeting the Thai property market as well as signs that Thai people are engaged in what could be described as conspicuous consumption are leading some experts to believe that Thailand could be headed for a new economic downturn.

Concurrently, the article went on to note that Thailand, ever susceptible to negative economic consequences arising from nations which maintain significant trade relationships with the Kingdom, may see problems in export sectors resulting from decreased demand in both China and the other nations which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Should there be an economic problem in one of these countries then there could be a sort of negative ripple effect in the export sector in Thailand.

The points made in the article are compelling and certainly there may be cause for concern that the Thai economy may be placed in a difficult position in the future, especially if Thailand’s main export markets experience an economic downturn. However, the situation may not be as dire as some are predicting. Instead, this blogger would argue that Thailand’s economy may be simply in something of a state of flux due to changes in the ASEAN region and China. The dynamics of global economics are changing. American monetary policy along with economic problems in Europe have caused many to look toward Asia as a beacon of possible future growth.

In a recent article on the official website of Bloomberg it was noted that there appears to be a “boom” of sorts occurring in the Eastern province of Rayong and the region of Northeast Thailand known as Isan. As automobile manufacturing has increased in Rayong, so too has the purchasing power of residents of that province. Meanwhile, Isan is experiencing an upsurge economically as a result of increased domestic income and also concomitant demand for consumer goods from the local population. All of this news comes closely upon the heels of announcements that Thailand, Laos, and China will one day be connected via a high speed rail system. In fact, China has recently noted their commitment to that project and Thai officials have asked China to assist in the design of a rail system between Bangkok and Udon Thani (a city of 400,000 which sits close to the border and capital of Laos). There is an argument that should this rail system go into place the resulting economic boon to Thailand, particularly Northeast Thailand, could be tremendous as there could be a substantial increase in trade and tourism from China via this rail link. Moreover, Thailand could see itself becoming the entrepot for trade between South China and the rest of the ASEAN jurisdictions.

Presently, it is difficult to say whether Thailand will continue a trend of uninterrupted prosperity. However, there is strong evidence to suggest that increased economic integration with ASEAN as well as new, less logistically difficult, trade opportunities with China could usher in an era of prosperity and counter some of the negative factors currently worrying experts analyzing the current state of the Thai economy.

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3rd September 2013

A recent article posted on the official MCOT website noted that Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is currently visiting Nanning, China. Nanning is the capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Apparently she is visiting in her official capacity and attending the commencement of the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit and the 10th China-ASEAN Expo. These activities are reportedly to continue until the 6th of September. A government spokesman pointed out that the Kingdom of Thailand and the Peoples’ Republic of China are seeking to increase bilateral trade volume to $100 billion by 2015. The same spokesman also noted that the Chinese Prime Minister has signaled Chinese intentions to purchase 1 million tons of rice from Thailand.

The issue of international purchases of Thai rice has been controversial in recent months as the current Thai government has taken criticism for the so-called rice pledging scheme. Should the Chinese government ultimately purchase the amount of rice noted above it could be viewed as a positive development for the Thai agricultural sector as a whole and the rice sector in particular.

It was also noted that Chinese officials had displayed interest in investing in the Thai rubber industry. As in the case of the Thai rice pledging scheme, the current government has dealt with frustration from labor groups in the Thai rubber industry as protests of current policy have even caused highways and railways to be closed in Southern Thailand. Perhaps an influx of Chinese investment could ease some of these tensions and result in a more prosperous Thai rubber sector in the future.

Meanwhile, the issue of railways also seems to be of importance to Thai, ASEAN, and Chinese officials attending the summit as Thailand appears set upon investing 2 trillion baht in infrastructure projects including construction of high speed rail systems. It is hoped that by the year 2020 Thailand will have a high speed rail system connecting to China via Laos. In the previous posting on this blog it was pointed out that Chinese businesses are repositioning themselves both strategically and geographically in an effort to gain further access to what they believe to be an increasingly lucrative ASEAN market. By creating a high speed rail link between China and Thailand, Thai officials could place Thailand in a very beneficial position in the future since such a system would facilitate further trade not only between China and Thailand, but also between those two countries and the other ASEAN markets.

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2nd September 2013

In a recent China Daily news article the impact of growing trade between China and the countries which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was discussed. It would appear that trade between China and ASEAN is having significant ramifications for merchants and businesspeople within China. The article points out that a Chinese candy manufacturer moved its operations to Guangxi, once considered something of a backwater, in an effort to better capitalize upon the benefits of ASEAN’s rise economically. In the article Wu Jinpei, the owner of the aforementioned candy manufacturer, points out that gaining access to the ASEAN market is an important issue for his business “We invested in Guangxi because the region is a gateway to the ASEAN, which provides great geographic advantages and potential markets.”

In a previous posting on this blog, it was pointed out that China-ASEAN trade has increased exponentially in the past 10 years. As of 2012, trade between ASEAN and China exceeded $400 billion. This number is roughly five times larger than the same figures in 2003. Clearly ASEAN is proving to not only be a major factor to be taken into consideration by those doing business within Southeast Asia, but also by those trading in Greater Asia as well. The previously cited article went on to point out that as trade has flourished between China and ASEAN the business dynamics within China have transformed as well. “When I first came here [Guangxi] in 1996, there were only a dozen businessmen from Fujian and the market was small,” said Wu. “But now more than 1,000 Fujian merchants have gathered in this tiny city and the number is growing.”

Recent comments from the Thai Prime Minister pointed out that high speed rail systems linking Thailand to China via Laos is a priority in the long term and many other ASEAN jurisdictions have been moving towards developing similar projects. These remarks, coupled with the information cited in the above article are reminiscent of the period in the United States when so-called “rail heads” created boom-towns across the American frontier. As the railroads continued their drive westward and as new territories became more integrated into the overall economy trade flourished and prosperity increased.

Could the growth of ASEAN-China trade and once small Chinese business communities becoming significant trade centers catering to ASEAN demand combined with the prospect of further economic integration through connection of ASEAN countries with China herald a new boom-town era for East and Southeast Asia? It seems quite likely that as China’s economy continues to become more sophisticated and as ASEAN moves toward economic integration, in the form of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the world could see staggering economic growth in once obscure geographic areas in Asia.

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30th August 2013

In a recent article from The Telegraph author Ambrose Evans-Pritchard analyzed how Federal Reserve policies impact emerging markets. It is a very interesting article for anyone (especially expatriates living abroad) interested in understanding how Fed policy reverberates in markets outside of the United States. Of particular interest to expats living overseas was the analysis of the disproportionate impact Fed policy has on foreign nationals residing in other countries. Although the aforementioned article would seem primarily targeted  at a British audience, as an American expatriate living in the Kingdom of Thailand, I found this information compelling. Evans-Pritchard cited an assertion from Mirza Baig of BNP Paribas noting that foreign nationals bear significant currency risks in some of the nations in Southeast Asia. In Thailand, it appears that foreigners bear currency risks of 81%, while those expatriates living in Malaysia and India bear 90% and 74% risk, respectively. I have  dealt with the vicissitudes of currency fluctuation many times during my tenure in Thailand as the exchange rate between the Thai Baht and the US Dollar was around 39-1 when I first arrived in the Kingdom. Since then, I have seen the exchange rate fall (or rise depending upon your perspective) to around 27-1 and re-stabilize around 30-1. As of the time of this writing, the Baht-Dollar exchange rate stands at approximately 31-1. However, many are speculating that the Baht will lose value against the dollar in the coming months. This would likely be due to the perception that the Fed may begin to implement a kind of belt tightening after years of promoting liquidity.

Unlike times past, the actions of the Fed have increasingly serious implications in emerging markets. As the article noted, in the past when the Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker tightened up his belt, there were substantial ramifications in South America and elsewhere. The negative aspects of those policies on South American economies was containable. However, this was at a time when China was virtually isolated, and the Soviet Union did not really factor into the any analysis of the economic interactions between countries in the “Free World”. Meanwhile in the 1990′s Federal Reserve policies could negatively impact global economics more than before that period, such negative implications were still containable since there was a “power ratio” of around 1:2 between the United States economy and the emerging markets. This is no longer the case as the relationship has basically equalized. Should Fed policies have a substantial negative impact on the emerging markets, then the problem may not be contained within those markets and the economic problems could easily (and quickly, if there is anything to be learned from the financial crashes of the past decade) spill over into Western Europe and America.

In American politics, one cannot read articles and information regarding the United States’ stance on Southeast Asia without seeing the words “pivot”. The Obama administration has consistently noted that the U.S. wishes to see American foreign policy “pivot” to a more solid relationship with the nations in the Asia-Pacific region and those comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In fact the P-word has been cited in connection to the visit to Southeast Asia by the American Secretary of Defense. However, in light of recent events in the economic sphere it would appear that ASEAN countries and Thailand specifically may be “pivoting” themselves. For example, at the recent meeting between the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and the Foreign Minister of China it was noted that Sino-ASEAN trade increased five times compared to ten years ago. As of 2012, trade between China and ASEAN stood at approximately $400 billion. Clearly, China is becoming an increasingly important trading partner and in light of the fact that ASEAN and Thailand may not wish to be at the mercy of the Fed’s whims, further solidifying this relationship may prove to be an effective method for ASEAN nations to mitigate negative side effects caused by economic policies of both China and the United States.

In a recent interview, the Prime Minister of Thailand, Yingluck Shinawatra, articulated a desire to see further investment in Thailand from China and supported such an investment due to Thailand’s position as the “strategic center” of ASEAN. “Thailand will be spending about 66 billion U.S. dollars in infrastructure. Especially, we will need the technology that China has, like high speed train,” Mrs. Yingluck stated. “And we know that the high-speed railway connecting Thailand and China will run from Thailand through Laos to China. So it will be an important part of Chinese investment in Thailand”. As the deadline for ASEAN integration comes ever closer it seems logical to assume that Thailand, the ASEAN jurisdictions, and China will all see a closer economic relationship begin to blossom. How this relationship will impact both diplomatic and trade relations with the United States remains to be seen, but American economic policy makers should be aware that the era of America being able to set economic and monetary policy with little thought to the implications in emerging Asian markets has passed.

 

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22nd September 2012

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that an official representative from the Republic of Korea appears to have been appointed Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In order to provide further information on this topic it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of The Korea Times, KoreaTimes.co.kr:

Baek Seong-taek, a career diplomat who had served in various capacities at overseas missions including Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia, was appointed this week as Seoul’s first envoy dedicated to ASEAN. With Baek’s appointment, Korea became the fourth non-ASEAN nation to name an ambassador to the regional bloc and will launch a permanent mission for the ASEAN in Jakarta next month to redouble engagement on a wide range of issues such as trade, regional security, disaster management and human rights…Baek said he expects ASEAN to play a “balancing role” in Asia, where a power shift is under way amid the rise of China and the decline of Japanese influence, with the U.S. making a so-called “pivot” to the region…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

Although Korea is not the first nation to send an envoy to ASEAN, these developments show an increasing interest in ASEAN’s affairs from the international community. As ASEAN moves closer to being a fully integrated economic community it stands to reason that other nations will desire more interaction with this Southeast Asian organization.

On a related note, it would appear that the Asia-Pacific region is becoming an increasingly popular location among the world’s wealthy, for further insight this blogger must quote from the official website of Bloomberg, Bloomberg.com:

More people in Asia became millionaires last year as the region’s economic growth and entrepreneurship helped generate affluence, according to a report by RBC Wealth Management and Capgemini SA. The number of individuals in Asia-Pacific with investable assets of $1 million to $5 million climbed 1.9 percent to 3.08 million in 2011, according to the report released in Singapore and Hong Kong today. Their total wealth increased 1.5 percent…The World Wealth Report showed in June that the number of individuals in Asia-Pacific with at least $1 million in investable assets jumped 1.6 percent last year to 3.37 million, helped by increases in China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. So-called high net-worth individuals in North America dropped 1.1 percent to 3.35 million.

Again, readers are asked to click upon the hyperlinks above to read this article in full.

Based upon the information contained in the article above it would appear that the Asia-Pacific region is now home to the largest number of millionaires in the world. However, much of these individuals’ capital would appear to be located in a few key jurisdictions in Asia most notably Hong Kong and Singapore. One could speculate that future growth may not only increase affluence in places such as Singapore and Hong Kong, but more broadly over the ASEAN and Asia-Pacific regions, respectively.

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17th September 2012

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the American Secretary of Defense recently commented upon the apparent tensions arising between Tokyo and Beijing over island claims increasingly disputed between China and Japan. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of The Japan Times, JapanTimes.co.jp:

Visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday urged Japan and China to peacefully resolve the intensifying territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands, expressing concern the diplomatic row could result in a military clash over uninhabited islets in the East China Sea. ”It is extremely important that diplomatic means on both sides be used” to avoid further escalation, Panetta said… [H]e also repeated that the United States will “stand by treaty obligation” with Tokyo, which includes defending Japanese soil, based on the Japan-U.S. security treaty…The Japan-U.S. security treaty obliges the U.S. to defend Japan if an area under Japanese administration is attacked by another country. But observers say if a remote island is attacked, it would likely be up to Japan to respond first, not the U.S. military…

Readers are encouraged to visit the hyperlinks noted above to read this story in detail.

It might seem unlikely that this situation could evolve into major confrontation, there are signs that tensions between Japan and China could get worse if some sort of solution is not found. This information comes as anti-Japanese protests in China spread and claims to certain Southeast Asian islands by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are voiced. Hopefully, this situation will be resolved peacefully and to the benefit of all concerned.

Meanwhile, it would appear that the Malaysian and Singaporean stock exchanges are set to link up in an effort to provide more trading opportunities and capabilities on each of those respective platforms. To shed further light upon these developments it is necessary to quote from the official website of Live Trading News, LiveTradingNews.com:

The Malaysian and Singaporean stock exchanges are seeking to attract individual investors and boost volumes by offering cross-border trading, the 1st step in creating a Southeast Asian platform. Singapore Exchange Ltd. (SGX) and Bursa Malaysia Bhd. (BURSA) start offering the services Tuesday…

Readers are again asked to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

These developments could result in future interest in Southeast Asian Securities from investors abroad. Concurrently, it would appear that Thailand’s stock exchange is prepared to provide more integrated services for ASEAN investors, to quote further from the aforementioned article:

[T]he Stock Exchange of Thailand is set to join the link-up between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members next month…The trading platform is part of a push by Asean Exchanges to boost regional capital markets and lure more investors to exchanges whose companies had a combined market value of $1.98-T at the end of March, according to the group’s website…

Although the results of these efforts remain to be seen, there is good reason to speculate that these developments could lead to further investment in Southeast Asia both by domestic investors as well as investors from outside the region.

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2nd October 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the President of the Philippines has voiced his belief in the advisability of further integration of the economies in the countries which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam). In order to provide further insight into these comments it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Asia One at AsiaOne.com:

Asean must take advantage of opportunities at a time when the world’s traditional growth centres are slowing down, Philippine President Benigno S Aquino III yesterday said. At the close of Asia Inc Forum’s Asean 100 Leadership Forum here, Aquino said for Asean to grow further, it is necessary for the member states to work together to continue to maintain peace, stability and an environment that attracts investments. “I am aware that the diversity in Asean makes it difficult to completely agree with one another on some issues, but this has not stopped us from collaborating on the economic front, and integration has always helped us push our economies.”

This blogger encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this interesting article in detail.

There seem to be few who question the soundness of the idea that economic integration in ASEAN would provide benefits to the citizens of all of the economies at issue. That stated, ASEAN is a unique regional bloc due to the fact that it has utilized a relatively slow economic integration process which has allowed the participating members to provide mutual benefits to one another while simultaneously allowing the member nations to respect the views of each other regarding national interest and foreign policy, especially in a global context.

Meanwhile, another ASEAN member; specifically the Kingdom of Thailand, has recently been the topic of an article about that nation’s relationship with the United States. In order to provide further context it is necessary to quote directly from an article by Walter Lohman posted to the official website of The Heritage Foundation at Heritage.org:

The United States and Thailand have enjoyed more than a century and a half of close relations, beginning with the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1833. They fought side by side on the Korean Peninsula and fought together again in Vietnam. However, as a result of U.S. withdrawal from Indochina, both nations’ 1970s rapprochement with China, and China’s subsequent rise to major power status, the alliance has struggled for lack of shared strategic purpose…As critical as this cooperation is, it is not enough to reconstitute a grand strategy on the scale of the Cold War. But rediscovering shared purpose in the U.S.–Thai alliance does not require a grand strategy. The regional dynamic is too complex, Thailand’s position ambivalent, and America’s own relationships in the region too varied and layered to foster a strategic meeting of the minds with Thailand…Both U.S. and Thai officials praise Cobra Gold as a pillar of the cooperation and interoperability of the U.S. and Thai militaries, an achievement that has proved useful for military missions, such as joint patrols of vital sea lanes, and noncombat missions, such as disaster relief following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2008 Cyclone Nargis in Burma.[1] Two other major joint exercises are the annual CARAT (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) naval exercises[2] and Cope Tiger, an exercise involving both countries’ air forces…[3]

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the aforementioned hyperlinks in order to read this article in detail.

This blogger must take note of the rather precise understanding of the complex interplay of relationships between Asian countries in the context of global diplomacy. It is especially gratifying to see that type understanding in an analysis of US-Thai relations. A prime example of how some such relationships smoothly operate over time can be viewed in an analysis the relationship between the United States and Thailand. The US-Thai Treaty of Amity has proven to be a useful platform for Thai-American business while simultaneously having the ancillary benefit of providing new business opportunities in the economies of the surrounding nations. Hopefully the same trend will continue and similar situations will arise in the other ASEAN economies which foster and facilitate sustainable regional growth for the whole of ASEAN.

For information pertaining to procurement of legal services in the Kingdom of Thailand or the Greater ASEAN region please see: Legal.

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25th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that there has apparently been some analysis of a recent American report on China’s military. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of China Daily, ChinaDaily.com.cn:

WASHINGTON - The US Department of Defense on Wednesday unveiled its annual report on China’s military, recognizing and welcoming China’s contribution to international safety and security… The report, titled Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, recognized that China has made “modest, but incremental, improvements in the transparency of its military and security affairs,” while alleging “uncertainty about how China will use its growing capabilities.” China has repeatedly stated the defensive nature of the country’s national defense policy, issuing a white paper on national defense in March to enhance its military’s transparency and boost the world’s trust in its commitment to peaceful development. The Pentagon report also noted China’s investment in modern military hardware and technology, including in its naval forces, as the country started its sea trials on a refitted aircraft carrier…

This blogger encourages readers to click on the appropriate hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

As China becomes an increasingly important component of the geopolitical landscape it stands to reason that there will be analysis of that nation’s defense and security apparatus. Meanwhile, there is speculation that China will continue to expand economically along with other nations such as those which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam). In fact, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Foreign Minister of Singapore was noted for comments regarding the future prospects of ASEAN amidst concerns about the global economy. In order to provide further clarification on these developments it is necessary for this blogger to quote directly from the Channel News Asia website ChannelNewsAsia.com:

SINGAPORE: Minister for Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam said he believes ASEAN can overcome the challenge of another global economic crisis. But Mr Shanmugam stressed it’s all the more important ASEAN remains focused on realising the common goal of an ASEAN Community by 2015. Mr Shanmugam was speaking at a reception to celebrate ASEAN Day. In commemoration of the group’s 44th birthday, embassies and consulates in all ASEAN member states will now fly the ASEAN flag permanently alongside their national flags…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to read this this insightful article.

There are some who are of the opinion that the economic integration of the jurisdictions which comprise ASEAN will result in significant economic benefits for not only the ASEAN countries, but China, India, the so-called BRICS countries, the USA, and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole. Moreover, with recent discussion of a possibly unified ASEAN visa system there is strong evidence to suggest that further positive economic and trade developments may arise in the relatively near future.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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17th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a former officer at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has been sentenced in connection to charges stemming from apparent corruption. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USICE, although sometimes colloquially referred to as ICE) website, ICE.gov:

LOS ANGELES — A former supervisor with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and his son were sentenced Thursday on federal corruption charges to 60 months and 48 months in prison, respectively, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General. Fernando Jacobs, 72, of Upland, Calif., and his son, Patrick Jacobs, 44, of Ontario, Calif., were sentenced by U.S. District Judge George H. King. Judge King also ordered Fernando Jacobs to pay a $30,000 fine. Fernando Jacobs was remanded into custody to begin serving his prison sentence immediately. Patrick Jacobs has been in custody since his arrest in December 2009. Fernando Jacobs, who was a supervisory immigration services officer with USCIS, and Patrick Jacobs were convicted by a jury of conspiracy, bribery and honest services wire fraud. Additionally, Fernando Jacobs was also convicted of visa fraud. The evidence presented during the two-week trial in U.S. District Court in April showed the elder Jacobs accepted bribes in exchange for helping aliens seeking status in the United States and that his son acted as a middleman brokering deals with those individuals. “The significance of public corruption cases like this cannot be overestimated,” said U.S. Attorney André Birotte, Jr. “The American public demands honest government service and the Department of Justice is committed to policing government and preserving the public trust.” The evidence showed the elder Jacobs and his son engaged in a scheme to defraud USCIS of Fernando Jacobs’ honest services, using his authority and official position to enrich themselves by receiving payments in return for various actions…

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon those relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn further details from this interesting article.

It has always been this blogger’s experience that officers of the USCIS are upright, hardworking, and forthright individuals; but notwithstanding this fact there are instances where corruption can exist in any organization. Therefore, it is a genuine relief to see prompt action to discourage this behavior while simultaneously seeing that those engaged in illegal activity are brought to justice. Hopefully further efforts will yield more efficient and effective government in the future as such factors could result in more efficient and faster processing times for adjudication of bona fide immigration petitions and applications.

In news pertaining to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), it recently came to this blogger’s attention that China considers engagement with ASEAN in the future as both important and strategic. To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the online Asia Times website, ATimes.com:

Under its “good neighbors policy”, Beijing naturally considers improving relations with ASEAN an important strategic task. China has built up a strategic partnership with the 10-member ASEAN since 2003, and also with some of its members, one after another…

This article was also very noteworthy to this blogger because it highlighted some interesting issues arising in ASEAN and the future of the geopolitical situation in said region. The author, “an Assistant Professor of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University,” Dr Jian Junbo, provides fascinating insights into the possible role of China in the Asia-Pacific region in the coming years:

China should help ensure regional public security with its growing military capability. Beijing should be broader-minded than its neighbors in regard to the use of its military to maintain regional stability by fighting piracy, terrorism and other international crimes in the Pacific Ocean. Instead of flexing its military muscle in territorial disputes, China should encourage political, economic and cultural integration in East and Southeast Asia. All in all, China should reshape its Asia strategy with an aim to functioning as a stabilizing force, while maintaining its strategy to keep a balance with the influence of the US in this region…

This blogger strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this incisive article in detail.

As economic and cultural integration increases in ASEAN, the so-called BRICS countries, the Asia-Pacific region, and the United States of America it stands to reason that further economic development will occur exponentially as a result of the current economic “cross-pollination” phenomenon which is happening at a rather rapid rate in the Pacific compared to roughly 10 years ago. As the economies of Greater Asia continue to prosper there are some who could argue that many financial and economic benefits will be accrued to the benefit of all concerned.

– Benjamin Walter Hart

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For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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