A look at the headlines making news this week from around Asia.
ASIAWATCH — China and North Korea began constructing joint economic zones near their border regions using “government-guided, enterprise-based and marked-oriented” principles.
Officials described the development projects as symbolising a “new chapter in the history of the traditional DPRK-China friendship”. Little else is known about the plans, which have occurred as North Korea prepares to transition to a new leader.
South Korea, meanwhile, has appointed a North Korean defector to head a government research institute. It would be the highest South Korean government job that a North Korean refugee has ever taken.
A court in Inner Mongolia has sentenced a Chinese coalmine worker to death for killing an ethnic Mongolian herder.
The Han Chinese truck driver ran over the herder as he tried to block the vehicle’s path in protest, leading to the region’s worst unrest in many years.
Ethnic Mongolians say the majority Han Chinese are eroding their rights, especially with mining projects.
The Chinese government has also come under fire for its handling of Tibetan monks. It was forced to deny claims by the UN that some 300 monks may have been illegally detained over the past three months.
A Foreign Ministry spokesperson insisted there had been no “enforced disappearances” at the Tibetan monastery in Sichuan province, but rather local authorities had taken some monks for “legal education”.
Japan continues to focus on recovering from its natural disasters and the ensuing nuclear crisis, with a new government report admitting it was unprepared for a disaster on the scale of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
The government report promises to set up an independent nuclear regulatory agency, new safety standards and strong measures to protect nuclear power plants from disasters.
The Australian government suspended all live cattle exports to neighbouring Indonesia, after a television program showed cattle being beaten, whipped and maimed prior to slaughter in its abattoirs.
According to government ministers, the ban on live cattle trade – worth US$340 million per annum – will remain in place until Indonesia establishes new regulations to protect livestock from mistreatment.
Burma received a record US$20 billion in foreign investment in the past year, the country announced, dwarfing previous pledges for the isolated nation. Neighbouring China was the biggest foreign investor.
The figures suggest that last year’s elections may succeed in opening the country’s economy, which has for years been under sanctions over its human rights record.
Afghanistan’s reliance on foreign aid could plunge it into a deep economic recession when foreign troops leave in 2014, according to a new US congressional report.
It says that much of the US$18.8 billion in US civilian aid has been poorly spent on short-term projects, which will be unsustainable if foreign aid dries up.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s prime minister has ordered an inquiry into the killing – on camera – of an unarmed man by five Karachi soldiers.
The paramilitaries had initially said the man, who was accused of trying to rob someone, died during an exchange of gunfire.
Pakistani television programs then broadcast the horrific footage, showing the young man pleading for his life before he is shot and left to die.
The graphic vision sparked protests from Pakistanis, who are already losing confidence in the national military.
And in southern India, two wild elephants have gone on a rampage, killing at least one person. The elephants left a trail of destruction as they walked into the city from a nearby forest, leaving residents running for their lives.