• Chinese Economy posts positive growth in Q2
• China undertakes Phase – 2 trials of an anti Covid-19 vaccine
• China launches its first Mars mission
• China told to close its Consulate General in Houston, retaliates by shutting US Consulate General in Chengdu
• Covid cases spike in Japan
• Japan’s H-2A Rocket launches UAE Mars probe
• Annual Defense of Japan White Paper released
• South Korean economy contracts in Q2
• South Korean Trade Minister vies for top WTO job
• South Korea launches 5G networks on subway lines
• DPRK declares state of emergency after Covid-19 case
• India extends humanitarian assistance to DPRK
II Developments in China
Chinese Economy posts positive growth in Q2
China projected GDP growth of 3.2% in Q2 of the current year, a rebound from the -6.8% of Q1. For June 2020, retail sales fell 1.8% as compared to the same month previous year, while industrial production rose by 4.8%. Average real disposable income fell 1.3% in the first half of 2020, while fixed asset investment declined 3.1% in the same period. Some analysts question the growth figure saying that it does not tie in with other figures.
China undertakes Phase – 2 trials of an anti Covid-19 vaccine
China has successfully undertaken the Phase-2 trial of an anti Covid vaccine it is developing with 508 participants in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. The Phase-1 trial was conducted on just 108 participants.
China launches its first Mars mission
On 23 July, China launched its first Mars mission Tianwen – 1 on a Long March – 5 rocket from the Wenchang space launch site. This is an attempt by China to land a Rover on the planet. It will search for underground water on the red planet. Incidentally, China’s first attempt at Mars in 2011 ended in failure when the spacecraft failed to get out of Earth’s orbit.
China told to close its Consulate General in Houston, retaliates by shutting US Consulate General in Chengdu
China was directed by the United States Government to close its Consulate General in Houston due to spying activities being carried out from there. China has protested the move and retaliated by asking the US to close down its Consulate General in Chengdu. These tit-for-tat closures takes the relationship between the two nations to a new low level.
III Developments in Japan
Covid cases spike in Japan
The number of new Covid positive cases in Tokyo spiked to 240 on 22 July, sparking criticism that Japan is not testing enough for the virus. Total number of new infections also peaked that day for Japan as a whole at 795 cases. Despite this new development, Japan continues to be a success story in the battle against Covid-19 as total confirmed cases are a mere 29,698 with just 7134 active cases and 997 deaths.
Japan’s H-2A Rocket launches UAE Mars probe
A Japanese H-2A rocket of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries carrying the UAE Mars probe named Amal or Hope was launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre at 6:58 am on 20 July. The probe successfully entered its earth orbit and is scheduled to reach Mars orbit in February 2021. The Japanese rocket has successfully completed 36 consecutive launches. The rocket series has a success rate of 97.6%.
Annual Defense of Japan White Paper released
The annual Defense of Japan White Paper was released on 21 July and spoke of China’s relentless efforts to unilaterally change the status quo around the Senkaku Islands and its use of propaganda, including misinformation, about the spread of the novel corona virus. These were seen as factors affecting Japan’s national security. North Korea’s continuing development of nuclear and other weapons was also seen as a threat to Tokyo.
IV Developments in South Korea
South Korean economy contracts in Q2
The South Korean economy contracted by 2.9% in Q2 of 2020, its worst performance since Q4 of 1998 when it had shrunk 3.8%. It may be recollected that in Q1 the economy had actually grown by 1.4%. The lockdown effected in that country was the factor behind these figures. It was led by a 13.6% drop in Korean exports in Q2. Domestic consumption also remained weak in Q2 with a drop of 4.1%.
South Korean Trade Minister vies for top WTO job
Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee is one of the candidates for the post of Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). She argues that she will rebuild trust in the organization by making it more relevant, resilient and responsive. She competes with candidates from 7 other countries vying for the job.
South Korea launches 5G networks on subway lines
South Korea’s 3 major telecom operators announced recently that they have completed establishment of 5G networks on nine subway lines across the nation as they look to accelerate rollout of this new technology. They intend to launch such 5G network nation wide by 2022.
V Developments in North Korea
DPRK declares state of emergency after Covid-19 case
North Korean strong man Kim Jong Un declared a state of emergency after the border city of Kaesong reported a suspected case of Covid-19. The pre-emptive measure completely blocks Kaesong city from the rest of the country and each district of the city is being isolated to prevent the spread of the virus. Those who have been to Kaesong city over the past few days will also be traced and put under strict quarantine. So far the DPRK has not reported a single confirmed case of Covid-19.
India extends humanitarian assistance to DPRK
The Government of India has extended medical assistance worth about US $ 1 million to DPRK in response to a request from the WHO. This is in the form of anti-TB medicines.
(The views expressed are personal)