Japan & South Korean Military Tensions Rise

The South & East Asian News Roundup 31/01/2019


This weeks roundup we look at some continuing stories as there isn’t much news in Asia that is any grand geopolitical importance. In China, a Human Rights lawyer has been sentenced to jail time in a landmark case showing China’s disregard for human rights. The Asia Bibi case has developed more as Asia is free and yet the Pakistani government is evading further action regarding her legal status and the precedent she will set for the courts. South Korea and Japan are developing some military tension which began in December following an incident where a military conflict almost occurred.

Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Sentenced To Jail

Chinese courts sentenced Wang Quanzhang to four years in prison on Monday on the charges of “subversion of state power”. After three and a half years in detention, Wang was among hundred who were rounded up in 2015 in a dissent crackdown. On top of his prison sentence, the court ruled Wang will be “deprived of political rights” for five years, meaning he can’t hold any government-related jobs, can’t vote and has no freedom of speech, protest or publication. Wang’s wife, Li Wenzu, has been among his fiercest advocates, holding a protest outside the Supreme People’s Court in Beijing on December 17 at which she publicly shaved her head to raise awareness of his case.

Asia Bibi Remains Free As Pakistan Refuses To Retry

Asia Bibi, a mother of five from Punjab province, was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 and sentenced to hang after she was accused of defiling the name of the Prophet Mohammed during an argument a year earlier with Muslim colleagues. The workers had refused to drink from a bucket of water Bibi had touched because she was not Muslim. At the time, Bibi said the case was a matter of women who didn’t like her “taking revenge.” Last year, she won her appeal against the conviction and death sentence. In its ruling in October, the Supreme Court court quoted Shakespeare’s “King Lear” in its ruling, saying Bibi appeared to have been “more sinned against than sinning.” “Even if there was some grain of truth in the allegations leveled in this case against the appellant still the glaring contradictions in the evidence of the prosecution highlighted above clearly show that the truth, in this case, had been mixed with a lot which was untrue,” the ruling said. Judges were equally dismissive of the case against Bibi this week, saying the crime had not been established and listing inconsistencies in witness testimonies. “We are not hearing the case again, the lawyer was unable to point out a single error in the judgment,” Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa said of the petition to review last year’s ruling.

Japan And South Korea Rise In Military Tensions

Japan and South Korea are engaged in a heated military dispute that analysts say could damage the already tenuous geopolitical situation in northeast Asia if the two sides do not reach a resolution. Starting on December 20th of last year, an incident occurred where a Japanese plane encountered a South Korean destroyer and the stories differed after they came into view of each other. The Japanese claimed the destroyer targets the plane while the destroyer claimed the Japanese flew too low when approaching the ship. The tension rose as this incident brought forth former incidents to the conversation which in turn is threatening the stability between them in the region. With the current geopolitical status of Asia as a whole, it’s vital that South Korea and Japan remain in good standing with each other to maintain the balance of power to leverage against China.

You can read more from Amos Joseph on Think Liberty here.


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