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From Beijng to Tokyo, from Seoul to New Delhi, LinkAsia takes viewers into media about Asia – from Asia – offering unfiltered insight into one of the most diverse, fast-paced regions of the globe.

 

The LinkAsia blog features in-depth analysis from expert contributors and LinkAsia producers, as well as transcripts from NHK Japan reports.

 

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China's Fishermen Set down Their Nets and Pick up Arms
The long-simmering territorial dispute between China and its neighbors over the South China Sea is about to get hotter. China is giving some of its fishermen military training so they can help defend China's claims to three quarters of the sea. Here’s  Japan’s NHK.
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Reporter:
This is Tanmen, a fishing village on Hainan Island in southern China. Local government officials are spending almost 17-million dollars to improve infrastructure They are making this village a base for China's maritime activities.

Here fishermen who build boats are eligible for local subsidies.
If certain requirements are met, they must fish for at least three months in waters in the South China Sea, south of this line.To encourage them to do that, the government also pays a fuel subsidy.
Fisherman Chen Zebo receives this payment and another financial incentive.

Chen Zebo:
I receive the special daily allowance for fishing in the South China Sea. I receive about 300 dollars a day for my boat.

Reporter:
Some fishermen like Chen also serve in the militia, performing maritime assignment for the local government. They receive military training including how to fire weapons. The maritime militia is set up on certain parts of southern and eastern China’s shores. It's estimated that several million Chinese serve in both the sea and land militias.

Members of the militia from Tanmen served in the war against Vietnam and other conflicts. They carried weapons and gave other non-combat support for the regular army.
Now, just over two hundred belong to the militia in Tanmen. They aren't usually armed, but they are required to radio the Chinese authorities as soon as they sight foreign ships or fishing boats.
President Xi Jinping visited Tamnen last year. He ordered the militia to gather information from the open sea and help with construction on remote islands in the South China Sea.
Chen once fished in the region where China and the Philippines are embroiled in territorial disputes. Philippine authorities detained him for short time. But he still believes it’s his duty to protect this area of the sea.

Chen Zebo:
If anything happens in the sea, I'll notify the Chinese authorities right away. If it weren’t for the fisherman of my village, the South China sea would've been occupied by some other countries."
A government run Chinese institution, that researches the South China Sea says, this militia activities play a important role in upholding China’s sovereignty.

Wu Shicun:
This undertakings are ways to protect China's maritime interests. Fishing and economic activities in the South China Sea are an important means of demonstrating China's presence.

Reporter:
In return for generous government incentives, these fishermen sail to the South China Sea to cast their nets. And while there, their unofficial duty is lookouts for their government. These activities send a clear signal that China is determined to assert itself in the area.
 
 

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US Cautions China against South China Sea Air Defense Zone

Countries that border the South China Sea are worried that China will set up another air defense identification zone. This will allow it to push its claim to a wide area of the waters. And some are ramping up the rhetoric. Philippine president Benigno Aquino compared China to Germany’s carving up Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War Two. Aquino called on nations around the world to help the Philippines resist China’s claims. That brought a response from the US. Here’s NHK.

 

Reporter:

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russell spoke to reporters in Washington. He said the U.S does not recognize China’s air defense zone and warned its leaders not to set up more.

 

Daniel Russell, State Department:

We urge China not to attempt to implement the ADIZ and certainly not to replicate it in other sensitive areas including and particularly in the South China Sea.

 

Reporter:

Russell said the U.S military had shown that China air defense zone won't affect its operations.

 
 

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Party Fowl: Bird Flu Outbreak Threatens New Year's Celebrations

Throughout much of Asia, people are celebrating the traditional New Year. In China, it’s called the Spring Festival. In Korea and Vietnam, the Lunar New Year. But regardless of the country, chicken is supposed to be on the menu. A chicken in every pot represents good fortune in the coming year. But a bird flu epidemic is overshadowing the holiday. Tens of thousands of chickens and ducks have been destroyed in an effort to stop the disease.  In southern China, more than 100 people came down with bird flu in January. At least a dozen have died. And the centerpiece of the New Year dinner is viewed with alarm. Here’s Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, with a report.


Reporter:

Friday was the start of the Lunar New year. Many Chinese families will buy live poultry from local markets to cook it for family gatherings


Man on the street:

Live birds, killed fresh, taste much better”


Reporter:

But this year will be different because of bird flu.


News Anchor:

A market in Hangzhou was shut down. The agricultural department has banned keeping live poultry at home.”


Reporter:

Health officials in China are reporting that 103 patients have been diagnosed with bird flu in January alone. Of these, 49 cases are in the eastern province of Zhejiang. Others have been found in southern provinces like Guangdong. So far, 22 patients have died. The hospital in Zhejiang is crowded with people who fear they are infected by the bird flu virus. Health officials have been shutting down markets that sell live poultry for fear that the virus may be passed on to people through contact with live birds. But about a 30-minute drive from downtown Shanghai, we found an illegal vendor. He was selling chickens and pigeons. Clients would choose which ones they like, then he would kill them. The price is about 20% cheaper than the normal market price.


Bird Vendor:

Our market was shut down by the government. We had to kill 2,000 birds by ourselves. But we didn’t get any compensation. We have no choice but to sell our birds, in the street.


Reporter:

A few days ahead of the Lunar New Year, the demand for chicken meat picks up, and loads of them are being transported all across China. During the New Year season more than 3 billion people move around the continent too. The World Health Organization claims that there has been no evidence of sustained human to human transmission of the virus. But the authorities remain vigilant asking people to avoid contact with live birds.

 
 

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China Debuts War Monument, Sparks Japan Protest
China's dedication of a memorial to Korean independence fighter, Ahn Jung-geun, raised tensions in Northeast Asia this week. While Ahn is a hero in South Korea for his stance against Japanese colonial rule in 1909, in Japan he's considered a terrorist. The controversial memorial has further stirred relations already troubled by ongoing territorial disputes between the three countries. Here's Japan's public broadcaster NHK.

Reporter:
South Korea’s Foreign Minister announced on Sunday completion of hall honoring Ahn in Harbin in Northeastern China. The monument was built at the Harbin train station. That's where Ahn, a Korean nationalist, shot dead Hirobumi Ito. At the time the Korean peninsula was a protectorate of Japan. It was annexed the following year. The Japanese Foreign Ministry has lodged a protest through Chinese and South Korean embassies in Tokyo.

Yoshihide Suga:
We see Ahn Joong-geun as a terrorist who was sentenced to death for assassinating Japan’s first prime minister.

Suga also criticized the coordination between South Korea and China. He said it does not contribute to peace and cooperation in East Asia. In June of last year, South Korean President Park Geun-hye asked Chinese leaders to build the monument while on a visit to Beijing.
 
 

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Trial for Chinese Rights Activist Who Assembled Anti-Corruption Demonstrations
Xu Zhiyong, a Chinese rights activist, has gone on trial in Beijing for his role in anti-corruption protests. Xu is charged with gathering crowds to disrupt public order. Earlier this year, the police cracked down on Xu's grassroots movement, which called for government officials to publicly declare their assets. Here's a report from Japan's public broadcaster NHK.

Reporter:
Xu is a founder of the New Citizens Movement, which started last year. It encourages people to get involved in politics. Many people in the movement have been detained for taking part in demonstrations. They have demanded the disclosure of assets held by senior Communist Party officials.

Zhang Qingfang:

The proceedings don’t meet the minimum requirements for a fair trial. They lack legitimacy.

Reporter:

Xu’s supporters waved banners outside court and shouted that he is innocent. They called for freedom of speech. Police stopped the protest and could be seen hauling some people away.
 
 

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