Asia Watch

Independence days, Asean regional summits and more

This month will also see Japan's decision on trade with S. Korea, convention on mediation

August is the month for many Asian economies to mark their independence. It is a time to reflect and look ahead, with heads of state sharing their views on key issues.

Asean regional summits and a meeting of the leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) are on the calendar.

Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting

South-east Asia's foreign ministers are gathered in Bangkok for the 52nd Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting, which is being held till Saturday, together with the 20th Asean Plus Three meeting and the 9th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting. Asean foreign ministers will also have a meeting with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Japan-S.Korea spat

Japan is expected to decide on South Korea's removal from its white list of countries that enjoy preferential treatment in trade tariffs tomorrow, Nikkei's Asian Review said, quoting sources. If Japan goes ahead, the new listing would take effect later this month.

The two countries face a deadline of Aug 23 to renew their military intelligence sharing pact. This was signed by Tokyo and Seoul under former South Korean president Park Geun-hye's government, in response to the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. It is automatically renewed annually, unless one country issues a notification otherwise, three months before the date of signing the pact, or Nov 23.

Singapore Convention on Mediation

The US and China will be among 54 countries to sign a convention on mediation that is named after Singapore, on Aug 7. Countries attending the signing ceremony include Australia, Brunei, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Uganda and Vanuatu.

Singapore's National Day

Singapore's 54th birthday on Aug 9 will see the return of the parade to the Padang as the country marks 200 years of its founding.

The last time the parade was held there was in 2015, when Singapore celebrated 50 years of independence. This year, fireworks will be lit from three locations - a barge in front of the Asian Civilisations Museum, as well as Marina Bay and the Padang. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will deliver the National Day Rally speech on Aug 18.

India's Independence Day

On Aug 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be making his first Independence Day speech after returning to power with a massive majority in the last elections.

Indonesia's Independence Day

Indonesia will celebrate its 74th Independence Day on a reclaimed islet Pantai Maju (Moving Forward Beach) on Aug 17, the Jakarta Post reported. The ceremony usually takes place at the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta.

National Liberation Day

North and South Korea mark National Liberation Day, or the day when Japan surrendered in World War II and relinquished its 35-year colonial occupation of the Korean peninsula, in 1945.

Huawei on US trade blacklist

The Chinese telecoms giant was put on a US trade blacklist in mid-May as Washington deemed it a security risk, which Huawei repeatedly denied. The company was given a reprieve till Aug 19.

G-7 meet

Leaders of the G-7 highly industrialised countries are due to meet in the French city of Biarritz from Aug 24 to 26. Issues on the agenda include fighting the inequality of opportunity, reducing environmental inequality, globalisation, security threats and digital technology and artificial intelligence.

Hong Kong exco meeting

Hong Kong's powerful policymaking body, the Exco, which has been in recess, is due to meet on Aug 27.

Military drills

The US and South Korean armed forces are due to hold scaled-down annual military drills, despite protests from North Korea.

Umno-PAS pact

Malaysia's two biggest opposition parties - Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) - have reportedly agreed on the terms of a formal electoral pact that will be unveiled by the end of the month, in a move that could threaten many seats won by the ruling Pakatan Harapan in the last general election.

Malaysia's Independence Day

Malaysia will mark its 62nd Independence Day on Aug 31.

Asia Watch is a monthly feature on happenings around the world of interest to the region, published in The Straits Times on the first weekday of the month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2019, with the headline 'Independence days, Asean regional summits and more'. Print Edition | Subscribe