Walker Does Asia

What unusual features on Korea, China and Iraq did the world’s mainstream press miss?

June 18, 2002

What unusual features on Korea, China and Iraq did the world's mainstream press miss?

It looks as though World Cup visitors to Seoul will have to do without free nibbles of a local delicacy.

In the face of foreign government and football association pressure to ban dog meat sales during the World Cup matches, 150 restaurant owners defiantly proclaimed that they would give free samples of the local delicacy to any foreigner who requested one.

The government has clamped down on the gesture though, so foreign football fans will have to forgo their dog & chips while ticket agencies struggle to offload the more than 400,000 unsold tickets.

Following in the footsteps of 15th-century Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho, two Chinese warships left Qindao on May 15 to begin China’s first circumnavigation of the globe.

Missile destroyer Qindao and support vessel Taicang have an extensive itinerary, with Singapore, Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine, Greece, Portugal, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru scheduled for visits so far. The two vessels are Chinese-made, a point of some pride to Commander of the North China Navy Ding Yiping.

Doubtless Yiping will be thinking of his illustrious predecessor, who made seven voyages into the Indian Ocean between 1405-33, eventually reaching the East African coast and Red Sea.

Yiping might envy the 15th century “Commander-in-chief to the Western Oceans,” as the Emperor gave him 62 ships and nearly 28,000 men for his first expedition.

Proposed U.S. military operations against Iraq have suffered from the problem of nearby bases, with the Saudis reluctant to cooperate and the alternative northern route through the Kurdish mountains from Turkey posing formidable logistical problems.

Maybe an alternative is in the works. British and U.S. military reconnaissance teams have been spotted in eastern Jordan, close to the Iraqi frontier, and diplomats sources say Jordan’s King Abdullah is considering the provision of a Special Forces base near the border for Scud-hunting operations inside Iraq.

These bases, needing helicopter and air support, have a tendency to grow. But if Jordan were fully to join the effort to topple Saddam, the prize could be tempting — and could also answer the question of who replaces Saddam. Until his assassination in 1958, the Hashemite King Faisal II was the head of state of Iraq.

King Hussein of Jordan, father of the current King Abdullah, was Faisal’s cousin, and the heir to the Iraqi throne, Sharif Ali, lives conveniently in London.

The return of a constitutional monarchy to Iraq could be a plausible replacement for Saddam Hussein. And how could the Arab world object to the return of the Hashemite dynasty, direct descendants of the prophet Muhammed?

European Union officials are reeling at a bill — or rather a wish-list — from the Palestinian Authority seeking a total of 2 billion euros (over $1.8 billion) for “reconstruction and emergency aid.”

It includes over $20 million for weapons to re-arm the Palestinian police, an item that comes higher up the list than the requests for health care and education.

There is also a $15 million request for “aid to the distressed families of Shaheeds,” or martyrs, who might better be described as suicide bombers.

“Not a chance. Those days are over,” one senior EU official tells UPI, and went on to quote former President Bill Clinton: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”