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Thailand’s Sex Trade (11/98)

At an age when we still regard them as children, thousands of young girls from northern Thailand are being lured into prostitution. Girls as young as 10 are sold to the brothels of Bangkok, other Thai cities, and overseas. Others drift into prostitution when they move to larger towns for employment. From there, they migrate to cities, where they’re likely to end up in poorly paid factory or restaurant jobs with substandard conditions and links to the sex industry.

They come from families in the Golden Triangle area trapped in a cycles of poverty and debt. Their parents are subsistence farmers or villagers with few work opportunities, their traditional lifestyle and values constantly eroded by development and consumerism. read more

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Asia Goes Mad (8/98)

 

When I was a boy, my family and I joined hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in yearly anti-nuclear demonstrations through the center of London. The demonstrations were replicated in every capital city of democratic Europe, in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. We would go to "die-ins" outside Britain’s nuclear research facility at Aldermaston, and my mother would frequently join the women camped outside the military base of Greenham Common, protesting the presence of the US-made Cruise missiles. Few people now know what Greenham Common represented. But for politically aware Brits of my generation, the very words evoke a maelstrom of emotions. read more

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India and Pakistan Move Closer to Destruction (6/98)

Pakistan was forced to riposte in late May to India’s nuclear tests by detonating five nuclear devices. Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif had waited, hoping the west would punish India for sparking an Asian arms race. Instead, the west and Japan merely slapped India’s wrists. Sharif finally bowed to fierce public pressure.

Though dramatic, the tests merely revealed the poorly kept secret that both old enemies, who have fought three wars since 1947, were nuclear capable. Far more important, India’s nuclear tests, and ongoing development of intermediate, intercontinental and sea-launched missiles, were clear signals of Delhi’s determination to become a great power, and dominant force in South Asia, Central Asia. and the Indian Ocean. read more

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Slouching Toward Disaster (1/98)

Remember the "Asian miracle?" Less than six months ago, it was the main engine pushing stock markets around the world to new records. In the US and parts of Europe, inflation was low and trade was booming. Meanwhile, in Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Indonesia, immense projects that boggled the mind were being pursued. As long as Asia’s growth continued, criticism about pay, working conditions, and environmental damage could be downplayed. Any suggestion that the "miracle" wasn’t what it seemed sounded like paranoid party-pooping. read more

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What the Tigers Teach (2/98)

Am I the only one who takes some pleasure from the shake-up of the "Asian Tiger" economies? Perhaps it’s because I can’t count the number of times I’ve been taunted by Westerners about Africa’s economic problems. "Look at Asia!" they would say. "Two decades ago, they were in the same position as many African countries. Today, they are called the Asian Tigers. Why can’t Africa do the same?"

But consider the peculiar circumstances under which the Tigers flourished. As the engine of growth in the region, for example, Japan exported technology to its client states, even if it was "second-hand" tech. As a result, Japan’s own economy grew astronomically, partly because guilt-ridden US dollars poured in to make up for the ruthless atomic devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Meanwhile, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong benefited from the fear of communism that dominated US thinking for over 50 years. No effort was spared to make the Tigers a showpiece on the doorsteps of their deprived communist neighbors. read more