Singapore- Indian receives Padma Shri; China becomes second largest trade partner of Thailand; Vietnam trade deficit with China rises; India-Singapore armies hold joint defence exercise; Brunei to host ASEAN energy meeting in September 2011; Indonesia agr
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  • A businessman of international repute, Sat Pal Khattar has become the first Singapore- Indian to be honoured with the Padma Shri. Khattar chairs the Singapore-India Partnership Foundation. He is also a member of the City-State's presidential panel on minority rights, besides being an advisor to the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.1

    According to the China-ASEAN Expo Secretariat, China has become Thailand’s second largest trade partner, after Japan. China is not only the second largest export market for Thailand, but also the second largest source of imports. According to the reports, the bilateral trade in 2010, between Thailand and China, has gone up more than 30 percent from 2009. In 2010, the bilateral trade between the two countries was US$ 46 billion. 2

    According to the Vietnamese official sources, Vietnam’s trade deficit with China has surged eight-fold since 2002 to US$ 12.7 billion in 2010, or 102 percent of the total trade deficit. As is the case with other trade partners of China, most of the items that Vietnam imports belong to the low-value goods such as; apparels, toys, footwear, fruits and vegetables. Mobile phones, however, are amongst the largest imported items.3

    Reports noted that the Indian and Singapore army troops are holding a month-long joint exercise in Madhya Pradesh state of India. The exercise, which involves war games like the ‘battle tank scenario’ was witnessed by the Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh also, who visited the venue on March 25 and 26.4

    According to reports, 29th ASEAN Ministers’ meeting on Energy will be hosted by Brunei Darussalam in September 2011. The proposed theme of the meeting is ‘ASEAN connectivity’, which, if adopted, would highlight ASEAN Energy ministers’ agenda on regional initiative with support of AMEM to help expedite the ASEAN master plan on energy. 5

    Meanwhile, reports noted that on 24 March, 2011, Taiwan scored a diplomatic gain after it successfully convinced Indonesian government to change the reference to Taiwan as ‘Chinese Taipei’. Taiwan had been referred to as ‘Taiwan, PRC’ in the official documents and websites.6

    In other developments in the region, the Philippines has increased its air and naval patrolling and is planning to upgrade an airstrip in South China Sea to strengthen its claims on disputed islands of South China Sea. The Philippine army is planning a capability upgrade programme worth US $ 233 million, which, according to the government is an attempt to safeguard the interests of the country in the South China Sea. 7