North Korea has constantly been the spotlight in the risk of having a nuclear weapons program. It has been threatened by the United States and other nations continuously and IAEA inspections are held in the country. North Korea had already agreed upon an armistice but it still ended up performing an underground nuclear test that caused an earthquake in South Korea, making it the world’s eighth atomic power by 2006. The UN warned the country and demanded the suspension of nuclear development, but, defying international warning, North Korea announced on May 2009 that it had successfully conducted its second nuclear test. North Koreas has always stood defensive towards its uranium and plutonium enrichment programs declaring its usage for peaceful energy purposes, however, on April 2009, it blatantly admitted that it would spend its plutonium rods to make nuclear weapons, and North Korea has enough plutonium for one or two bombs.
2. Kashmir conflict:
The Pakistan-Indian conflict over the Kashmir territory dates back to the countries’ Independence Act of 1947 when India and Pakistan were partitioned and the Kashmir territory created a clash between the two countries which fought for their control over the area. Today, India has control over 43% of the region, while Pakistan has 37% and China controls the remaining 20%, but there is still tension and instability over the area and both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir based on historical developments and religious majority of the area’s population. India argues that it holds a signed agreement with Kashmir’s former Maharaja, Hari Singh, which granted the Kashmir territory to the Indian government on 26 of October, 1947, and that recent elections has shown a major support from the Kashmir population to the pro-India National Conference party, while Pakistan claims that the Maharaja was a brutal and unpopular leader among Kashmir population and was in no position of having power to sign an agreement like the one giving Kashmir to India, besides, the Kashmir population is mainly Muslim, and India is not a Muslim state, like Pakistan is, which does affect the population to some extent. An important factor to consider is the fact that both India and Pakistan are not part of the NPT and have already declared the possession of nuclear weapons, a major risk between states that have an ongoing conflict.
3. Xinjiang territory
The Xinjiang area is an autonomous region in China which has recently shown serious political unrest between the Uighur plurality and the Chinese authorities. The issue actually started decades ago and protests have happened since then against Chinese rule in Xinjiang, which independence advocates view it as Chinese imperialism. The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a Chinese economic organization which develops economic development and stability in the Xinjiang region has settled millions of migrants to the area, especially Hans Chinese, which is the core reason of the recent protests. The essence of the conflict in the area is actually of an ethnic nature between Uighurs and Han Chinese. The Uighur population has complained of political, cultural and religious persecution by Beijing – operated by Han Chinese – and calls for more autonomy and freedom have been frequent and have increased after major riots and protests these past few months were hundreds of civilians were killed and thousands were injured.
Terrorism has been a major issue in Asia through the past years since 9/11, specifically in the countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan where radical terrorist groups and organizations like the Taliban still have a certain level of influence in certain areas. The Pakistan state has advocated together with the United States the War on Terror, where major efforts have been made to search, find, and cease terrorist activities in the Pakistan region including other countries. An area which is characterized by strong terrorist and violent activities is between the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), where access is extremely hard due to the mountainous characteristic and an area controlled by terrorist groups like the Taliban. India, Nepal, and various other Asian countries suffer from different terrorist organizations which risk the life of civilians and put the country’s safety at stake. Consequently, Pakistan and Afghanistan have acquired a terrorist stereotype creating racial issues around the world towards Pakistanis and Afghans in general even though their government’s have been attempting solutions – to a certain extent – in ceasing terrorist activities in their regions.
5. China and Tibet
The Chinese and Tibetan territorial conflict starts off as far as the 7th century when Tibet was a nation led by a strong king and an intimidating army, soon taking control over the silk road and conquering the Chang’an, the Chinese metropolis of the time. However, the rise of the Tibetan empire was interrupted by a ruler who suppressed the Tibetan Buddhism. By the end of his rule, Tibet had become a nation ruled by monks and monasteries. This was followed by a period in which China’s Mongolian Khans dynasty had a ruler negotiate and bond with the new Tibetan leader, finally incorporating Tibet within their own territory. Throughout the Ming dynasty Tibet had already recognized China’s sovereignty over the nation. When the Dalai Lama took control over Tibet, they faced issues by being strictly confined to Chinese sovereignty, but still throughout the 1900s, after the British tried to invade Tibet, sovereignty was once again recognized to be China’s. When the People’s Republic of China was established, the Dalai Lama agreed to the annexation of Tibet to China due to Mao’s communist government, but only as long as the political, social and religious structure of the country would not be violated. Mao promised this autonomy, but turmoil once again rose after he implicated supremacy on the Tibetan government. The question of whether Tibet’s sovereignty is theirs or China’s still is something highly discussed today. How to pick a side when the Tibetans insist for more autonomy, but the Chinese declare they have supported Tibet’s government in so many aspects?
6. Refugees in Nepal from Bhutan
The refugees are characterized for being almost all ethnic Nepalis from southern Bhutan, who have been expelled from their homes more than 16 years ago. They have been living in refugee camps in eastern Nepal, being unable to permanently settle in the country or come back to their home in Bhutan. This conflict starts around the 1800s when people started immigrating to the lowlands, or southern part of Bhutan, which was infested with malaria. These people, forming a specific “group”, were labeled the “Lhotsampas”. As this population of Nepalese cultured people started growing rapidly, the Bhutanese king grew worried at the relation between them and the population of the north. He then decided to perform a Bhutanization, which aimed at unifying the country under the Druk culture (the one practiced by the north). By banning the practice of anything that characterized the Nepalese, soon the Lhotsampas felt a desire to rebel, leading to violent clashes with the police and army. By 1990 the Bhutanese government required all the Lhotsampas to leave Bhutan. Approximately 107,000 refugees reside in seven camps in eastern Nepal.
7. Maoist Insurgencies
The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist was formed in 1995 under the ideals of the Chinese communist Mao Tsetung. The group, now considered a terrorist faction, announced a “People’s War” on February 1996. Their main goal is to establish a new democracy in the Nepalese government and strongly strike against imperialism, feudalism and so-called reformists. This was an immediate response to the government’s response to a memorandum proposed which had 40 demands with the ideals of an improved democracy, nationalism and livelihood. They operate in 68 of the 75 districts that occupy Nepal, having approximately 5,500 combatants, 8,000 militia, 4,500 cadres, 33,000 followers and 200,000 sympathizers. The CPI-Maoists (as they are now called) have been banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act condemning it a terrorist organization. They are responsible for 90% of the left wing violence in India.
8. Indonesia Terrorism
Indonesia has been a witness of terrorist attacks since 2002 from a terrorist group with direct links to Al Qaeda known as the Jemaah Islamiyah Islamist, lead by Noordin Muhammad Top, considered the most wanted terrorism suspect in Southeast Asia. Their jihad group has been a suspect for various attacks like the bombings in Bali in 2005 which killed more than 20 people, at the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in 2003, which killed 12, and at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in 2004, with a casualty of 9 people. There have been claims that the leader has been caught and killed, but there are still confirmations left.