Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:
Anonymous attacks Southeast Asia
The price Asian governments are paying for trying to have their way with cyberspace is rising. Inspired by China's Great Firewall, governments throughout the region have, to varying degrees, either limited access to certain online content or plan to do so. The Anonymous hacker group is registering its disgust with a series of attacks on websites in Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore. Without a free Internet, the group argues, corruption will continue to undermine the region's economies. Anonymous Philippines is asking the public to join the "revolution”: “The government, in many ways, has failed its citizens,” the group said on its Facebook page. “Fairness, justice and freedom are more than just words.”
Bad news for Japan-Korea ties
Hopes for summit meeting between the newish leaders of China, Japan and South Korea were always a longshot, given ongoing disputes between the three nations over everything from World War II, to tiny islands in the sea, to currency policies. But speaking to the BBC, Korean President Park Geun-Hye makes clear just how unlikely an easing of tensions is right now. At a time when Asia should be joining hands to deal with North Korea, lower trade barriers and link markets, the leaders of three of its four biggest economies can’t even get into a room together and chat. All of their economies already have huge problems to confront, without letting this cold war hold them back, too.
BOJ enters propaganda business
Of all the strategies used by central bankers to increase inflation expectations, Haruhiko Kuroda's 18-minute video is an intriguing innovation. While its utility is highly questionable and its title, "The Bank of Japan in Our Daily Lives," smacks of government propaganda, it's at least heartening to see Chairman Kuroda thinking outside the box. Or in this case, inside one, too.
India's edge over China
In the race between Asia's two biggest countries, India has always claimed at least one clear advantage: its soft power. As this Council on Foreign Relations piece points out, India continues to fare well in a recent Pew Research Global Attitudes Project survey. China, regularly accused of bullying ways and ham-handed diplomacy, could learn a thing or two from India about focusing on strategic partnerships that treat other nations at equals, not subordinates. "Unlike China," the Council writes, "India's rise, foreign policy objectives, and democratic governing structure are not perceived as threatening by the countries of Southeast and East Asia."
Harley slims down
Hogs are trimming down to woo consumers in Asia and emerging-market economies the world over. Turns out, many consumers in some of the fastest-growing nations are turned off by Harley’s classic road bikes, which boast engine displacements greater than 700 cc and were intended for cruising America's expansive highways. Harley's shift toward more petite hogs says much about the company's ambitions, as well as the changing face of global consumers.
(William Pesek is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)