Author Archives: East by Southeast

Deadly Kunming Knife Attack Leaves 33 Dead, 130+ Wounded


Kunming is a city known for its sleepy nature and a perfect climate that promotes a casual urban way of life.  In many ways it offers an alternative to the busy competitive nature of China’s first and second tier cities.  As the capital of Yunnan province, the city also prides itself as a peaceful melting pot of ethnic unity in one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the world.

The Spring City’s reputation was irrevocably changed on the evening of Saturday March 1 as a group of five to ten knife-wielding attackers entered the Kunming Railway Station and engaged in a stabbing rampage that killed 28 passengers and wounded more than 100. The Chinese government is labeling the assailants as a Uyghur separatist terrorist group although very little is known of the actual identities of the assailants and their motives.

This horrifying incident is the bloodiest in recent memory to occur outside of Xinjiang, a territory that has seen an increase in restive ethnic activity over the past five years. The domestic Chinese media and international media are providing plenty of coverage of the incident, but many questions remain unanswered and facts surrounding the incident are sketchy at best.

Most importantly, who are the assailants?  Why was Kunming and its train station chosen as a site for the attack? And how could security at the train station be so lax to permit this unprecedented violence?

Official reports confirmed late Saturday evening that security forces killed four of five assailants and apprehended a fifth female attacker.  In the firefight one or more of Kunming’s SWAT force was injured with undisclosed levels of injuries.  Phoenix TV reported three of the assailants fled northward on Beijing Road (Kunming’s central north to south thoroughfare) out of the train station and continued to stab innocent bystanders until they met a police blockade several hundred meters from the station. Two were shot on sight and one apprehended, allegedly a woman five months pregnant.  Photos show the assailants were wearing the same black head to toe uniforms and were said to have their heads covered. Early Sunday morning March 2, photographs of a short sleeve black t-shirt with a crescent moon and Arabic script began to circulate Chinese social media channels; the t-shirt was the alleged uniform of the attackers – however, photos of the apprehended and assailants killed on site suggest they were wearing long sleeve shirts.


On Sunday morning March 2, the official Chinese media labeled the incident as a terrorist attack laying the blame on Uyghur separatists groups.  At the point of this publication no names, photos, or information on the assailants have been released to the public. Identifying the assailants as Uyghur did confirm the initial messages that hit popular Chinese social media channels around 10pm on Saturday evening.  Concerned Chinese citizens are calling for the release of information on the assailants by the public security forces, but due process in China does not require the release of such information.  It is possible that we will never know the true identity and motivations of the attackers.

At noon on March 2, a list of 11 Uyghur men with names and headshots began to circulate Chinese social media sites.  The men are labeled as suspects fleeing the scene of the crime and no information has been released about their specific connection to the incident.  Were these men identified by close circuit cameras in the train station? Were their names divulged by the apprehended fifth attacker? Were they simply men who failed to show up to work on Sunday and reported by their Han Chinese employers as missing or by local observers as suspicious figures? Again Chinese criminal and legal processes help to shed little light on the identity of these men who apparently are still at large.

Kunmingers are in a state of fear and disbelief as news of the incident unfolds. Of the few people interviewed by ExSE most state that it is important to stay indoors since suspects were still on the run. The municipal public security bureau has asked all housing complexes, public venues, and university campuses to increase security surveillance methods. Property management companies of housing complexes are encouraging residents to blanket report sightings of any Uyghurs to local police stations.

Photos from the Kunming No. 1 Hospital located in the center of the city show the wounded recovering in gurneys, occupying hallways in the already crowded and resource strapped facility. A Sina Weibo user reported in an unverified report that a migrant family cannot afford the 50000 RMB required for treatment of their critically injured child.

Chinese train stations are often crowded and packed with passengers into the late evening as passengers board overnight trains to destinations throughout the country. Kunming’s station last night was no exception. The mix of people in the train station was likely comprised of various walks of life from migrant workers, to middle-class tourists, to foreign backpackers heading to the popular tourism destinations of Lijiang and Dali as well as points north in inland China.  One photo showed a bag of golf clubs against a wall towering above a pool of blood.  Gruesome photos of the scene also show luggage left strewn throughout the scene of the violence, a rampage that occurred in many of the stations waiting halls in addition to the main ticketing room.

Anyone who travels on China’s rails and bus system knows the security at train and bus stations is extremely lax. Poorly trained guards – really hired help in shabby blue uniforms – man posts at metal detectors and luggage scanners placed in station entryways more for show than to serve a security purpose. At peak times train and bus stations are much more crowded than airports in China and metal detectors are constantly sounding as passengers walk through without any recourse or further pat downs. With the exception of Xinjiang and Tibet were security has been increasingly tightened over the past five years, the quality of procedures to safeguard the security of public places wanes as one gets farther  away from Beijing.

This lax security culture is likely to, and hopefully will change as a result of the incident in which locals are dubbing as Kunming’s 9/11. China’s President Xi Jinping dispatched top domestic security official Meng Jianzhu to Kunming to oversee the investigation that comes days before the opening of critical government meetings in Beijing. This incident will surely cast a cloud over the meetings which are a critical platform for Xi to further deepen his reform policies for China – or the incident will force the agenda to be more focused on security concerns, an already expressed concern for the new leadership. Meng Jianzhu said in a public statement today, “This gang of terrorists were cruel without any humanity. They completely abandoned their conscience. We must strike hard against them according to the law.”

Perhaps the known factor of a lax security environment and a municipal government famous for slow responses and public relations nightmares made Kunming an easy target for the assailants – if they were as the official Chinese media claims from western Xinjiang. We are all still grappling to understand why Kunming was chosen as a target for an attack of such scale. The last time an incident of this nature – although admittedly we are still trying to figure out the exact nature of the incident – happened was a series of two bombings in 2008 when a local man, a former convict disgruntled and unable to find a place and job in China’s competitive society bombed a bus killing two and then unintentionally killed himself in a second bombing inside the popular Salvador’s Café in the city’s university district.  The two incidents were spread out over a five month period. Prior to the bomber’s death in the second December 2008 bombing, authorities blamed the first bombings on Uyghur separatists until they could forensically link the two incidents. The bomber was Hui Muslim but not Uyghur and religion ties or ethnic suppression were not revealed as motivations for the incident.

Today on the streets of Kunming, many were reluctant to discuss the incident.  Known acquaintances opened conversations with “the thing on TV” or “what was in the news,” a reaction that displays the shock and disbelief that this could happen in their city or a willingness to distance themselves from the incident in self-protective behavior. A local fruit vendor was angry beyond words and could only mutter, to my disbelief, that all Uyghurs should be corralled and shot. Another local suggested that as a foreigner I should pack my bags and go back to the West where “you don’t have to worry about terrorism.”  Similar responses and sentiments pervade the Chinese population

As the city begins to piece itself back together with the start of the work week tomorrow, ExSE will continue its discussion of this horrible incident, continuing to comment on official media response, the discussion of Uyghur separatism and its link to the incident. In addition to the broader topics above which the mainstream media has already defined as its main narrative surrounding the incident, ExSE, a Kunming based website is interested in exploring issues on the ground here in the city as they unfold and from a long term, more connected perspective.

With so little information released on the true identities of the assailants as well as the identity of those slain in the attack, how does an urban society process and respond to such a violent incident? We are also curious and concerned to the way an urban society heals from the shock and grief that now holds sway over Kunming and to what effect security will be raised in the city in both the short and long term. Importantly how will the ethnically diverse but general peaceful and non-restive ethnic groups of Yunnan respond to an attack labeled with ethnic motivations by an outside separatist group?  And will angry Chinese nationals seek retaliation against Uyghurs and Muslims in all patterns of ethnic and nationalist tension that are becoming more and more predictable in China?

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Filed under China, Current Events, Kunming Train Station Attack, SLIDER, Uncategorized, Yunnan Province

Attack at Kunming train station leaves 27 dead and more than 100 injured

Late Saturday evening March 1, unknown attackers used knives to randomly kill passengers waiting at the Kunming train station. Xinhua News has reported 27 killed with 109 injured. A local hospital has seen more than 170 patients apparently injured in the incident.

The assailants are of unknown origin and motivation although Chinese social media sites are flying with rumors of ethnic affiliation. The state media has officially called this incident a terrorist attack.

While details are extremely sketchy photos from the incident are circulating as the story hits the international media. To keep up with the story as it breaks follow this live blog.


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Filed under China, Current Events, Kunming Train Station Attack, SLIDER, Uncategorized

New Addition: Country Profiles on East by Southeast

ExSE is excited to announce the addition of a new section to our website!  Country profiles are now available for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar/Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam.  These profiles introduce the historical, political, and economic milieu of countries in Southeast Asia and provide you with up to date analysis of current events and developing trends in the region.  You will find links to economic and environmental data as well as a discussion of each country’s regional connections (including the China connection!) in a greater context.

These country profiles are authored by undergraduate students enrolled in the Regional Development in China and Southeast Asia program at the IES Kunming center.  Each semester new students will have the opportunity to update, edit, or add to the existing reports so be sure to check for updates frequently.

Country reports can also be accessed via the site’s top menu bar under Profiles.

If you have suggestions, contributions, or photos to provide for the country reports, please feel free to contact us at

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Filed under ASEAN, Cambodia, China, Current Events, Laos, Myanmar/Burma, SLIDER, Thailand, Uncategorized, Vietnam

Gary Locke, US Ambassador to China visits Kunming one day after announcing resignation

photo 1

US Ambassador to China Gary Locke paid his third visit to Yunnan province on Thursday, November 21, one day after the announcement of his unexpected resignation.  His visit was part of an investment promotion roadshow entitled “The Best of America” traveling around China’s southwestern provinces and organized by the US consulates in Chengdu and Guangzhou.  The event was hosted by provincial vice-governor Gao Feng and attended by Yunnanese business interests and officials from the provincial international trade promotion department, tourism department and public health departments.   Core economic strengths of the US were represented by CEOs and officers of Deliotte, GE, Motorola, CISCO systems, Intel, and Miller Canfield Law firm in addition to other firms.  United Airlines was also in attendance and eager to promote its new direct flight from Chengdu-San Francisco opening early 2014.

Opening remarks were given by both Ambassador Locke and Vice Governor Gao. Both speeches highlighted the United States’ and Yunnan’s shared history of cooperation through the Flying Tigers, as well as the need for present day economic cooperation. In his remarks, Ambassador Locke boasted of the increase of China-to-US FDI under his tenure. In the past 21 months, investments from China totaled USD 18 billion, more than the past 10 years combined, an accomplishment Locke can only take partial credit for, as larger macroeconomic trends in the US and China were also important factors. Locke was also able to highlight the increase of Chinese students in the US in recent years. According to the ambassador, the number of Chinese students in the US reached 280,000 in 2012. In addition, Ambassador Locke was also able to point to decrease in wait time for US visas and a new, expanded visa office at the Chengdu consulate as notable achievements under his tenure.  Aside from pushing investment in America, Locke also promoted core American values like legal transparency, free trade and intellectual property rights, issues that have been divisive for the two countries in past years.

Photo courtesy of Allie Horick

Photo courtesy of Allie Horick

Speaking directly after Ambassador Locke, Yunnan’s Vice Governor Gao Feng also promoted bilateral trade and cooperation. In his remarks, Vice Governor Gao emphasized Yunnan’s role as China’s gateway to South Asia and Southeast Asia and its fast pace of the its economic growth. Gao pointed to the recent China-South Asia Expo as a marker of Yunnan’s rise in national and regional importance. The US delegation noted that Locke’s visit to Yunnan went very smoothly and all requests for visits to companies and government ministries were granted, including a visit to Yunnan University, where the Ambassador met with students and professors. This is in contrast to the difficulty encountered when US delegations request access in other provinces and autonomous regions in southwest China, particularly Tibet.

The roadshow was planned with the specific purpose of promoting Chinese FDI to the US, the export of medical technology to Yunnan’s developing healthcare sector, and tourism to the US.  After the Green Lake Hotel event, the delegation met mostly with potential investors from the agriculture and mining sectors reflective of these two sectors as two core pillars of Yunnan’s economy – tourism.  Locke also encouraged US investment in Yunnan tourism management systems – something sorely needed in Yunnan, and China at large, as localities struggle to protect cultural capital bases and natural endowments from the damaging onslaught of mass Chinese tourism.

photo 2

The inability of Yunnan’s medical infrastructure to keep up with the demand for medical services was apparent when the delegation was shown MRI scanner purchased from the US that had been use for 10 years at the Kunming Number One Hospital.  The machine was being used 70-80 times per day non-stop for seven days per week.  Cumulative cost of parts and supplies maintenance, all imported from the US, had greatly exceeded the original cost of the machine.

Lastly, Chinese tourism to the US was high on the list of promotion for the delegation.  In 2012, tourism to the US was the US’s top service sector export with Chinese tourists leading the way in number of tourists visiting the US in a by country breakdown.  In international trade accounting, foreign tourist visits are counted as an export due to the positive accumulation of foreign income.

Locke’s visit is recognition of the fruits of the China’s Western development program – namely economic progress to the degree that US investors are now drawn to the fast growth rates coming out of China’s southwestern provinces.  And as a result of that economic progress, Yunnanese investors have reached levels of wealth garnering capabilities to invest in the US, half a globe away.  His visit is also reinforcement of Yunnan’s strategic location as a gateway for regional investment to Southeast Asia and South Asia – a key point mentioned by both the US delegation and the provincial hosts.

Later in the day, Locke’s diplomatic rock star status was confirmed by an exuberant crowd of students at Yunnan University proud of their shared heritage with the US ambassador.  Locke returned that exuberance with hugs.   With Locke stepping down it may be a while until another US ambassador to China receives the kind of welcome received in Thursday in Yunnan.

Consensus among some of the ExSE members is that Locke may be stepping down in preparation for a high appointment related to the 2016 presidential election.  He is an extremely successful career politician with experience managing Americans’ most important bilateral relationship, domestic economic and international trade relations as US Commerce Secretary, and a successful run as governor of Washington State.  This portfolio positions Locke as a strong candidate for VP or Secretary of State under a future Democratic presidency.  Gary Locke will step down as US Ambassador to China early 2014 after taking up the post in August, 2011.


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Filed under China, Current Events, Economic development, Regional Relations, SLIDER, Uncategorized, USA, Yunnan Province

China Sea Territory Disputes (source: Money Morning, NPR, google news)


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Filed under Brunei, China, Foreign policy, Malaysia, Myanmar/Burma, Philippines, USA, Vietnam, VISUALS, water

China’s Trade with the Five GMS Countres 1990-2011


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Yunnan Province and Its City Circles and Border Economic Zones


This is a map of Yunnan province, its city circles, and border economic zones.  Yunnan borders Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar.

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Filed under China, Economic development, GMS, VISUALS, Yunnan Province

IES Abroad Kunming Center

•    Web site:

•    Contact and Mailing Address:    3rd Floor, College of International Students, Yunnan University, 2 Cuihu Beilu, Wuhua District, Kunming, Yunnan, China

•    Phone :    +86 186 87193036

•    Contact person:    Brian Eyler, Director

  • Email:

•    Year of Establishment :    2013

•    Place of Establishment:    Yunnan University


 Background Information of the IES Kunming Center

The IES Abroad Kunming Center offers curricular programming for US undergraduate students with a focus on international relations, economic development, environmental studies, anthropology, and Chinese language studies.  Its curriculum explores the regional relationships deepening between China and Southeast Asia as well as the political, economic, and socio-structural forces driving change in this dynamic region.   The center offers a 15 credit Regional Development program in the fall and spring and two summer programs, one focusing on regional economic integration and the other on trans-boundary environmental issues.  Enrolled students also go on study tours throughout Yunnan province in addition to an 18 day study tour of countries on the Southeast Asian mainland.

IES Abroad is a non-profit study abroad organization offering programs throughout Asia, Australia, Europe, New Zealand and South America for more than 5000 US-based college students each year.



To serve as a research base and leadership training platform for students interested in the study of China and Southeast Asia in the areas of international relations, governance, economic development, and sustainability.


Student Body and top sending institutions:  IES Kunming student bodies are typically small, averaging between 5 and 15 students per semester.  Most students are in their 3rd year of university.  Top sending institutions include Bucknell University, The University of Redlands, Lafayette University, Virginia State University, College of William and Mary, and the University of Maryland.


2013-14 IES Kunming Center Goals and Objective


  1. Establish a professional and academic environment that highlights unique opportunities for international education based on a rigorous curricular and co-curricular experience.
  2. Use appropriate methods to evaluate all components of curriculum and co-curriculum.  Evaluation should focus on the student’s sense of satisfaction overall as well as quality of intrapersonal growth, interpersonal growth, and acquisition of knowledge.
  3. Promote student contact with the local community through curricular and co-curricular programming.
  4. Raise awareness of the Kunming Center’s programming and footprint in the Kunming community, Mekong development community, and US academic community as well as the study abroad industry at large.
  5. Research and promote more effective teaching methodologies in both language and area studies classrooms
  6. Develop sustainable travel and sustainable homestay model
  7. Seek program approval by IES Abroad Consortium member universities
  8. Ensure students interact with the local Kunming community in a manner that results in a sustainable and positive relationship with local community members.
  9. Develop student’s scholarship abilities and critical thinking skills.  Actively and passively challenge students to examine their worldview.
  10. Support students in discovering a curricular topic that they develop a passion for by actively engaging in high level academic 1-1 and group discussions, promoting ways to develop this interest outside of the classroom.


Links to Programs

Regional Development in China and Southeast Asia (Fall/Spring, 16 credit)

            Environmental Studies (Summer 8 credit)

            China & Southeast Asian Development (Summer 8 credit)


Resources:  A growing 450 volume research library specializing in Regional relations, Southwest China, Environmental studies, and English language literature of Yunnan and Southeast Asia


Service learning placement providers:  Students enrolled in the center’s service learning course complete 11 weeks of volunteering at a local development/environmental NGO, government office, or educational institution.  Our current service learning providers include but are not limited to Village Progress, Yunnan Natural and Cultural Heritage Protection Association, World Wide Fund for Nature, Daytop substance abuse rehabilitation center, FHI360, and the Pan-Asia Transportation and Logistics Research Center.  If you are interested in providing a service learning placement to our students please contact Brian Eyler at


Staff Directory

Brian Eyler: Director;

Student Affairs Coordinator: William Feinberg;

Head Chinese Teacher: Zheng Jun

Resident Advisor: Catherine O’Connor


Key Faculty Bios:

R. Edward Grumbine earned a PhD. in environmental policy from the Union Institute and has worked on bringing conservation science into resource management policy and planning since the late 1980s. Currently, he holds the position of senior international scientist at the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yunnan Province.  Present projects include work on defining transboundary environmental security on China’s western borders, hydropower development impacts in the Mekong River, and biodiversity conservation issues in China. He has served as a faculty at UC Santa Cruz and Prescott University and directed the University of California Sierra Institute.  His third book, Where the Dragon Meets the Angry River: Nature and Power in the Peoples Republic of China (Island Press, 2010), surveys conservation issues in China.

Kabir Mansingh Heimsath, PhD University of Oxford,  grew up between a small ranch in Texas, New Delhi, India, and suburban Washington, D.C. He completed a BA in Religious Studies from University of California, Berkeley (1992) and an MA also in Religious Studies focusing on Tibetan Buddhism from the University of Washington, Seattle (1995). Kabir has worked in a number of capacities between Kathmandu and Lhasa since 1996, in particular as a trekking guide, consultant, and a lecturer and program director in Tibetan Studies for US university academic programs. He completed another MSc in Visual Anthropology from University of Oxford in 2005 and his doctoral thesis is entitled ‘The Urban Space of Lhasa.’  His research interests include visual studies, tourism, urban anthropology, anthropology of space, and contemporary Tibetan Buddhist practice.

Prof. Dequn Zhou earned a Ph.D. in Ecology and Biodiversity from the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, P.R. China in 2001.  He is currently a professor of ecology and conservation biology at Kunming University of Science and Technology, Kunming City, Yunnan Province, P.R. China, where since 2008 he has taught seminars and lectures on Restoration Ecology, Conservation Action Planning, and Environmental Challenges in China.    From 2004-2008, Prof. Zhou was the project manager, China Program, The Nature Conservancy and in charge of Laojun Mountain National Park promotion.  Current research areas focus on Conservation Biology, Protecting Areas, and Mycology

Brian Eyler serves as the Director of the IES Kunming Center at Yunnan University and is an expert on China’s economic integration with the Greater Mekong Subregion.  He conducts research with various stakeholders in the region including Yunnanese government officials and businesspeople, local NGOs and stakeholders in Thailand and Laos.  He acts as a consultant to the UNDP Lancang-Mekong Economic Cooperation Program in Kunming and administers the website.  In 2005, Brian earned an MPIA focusing on the Chinese economy from UC San Diego and a BA from Bucknell University.   Previously Brian served for five years as the director of the IES Beijing Center at Beijing Foreign Studies University.

Chinese language professors are provided through cooperation with Yunnan University



The IES Kunming Centers programs put students and faculty in contact with a network of stakeholders at the national, local, and supranational level to provide a robust range of opinion and analysis on pressing regional issues.  The following organizations provide experiences for our students.



  • Asian Development Bank
  • Mekong River Commission
  • The World Wide Fund for Nature
  • Yunnan Provincial Department of Environmental Protection
  • Yunnan Provincial Department of Commerce
  • Kunming Institute of Botany
  • Lancang Mekong Economic Cooperation Office, joint UNDP-Yunnan government sponsored program
  • Yunnan University GMS Research Center
  • Pan-Asia Transport and Logistics Research Center
  • Green Watershed
  • Chiang Mai University
  • The Burma Relief Centre
  • Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce
  • Faculty of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, Mae Fa Luang University
  • Mushroom Research Center
  • Mae Salong Baptist Church
  • Hill and Development Foundation, Mae Salong
  • Chiang Saen Municipal Government
  • Love Chiang Khong
  • Big Brother Mouse
  • COPE Center, Vientiane
  • Fishbio
  • Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade
  • US Embassies in Hanoi, Bangkok, and Vientiane
  • Asia Foundation
  • Khiri Travel
  • Green Adventure Laos
  • Eviva Tours Vietnam

Sample Southeast Asia Study Tour Itinerary


Day 1: Kunming to Bangkok, Thailand

Afternoon flight from Kunming to Bangkok

7:00pm Local Thai Dinner with IES friends

Day 2: Bangkok: Three Generations Barge trip on Chao Phraya River

Morning: Orientation, Intro to Chao Phraya watershed, Macro-invertebrate study, Thai language

Afternoon: Visit village Wat Chimplee, discuss tourism impact

Evening: Cultural cabaret, intro to Thai Culture


Day 3:Bangkok: Day 2 on Three Generations Barge

Morning: Morning market shopping, kayaking, sustainability compass exercise

Afternoon: Water testing and Buddhism talk at temple; tour of Ayutthaya; return to BKK by van

Day 4: Bangkok-Chiang Mai,Thailand

Morning: Meetings at Asian Development Bank and World Wide Fund for Nature Greater Mekong office

Afternoon:         Free time to tour Bangkok;

Late evening flight to Chiang Mai


Day 5: Chiang Mai, Thailand

10:30am Walk through old town

12:00pm Lunch with Southeast Asia expert and freelance journalist Tom Fawthrop

2:00 pm  Afternoon symposium at Chiang Mai University

4:30pm   Drive to Chiang Mai University Doi Suthep sustainable forestry project (walking tour of mountaintop area 12km from Chiang Mai and overlooking city).

7:00pm Sunset at Doi Suthep, rest of evening free (suggest visit Night Bazaar and Muy Thai boxing)


Day 6: Chiang Mai, Thailand

9:00am Meeting at Earthrights environmental law firm

10:45am Burma talk at US Consulate

2:00pm  Talk on Burmese refugee & migrant labor with Pippa Curwen, Director Burma Relief Center

Evening: Exchange with Kachin refugee group at Café Sangdee


Day 7: Chiang Mai-Mae Salong, Thailand

Morning free

1:30pm Depart for Mae Saelong hill area (village settled by decommissioned Chinese KMT soliders)

5:00pm Arrive in Mae Saelong; brief tour

6:00pm Dinner and Introduction to life in Mae Salong by Baptist Pastor Yang at local Baptist church

7:30pm Students enter local Akha homestays


Day 8: Mae Salong, Thailand

Day long program on sustainable hill development at HADF (Hill Area Development Foundation) with Thai Senator Tuenjai and faculty from Mae Fahlong University

2:00pm Free time with host families


Day 9: Mae Salong-Mae Sae/Tachilek-Chiang Khong – Thailand and Burma

7:30am Depart for Mae Sae/Tachilek border (1hr)

8:30am Cross into Myanmar at Tachilek for morning, lunch

1:30pm Return to Mae Sae, depart for Chiang Saen (1hr)

2:30pm Arrive in Chiang Saen, tour Golden Triangle Scenic Area, Guest talk by Chiang Saen Mayor on Chinese investment profile in the Golden Triangle

5:00pm Depart for Chiang Khong (1hr)

Evening: Dinner and Buddhist Welcoming Ceremony at Pak Yingtai Village


Day 10: Chiang Khong-Huayxai, Laos

Morning: Fisheries demonstration in local village followed by Community forum with village leaders and NGO leaders at Pak Yingtai village

Afternoon: Cross Mekong to Laos

Evening: Intro to Laos and Lao culture


Day 11: Day long river cruise from Huayxai to Luang Prabang, Laos

Morning: Board boat for 250km Mekong cruise to Luang Prabang (10 hours) classes and lunch on boat

Evening: Dinner at Tamnak Laos, Luang Prabang


Day 12: Luang Prabang, Laos                       

Morning: City tour of Luang Prabang; Xieng Thong temple talk and Buddhism and Ecology talk.

Afternoon, evening free


Day 13: Luang Prabang, Laos

Morning: Eco-tourism and the elephant slave trade: visit Elephant Village, meet with managers and mahouts (elephant drivers); 1hr. elephant ride through Nam Khan River and forest; visit Tad Sae waterfalls.

Afternoon: Lunch and kayak back to Luang Prabang (3hrs) – ok for beginners, local fishing demonstrations en route.


Day 14: Luang Prabang, Laos

Morning: survey local markets, compare Lao and Chinese markets

Afternoon: free time

Evening: Cooking class at Tamarind


Day 15: Luang Prabang, Laos

Day trip to local village and Chinese constructed dam on Nam Khan river.

Day 16: Luang Prabang – Vientiane, Laos

Free morning in Luang Prabang

Afternoon: Airport transfer and flight to Vientiane

Evening: Visit That Luang and dinner with Vietnam War veterans


Day 17: Vientiane, Laos

Morning: 9am Food Security talk with Jannie Armstrong; 11am: US Embassy visit.

Afternoon: Fish conservation talk with Fishbio.  COPE Center for UXO bomb  victims.

Evening: free


Day 18: Vientiane, Laos

Morning seminars at Mekong River Commission Secretariat

Afternoon free for planning symposium

Evening: Return to Kunming


2013-2014 Academic Year Calendar

June 2013

6/6 Prep for orientation/student arrival

6/13 Student arrival

6/13-18 Orientation

6/28-7/2 Dali weekend trip


7/4 July 4th party

7/12 Chinese   language final

7/13-31 Mobile   learning trip



8/2 Regional simulation

8/3 Student departure

8/3-8/18 Staff vacation

8/11-8/23 Optional Tibet trip

8/19 RA training/prep for student   arrival

8/23 Student arrival/orientation   begins

8/25-30 Orientation in Dali

8/31 Homestay move-in


9/2 Chinese language classes begin

9/16 Discipline courses begin

9/27 Course Drop-Add Deadline


10/1 National Holiday (no Chinese classes)

10/2-6 Long Weekend trip to Lao Cai/Sapa

10/16-22 IES Annual conference/CD meeting

10/17 Chinese language midterms

10/31-11/3 Long weekend for self travel


11/8 Program withdrawal deadline

11/22 Chinese language classes and discipline   courses conclude

11/23-12/11 Mobile learning trip



12/13 Regional Simulation

12/14 Student Departure/Fall semester ends

12/15-1/5 Staff vacation

Staff survey trip to S. Vietnam and Cambodia

January 2014

1/6 Prepare for student arrival/orientation

1/10 Student arrival/orientation begins

1/12-17 Orientation in Dali

1/18 Homestay move-in

1/20 Chinese language classes begin

1/29-2/5 Spring festival vacation


2/6 Discipline courses begin

2/21 Course Drop-Add Deadline

2/28 Chinese language mid-terms


3/9-3/15 IES Familiarization trip to KMG &   Chiang Mai

3/13-16 four day long travel weekend

3/28 Program withdrawal Deadline


4/11 Chinese finals and discipline courses   conclude

4/12-30 Mobile learning trip to Vietnam and   Cambodia


5/2 Regional Simulation

5/3 Student Departure/Spring semester ends

5/4 Staff vacation begins

(potential customized programs)


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Mekong Energy and Ecology Network

Mekong Energy and Ecology Network (MEE Net)


Tucked away down a quiet soi in Bangkok’s Huai Khwang neighborhood is a four-story building housing the office of the Mekong Energy and Ecology Network (MEE Net). Inside the workplace, staff are busy researching and grappling with energy and electricity issues that span the entire Mekong region.

Mekong Energy and Ecology Network is the only local non-governmental organization (NGO) engaged with energy policy research from a regional standpoint and the coordination of a network of grassroots organizations within all six Mekong countries.

There is a very real need for this kind of aggregated perspective, given the growing regional integration via the ADB’s GMS project and the ushering in of the AEC within the next few years. Add to this Chinese President Xi’s recent proposal for the creation of an ASEAN development bank and the new influx of funding towards electricity infrastructure for Myanmar (with the World Bank’s recent approval of a $140 million loan and ADB’s involvement in creating a 20-year energy plan for the country as well as other energy projects), and it’s clear that a critical juncture has been reached.



409 Soi Rohitsuk (Ratchadapisek 14)
Pracharatbumpen, Haui Khwang
Bangkok 10320,  Thailand

Tel: +66 2691 0718



Mission and Objectives

Within this context, MEE Net’s approach is decidedly broad, long-term and strategic. Recognizing the transboundary nature of energy issues, MEE Net has embraced a region-wide perspective, backed by its “energy network.” After all, just as ecosystems and geographies do not conform to state borders, neither do the environmental impacts of electricity projects – particularly large, capital-intensive infrastructure projects.

MEE Net’s current focus revolves around three related and cross-cutting regional themes:

  • Know Your Power
  • Transboundary Issues
  • Flow of capital

Additionally, the organization maintains an emphasis on examining upstream policy decisions, at the level where long-term strategies are created by policy-makers. What are the driving forces behind the push for current energy projects? What are the decision-making processes? Do alternatives exist? These are key questions to ask.

Areas of Work

MEE Net’s work spans areas including policy analysis and research, advocacy, capacity-building activities, networking, and the organization of international conferences and training workshops.

To date, MEE Net is particularly active in Myanmar, notably in its ongoing facilitation of the Irrawaddy Community SEA project. Dedicated to the promotion of the participatory governance of the Irrawaddy River basin and the empowerment of local communities, the project expects to generate data about the river ecosystems and livelihoods based on local knowledge.

At the same time, MEE Net is engaged in region-oriented research about the flow of capital, as well as the impact of Chinese investments and projects throughout the Mekong. Continuous monitoring of the Mekong’s developments means that the organization holds both a cohesive picture of the region, as well as an understanding of country-specific contexts and constraints.



MEE Net is led by Director Witoon Permpongsacharoen, an expert in the electricity of the region and a former member of Thailand’s National Economic and Social Advisory Council. In 2006, The Nation named him as one of the 35 most influential Thais for his environmental work. He was also named an Ashoka Fellow in 1990.



MEE Net’s roots can be traced to the 1980s, when Thai environmentalists created the Project for Ecological Recovery (PER) in response to the country’s rapid industrialization. PER’s activities ultimately led to two seminal environmental victories: the cancellation of the Nam Choan hydroelectric dam project in 1988 and the creation of the national logging ban in Thailand in 1989.

MEE Net’s sister organization, Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA), was founded in 1991 to pursue a regional approach to environmental issues. And in 2008, MEE Net was established under the Foundation for Ecological Recovery (FER) to mount a response to the immense unexamined impact of energy issues on the Mekong region.


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China’s media report on Kunming’s environmental protests

The English language discussion of Kunming’s ongoing environmental protests should not exclude China’s official media reports.  The translation below is of a 5/28 article from the Southern Weekend website.

Yunnan’s Anning City Retracts Notice on Face Mask Registration

from Southern Weekend (南方周末)May 28, 2013

More than 200 copies of a ‘Letter of Guarantee’ have been signed by vendors of advertising services, printing services, copy services, face masks, and t-shirts.  These vendors promise to strictly follow national laws and regulations regarding their commercial business and promise not to speak of rumors, create rumors, or spread rumors.  They promise not to participate in any form of information broadcasting, forwarding of messages, and not to participate in sit-ins, protests, or demonstrations of any kind.  They promise to not print, create, or publish things related to the Anning PetroChina Oil Refinery or the “China-South Asia “Expo or advertisements, propaganda materials, or any materials of negative influence.  This “Letter of Guarantee” goes into effect on the day of signing and is valid through June 30, 2013 and sales of all services above must also be accompanied by ID registration of the purchaser.  –Official statement from the Kunming Economic Development Zone Industry and Commerce Bureau. 

The exposure of Anning’s required ID registration of face mask purchases has stirred up considerable public debate.  On the evening of 5/25, the Anning City government’s press office issued a statement saying Anning’s Industry and Commerce Bureau will retract the notice on face mask registration.  But according to a report on 5/27, the “Procedure for registration of face mask purchases” was still in effect for much of the Kunming municipality and was not exclusive to Anning City.  Registration is still required for printing, copying, and publication services. Continue reading


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