Category Archives: Health

Carrots, Sticks & the TIP Report: Understanding the US Government’s Anti-Trafficking Efforts in Southeast Asia

Last week the US State Department issued its annual Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report, which ranks every country in the world according to their adherence to the US government’s anti-trafficking mandate. For the first time, Thailand was designated “Tier 3,” the lowest “rung” on the TIP Report’s ladder.

The report, which is published by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, describes “Tier 1” countries as those demonstrating sufficient anti-trafficking efforts; “Tier 2” as those that have begun to demonstrate such efforts but still have improvements to make; and “Tier 3” as countries demonstrating little to no effort to combat trafficking. Countries that receive the Tier 3 ranking are subject to sanctions by the US government. Continue reading

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Filed under Cambodia, China, Current Events, ethnic policy, Foreign policy, GMS, Governance, Health, Malaysia, Mekong River, Philippines, Regional Relations, Singapore, Uncategorized, water, Yunnan Province

Laos extradites drug suspects to Yunnan

Editors note: This article was originally written by Cissy Yu and published on Go Kunming. It is reprinted on Exse in its entirety. 

Yunnan has long been the country’s main entry point for illegal drugs. Despite increased interdiction efforts, international law enforcement cooperation and recent large-scale busts, it appears the province’s ‘Drug War‘ is becoming more costly and having only a small effect on the overall flow of narcotics across the border.

Last week, Lao police transferred five suspected members of a drug ring to Kunming in a display of cooperation between the two countries. Authorities originally detained the suspects in a joint police raid conducted on March 19, 2013, when a naval patrol seized more than 500 million yuan (US$82.3 million) worth of methamphetamines on the Mekong River.

China has been conducting patrols such as this with the help of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar since the “Mekong River Massacre” of October 2011. The attack, which killed 13 Chinese sailors, spurred Beijing to begin interdiction patrols along the river. Institution of the policy, although sanctioned by neighboring Southeast Asian countries, was the first time in three decades that Chinese forces have operated outside the nation’s borders without a United Nations mandate.

Although the drug lord responsible for the killings, Naw Kham, was sentenced and publicly executed in Kunming last year, illegal drug trafficking continues to run rampant in the border regions between Yunnan, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. Known as the Golden Triangle, the area supplies an estimated 60 to 70 percent of all drugs consumed in China. A United Nations surveyconducted last year reported that opium cultivation in the Triangle rose by 22 percent in 2013, largely driven by mounting demand from the mainland.

Yunnan’s 4,060-kilometer border with Golden Triangle nations presents a grim challenge for anti-drug personnel. According to Yunnan Net, 70 percent of methamphetamines confiscated in China last year were seized in Yunnan. Currently, there are 1.7 million registered drug addicts in the province, although the government acknowledges the actual numbers are much higher.

While heroin remains the most commonly smuggled drug on the border, methamphetamines — also known as ‘ice’ — are a fast-growing second. In Ruili, a border town infamous in the past for its heroin trade, methamphetamines now dominate the market. One dose of the crystals — known as bingdu (冰毒) in Chinese — reportedly costs as little as five yuan.

Yunnan’s narcotics officials, meanwhile, claim they have redoubled efforts to combat the drug trade. Provincial courts sentenced more than 5,020 suspects for drug crimes in 2013. Yet some officials have complained that the record numbers on trial have led to more lenient judgments. “A suspect who would get the death penalty elsewhere [in China] only gets several years of jail in Yunnan,” said a National People’s Congress deputy. “The judicial system should be punishing these people with an iron hand.”

Image: China Radio International

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Filed under China, GMS, Health, Laos, Mekong River, Regional Relations, SLIDER, Yunnan Province

Hydropower and ethnic resettlement in the Yalong River valley

Sichuan's Yalong River Valley.  Image: josephrock.net

Sichuan’s Yalong River Valley. Image: josephrock.net

The Yalong river is one of the largest tributaries of China’s Yangtze river watershed.  Originating in Qinghai province, the 1368 kilometer long river system creates some of the deepest gorges in the world falling 3180 meters in elevation before flowing into the Yangtze at Panzhihua in southern Sichuan province.  According to the 2013 Twelfth Five Year Plan for resources management issued by the Chinese National Energy Administration, 21 dams will be built on the mainstream of the Yalong River and two of the dams will be the highest in the world.  The Plan also includes the completion of several hydropower projects which have been on hold since 2005 due to concerns about the fragility of the local ecosystem and culture. Continue reading

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Filed under China, Current Events, Economic development, Energy, Environment and sustainability, ethnic policy, Governance, Health, Hydropower & Ethnic Resettlement in China's Yalong River Valley, SLIDER, water

Myanmar-China Natural Gas Pipeline Complete, But Complications Remain

Last Monday, Chinese press outlets announced the long-awaited opening of the Myanmar-China Natural Gas Pipeline. The project, which has been in construction for almost four years, is part of a larger plan to import both natural gas and oil from the Bay of Bengal, through Myanmar and into China. The twin natural gas and oil pipelines are a project of great national importance as it is expected that the output from these pipelines will ease China’s growing energy needs. It is little wonder then that the opening of the natural gas pipeline was met with such fanfare.

On the day of its opening, July 29, the announcement was the top story on China Central Television’s evening news and stories ran in national and local newspapers celebrating the pipeline’s completion. The opening ceremony itself was supposedly an affair of great jubilation as well. Xinhua News reported, “”When torches flamed in the sky of Namkham Measuring Station of the Myanmar-China Gas Pipeline, a storm of applause and cheers broke out…”

Celebratory voices were not the only ones to be heard in the days surrounding the pipeline’s completion. This editorial in the English version of the People’s Daily argued that “Irresponsible remarks on the Myanmar-China oil and gas Pipeline should stop as the scientifically feasible project has benefited multiple parties.” According to the editorial, Western criticism of the pipeline stems from a “shady mentality”. These critics are “unwilling to see an intimate relationship between Myanmar and China” and are uncomfortable with the thought of China being energy secure. Continue reading

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Filed under China, Current Events, Energy, Health, Myanmar/Burma, Regional Relations

Yunnan’s Wild Mushroom Season is Here!

mushroom market small

PHOTO: Kunming’s Guandu mushroom market

You may know that Yunnan has been called a ‘Kingdom of Biodiversity’, but perhaps you didn’t know that Yunnan is also a ‘Kingdom of Mushrooms’. Research shows that more than 600 species of mushrooms grow in Yunnan, of which 20-30 are species of famous edible mushrooms found across the entire province. Below I list the six edible mushrooms known as the most delicious and most common to Yunnan. The rainy season (also the mushroom season) is coming shortly, I hope you can find at least one or two these mushrooms in the wild! Continue reading

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Filed under China, Food, Health, Yunnan Province

Regional Roundup for Week of 4.18.2013

Just the news this week. Continue reading

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Filed under ASEAN, China, Cold War, Current Events, Economic development, Energy, Environment and sustainability, Foreign policy, Governance, Health, Laos, Mekong River, Myanmar/Burma, NEWS DIGEST, Thailand, Vietnam, water