Regional Round-up for Week of 7.12.19

EXSE FOCUS

China’s war on pollution could boost solar power: Study – The Straits Times China’s efforts to reduce chronic air pollution could increase its ability to generate solar power by up to 13 per cent by allowing more sunlight to reach the earth, according to a study published on Tuesday (July 9). // China’s domestic electricity plan affects many other countries incl. the Mekong basin countries. Reducing coal power will surely increase China’s solar ability through removing air pollution. Then, if China successfully increase its ability of solar PV, its necessity to build hydropower in upstream the Mekong would decrease.

Lao government contests findings of UN poverty report – ASEAN Today Last week, the Lao government rejected the findings of a UN report that claimed the country’s development and investment policies are failing to reduce poverty and inequality. // The government activity for development should involve all society, especially people in poverty, ethnic minorities and rural areas should be benefitted. If the government relocate those people due to its projects, livelihoods of affected people should not be worsened than previous situation.

REGIONAL RELATIONS

Encouraging signs from the Osaka G20 – East Asia Forum The main media narrative surrounding the G20 focussed on the rather disappointing Trump–Xi summit. There was also the Trump–Kim impromptu meeting at the demilitarized zone, the confidence exuded by Russian President Vladimir Putin and continuing trade tensions.

Small countries have role to play in defusing US-China conflict: ESM Goh – The Straits Times With the United States and China engaged in a strategic rivalry that threatens to change the global geopolitical climate, all countries need to speak up to secure a peaceful and prosperous world and future, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong told a forum of world leaders here on Tuesday (July 9).

Australia debates developing nuclear weapons – Bangkok Post Facing a wobbly ally in the United States and an increasingly bellicose China, Australia’s military strategists are cautiously debating whether the country needs to consider developing its own nuclear deterrent.

ASEAN Defense Ministers Call for Peace, Stability in South China Sea – Radio Free Asia ASEAN defense ministers on Thursday committed to creating a “sea of peace” in the South China Sea, a region marked by tension over competing territorial claims by member nations, Taipei and Beijing, which has built up its military presence there.

SUSTAINABILITY & RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Making climate migration people-centred: Giving climate refugees agency and voice – Asian Correspondent NO one knows how many people are likely to have to move temporarily or permanently as a result of climate change, though there is no doubt that migration and displacement will occur and that in many cases it will occur in a way that either creates or exacerbates social, economic, and cultural vulnerabilities.

Waste-to-energy: panacea for Asia’s pollution problem or a load of rubbish? – Financial Times Technologies will stem trash tides but as a source of renewable energy their utility is limited.

Indonesia to send 210 tonnes of waste back to Australia – The Straits Times Indonesia said on Tuesday (July 9) that it would send more than 210 tonnes of garbage back to Australia, as South-east Asian nations push back against serving as dumping grounds for foreign trash.

G20 stalls on fossil fuel subsidies – The Third Pole As G20 countries met for the group’s annual summit in Osaka, the dirty secret was that the world’s leading economies were failing to phase out wasteful fossil fuel subsidies.

Deforestation + climate change = dead end for wildlife Asian Correspondent CLIMATE change combined with galloping tropical deforestation is cutting off wildlife from life-saving cooler climes, heightening the risk of extinction, researchers said Monday.

World’s Major Cities to Face ‘Unknown’ Climate Conditions by 2050 – The Irrawaddy A fifth of the world’s major cities will face “unknown” climate conditions by 2050, researchers warned on Wednesday, as rising temperatures heighten the risks of drought and flooding.

CHINA

Is there a China model? – East Asia Forum The US–China trade war has brought to the boil a simmering strategic rivalry between Washington and Beijing that some have begun to describe as a new Cold War. The Cold War analogy is something of a stretch given the interdependence of the Chinese and American economies — an interdependence sometimes referred to as ‘Chimerica’.

Related: Is the China model a threat? – East Asia Forum

Chinese rush to buy Cambodian property – Investvine Chinese interest in real estate in Cambodia is booming as Chinese investors seek to tap the growing demand for housing and also look for overseas assets as a hedge against yuan devaluation, market experts say.

China Dismisses Three Gorges Dam Safety Concerns as Rumor-Mongering – Radio Free Asia Official Chinese media moved on Sunday to dismiss safety concerns around its massive Three Gorges hydroelectric dam on the Yangtze River, after photos of what appeared to be signs of warping circulated on social media.

China’s war on pollution could boost solar power: Study – The Straits Times China’s efforts to reduce chronic air pollution could increase its ability to generate solar power by up to 13 per cent by allowing more sunlight to reach the earth, according to a study published on Tuesday (July 9).

Heavy rain, floods in China force evacuation of nearly 80,000 – The Straits Times The heaviest average rainfall to lash a swathe of southern and eastern China in more than half a century brought torrential rain and floods, destroying houses, damaging crops and forcing the evacuation of nearly 80,000 people, state media said.

SOUTH EAST ASIA

Master Plan Prepared For Chinese-Backed Kachin Economic Zone: State Minister – The Irrawaddy A Kachin State minister said a master plan for a planned, Chinese-backed, model economic zone along the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor has been prepared, and the Myanmar government is engaged in deep discussions with the company for the project’s implementation to avoid further challenges.

World Heritage status for Bagan in Myanmar – The Straits Times Unesco has inscribed Myanmar’s ancient capital of Bagan as a World Heritage site, nearly a quarter of a century after the complex of Buddhist temples was first nominated for listing.

Politics key threat to Thai outlook, World Bank warns – Bangkok Post Prolonged political uncertainty is a key risk for Thailand’s economic outlook, according to the World Bank’s Thailand Economic Monitor.

‘Tesla of Thailand’ powers vision of electric paradise – Bangkok Post Led by one of Thailand’s richest men, the company aims to change the way locals drive by handling everything from battery and car making to charging stations

Operators look for ways to regain the China market – Bangkok Post Several challenges beset Thailand’s tourism industry in the first half of 2019, especially the fading China market after a slowdown stemming from the sluggish global economy and trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.

Cambodia’s Hun Sen Downplays Possible Loss of EU Preferential Trade Scheme – Radio Free Asia Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen Friday reiterated that he is not concerned with the possibility of losing duty-exempt status for the country’s products in the European market under the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme.

Two Groups of Cambodian Villagers Protest Over Land Disputes – Radio Free Asia Villagers embroiled in two separate land disputes in Cambodia’s Koh Kong province protested Monday, demanding solutions for their respective cases, one against a home-grown tycoon, the other against a Chinese developer.

Water plant built in Ben Tre to serve over 100,000 people – Nhan Dan Work started on July 6 on a factory that is set to supply clean water to more than 100,000 residents in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre.

Malaysia can draw up to $33b in rare earth investment over next 10 years: Minister – The Straits Times Malaysia could attract investments of up to RM100 billion (S$33 billion) in the rare earth sector over the next 10 years, once the government makes clear how it intends to regulate the industry.

State agencies determined to bring ‘water polluter’ to book – Bangkok Post Two state agencies say they are determined an ethanol factory will pay for polluting the Mae Klong River in October 2016 and are demanding almost 6 million baht for damage caused to the environment.

Thailand Gets First Foodtech Startup Accelerator – Investvine Thailand, known for its delicious food and diverse restaurant scene, has been chosen by US-based workspace and startup service provider WeWork as a destination for a foodtech startup accelerator.

Jakarta residents sue government over ‘world’s filthiest’ air quality – Mongabay A group of citizens is suing the Indonesian government, including the president, over the poor air quality in Jakarta, which in recent weeks has ranked as the worst in the world.

PNPC Dam Collapse Survivors Reluctantly Accept Lowball Compensation Offers – Radio Free Asia Nearly one year after the collapse of a saddle dam that caused a disaster described as Laos’ worst flooding in decades, struggling survivors are reluctantly accepting compensation for about 50 percent of their total property losses.

Japan-style ‘water bank’ ready in Aug – Bangkok Post The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will complete building the underground “water bank” at flood-prone Asok-Din Daeng Road next month, to better protect the area against severe inundation.

Loopholes in Myanmar’s Forest Sector Cost Govt Million in Revenue – The Irrawaddy Internationally known for forestry products such as teak, timber extraction in Myanmar is lucrative. The website of the Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) boasts that the “forestry sector in Myanmar is one of the major contributors to the national economy.”

Can the China–Laos railway keep on track? – East Asia Forum Of all the railway projects that Chinese companies are constructing in Southeast Asia, the China–Laos railway has proceeded most rapidly.

This week’s news digest was curated by Hiroshi Yasui.

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