Regional Round-up for Week of 7.5.19

EXSE FOCUS

Villagers in Laos and Thailand Suffer as China Opens the Floodgates on Mekong River Dams – Radio Free Asia Villagers living near the Mekong River in Thailand and Laos are finding it difficult to cope with sudden releases of water from dams upstream in China. // Maximum 3.7 meters of increase of water levels in the Mekong due to sudden releases of water is definitely negative for local livelihood. Regional policy coordination mitigating these impacts and dealing with a root cause is urgently required.

Lao Government Begins Plan to Inspect 55 Dams One Year After PNPC Disaster – Radio Free Asia The Lao government is embarking on an plan to inspect all 55 dams in the country nearly one year after the collapse of a saddle dam that caused a disaster described as Laos’ worst flooding in decades. // The inspection will focus on the structure, design, technical specification of the dams and verifying whether they are properly insured. In addition to these criteria, the necessity of the dams should be re-checked, given their impacts on local environment and solar & wind power potential in the country.

REGIONAL RELATIONS

G-20 Summit: Leaders make little headway on trade and climate change – The Straits Times Group of 20 leaders agreed to disagree in their joint declaration yesterday, in a sign of little headway on the key issues. Leaders including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Emmanuel Macron admitted the talks had been challenging.

Related: G-20 members, without US, recommit to Paris climate deal – The Straits Times

The rules based economic disorder after Osaka G20 – East Asia Forum The Osaka G20 summit may yet be remembered in history as the moment the global rules based order was lost. There was no mention of the rules-based order in the communique, signaling an edge towards rule by might rather than rules among the major powers.

China prepared for no-deal outcome in trade talks with US – The Straits Times Despite some early concessions from Washington, Chinese state media acknowledges difficulties ahead.

Plenty of opportunities for US, China to collaborate, such as global agri-food solutions – The Straits Times It is encouraging news that the United States and China agreed to restart economic and trade consultations, and ultimately the two countries will cooperate because “it makes sense”, said a British business leader.

Washington’s fragile economic plans for the Indo-Pacific – East Asia Forum FOIP differs from the policy approach of previous administrations as it rests on an assumption that the United States and China are locked in strategic competition. This approach means that FOIP also contains economic elements as manifested in 5G technology rivalry and trade wars.

SUSTAINABILITY & RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Grid or no grid, firms keen on renewables – Bangkok Post SET-listed power companies are enthusiastic about capturing on- and off-grid power generation projects for renewable energy in line with global trends.

Charging the EV market – Bangkok Post More incentives and infrastructure are finally starting to emerge in Asean to spur adoption of green vehicles by bringing down costs.

Drowning in a sea of plastic – Bangkok Post After years of environmental activism, the government and some private companies are improving waste management.

Related: Curbs slash imports of plastic, e-waste – Bangkok Post

Temporary fishing bans can protect fish stocks, finds study – China Dialogue Ocean Temporary fishing bans could be the best way to protect the world’s fish stocks while still providing enough to eat, a new study claims.

Food and agriculture in a time of climate change – The Third Pole The appointment of a Chinese director general for the first time in the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s history may mean much on how the world tackles the challenges of food security in the time of climate change.

Indonesia to send back 49 containers of trash to developed countries – The Straits Times Indonesia will send back 49 containers of plastic garbage to countries such as the United States and Germany, an official said on Wednesday (July 3), amid a regional pushback on illegal trash imports.

Scientists Urge Climate Protesters to Save Planet by Planting Trees – The Irrawaddy The best way to keep climate change in check is by replanting trees on destroyed forest areas the size of the United States, scientists said on Thursday, as doing so would capture two-thirds of man-made planet-warming emissions.

Asia’s coal industry rethinks prospects as markets shrink – The Straits Times After riding China’s demand train for nearly two decades, Asia’s coal industry is looking to a future of smaller markets and slimmer pickings, as buying declines in the world’s second-biggest economy and climate change concerns blunt demand.

CHINA

China’s geostrategic conception of the developing world – East Asia Forum Not since the Mao era has the developing world played a larger role in China’s geostrategy. Over the last decade, China’s leaders have come to believe they can reshape the world to conform with their interests.

Why Central Asia chooses Chinese investment – East Asia Forum The post-Soviet states of Central Asia are surprising many by accepting vast sums of Chinese investment. By April 2017, China had invested in US$304.9 billion worth of contracts with its partners in the region, in sectors including transport, communication, energy infrastructure, financial linkages, technology transfer and trade facilitation.

Beijing’s giant new airport set to open on eve of China’s 70th birthday – The Straits Times Beijing is set to open an eye-catching multi-billion-dollar airport resembling a massive shining starfish, to accommodate soaring air traffic in China and celebrate the communist government’s 70th anniversary in power.

China says only small number of firms moving supply chains out of the country – The Straits Times Only a small number of companies are moving supply chains out of China, a commerce ministry official said on Tuesday (July 2), amid signs that some firms are shifting production to other countries as the US-China trade war drags on.

China-Backed Venture Proposes $800M Development Near Kyaukphyu Seaport – The Irrawaddy A Chinese petrochemical giant and a Myanmar firm have jointly proposed to the Rakhine State government the development of nearly US$800 million (1.21 trillion kyats) worth of projects near the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ)’s deep seaport and Ramree Island.

Thousands Protest Waste Incinerator Plans in China’s Wuhan – Radio Free Asia Authorities in the central Chinese city of Wuhan have detained around 20 people in a crackdown this week on a mass street protest at plans to build a new waste incineration plant, RFA has learned.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

Vietnam, EU Sign Landmark Free Trade Deal – Investvine The European Union signed an “ambitious” free trade deal with Vietnam on June 30, the first of its kind with a developing country in Asia, paving the way for tariff reductions on 99 per cent of goods traded between Vietnam and the EU’s 28 member countries.

US presses Cambodia over possible Chinese military presence – The Straits Times The US Defence Department has asked Cambodia to explain why it suddenly turned down an offer to repair a naval base, saying the decision had raised speculation of possible plans for hosting China’s military.

Oil giant PTT boosts renewables funding over ‘uncertain’ crude outlook – Bangkok Post Energy conglomerate PTT Plc is boosting investments in electricity generation, particularly renewables, given what it says is a “highly uncertain” outlook for oil over the next year.

Myanmar Villagers Get 14 Months Hard Labor For 2018 Protest Over Chinese Cement Plant – Radio Free Asia Four villagers in central Myanmar’s Mandalay region were sentenced to 14 months in prison with hard labor Tuesday for their roles in a July 2018 protest against a Chinese cement factory, the local court and the villagers said.

Skoda Plans To Set Up Production In Myanmar – Investvine Car makers from the Czech Republic and Hungary are interested in assembling vehicles in Myanmar, according to a statement by U Thaung Tun, Myanmar’s minister for investment and foreign economic relations, the Myanmar Times reported.

New Thai government may last years if it passes first major testThe Straits Times The first real test of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s razor thin majority will be whether his government can pass key legislation such as the January budget.

Solar rooftop revisions soon – Bangkok Post The Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency plans to ask the Energy Ministry to launch a revised solar scheme for the public after witnessing lower participation than expected in the household solar rooftop programme.

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

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