Regional Roundup for Week of 10.11.15

ExSE FOCUS

Trans-Pacific Partnership Is Reached, but Faces Scrutiny in CongressNYT Securing approval from Congress for the deal between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim nations could be the toughest fight President Obama faces in his final year in office. // The TPP could significantly decrease trade of endangered plants and animals by increasing state responsibility to follow and convict the movement of these resources across seas.

Related: What Does China Think of the TPP?The Diplomat

Related: ‘Competitors who don’t share our values’: President Barack Obama jabs China as he defends TPP dealSCMP

Related: Why Vietnam could be the biggest winner of the TPPThanh Nien Daily

Chinese Hackers Breached LoopPay, Whose Tech Is Central to Samsung PayNYT Security experts were still looking through LoopPay’s systems, but said there was no indication that Samsung’s systems had been infiltrated. // With the upcoming Paris Climate Change talks the United States continues to try and maintain peace with China despite the recent technology hacks?  Are these actions China’s way of getting back at the U.S. for the TPP?

Related: Hillary Clinton’s email server allegedly targeted from China, Germany and South KoreaThe Guardian

Related: Beware China’s Political Warfare Campaign Against US, Allies: ExpertsThe Diplomat

Related: Why the China-US Cyber Agreement May Prove DestructiveThe Diplomat

China completes construction of lighthouses in disputed South China SeaThe Guardian China has completed the construction of two lighthouses in the disputed South China Sea, the official Xinhua news agency reported, as tensions in the region mount over Beijing’s maritime ambitions.

Related: US naval manoeuvres in South China Sea risk clash with BeijingThe Guardian

Related: China ‘Will Absolutely Not Permit’ Territorial Violations in South China SeaThe Diplomat

Related: Why the US-China Summit Failed on the South China SeaThe Diplomat 

China’s yuan jumps to fourth most-used world payment currencyThe Guardian Recently devalued currency overtakes Japan’s yen in terms of world payments, and now only comes behind the US dollar, euro and pound sterling.

REGIONAL RELATIONS

China’s AIIB and OBOR: Ambitions and ChallengesThe Diplomat The two ambitious projects have become an integral part of Chinese diplomacy. The AIIB will help to…boost China’s status as a global power.

Related: Is This China’s Eurasian Century?The Diplomat 

Related: US-China Military Agreements Dodge Deep DifferencesThe Diplomat

Related: How China Is Changing the UNThe Diplomat

Risk of global financial crash has increased, warns IMFThe Guardian The risk of a global financial crash has increased because a slowdown in China and decline in world trade are undermining the stability of highly indebted emerging economies, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Related: China’s economic slowdown leads World Bank to trim East Asia growth forecastsSCMP

Taiwan: Is KMT’s Dilemma China’s Opportunity?The Diplomat The Kuomintang may replace its heavily pro-China presidential candidate.

Related: China Turns Firepower to Soft Power to Win Over Tiny Taiwan-Held IslandThe Irrawaddy Magazine

Top Chinese Official Arrives in North Korea for Bilateral TalksThe Diplomat Liu Yunshan is the first high-ranking Chinese official to visit North Korea in 4 years.

Related: How the China model could help North Korea – and save Kim Jong-un – The Diplomat

Wartime sex slaves at the heart of UN battle between Japan and ChinaThe Guardian A Chinese campaign to have documents related to Japan’s use of wartime sex slaves and its bloody invasion of Nanjing recognised by Unesco has sparked a new round of diplomatic tension between Beijing and Tokyo.

SUSTAINABILITY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Myitsone Dam has cost us $800m, says ChinaDVB Some US$800 million has already been spent on the Myitsone Dam, despite the fact that the construction project has been suspended since September 2011, according to Chinese state firm CPI, which is the major shareholder.//The original cost of the dam was estimated at $3.6 billion. Maybe those rumours of continued building at the Myitsone site have some credence. 

Related: Depression plagues dam-displaced localsDVB

Related: Paunglaung Dam Violates Norms and Destroys Lives, Study FindsThe Irrawaddy Magazine

Parts of China’s Guangdong province still without power and water five days after deadly Typhoon MujigaeSCMP Parts of western Guangdong were still struggling to restore power and water supplies yesterday, five days after the strongest typhoon in six decades swept through the region.

Related: $4.9m Repair Bill for Rail Network after Flood DamageThe Irrawaddy Magazine

Related: World Bank Forecasts Drop in Burma’s Economic GrowthThe Irrawaddy Magazine

Travel sickness: visitors turning China’s Qinghai Lake attraction into huge rubbish dumpSCMP Parts of China’s Qinghai Lake – a place of outstanding natural beauty that is one of the area’s most popular travel destinations – have been turned into huge rubbish dumps by visitors and local hotels and hostels, mainland media reports.

China is working to reach its emissions peak before 2030 deadline, analyst saysThe Guardian China may aim for an earlier greenhouse gas emissions peak before its 2030 deadline, putting a greater onus on Australia to work with its key trading partner on renewable energy rather than fossil fuels, says a leading Chinese analyst.

Related: Cities in north China blanketed in smog on final days of national “golden week” holidaysSCMP

Related: Coal, Which Built a Chinese City, Now Threatens to Bury ItNYT

Chinese ‘ivory queen’ charged with smuggling 706 elephant tusksThe Guardian A Chinese woman dubbed the “ivory queen” for her alleged leadership of one of Africa’s biggest ivory smuggling rings has been captured and charged.

Cambodians March For End to Forced Evictions on World Habitat DayRadio Free Asia Evictees, monks, and activists joined the march to the National Assembly, or parliament, carrying cardboard cutouts of houses and shouting slogans, including “Cambodians need housing and land” and “We must have rights to live.” // The CPP’s continued abuse of land reform policies could jeopardize its support base in rural Cambodia for the 2018 general election.

Related: Cambodian Village Chief Threatens Arrest For Complaints Over Illegal LoggingRadio Free Asia

Smoke from Indonesian fires blankets Thai holiday island of Phuket in hazeThe Guardian The Thai holiday island of Phuket has been plunged into a poisonous grey haze caused by illegal forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia.

Related: Indonesia accepts international help to combat fires that have sent choking smoke drifting across the region for weeks – SCMP

 

Why the Mekong River Commission May Be In PerilThe Diplomat The future of the body hangs in the balance amid financial and performance concerns.//Plenty of people rightly criticize the MRC as ‘useless’ in the face of hydropower development on the Mekong. However, the MRC at the very least serves an important function as a research institution and it is in this capacity that it is vital. 

Aboitiz looks at Vietnam, Myanmar as power glut hits PhilippinesThe Thanh Nien Daily Aboitiz Power Corp. will build plants in Indonesia and scout for ventures in Vietnam and Myanmar as the Philippines’ second-largest electricity producer expands in Southeast Asia while expecting an oversupply at home.

Palm oil producers call for government supportThe Jakarta Post Ongoing land and forest fires have affected Indonesia’s palm oil businesses, which are also being burdened by the weakening of the rupiah exchange rate against the US dollar.

Time for Rich Countries to Pay Their Ecological DebtThe Diplomat A call for climate justice ahead of the Finance Ministers meeting in Lima.

 

CHINA

Graft-buster named as head of China’s spy agency as anti-corruption watchdog extends its powerSCMP A former senior official at China’s top graft-busting agency has been given the highest Communist Party job in state security, mainland media confirmed yesterday, signalling the agency is expanding its power.

Related: Former head of China’s Sinopec under investigation for corruption – The Guardian

 

Answering an Appeal by Mao Led Tu Youyou, a Chinese Scientist, to a Nobel PrizeNYT Dr. Tu was awarded the prize, shared with two other scientists, on Monday for the discovery of a drug that is now part of standard regimens to fight malaria.

Related: Tu Youyou: An Outlier of China’s Scientific and Technological SystemAsia Unbound

China’s top auditor says US$45b of construction projects face delaysSCMP Major Chinese construction projects worth about 286.9 billion yuan (US$45.17 billion) are facing delays because of problems such as the slow distribution of funds by local governments, the country’s top auditor said on Thursday.

Putting the Past Behind in ChinaNYT The days of China relying on export manufacturing and infrastructure construction as drivers of economic growth are gone.

 

‘A brighter future beckons’: China tries to get Xinjiang to join the partyThe Guardian Propaganda in overdrive as Beijing celebrates the 60th anniversary of a region that has been the setting for frictions and deadly explosions of violence.//Maybe dressing up Uighurs and Kazakhs and having them dance on stage isn’t the best way to promote ethnic stability.

Ai Weiwei Returns to Beijing to Find Listening Devices in His Studio and HomeNYT The Chinese artist and activist, who had just taken his first overseas trip in four years, said that he had uncovered several listening devices hidden around his work space and living room.

 

Almost homeThe Economist China In a restaurant in Qiaogang, a town in the southern province of Guangxi, a large poster of Mao Zedong—entitled “Red Sun”—hangs below one of a Vietnamese island where Wu Guangsui, the restaurant’s owner, was born.

Chinese hospitals still offering gay ‘cure’ therapy, film revealsThe Guardian Channel 4’s Unreported World finds doctors prescribing drugs and electric shocks to gay men and lesbians despite Beijing legalising homosexuality in 1997.

Academics and students march in Hong Kong against ‘Beijing crackdown’The Guardian More than 1,000 students and faculty members have marched through one of Hong Kong’s leading universities in silence to protest against what they describe as an intensifying Beijing-backed assault on academic freedoms.

 

SOUTHEAST ASIA

ASEAN Peacekeeping Meeting Concludes in CambodiaThe Diplomat The 3rd ASEAN Peacekeeping Centers Network meeting was held in Phnom Penh. // An interesting development as ASEAN attempts to juggle authority with member state sovereignty. It will be interesting to see how this plays into the non-interference language of ASEAN norms.

Myanmar official accuses China of meddling in peace talks with rebelsThe Guardian A top negotiator in Myanmar’s peace talks with ethnic rebels has accused neighbouring China of derailing a nationwide ceasefire deal last week that would have brought Japan and western nations in as observers to monitor an end to decades of conflict.//Not entirely impossible, but it sounds more like a disappointed negotiator shifting blame after only eight ethnic armies signed the peace treaty. Look for more ExSE analysis on this episode soon. 

Related: Myanmar to Ink Peace Deal with Eight Armed Groups Ahead of Historic ElectionThe Diplomat

 

Bao Zhuoxuan, Son of Detained Rights Lawyer, Is Said to Disappear in MyanmarNYT Mr. Bao, the son of Wang Yu, a lawyer who was detained in Beijing in July, was taken from a guesthouse in Mong La, a rights campaigner said.//Mong La has always been a no-man’s land of uncertain sovereignty. He may have been taken by Chinese authorities, but if it’s Mong La, it’s just as likely that he crossed path with the gambling kingpin.

Related: Detained Chinese lawyer’s 16-year-old son disappears while trying to flee to USThe Guardian

Related: Human traffickers arrested in Burmese-Thai operationDVB

Myanmar: Opposition Leader’s StrategyNYT If the Nov. 8 vote is credible, most observers believe that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, will win the most seats in Parliament.

Related: Could Myanmar’s Elections Devolve into Disorder?The Diplomat

Related: Could Aung San Suu Kyi Be Myanmar’s Next House Speaker?The Diplomat

 

The Rohingya: Humanitarian Crisis or Security Threat?The Diplomat Global attention to the Rohingya issue is rising, but not necessarily for the right reasons.

Related: Rohingya Trafficking Victims Endure Stress of Limbo, Stranded In Thailand The Irrawaddy Magazine

Australia Negotiating to Send Refugees to PhilippinesNYT An Australian official declined to provide details of the possible plan.

Related: Australia seeking refugee resettlement deal with Philippines, say reportsThe Guardian

Turkish man who looks like Erawan Shrine bombing suspect releasedThe Nation POLICE in Nong Khai province have released a Turkish man who was thought to look similar to a suspect in the Erawan bombing after he was found to have no involvement in the attack.

Thai Junta Picks 21-Member Panel to Write New ConstitutionThe Irrawaddy Magazine Thailand’s military government appointed a new committee Monday to write a post-coup constitution after an unpopular earlier draft was rejected last month in a move that has delayed elections until at least 2017.

Related: Dissent and dictatorship in ThailandNew Mandala

Vietnam to add new line to China-Southeast Asia rail networkThanh Nien Daily The 550-kilometer line will connect Vietnam’s central region and Vientiane, Laos.

Related: Malaysia, Singapore Begin ‘Next Phase’ of High-Speed Rail ProjectThe Diplomat

Cambodia to displace thousands of Vietnamese people on Tonle Sap River: reportThanh Nien Daily An official claimed about 90 percent agreed to move, but a man representing many families said most of them want to stay.//These Vietnamese residents are not citizens of Cambodia and cannot own land, hence living in the middle of the Tonle Sap. This displacement would poke a tiny hole in the theory that the Vietnamese run Cambodia and act with impunity. 

Malaysian plane wreckage claimed to be found in southern PhilippinesInvestvine Police authorities…ordered an investigation into reports that Filipino island residents discovered a wreckage of a Malaysian plane deep in the forest of the southern Philippine.

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