Regional Roundup for Week of 3.22.15

Thanks for your support!  ExSE posted its 200th post earlier this week with analysis of the downfall of Qiu He, Yunnan’s Provincial Vice Party Secretary.  More coming this week on Qiu He’s background and demise into this week.  As we prepare for our 2nd anniversary, we look forward to providing you with more timely analysis on issues rising in the region.  Of course we always welcome contributions from new writers – feel free to get in touch at eastbysoutheastmail@gmail.com

EXSE FOCUS

Hostility From U.S. as China Lures Allies to New Bank – NYT The willingness of Britain to join the China bank over American objections was an especially clear sign of China’s sophisticated strategy for winning friends, and Washington’s failure to respond effectively.//Can the White House produce a press release stating its logic for not joining the AIIB?

Related: 3 European Powers Say They Will Join China-Led Bank –NYT

Related: Australia on brink of joining China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank – The Guardian

Related: The AIIB Debacle: What Washington Should Do Now – CFR

High-end Laos resort serves up illegal wildlife for Chinese tourists  – The Guardian Shocking undercover investigation finds restaurants offering live bear cubs ‘to eat on request’ washed down with tiger bone wine in the ‘lawless playground’ of Laos’ Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone //We’ve posted on the lawlessness of the Kings Roman Casino and GTSEZ before – news on this place only get worse and worse.  Let’s be clear here, this is a 100% Chinese owned project in northern Laos.

 

REGIONAL RELATIONS

ASEAN Patrols in the South China Sea? – The Diplomat A US official suggests ASEAN states undertake joint patrols in the South China Sea.

Myanmar’s Fight With Rebels Creates Refugees and Ill Will With China – NYT The Myanmar Army has been fighting rebels of the Kokang, a Chinese ethnic group that has lived in the mountains of northern Myanmar for more than 400 years.

Related: China’s Flashpoint on the Land: Southwest Yunnan – The Diplomat

DVB Debate: ‘How troubled is Burma’s relationship with China?’ – DVB

Air Force Back in Kokang Action Amid Chinese Ire Over Border Bombing – The Irrawaddy

China Needs Great Power Diplomacy in Asia – The Diplomat To promote its Silk Road strategy, China needs to proactively engage other Asian powers.

Related: From ‘Made in China’ to ‘Made in Africa’? – The Diplomat

 Malaysia as ASEAN Chair: What Are The Challenges? – The Diplomat Malaysia must confront several challenges to successfully lead ASEAN in 2015.

Human Trafficking Thrives Where Rule of Law Ends – The Diplomat Solving Asia’s enormous human trafficking problem will require trained law enforcement and non-corrupt judicial systems.

Michelle Obama Going to Asia to Push Education – NYT The first lady will leave Wednesday for a five-day trip to Japan and Cambodia to promote Let Girls Learn, an effort to expand access to education for millions of girls in developing countries.

 

SUSTAINABILITY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

 China’s ‘Silent Spring’ Moment? – NYT As “Under the Dome” went viral, a stunned leadership stumbled over how to react.

Military scrambles to put out fires as burn-offs are banned – The Nation MORE than 16,000 people in Lampang have undergone treatment for respiratory issues since the smog began affecting the upper North in February, the province’s deputy governor said yesterday.

Big fish to fry: Endangered Mekong giant barb ends up in Saigon restaurant – Cambodia Daily The rare fish has been transported all the way from Cambodia

Outlook for Solar Gets a Bit Brighter – NYT Solar has seen a dramatic fall in costs, on the order of more than 60 percent over the last five years.

World Coal Investments Increasingly Risky, Especially China’s – China File The investment case for coal-fired power is looking increasingly unconvincing, but more plants will need to be cancelled if the world is to avoid runaway climate change, a report published on Monday said.

Jade Sales Dwindle Amid Conflict and Chinese Anti-Graft Campaign – The Irrawaddy Jade sales at the country’s biggest gems market in Mandalay have slowed to a near-halt in recent months, industry experts said, likely linked to both Chinese anti-corruption campaigns and stalled production in conflict-affected parts of northern Burma.

 

CHINA

Chinese, Japanese and South Korean Ministers to Resume Three-Way Talks NYT Recognizing the urgent need to stop the country’s nuclear weapons program, South Korea, Japan and China issued a joint statement in which they said they would continue to try to reopen talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons…

Hackers Attack GreatFire.org, a Workaround for Websites Censored in China – NYT Unidentified hackers have attacked GreatFire.org, a website that provides access to news websites blocked by China.

A bad day for women – The Economist A GROUP of women’s-rights activists had planned to mark International Women’s Day on March 8th by handing out leaflets and stickers in several Chinese cities to draw attention to the prevalence of sexual harassment on public transport. But the authorities decided to observe the day in a different way—by detaining at least ten of the women. Five remain in custody, charged with the crime of “picking quarrels and causing trouble”, a frequently used catch-all for locking up dissidents. Fellow feminists fear this heralds greater government opposition to their campaigning.

Cameroon Highlights Pros and Cons of Chinese Infrastructure Development – China File When finished, the new deep-sea port in the southern Cameroonian city of Kribi will likely become a major gateway for all of Central Africa. This will be Cameroon’s only deep-sea port that can accommodate the larger inter-continental trading ships. This might explain why officials have placed such a huge financial bet on the project.

 China’s Trial-and-Error Economy – Project Syndicate The key to understanding China’s development path is to grasp the process of trial and error that has long guided policymaking. In such a context of experimentation, mistakes are to be expected; what matters is how the country’s leaders respond to them

China Unveils Plan to Bolster Its National Soccer Team – NYT The men’s national team has never lived up to the expectation of Chinese fans. Now the government is pushing for changes that it hopes will bring better results

Chinese army denounces ‘pathetic and shameful’ Xu Caihou after cancer death – The Guardian Ex-general was facing trial in high-profile corruption case, with Communist party showing no disappointment that cancer killed him first

Q and A.: David Shambaugh on the Risks to Chinese Communist Rule – NYT The highly influential American scholar of Chinese politics argues that his recent essay about the ‘‘endgame’’ of the Communist Party envisions a protracted period of decline.

 

SOUTHEAST ASIA

Bangkok’s Big Brother is watching you – The Guardian General Prayuth Chan-ocha is determined to make Thailand a happy place. He’s doing this by throttling civil liberties. Abigail Haworth charts the surreal rise of his despotic regime.

Thai former PM Yingluck Shinawatra to face trial over rice scheme – The Guardian Thailand’s first female prime minister must attend a hearing in May at Bangkok’s Supreme Court over a subsidy scheme that cost the country billions of dollars

Laos Tries But Fails to Make ASEAN NGOs Ignore Plight of Missing Activist – VOA Lao activists are crying foul at a stealthy, failed attempt by their government to delete the disappearance of the country’s most prominent civil society leader from the list of regional human rights issues to be discussed on the sidelines of the Association of  Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Malaysia next month.

Michelle Obama, Tell the President to Forgive Cambodia’s Debt Cambodia Daily The White House says the U.S. is committed to being more involved in the Asia-Pacific region. This week, Michelle Obama will make a historic solo visit to Cambodia—the first sitting U.S. first lady to visit the country.

National Assembly Passes Election Laws Cambodia Daily The National Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved the country’s two new election laws, paving the way for the new bipartisan National Election Committee to be established.

Prime Minister Warns of Legal Action Against Kem Sokha Cambodia Daily On the 45th anniversary of Lon Nol’s U.S.-backed 1970 ouster of Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday publicly accused the opposition CNRP of working to illicitly overthrow his CPP government.

Growing Political Crisis in Malaysia? – The Diplomat The government may have thought that jailing Anwar would bring stability. If so, it was mistaken.

Vietnam capital suspends scores of officials after tree felling causes uproar – Thanh Nien The exact number of the suspended officials and the punishment they are facing have remained sketchy

Burma’s bizarre capital: a super-sized slice of post-apocalypse suburbia – The Guardian The purpose-built city of Naypyidaw – unveiled a decade ago this year – boasts 20-lane highways, golf courses, fast Wi-Fi and reliable electricity. The only thing it doesn’t seem to have is people, report Matt Kennard and Claire Provost

One nation, world’s apart – SEA Globe Indonesia’s 17,500 islands are home to one of the most diverse populations on earth. Is shifting power from Jakarta to other urban centres the best way to unite the archipelago?

5,000 White Card holders stripped of NLD membership – DVB Five thousand non-citizen White Card holders have been forced to renounce their membership of the National League for Democracy (NLD). A new law means that holders of White Cards, which afford holders legal status in the form of temporary residency and voting rights, are no longer permitted join political parties. The Union Election Commission (UEC) recently threatened parties with severe penalties, including dissolution, if non-citizens were not expelled.

APEC 2015: Tapping into the potential of high-value services – ADB Analysts have long argued that the services will help take Asian emerging economies further up the value chain in global markets, but first we need an altogether different lens to look at the sector.

Victims of the raid – The Economist On January 25th 392 SAF troops assembled at Mamasapano, a town in the Muslim-majority province of Mindanao, in the southern Philippines, to capture Marwan and two other men, Usman and Baco, who are suspected of involvement in various bombings and kidnappings. What was supposed to be a simple snatch and grab turned into a disaster: after a daylong firefight, 44 SAF troops were dead, along with 18 MILF fighters, at least five civilians and an unknown number of BIFF rebels.

Burma jails New Zealand bar manager over ‘insulting’ Buddha images – The Guardian Phil Blackwood and two Burmese colleagues get two-and-a-half year sentences over use of psychedelic image of Buddha wearing headphones to promote bar

Burma’s Military to Maintain Political Role, President Says – The Irrawaddy  Burma’s military will maintain its role in politics in order to support a transition to democracy but will eventually submit to civilian rule, President Thein Sein said in an interview broadcast on Friday.

Rangoon Peace Talks End on ‘Positive’ Note – The Irrawaddy On the tail end of four days of peace talks between the Burmese government and ethnic armed groups, stakeholders on both sides of the table came out with a positive outlook.

Gears of war – SEA Globe Southeast Asia is experiencing a boom in the arms trade, but does that mean advances for defence contractors?

 

YUNNAN

Yunnan mulls “total ban” on tobacco product advertising – GoKunming Late in 2014, Beijing made international headlines when it enacted sweeping reforms regarding smoking and the advertising of cigarettes. The statutes are planned to go into effect in June 2015 and will be the most stringent anti-tobacco laws in the country. It now appears Yunnan province — the heart of Chinese tobacco country — may soon follow suit.

 

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