A big week for the region. The death of Lee Kuan Yew, aged 91, wasn’t shocking news but it has rocked Singapore and the outpouring of grief has been non-stop. Rightfully credited with Singapore’s economic rise, his legacy is complicated and his influence international, especially with regards to China’s own economic development. In other news, Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the annual Boao Forum for Asia this weekend. Expect much of the talks there to revolve around the formal unveiling of China’s ambitious “One Belt, One Road” initiative.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping spells out ambitious Asia vision at Boao Forum – SCMP Addressing the annual Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan province, Xi said China welcomed all countries to join the Beijing-led “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which aims to improve regional connectivity in a project inspired by the ancient Silk Road. He stressed the project was not meant to replace existing economic partnerships.
一带一路愿景与行动文件发布 基础设施互通优先 – Sina Finance “一带一路”是促进共同发展、实现共同繁荣的合作共赢之路，是增进理解信任、加强全方位交流的和平友谊之路。中国政府倡议，秉持和平合作、开放包容、互学互鉴、互利共赢的理念，全方位推进务实合作，打造政治互信、经济融合、文化包容的利益共同体、命运共同体和责任共同体。The official government document detailing the vision and action plan behind China’s “One Belt, One Road” project. The plan is massive in scope and its effects will be deep if it’s successfully implemented.
Related: 重磅！中国发布“一带一路”路线图：将这样影响我们的生活 – Global Times Finance
China Executes 3 Over Deadly Knife Attack at Train Station in 2014 – NYT The rampage at the Kunming station in Yunnan Province last year killed 31 people and wounded 141. News reports suggests these three were part of the team responsible for planning the attacks. However, with conflicting reports over how many people planned the attacks and how they were caught (post-attack manhunt or picked up three days prior?) the real story of what happened is unclear.
Burmese Leaders Outed by Global Witness Over Alleged Land Grabs – The Diplomat A new report reveals the extent of land grabbing in Myanmar, especially along the border with China. Friends of ExSE have been talking about military land grabs in Shan State for the past few years.
Despite China’s Warnings, Cross-Border Strikes From Myanmar Continue – The Diplomat Despite stern warnings from senior Chinese officials, Myanmar forces continue to take their fight against the Kokang rebels across the border. Two separate campaigns against Kokang and Kachin rebels all while ceasefire talks are happening with other ethnic armed groups are happening in Yangon.
Related: Burmese fighter jets bomb Kachin outposts: KIA – DVB
Related: ‘The Government Has to Take Great Care in Dealing with China’ – The Irrawaddy
One In All In, AIIB Gains Momentum – The Diplomat Even with the South China Sea disputes, ASEAN countries insist they are committed to China’s new development bank.
Related: South Korea Joins the AIIB – The Diplomat
The buds of March – The Economist On March 21st the countries’ [China, Japan, and South Korea] foreign ministers met for the first time in three years and agreed to push for a resumption of trilateral summits as soon as “convenient”.
Related: Northeast Asia’s Shared Destiny – Project Syndicate
ASEAN Connectivity and China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ – The Diplomat Could there be a convergence of interests between these two grand projects?
Related: China summit aims to boost economic connection to ASEAN – DVB
Related: AEC Dream’s Failure ‘Still A Success’ – The Diplomat
What’s the big deal? – The Economist Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an ambitious trade agreement linking America, Japan and ten other countries—together accounting for 40% of global GDP—have missed so many deadlines that one more may not seem to matter.
Tug-of-war over Uighurs at Suan Phlu – The Nation A family of 17 suspected Uighur Muslims at the centre of a diplomatic tug-of-war between Turkey and China will remain in custody after a Thai court yesterday rejected their argument that their prolonged detention was illegal. Turkey is the hoped-for destination for Uighurs escaping China. With the western gateways to Central Asia closed, more and more Uighurs have been taking the route through Southeast Asia and getting to Turkey via Malaysia and Indonesia.
Vietnam ‘caught between a rock and a hard place’ as US-Russia rivalry deepens – Thanh Nien Major power competition has intruded into the politics of the South China Sea
Bukit Asam, Sinar Mas secure loans from Chinese lenders – The Jakarta Post State-run coal producer Bukit Asam and conglomerate Sinar Mas Group have secured billion dollars worth of loans from Chinese lenders to finance their mega power plant projects, the companies say.
Could Thailand Become the Transport Hub of Indochina? – The Diplomat New agreements to upgrade the country’s rail network could make Thailand a major regional transportation hub. Getting the trains to run on schedule and stay on the track would be a miracle.
ADB President and PRC Premier Li Keqiang Discuss Deepening Partnership – ADB ADB President Takehiko Nakao today met Premier Li Keqiang of the People’s Republic of China and discussed deepening the partnership between ADB and the PRC.
Are Slaves From Burma Catching the Fish You Buy? – The Irrawaddy Here, in the Indonesian island village of Benjina and the surrounding waters, hundreds of trapped men represent one of the most desperate links crisscrossing between companies and countries in the seafood industry.
Lao Workers Protest Over Salary Withheld by China-Backed Potash Plant – Radio Free Asia Scores of laborers who work for a Chinese-backed potash plant in Laos have held a rare protest in the one-party communist nation to demand salary they say the facility’s owner never paid them, according to sources.
SUSTAINABILITY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Oil exports resume on Thai-Burma border – DVB Burmese soldiers have reopened ports on the Moei River opposite to Thailand’s Tak Province to trade after Thai authorities allowed oil exports to resume through pipelines to Burma’s Myawaddy Division.
Karen Groups Aim to ‘Save the Salween’ – The Irrawaddy “Save the Salween,” organized by a network of civil society organizations, will bring together local river-reliant communities, environmental experts, and the general public for panel discussions, an art exhibition and a field visit to a Karen village that is likely to affected by proposed hydropower projects. With the Irrawaddy unofficially deemed ‘off-limits’ to hydropower, the Salween is likely to become Burma’s whipping boy, plenty of Thai and Chinese projects planned on one of Asia’s great rivers.
International Green Group Calls Attention to Negative Impacts of Dam Projects in Laos – Radio Free Asia The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) says the much-criticized Xayaburi and the Don Sahong hydroelectric dam projects along the Mekong River in Laos will threatened the area’s freshwater resources.
Don Sahong fish studies will continue – Vientiane Times The developer of the Don Sahong Hydropower Project has said channel modification and monitoring of fish species and fish passages in the Siphandone area will continue as preparations are made to start construction.
Hanoi Citizens Protest Tree-Felling Plan – The Diplomat Plans to chop down the trees that line the city’s historic streets have met with a vigorous response.
Related: In Logging Hotbed, 7 Arrested for Felling Trees – The Cambodia Daily
Krabi residents demand details on coal power plant, threaten major protests – The Nation Local villagers and tourist business operators in Krabi oppose the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT)’s plan to build a port for coal imports and an electricity-generating plant in Nuea Khlong district.
Related: Tourism worries over Krabi coal plant – The Nation
Vietnam province refuses to pull plug on controversial river construction – Thanh Nien “There’s no reason to ask us to stop this project,’ a Dong Nai official says
Garbage impeding flow of rainwater: BMA – The Nation More than 10 tonnes of garbage has been retrieved from pipes and sieves at each of Bangkok’s pump stations every time city officials rush there to facilitate the flow of water out of the capital.
Water users to pay for what they use – The Nation Residents of Bangkok, Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan provinces will pay for tap water according to what they use, from April 1 onwards.
Conserving the benefits of floating rice in Vietnam – Mekong Commons Despite increased production from high yielding rice varieties, agricultural intensification has increased water scarcity and agro-chemical pollution, and reduced soil fertility in the Mekong Delta. Questions about the long term sustainability of this system have thus been raised.
China rejects international pleas to release five feminists from jail – The Guardian Britain, the EU and US ambassador to the UN among those calling for activists detained just before International Women’s Day to be freed.
China, Kazakhstan Sign $23 Billion in Deals – The Diplomat China expands its economic ties with an important partner for its Silk Road Economic Belt project.
China’s Master Plan for Remaking Its Courts – The Diplomat Analyzing the Supreme People’s Court’s outline for reforming China’s courts.
Related: China gives list to US of ‘corrupt’ officials it would like sent back – The Guardian
China faces ‘grave risks’ from climate change – The Third Pole Head of China’s weather service warns that climate change could make droughts, crop failures and energy shortages increasingly likely in the world’s most populous country.
China Court to Hear NGO Lawsuit Targeting Polluter’s Profits – ChinaFile An environmental group has filed a lawsuit for 30 million yuan (U.S.$4.8 million) to seek compensation from a Shandong chemical company for pumping out harmful substances—a legal action thought to be the first public interest litigation for air pollution under China’s new environmental law. This is a big case. If the suit is successful it will pave the way for many other lawsuits to go forward – industry captains and NGOs carefully watching.
Lee Kuan Yew obituary – The Guardian The founding prime minister of an independent Singapore, he sought to encourage prosperity through ensuring a dominant role for the state
Related: Lee Kuan Yew: The Father of Modern China? – The Diplomat
The pen and the sword – The Economist Ten months after seizing power in a coup, Thailand’s junta chafes at still having to defend its record.
Related: We’ll probably kill journalists who don’t report the truth, says Thai leader – The Guardian The amount of verbal gaffes Gen. Prayuth has made is astounding.
Related: Thai Junta Targets Dissent with Visits to Student Activist Homes – The Irrawaddy
Seven arrested as student protests reignite across Burma – DVB Burmese students and activists took to the streets again on Friday morning, calling for the release of fellow protestors and denouncing the watered-down amendments bill on the National Education Law, which was passed by the country’s upper house of parliament on Thursday.
Cambodia Defends Its Human Rights Record – The Diplomat The country has presented a human rights report to the UN in Geneva.
ADB predicts 8.3% growth in Burma for 2015 – DVB The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday predicted economic growth in Burma will surge by over eight percent for the next two years as it urged the nation to press on with reforms before landmark elections.
Ethnic Reps Remain Wary During Pause in Peace Talks – The Irrawaddy While government and ethnic peace negotiators catch their breath before talks on a nationwide ceasefire agreement recommence next week, various representatives from the ethnic groups’ Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) highlighted the fragility of ongoing deliberations.
13 confirmed dead, 28 injured in Vietnam scaffolding collapse as rescue mission ends – Thanh Nien Authorities are investigating into the accident, the worst of its kind in eight years
Related: More than 50 injured in train crash in Thailand’s Ayutthaya province – Thanh Nien
KRT Charges Second Suspect In Case 004 – The Cambodia Daily Former Khmer Rouge official Ao An, better known by his alias “Ta An,” on Friday became the third mid-ranking cadre to be charged this month by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia over alleged crimes against humanity committed during the Pol Pot era.
Four Children Injured by UXO Blast Near School – The Cambodia Daily Four children were injured, two of them seriously, after playing with unexploded ordnance near their school in Siem Reap province’s Chi Kreng district on Tuesday, police said Thursday.
Of Catfish Wars and Shooting Wars – NYT Graves in the life-giving rice paddies along the Mekong Delta suggest the Asian gift for acceptance.
Infrastructure money continues to pour into Kunming – GoKunming The seemingly unlimited supply of development money made available to Spring City urban planners shows no signs of letting up.
Searching for a Magical Creature, Finding a Need for Wild Places – NYT William deBuys’ lyrical work “The Last Unicorn,” about the saola in Southeast Asia, reminds readers that what drives conservationists most is beauty.