Regional Roundup for Week of 4.25.2013

This week our blog turned 10000 hits!  Thanks for your readership and support on a solid start.  Have a great weekend!


The Rise of China’s Reformers? Why Economic Change Could Come Sooner Than You Think – Foreign Affairs With China’s political transition now complete, the country — and the world economy — is left with a pressing question: Does the new team in Beijing have the vision and the political will to revive stalled yet crucial economic reforms? Few observers are optimistic about the answer.

Can China Adapt? – Project Syndicate Many economists are becoming increasingly pessimistic about China’s economic prospects, pointing to Japan as evidence that, after three decades, breakneck growth may be coming to an end. China can avoid Japan’s fate, but only if its new leadership ensures that the country’s economic institutions remain flexible and open to change.

China’s austerity drive: official pays high price for lavish dinner party  – FT Beyondbrics

Xi Jinping must show that he can deliver the ‘China Dream’ – FT Let a 100 flowers bloom.  CCTV is hosting a campaign to collect viewers’ definitions of the China dream. 

China’s Forbearance Has Limits: Chinese Threat and Retaliation Signalling and its implications for a Sino-Amercan Military Confrontation – Institute for National Strategic Studies  Grounded and insightful analysis I will use this in my Regionalism in China and Southeast Asia course reader

Influx of Goldminers Sparks Tension in Ghana – The Guardian Figures for the scale of illegal mining are non-existent because the Ghanaian authorities struggle to address the problem. But 23% of Ghana’s gold production is from small-scale mining. Some estimates calculate that 95% of all small-scale mining in Ghana is illegal. The authorities admit that the influx of Chinese miners and their wealthy backers is causing environmental destruction and social conflict on an unprecedented scale. The Chinese have invested millions of dollars in excavators and industrial equipment. Not Southeast Asia, but can imagine/assume similar issues there. 

 China’s threat to Afghan’s Buddha’s– NYT video  2000 year old excavation site needs 25 years to dig out and preserve, but foreign and afghan archaeologists risking their lives in Taliban controlled area only have till June before a Chinese mining company turns the site into an open strip mine.

World’s Factory” Regains Momentum: Dongguan  Recorded 8.6% Q1 Growth – Caijing Dongguan, the city known as the “World’s Factory” in South China’s Guangzhou Province, reported a much-stronger-than-expected economic growth in the first quarter, pointing to a robust recovery in its manufacturing hard hit by the financial crisis five years ago.

China’s Organic Food Cooperatives Must Overcome Trust Deficit – TealeafNation In the past few years, the problems of food safety and pollution in China have become more acute than ever. Now, the city folk are taking the idea of organic farming more seriously; Chen is a perfect example. But Chen faces major hurdles, such as guaranteeing the organic pedigree of his produce.  Lax monitoring and labeling regulations make the quality of China’s budding organic food market even more murky than in the US.

Poor rural residents in China seen as easy target for environmental lawsuits – ChinaDialogue China’s environmental prosecutors may be busier suing small-time rule-breakers than assembling major cases against polluters, suggests a new analysis

Why it’s time to end China-bashing on the environment – ChinaDialogue If diplomats negotiate international treaties without a full understanding of China’s legal and policy environment, there will be no boost to the ecological cause in China, and global environmental governance will be stuck with the lowest common denominator. The worldwide environmental crisis is already grave and there is a pressing need for China’s active participation in solving it, but the world’s understanding of this dimension of China is still at beginner’s level.

Lu Guang’s The Polluted Landscape: the camera never lies, even in China – Guardian Chinese photojournalist Lu Guang goes deep into China’s ravaged heartlands and documents the environmental crisis that has been triggered by the nation’s dizzyingly rapid economic growth and development. Exposing the droughts caused by open-cast coal mines in Inner Mongolia, documenting under-reported oil spills and sidestepping censorship over chemical pollution of rivers, Guang is a fearless documenter of truth – and his message is starting to gather force among many Chinese who question the benefits of growth when the environmental costs are so high   harrowing

Returning to the Land or Turning Toward the Sea? India’s Role in America’s Pivot – The Diplomat  While there were many reasons for the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy to mend fences, perhaps the most important reason was the one that few officials could point to in public: the rise of China. In modern times, tensions between New Delhi and Beijing date back to their border war in 1962. In fact, the contested boundaries between these two powers are some of the only land border disputes that China has yet to resolve. To keep up with Beijing’s growing military power, India needs to modernize its armed forces, which means moving away from its reliance on Russian hardware and looking toward Europe and the United States. Meanwhile, Washington is searching for ways to preserve its position in the Asia-Pacific as China’s strength continues to increase. Having the region’s other rising power on its side is a good place to start.

China Slams US on Human Rights – The Diplomat One of the more justifiable (if opportunist) concerns China has is gun violence in the United States. The report speaks at length about gun ownership and violence in America, and the refusal of the U.S. to take action against it. Some of the more notable quotes from that section include: Americans are the most heavily armed people in the world per capita.…In population-adjusted terms, civilians in some parts of the U.S. are more likely to become the victim of a firearms-related murder than their counterparts in war-torn regions like Iraq or Afghanistan.

Where to Find Political Reform in China – WSJ China Realtime  The Chinese Communist Party is often criticized for refusing to carry out political reforms, a charge the Party routinely denies. While it is true that systemic reforms that reshape existing political institutions and processes have yet to take place, travel outside the capital and you’ll find no shortage of local-level trials and experiments with political reform.

Closer Look: How Pig Carcasses Can Become Treasure Instead of Trash – Caixin In recent years, certain regions have started to see dead pigs as treasure instead of trash. For instance, when Zhu Fangmin of Suining County, Jiangsu, learned in 2011 that each year about 6,000 diseased pigs died in his county, he asked himself how he could turn this grim statistic into a profit. He invested nearly 1 million yuan to set up a carcass treatment plant in his village. The dead livestock goes through a series of treatments, including high-temperature and high-pressure processing to exterminate pathogens carried by the dead animals, and is turned into industrial oil or fertilizer.

Social Media’s Role in Earthquake Aftermath is Revealing – TeaLeafNation Social media reaction to the earthquake is instant. Immediately after the official Chinese Earthquake Channel (@中国地震台网) confirmed the earthquake one minute after it struck on the morning of April 20, China’s leading microblogging platforms became busy as users shared information and tweeted about the latest news from the disaster zone.

China Rebalancing Update – Peterson Institute for International Economics Overall: The outlook for Chinese economic rebalancing continues to worsen relative to the first half of 2012. The drop in urban disposable income and the boom in residential real estate investment are problematic and cut sharply against the progress we have seen over the past few quarters. One should not put too much stock in the data from any one quarter, but it is hard to make the argument that the Chinese economy is rebalancing quickly. This slow progress on rebalancing coincided with above-trend credit growth and below-trend GDP growth in the first quarter. Combined, these factors are pointing to an increasingly negative economic picture. Overall Grade = D (16/25).

 Kunming Battling Chinglish – GoKunming A reporter for Yunnan Net conducted his own impromptu survey and found some interesting and often hilarious examples. On a restaurant menu gongbao jiding, commonly known in the West as kungpao chicken – was translated to “palace violence diced chicken”, while fresh-squeezed juice (鲜榨果汁) became “fresh-fried juice.”‘


Secretary Kerry’s Remarks on a 21st Century Pacific Partnership, April 2013 – CFR  Moving forward together means it is time also to put long-festering territorial pursuits behind us. The stakes are far too high and the global economy is too fragile for anyone to allow these inherited problems to divide the region and to enflame it. Unilateral action and the failure of diplomacy would carry too great a cost, so we need to follow the example of the students at this school, think creatively and innovatively, and work together to find peaceful and diplomatic solutions to these differences.

ADB Assistance Tops $21.5 Billion in 2012 – ADB A special focus on regional integration highlights ADB’s work to forge closer links between countries across the region, including the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund; a new five-year strategy for the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program; cross-border partnerships between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Mongolia and PRC and Viet Nam; accelerated cooperation in South Asia; and a new generation of planned projects for the second decade of cooperation in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Mekong Agreement backs sustainable development in the region – Vientiane Times  The Mekong Agreement, which Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam signed in 1995, aims to promote sustainable development in the region, the Lao National Mekong Committee Secretariat has reaffirmed.

Forests for Our Future – ADB Greater Mekong Subregion site The forest of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) nurture a remarkable biodiversity and provide resources vital to human welfare and the region’s economic prosperity. But these same forests are fragmenting and disappearing under pressure from rapid economic development, land conversion, and overuse.

A Vintage Tour of Asia – WSJ From French Indochina to Old Canton, journey back in time with these vintage Asian travel posters, part of a new exhibition in Hong Kong.

Snakes on a Plate – SEA Globe In an effort to protect endangered species, Southeast Asian countries have pledged to step up conservation measures or else face sanctions

ASEAN Summit talks dominated by South China Sea – Al Jazeera Southeast Asian leaders are set to wrap up a summit dominated by efforts to defuse tensions over the South China Sea and deepen economic links throughout the region. The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) endured deep divisions last year over how to handle rows with China over the sea, and leaders have been focused at this week’s talks in Brunei on rebuilding unity.

In Brunei, a Softer Tone on China – WSJ Southeast Asian leaders meeting in Brunei for an annual summit are toning down their rhetoric on regional differences over China’s incursions in the South China Sea that in the past have soured these kinds of meetings.


Archbishop Tutu Speaks out for Sombath – The Archbishop wrote that Mr Somphone’s commitment to poverty alleviation and sustainable development at home and in the region had been nothing short of inspirational. He had worked extensively with Buddhist monks and elders to set up youth meditation camps and this care for the spiritual core of the Laotian people had touched many in the region and beyond UNITY


Situating Malaysia’s Thirteenth General Election: Not All About the Outcome  – Asia Unbound CFR If all goes according to plan, election-watchers of all sorts will be thick on the ground for Malaysia’s upcoming thirteenth general elections. Admittedly, that plan is dependent upon rounding up and training an extraordinary number of volunteers, and doubtless will be forced to exclude the least accessible, but purportedly most watch-worthy districts. But what tends to get lost in the tea leaf-reading and data-crunching of this long-awaited showdown is the why behind such widespread interest in process and participation, which extends well beyond the polls themselves.


When praying is not enough – Banyan, Economist The Rohingyas are a uniquely persecuted group, not even recognised as a separate minority. But, partly fanned by hardline members of the Buddhist clergy, anti-Muslim feeling is spreading beyond Rakhine. Last month at least 43 Muslims were killed in the town of Meiktila in central Myanmar. New video shown on the BBC appears to show the security forces there, too, standing by as Muslims were assaulted and their homes were torched.

Burma pardons more political prisoners – The Guardian Myanmar has routinely denied the existence of political prisoners, saying all people sentenced to jail have been convicted legitimately of breaking the nation’s laws. Nevertheless hundreds of prominent political detainees have been freed since the former general took office two years ago after a long-ruling army junta was dissolved.

Addressing Risks in Myanmar – Carnegie Endowment for Peace In light of the most recent bout of violence in Myanmar, it is vital that the government act quickly to heal the nation’s new wounds, protect ethnic minorities, and continue the important task of nation building.

Are Myanmar’s Hopes Fading? – NYT Anti-Muslim violence is no accident but the product of an effort led by army hard-liners to thwart both reforms and Myanmar’s opening to the outside world.


Thai Rice Exporters Hit by Domestic Shortage – WSJ Thai rice exporters are buying and selling at least 300,000 metric tons of non-Thai rice each month to cope with a decline in the availability of domestic stocks, top industry officials said Tuesday.  Thailand now plays second fiddle to Vietnam’s rice exports

In Thailand, Not So Glamorous Life Onstage – NYT Itinerant Chinese opera singers are the gypsies of Bangkok, hauling their stages, their costumes, their musical instruments and their cooking gear from one Chinese temple to the next.

What should Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s policy priorities be? – CFR

Thailand bans documentary about Thai-Cambodia boundary dispute – Guardian  Nontawat Numbenchapol’s film about border row and 2011 red-shirt protests deemed ‘threat to national security’

TDRI Warning on infrastructure plan – The Nation The Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) has raised serious concerns over the infrastructure projects planned under the Bt2-trillion budget as there was no clarity on the value of the investments, especially the high-speed trains for which no feasibility study has been conducted.


The US and The Philippines:  A Vital Partnership – The Diplomat  One of the major challenges for the U.S. in the region is the weakness of Filipino naval and air forces. As one member of the Academy of Military Sciences of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army commented, “In this joint exercise, the U.S. side mobilized a large amount of advanced navy and air force equipment, while the Philippines had but little to show in contrast.” The U.S. therefore acts as a “bodyguard” for the Philippines.


 In Hard Times, Open Dissent and Repression Rise in Vietnam – NYT The party that triumphed over American-backed South Vietnamese forces in 1975 is facing rising anger over a slumping economy and is rived by disputes pitting traditionalists who want to maintain the country’s guiding socialist principles and a monopoly on power against those calling for a more pluralist system and the full embrace of capitalism. Similar sentiments shared in China ,who echoes whom?

Leave a Comment

Filed under NEWS DIGEST, Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *