Regional Roundup for Week of 5.31.13

Just links this week.  Next week be sure to follow Xi Jinping and Barack Obama’s California Summit as well as Li Keqiang’s trip to Kunming’s China-South Asia Expo.


The Sino-American Decade  Council on Foreign Relations Michael Spence writes that cooperation between the United States and China on issues surrounding the environment, trade, investment, and financial stability will be critical not only for the continued well-being of the two countries, but also for the successful rebalancing of the world economy.

What Should Obama and Xi Accomplish at Their California Summit? ChinaFile “We shouldn’t expect any major agreements or other “deliverables” to result from this meeting. The goal of the encounter is to establish the personal relationship between the two leaders and explore ways to dispel—or at least better manage—the mutual suspicions that have recently been dragging down the relationship. Both leaders are seeking to reassure one another that their intentions are not hostile.”

Frustrated Chinese send complaints to White House website – The Guardian Frustrated by censorship and Beijing’s stonewalling, bloggers and campaigners are turning to Barack Obama. The Chinese people would like President Barack Obama to stop an oil refinery from being built in southern China, endorse sweet-flavoured tofu and reopen an 18-year-old criminal probe of a poisoning case. And while he’s at it, if he wouldn’t mind mobilising US troops to liberate Hong Kong, as well as China as a whole, that would be great, too.

Asia Week Ahead: Xi’s journey to the West – Reuters Video President Obama readies the red carpet for China’s Xi Jinping, Australia faces economic pressures and Malaysia awaits crucial trade figures. Wayne Arnold gives us a preview of next week’s top stories.

China to study possibility of joining U.S.-led trade talks | Reuters China will study the possibility of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks, the Commerce Ministry said on Thursday, signaling its openness to the U.S.-led trade pact.

The Containment Fallacy: China and the TPP | Brookings Institution The argument that the TPP is a club that bars Chinese entry is inaccurate and unhelpful. China, like any other APEC economy, has the right to request entry into the TPP. Whether the Chinese leadership will judge TPP membership to be in their country’s national interest and whether TPP members can be persuaded that China is prepared to abide by the negotiated disciplines is a separate matter. But it is important to dispel the notion that the TPP precludes Chinese entry.

Smithfield sale to China would come at time of crisis for world food standards  – The Guardian Chinese unlikely to prove they would maintain the pork giant to US standards, making this deal something of a long shot. It’s not about the pigs. If strict European agricultural standards could improve our food supply, many people will be worried that loose Chinese standards would hurt it.

China Has Drones. Now What? | Foreign Affairs The time to fret about when China will acquire drones is over: it has them. The question now is when and how it will use them. But as with its other, less exotic military capabilities, Beijing has cleared only a technological hurdle — and its behavior will continue to be constrained by politics.

India and China Tackle Border Dispute – Defense News India and China are devising a mechanism to resolve their decades-old boundary dispute, which brought the two countries into brief combat in 1962. Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony and National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon will visit Beijing in the next two months to develop a method to help resolve the boundary dispute, said a source in the Ministry of External Affairs.

India and Japan draw closer, with an eye on China – The Washington Post The goal, analysts say, is to isolate China with a view to limiting its territorial ambitions in the region. On Wednesday, Singh said India and Japan are “natural and indispensable partners” in efforts to bring about a “peaceful, stable, cooperative and prosperous future for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.

China rejects Philippines’ illegal seizure of Ren’ai Reef: FM spokesman – Xinhua | “The Philippine side, however, disregards China’s solemn stance and its own promise, attempts to intensify its illegal existence and seize the Ren’ai Reef, which seriously infringes upon China’s territorial sovereignty and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” Hong said. “Chinese government ships are justified in carrying out regular patrols in relevant waters,” the spokesman said. China urges the Philippine side to earnestly honor its commitment, work together with China, refrain from doing things that complicate the situation and make due efforts in safeguarding the peace and stability of the South China Sea, Hong said.

US carrier a warning to China and Philippines: Global Times An American aircraft carrier was patrolling a disputed region of the South China Sea to “deter” a Chinese military exercise while also sending a warning to the Philippines not to allow territorial disputes to escalate, reports the Global Times, a tabloid under the auspices of the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily.

South China Sea tension mounts near Filipino shipwreck | Reuters The Philippine government is accusing China of encroachment after three Chinese ships, including a naval frigate, converged just 5 nautical miles from an old transport ship that the Philippines deliberately ran aground on a reef in 1999 to mark its territory. Philippine officials say they fear the Chinese ships will block supplies to about a dozen Filipino marines stationed in abject conditions on the rusting ship..The area, known as Second Thomas Shoal, is a strategic gateway to Reed Bank, believed to be rich in oil and natural gas.

Chinese ship attacks Vietnamese fishing boat | Tuổi Trẻ news A fishing boat of central Quang Ngai Province with 15 fishermen on board was hit broken by a Chinese ship while it was operating off Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago in the East Sea on May 20, authorities reported.

China refutes Vietnam’s accusations of vessel collision – Xinhua | A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry refuted Vietnam’s accusations that a Chinese vessel collided with a Vietnamese fishing boat in Vietnamese waters and urged Vietnam to stop illegal fishing in China’s Xisha Islands waters. “Vietnam’s accusations are  completely far from the facts. A Vietnamese fishing boat illegally entered sea area of China’s Xisha Islands, infringing upon China’s sovereignty and violating China’s laws,” spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily press briefing on Tuesday.

PLA review warns ‘strategic uncertainties’ loom large for China | South China Morning Post A PLA think tank yesterday issued a report warning that the nation faces increasing “strategic pressure” for the first time since the 1990s collapse of the communist bloc, with the Asia-Pacific region now a “new global centre” for “geopolitical, economic and military competition”. Released by the Centre for National Defence Policy (CNDP), a part of the PLA’s Academy of Military Sciences, The Strategic Review 2012 says that “big powers have intensified their gaming for regional dominance”.

Actually, It Was the Philippines That Bungled the Crisis with Taiwan | The Diplomat Manila’s repeated contention that the death of Taiwan fisherman Hong Shi-cheng represents “unintended loss of life” contradicts Philippine official claims that an ongoing investigation of the incident is being conducted. The fact that Manila has put forward the conclusion on unintended loss of life before the investigation is completed raises Taipei’s legitimate concerns about the transparency and credibility of the entire Philippines-based investigation progress.

PLA Navy’s three fleets meet in South China Sea for rare show of force | South China Morning Post China’s navy has carried out a rare joint exercise, involving its three fleets, in the South China Sea as regional tensions over territorial disputes mount. The combined drill was carried out in southern waters by warships, submarines and the naval air force from the People’s Liberation Army’s North Sea, East Sea and South Sea fleets, national broadcaster CCTV reported on Saturday

INSIGHT: Japan looks to improve ties with Myanmar to contain China – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun Along with its stated economic aims, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s three-day visit to Myanmar was also important from a political standpoint..The Japanese government sees enhanced economic cooperation with Myanmar as a good opportunity to lessen its heavy dependence on China. “The next member of a coalition to contain China must be Myanmar,” a senior government official said.

With eye on China, Japan to provide patrol boats to Philippines – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun Japan will provide patrol boats to the Philippines to help the country bolster its capabilities in the face of China’s growing presence in regional waters. In a meeting in Tokyo on May 22, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his counterpart Albert del Rosario agreed to work together to improve the capabilities of the Philippine Coast Guard.

China’s satellite data network reaches South China Sea – People’s Daily Online The station, in Sanya in south China’s island province of Hainan, was launched by the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. China will now be able to obtain satellite remote sensing data of the country’s southern territorial waters for civil use directly from its ground-based receiving facilities, according to an institute statement.

EU opposes plan to impose duties on solar panels from China – The Guardian Majority of governments oppose plan by European commission, which accuses China of selling panels at below cost in Europe. A majority of EU governments oppose a plan to impose hefty duties on solar panel imports from China, a survey of member states showed on Monday, undermining efforts by Brussels to pressure Beijing over its trade practices.



White T-shirts: a blank canvas for protesters – The Guardian – From Katharine Hamnett’s 1980s designs to the recent attempt by Chinese authorities to force shoppers to register when they bought a plain white T-shirt, this simple garment has long provided a home for political sloganeering. There are few items of clothing as apparently innocuous as a plain white T-shirt, one half of childhood PE kits, testament to brilliance in old washing powder adverts. But according to officials in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province in China, a white T-shirt requires careful monitoring, lest it turn into something else.

China’s Not Just Urbanizing — It’s ‘Townizing’ | Tea Leaf Nation The list of problems caused by urbanization is long, which explains why President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have reframed the urbanization (cheng shi hua) question as “townization” (cheng zhen hua) and have made achieving “townization” one of this year’s priorities. While urbanization centers development on large and medium-sized cities, “townization” focuses on upgrading rural sites and advocates transferring the rural population to nearby towns instead of to more distant metropolises.

What Reform Does and Doesn’t Mean in China | China Power We must understand China’s reform efforts as a bid to rationalize both its economic and social structures, within a framework of strongly ideology-laden national rejuvenation. But what does that tell us about concrete policymaking? China’s economic governance structure provides us with a useful map to navigate the different areas of policy and gauge the potential for reform. The best place to start is the Foreign Investment Catalogue. The Catalogue is a bellwether of economic policy change, as it clearly indicates the strategic direction of the leadership in economic reforms.– Dr. Rogier Creemers is a Rubicon Scholar, researching Chinese media law and policy at the Programme for Comparative Media Law and Policy at the University of Oxford

Chinese steelmakers question Platts pricing data on iron ore – The Guardian Chinese doubt follows raids connected to alleged manipulation of oil markets. Concerns about the accuracy of benchmarks published by price reporting agencies (PRAs) has spread to the iron ore markets with Chinese steelmakers questioning the reliability of indices from Platts. The China Iron & Steel Association and one of its largest members, Jiangsu Shagang, believe benchmark numbers may be unreliable because they are based on a small number of transactions.

Beijing of Dreams: An archive of old photographs showing the old gates and walls of Beijing (Peking) This is a website which shows the lost ‘Beijing of Dreams’, using old photos surviving from the time when Beijing was the greatest walled capital city anywhere in the world. We have concentrated at first upon showing the vast walls and gates of Beijing, all but a few traces of which are gone now. ..This website is a project of The History of Chinese Science and Culture Foundation. (

Q&A: (Almost) all you need to know about China Development Bank | beyondbrics In China’s Superbank, a book published late last year, Bloomberg reporters Henry Sanderson and Michael Forsythe peeled back the lid on CDB. With the bank entering a new era under Hu Huaibang, who took CDB’s helm last month, it seemed an opportune time for beyondbrics to check in with Messrs Sanderson and Forsythe. Without further ado, here is what they had to say about CDB – how it works, why it has come to be such a big force and what its future might hold.

Drug resistance in new China bird flu raises concern | Reuters The new bird flu strain that has killed 36 people in China has proved resistant to Tamiflu for the first time, a development scientists said was “concerning”. The H7N9 virus was found to be resistant to Roche’s widely used flu drug in three out of 14 patients who were studied in detail by doctors from Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Shale Gas on the Intensity Scale – Caixin Precariously placed, the bulk of China’s shale gas reserves sit on interlaced earthquake fault lines in the country’s southern region. In a country with more shale gas reserves than the United States and Canada combined, plans to extract a high volume of shale gas from earthquake prone regions has researchers concerned such activity could have perilous effects.

Drought gives rise to Jinsha diversion scheme – GoKunming Yunnan government officials are considering mitigating the province’s ongoing four-year drought, in part, by diverting the Jinsha River (金沙江). A recently issued white paper describes plans to resurrect water engineering projects along what are the primary headwaters of Asia’s largest river — the Yangtze.



Asian Tensions and the Problem of History Council on Foreign Relations A recent gaffe by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe exposes the tense relations between Japan, China, and South Korea, and “helps explain why the region seems on the brink of not one by several conflicts,” says Jonathan Tepperman.

Thailand ignoring slaves at sea, says EJF report on Burmese migrants – The Guardian Burmese men kept as forced labourers on shrimping boats in Kantang, Thailand, says Environmental Justice Foundation. Thailand is facing fresh allegations of using slave labour in its fishing industry with the launch of a new investigation into the sale, abuse and exploitation of migrant workers on Thai fishing ships. The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), an environmental and human rights NGO, highlights the case of 15 Burmese men who had been rescued from boats in its report Sold to the Sea: human trafficking in Thailand’s fishing industry (pdf). All of the men claim to have been deceived by labour brokers and forced to work up to 20 hours a day for months at a time with little or no pay on shrimping boats in Kantang, a city in the south of Thailand.

Sold to the sea – the plight of migrant fishermen in Thailand – video – The Guardian

Singapore, Hong Kong to Claim Larger Share of Offshore Wealth Pie  – WSJ Private banks in Singapore and Hong Kong will capture an ever-larger share of global wealth held offshore as the ranks of the super-rich in Asia grow faster than elsewhere in the world, according to a report from the Boston Consulting group.

Philippines’ Basketball Team Disinvited to Taiwan Game – WSJ The Philippines men’s basketball team has been uninvited to a tournament in Taiwan, an offshoot of tensions after the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard in disputed waters earlier this month.

Philippines protest Burma’s handling of SEA games  AFP The Philippines said Thursday it would send a tiny delegation to this year’s Southeast Asian Games in Burma to protest the host’s “unfair” exclusion of mainstream sports. Between 30 and 50 Filipino athletes are expected to compete in Burma compared with 512 at the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia, Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia told AFP

Asia Wins Big at Cannes – WSJ Jia Zhangke, Hirokazu Koreeda and Anthony Chen scooped up major honors at the 66th Cannes Film Festival.



Khmer Rouge leaders say sorry for atrocities – The Guardian Former Cambodian head of state Khieu Samphan apologises directly to individuals who lost relatives in 1975-79 genocide. Former leaders of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge being tried by a UN-backed genocide tribunal have apologised to families of victims of the regime’s atrocities.



Freeport Indonesia Resumes Mining After Accident –  WSJ Freeport Indonesia has resumed open-pit mining at its massive Grasberg mine in Papua, two weeks after shutting it down following one of the worst accidents in industry history in Indonesia, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday.



Five Charged With Sedition in Malaysia  – WSJ Malaysian prosecutors charged two opposition politicians and three anti-government critics with sedition on Wednesday, adding to the simmering political tension that has refused to fade as the opposition contests the outcome of a general election that kept the ruling coalition in power.



Remarks by President Obama and Burmese President Sein, May 2013 – Council on Foreign Relations President Barack Obama and Burmese President Thein Sein gave these remarks after their meeting on May 20, 2013. Their meeting was the first time in fifty years a leader from Myanmar had visited the United States

Too many chits for kyat  – Banyan, The Economist NO ONE has bothered to count how many people live in Myanmar since 1983 (when it was still Burma). No surprise then that no one has any clear idea how many people left the country during its 50 years under military rule. The men in green certainly did a savage job of mismanaging the economy though, and an untold number of their countrymen fled for want of opportunities at home. In 2009 the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimated that 10% of Myanmar’s population, then estimated to be 50m to 55m people, were living abroad.

Kachin rebels, govt ink deal aimed at reducing fighting– DVB The Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and government representatives signed a historic seven-point peace agreement on Thursday afternoon, raising hopes that Burma’s bloody northern conflict could finally come to an end.

Burma must take steps to quell ethnic violence – DVB This week’s outbreak of violence against Muslims in Lashio marks nearly a year of targeted attacks on Muslims in Burma. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) recently interviewed witnesses and victims in Arakan state, Mandalay and Saigaing divisions about the ongoing attacks, and found that the government places a low priority on protecting the human rights of ethnic groups in the country. Earlier this month, a team of researchers from PHR spent ten days in central Burma investigating attacks on Muslim civilians. The team interviewed 33 people, including 14 eyewitnesses, and compiled a thorough account of the slaughter of at least 20 children and four teachers in Meikhtila, Mandalay division. Other reports estimate that many more were killed.

Burma’s Buddhist mobs sow fear amid widening unrest– The Guardian Muslims attacked and mosque torched as Thein Sein’s government fails to intervene. It was a terrifying sight: hundreds of angry, armed men on motorcycles advancing up a dusty street with no one to stop them. Shouting at the top of their lungs, clutching machetes, iron pipes and long bamboo poles, they thrust their fists repeatedly into the air. The object of their rage: Burma’s embattled Muslims.

Many Burmese Muslims given two-child limit  – The Guardian Rakhine state officials say limit on children will help ease tensions with Buddhists, whose population is growing at slower rate. Muslims in a province of Burma have been ordered not to have more than two children in an attempt by the government to stop Buddhist attacks on Muslims.  Burmese head to Thailand seeking jobs but face abuse and exploitation in the fishing industry



Singapore Airlines announces $17bn aircraft order from Airbus and Boeing – The Guardian Order includes 30 next-generation Boeing 787s in boost for manufacturer’s Dreamliner programme. Singapore Airlines has announced new aircraft orders valued at more than $17bn (£11.3bn) shared between the big two manufacturers, Airbus and Boeing.

Singapore Concludes Inquest Into American’s Death – WSJ After 10 days of intense testimony, a Singaporean inquiry into the death of American scientist Shane Todd ended Monday ahead of a verdict that will determine the cause in early July.



Bangkok Tops List of World’s Tourism Destinations – WSJ Bangkok has emerged as the world’s top tourist destination, with 15.98 million visitors projected to descend in Thailand’s capital city this year.

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One Response to Regional Roundup for Week of 5.31.13

  1. Many of these links are broken, including “The Containment Fallacy: China and the TPP | Brookings Institution “, “Chinese Ship Attakcs Viet Shipping Boat”, and “LA review warns ‘strategic uncertainties’ loom large for China | South China Morning Post ”

    -T. Greer

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