Regional Roundup for Week of 6.18.17

EXSE FOCUS

World Offers Cautionary Tale for Trump’s Infrastructure Plan – NYT President Trump has called for private money to fund his $1 trillion plan, but similar moves in other countries have faced cost and quality problems.

Global demand for coal falls in 2016 for second year in a row – The Guardian  Global demand for coal has fallen for the second consecutive year, according to a BP study, helped by the US and China burning less of the dirtiest fossil fuel. Wind, solar and and other renewable power sources grew faster than any other fuel at more than 14% in 2016, slightly below the 10-year average.

Asia’s Minilateral Moment – The Diplomat With fear of U.S. abandonment on the rise, Asian states are looking to increase cooperation with each other.

Responding to income inequality in Asia – Asian Development Blog Asian governments should introduce policies that do not slow down economic growth, but do spread its benefits more equitably.

 

REGIONAL RELATIONS

Japan wants to expand arms deals with Southeast Asia as China exports ‘low cost’ weapons – SouthChina Morning Post Shinzo Abe’s government wants to make arms sales and military technology collaboration a new plank of Japanese diplomacy.

Singapore and China to work together on global trade plan in sign of better ties – South China Morning Post the two countries’ foreign ministers meet and agree to cooperate on the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ after tensions over the South China Sea. // Singapore’s next ASEAN chairmanship, Singapore’s amicable relation with China, and Trump’s TPP cancellation might shift the dynamic of geopolitics among Southeast Asian countries, China, and US.

What the Thai Prime Minister’s Visit Means for US-Thailand Relations – The Diplomat Don’t get too caught up in talk of a “new era” for the alliance. The Trump administration views U.S.-Thai trade as problematic, since Thailand has a trade surplus of $18 billion with the United States.

Trump’s Big Asia Summit Month?  The Diplomat Despite lingering questions about its Asia strategy, the administration looks set for a string of meetings with the region’s leaders.

Is Thailand Now Buying More Arms From China? – The Diplomat A closer look at a new approval by the Thai government this week.

Coordination key to make Pacific infrastructure sustainable – Asian Development Blog Only properly maintained infrastructure assets yield the desired economic and social returns.

 

SUSTAINABILITY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Kampong Cham: The Future of Farming in the Times of Climate Change, Hydroelectric Dams and Commune Election – MEKONG EYE Questions about future of farming issues in Cambodia.

Laos provides clarifications on Mekong dam to river commission – MEKONG EYE The Lao government on Thursday provided clarifications and further information on major concerns about its Pak Beng dam.

 An Environmental Protection Area in the South China Sea? Not Likely – The Diplomat Lost amid the recent cacophony of nationalist rhetoric regarding the disputes in the South China Sea have been calls for the claimants to agree to set aside part of the area for environmental preservation. This suggestion is both idealistic and unrealistic.

Land compensation issue remains unresolved – MEKONG EYE Although a verbal promise had been made for compensation to be paid for lands which were seized from a subsidiary of a Chinese firm Wanbao Mining, Myanmar Yang Tse is still operating the Sabetaung and Kyisintaung mines beside Letpadaung.

Vietnam’s Social Media Shaping New Environmentalism – MEKONG EYE 40 million other net-savvy young Vietnamese, appears to be part of a rising tide of environmental nationalism sweeping the nation. What’s most surprising is that Facebook, once banned in Vietnam, has now proven to be an attractive platform for organizing environment rallies.

Guatemala provides an example of community forest management for Indonesia – MONGA BAY In Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve, 9 community forestry concessions have been managing over 350,000 hectares of forest for more than 15 years. The communities aim to manage the concessions sustainably, earning income from timber and non-timber forest products and tourism. The Indonesian representatives hope to use the model of Guatemalan forest communities as a starting point for their own concession management.

Can marine reserves help counteract climate change? – MONGA BAY A new paper contends that marine reserves protected from fishing and other human exploitation can reduce the damage from acidification, rising sea levels, storm intensification, and other effects of climate change.

Singapore Red Cross contributes US$100,000 to Bangladesh, Myanmar cyclone relief – Channel NewsAsia The Singapore Red Cross (SRC) has contributed US$100,000 (S$138,407) for those affected by Cyclone Mora in Bangladesh and Myanmar, it said in a media release on Friday (Jun 16).

 

CHINA 

China, Normally Protective of a Disputed Sea, Gives India a Rare Nod – VOA China is responding to pressure to work with other countries that claim rights to a vast disputed sea by voicing support for India’s proposed tsunami alert system.

China’s New Bridges: Rising High, but Buried in Debt – NYT China has built hundreds of dazzling new bridges, including the longest and highest, but many have fostered debt and corruption.// Chinese dream for the prosperity through infrastructure development certainly face a big challenge of increasing debt. This further gives us a question about the feasibility of One Belt, One Road initiative by China. 

Nearly 14,000 Companies in China Violate Pollution Rules – NYT Inspectors found that 70 percent of the businesses they examined failed to meet environmental standards, and the inspections have just started.

Fear and Greed: Why Are Australians So Anxious About China?– WSJ China’s hunger for commodities kept Australia’s mines in business through the financial crisis and migrants have brought investment and skills Down Under. What’s all the fuss about?

Chinese court jails seven for falsifying pollution data – Channel NewsAsia A court in China on Friday jailed seven people for more than a year each for tampering with air quality monitoring equipment and falsifying data, the official Xinhua news agency said.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

Hun Sen ‘Willing to Do Anything to Cling to Power’: Analysts – Kimedia Blogpost Hun Sen, Cambodia’s longtime ruler, warned opposition parties not to challenge the result of June 4th local elections or they could be dissolved.

Australian film-maker charged with espionage in Cambodia – The Guardian Documentary maker James Ricketson, 68, charged with collecting information prejudicial to national security

Child refugees held in ‘harrowing’ conditions across south-east Asia – The Guardian Thousands of children are languishing in “dangerous and harrowing” conditions in detention centres across south-east Asia, a report has revealed. Children, including babies, are being held in cells 24 hours a day, alongside dozens of unrelated adults, and are frequently separated from family members.

Defeating the Next Islamic State (in Southeast Asia?) – The Diplomat We need to devise a plan for the containment of the next revolutionary Islamic State. ISIS tore up the old maps and created a spatially dispersed global movement. The next radical Islamic State may emerge exclusively within an existing state but this is highly unlikely. One geography more susceptible than most will be the Muslim areas that straddle the Indonesia-Philippines border.

Myanmar army slammed for abuses of non-Rohingya minorities – Southeast Asia Globe In a new report, Amnesty International says the systematic abuses that have drawn international attention in Rakhine state are also occurring against ethnic minorities elsewhere in the country.

Military guilty of war crimes in northern Burma: Amnesty report – DVB A damning new report from Amnesty International paints a picture of northern Burma in which the military continues to act with impunity, accused of human rights abuses tantamount to war crimes just weeks after the appointment of a UN fact-finding mission to probe such concerns.

U.S. Troops in Besieged City of Marawi, Philippine Military Says – NYT A Philippine official said American forces had no combat role in the fight against Islamist rebels, but his statement was the first confirmation of their presence.

Thailand faces losing tourists to neighbours – Bangkok Post Expanding air traffic to the region could lead to lost travel opportunities for Thailand in the future as tourists fly directly to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), say foreign tourism buyers at the Thailand Travel Mart Plus in Chiang Mai yesterday.

Don’t rush Thai-Sino rail – Bangkok Post The Prayut Chan-o-cha government is set to use Section 44 to speed up the Thai-Sino railway project which is behind schedule due to legal and technical reasons.

A roadmap for financial growth – Phnom Penh Post The government yesterday unveiled its financial sector development strategy for 2016 to 2025, which provides stakeholders with a document to evaluate the last decade of growth while outlining an action plan for the next decade.

Government agrees to foster stronger civil society – Phnom Penh Post A ministry of Interior official yesterday joined with representatives from the European Union, NGOs and the private sector to champion the “strengthening of civil society”, even as the government continues to jail and surveil human rights defenders.

This week’s news digest was curated by Riyoung Ko.

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