Regional Roundup for Week of 6.2.16

This week we welcome Ashfaqul Chowdhury as our newest compiler and analyst of last week’s news. Ash comes to us from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School where he specializes in energy policy. He’s serving as an intern at the Stimson Center for the summer months.

LEADERS

Drought and ‘Rice First’ Policy Imperil Vietnamese Farmers – NYT The Mekong Delta, Vietnam’s premier rice growing region, is suffering its worst drought since at least 1926, and saline water has swept farther up the delta than ever.

Mekong dam a threat to rare dolphins – and villagers too – The Nation The Don Sahong hydroelectric dam threatens the last 80 Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River – as well as the livelihoods of the people downstream in Cambodia, who depend heavily on the river’s resources.

Research Links Hydropower Dams To Species ExtinctionTech Times Hydropower dams may have damaging effects on species’ populations living in surrounding locations, a new study found. These negative effects can lead to the extinction of several species.

China-led AIIB expects 30 more countries to join as members by end of year GB Times The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) expects to grow its membership to almost 100 countries by the end of the year and plans to issue three batches of loans in its first year of operation.

 

REGIONAL RELATIONS

Cambodia’s Close China Ties Concern Observers VOA Cambodia Cambodia’s large and growing debt to its northern ally China is a growing concern for observers who worry about the undue influence this may afford the regional superpower.

Xi Jinping, China’s President, Unexpectedly Meets With North Korean Envoy – NYT The meeting, which was not expected, is believed to have been the first between the Chinese president and a senior North Korean official since 2013.

The Value and Gaps in a Big San Francisco Clean-Energy Conclave – NYT Can an international gathering in San Francisco take big greenhouse-gas emitters including US and China from ambitious clean-energy pledges to real-world action?

North Korea Tells China of ‘Permanent’ Nuclear PolicyNYT A North Korean official, Ri Su-yong, said during talks with the Chinese in Beijing that his country would continue trying to expand its nuclear arsenal while striving to rebuild its economy.

South China Sea fears grow before tribunal rules on disputed islands – The Guardian  Fears are growing that there will be a sharp rise in tensions in the South China Sea in the next few weeks after an international tribunal delivers a ruling on disputed islands and reefs that Beijing has said it will reject.

Related: Is China winning in the South China Sea? – The Diplomat

Related: Cambodia, Thailand edging closer to nuclear powerThe Jakarta Post

 

SUSTAINABILITY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Why an Asian super grid is a political fantasyThe Third Pole A somewhat unlikely combination of China’s State Grid, Korean Electric Power (KEPCO), the Russia grid operator PJSC ROSSETI and Softbank, the Japanese company led by Masayoshi Son, recently signed a memorandum of understanding to explore building a mega grid to cover much of northeast Asia.

The Value and Gaps in a Big San Francisco Clean-Energy Conclave – NYT Can an international gathering in San Francisco take big greenhouse-gas emitters including US and China from ambitious clean-energy pledges to real-world action?

Laos enlists Malaysian help on renewable energyThe Star Online The government of Lao PDR said it was committed to maintaining a sustainable approach to harnessing the nation’s energy resources for its rapidly growing economic activities while also protecting its natural eco-system as well as the traditions and culture of its people. Malaysia will send a high-level consulting group to advise Laos on developing strategies for the adoption of renewable energy as a driver for sustainable growth.

Solar power: Faster, Cleaner, CheaperFrontier Myanmar Solar-power plants are an obvious solution to Myanmar’s electricity shortage. They are faster to build than their fossil-fuel and hydropower alternatives and are cleaner and cheaper to operate.

Can the new government protect Myanmar’s water resources? Myanmar Times The new government is making all the right noises, but it remains to be seen if and how it can ensure water resources are sustainably prioritised, say water experts.

The developing world is outspending richer countries on renewable energy investment Quartz Developing nations invested $156 billion in renewables in 2015—a 19% increase on the year before, and more than all richer nations combined. China was top, pumping more money into the sector than any other country.

 

CHINA

Mitsubishi Materials Apologizes to Chinese World War II LaborersNYT Mitsubishi Materials apologized on Wednesday to Chinese workers who were forced to work in its predecessor company’s mines during World War II. Three survivors of those mines will each receive about $15,000 under an agreement intended to be used as a template for future settlements.

Related: Chinese Victims of Forced Labor ReactNYT 

Related: Mitsubishi offers apology and $56m for wartime use of Chinese forced labour – The Guardian

US defense secretary Ash Carter living under ‘cold war’ mentality – The Guardian China on Monday rejected criticism from the US defense secretary, Ashton Carter, accusing him of harboring a cold-war mentality and saying Beijing had no interest in “playing a role in a Hollywood movie” of Washington’s design.

Related: China has reclaimed 3,200 acres in the South China Sea, says PentagonThe Guardian 

China in Africa, Part I: The Good – The Diplomat A closer look at the fact and fiction surrounding China’s involvement on the continent.

Mining near Mondulkiri wildlife sanctuary worries organizationThe Phnom Penh Post An environmental NGO has raised concerns about potential impacts to Mondulkiri province’s Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary from a possible large-scale gold mining operation in the area.

 

SOUTHEAST ASIA

ASEAN and Russia: Creating a New Security ArchitectureThe Diplomat The 2016 ASEAN-Russia summit could mark a new phase in Russia’s security involvement.

Vietnam May Purchase India’s Deadly Supersonic BrahMos Cruise Missile – The Diplomat With Russian acquiescence, the supersonic cruise missile could end up in Hanoi’s inventory.Given the territorial dispute in the region, this may be an issue which would irk the Chinese.

Indonesia (Still) Mulling Purchase of Stealth Submarines from Russia – The Diplomat  Indonesia is also considering buying Russian amphibious aircraft, according to Indonesia’s ambassador to Moscow. //These last two news, involving Vietnam and Indonesia, makes it seem that these countries are strengthening their military capability with an eye on the South China sea dispute.

Does Abu Sayyaf pose a major terror threat to Southeast Asia? – Southeast Asia Globe Magazine The resurgent Abu Sayyaf terrorist group is flying the Isis flag in the Philippines – but not everyone is convinced by their posturing.

Thailand donates US$100,000 to Vietnam to fight drought – The Nation Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Binh Minh has praised continuous improvements in the strategic partnership between Vietnam and Thailand.

Today’s student activists face more complex issues than just the coupThe Nation At first, people barely noticed them. But then a group of students – calling themselves the Dao Din – fell to their knees in front of a military line about to crack down on villagers fighting against mining in the Northeast. Slowly people learned more about them, and realised that their rebellion was not merely against the coup, but embraced a wider range of policies and social issues that were of concern to everyone.

ADB has yet to act completely to displaced communities in Cambodia NGO Forum on ADB via Rappler X A Deafening silence rose when leader of project-affected communities, Sim Pov raised his community’s issues on the US $ 42 million loan to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the Cambodia Railway Rehabilitation Project.

Dam Protesters to Meet with OfficialsKhmer Times Residents from six villages in Oddar Meanchey’s Chong Kal district can now get some respite from the construction of a hydropower dam they claimed was encroaching on their land.  Provincial officials have now agreed to meet with their representatives after nearly 100 villagers from the six villages stopped construction of the dam. The Chinese Sinohydro firm is accused of illegally clearing trees on land owned by village residents near Ator Mountain in Pungro commune to make way for the dam.

Laos dam, poison blamed in Stung Treng fish deathsThe Phnom Penh Post Hundreds of kilograms of dead fish have washed up on the shores of the Mekong in Stung Treng’s Thala Barivat district in the past month, and while environmental activists blame construction of the controversial Don Sahong dam upstream.

Akara ready for a fightBangkok Post Akara Resources Plc, a gold mining operator in Phichit, has called on the government to review its cabinet resolution on May 10 that resolved not to renew or issue new gold mining licences, which could lead to the mine’s operations being suspended nationwide by the end of this year.

VN could struggle in protecting environment Vietnam News Vietnam will face challenges in implementing policies and laws on environmental protection, especially in industries seeing strong growth

YUNNAN

Is this a dagger which I see before me? Healthcare in southwest China – GoKunming  For many expats living in China, healthcare is either a major concern or a blind spot of denial.

 

 

 

 

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