Regional Roundup for Week of 6.23.17


Thailand plans to sign electricity accord with Laos and Malaysia – Mekong Eye THAILAND is preparing to sign a tripartite electricity-trading agreement with two neighbouring countries at the upcoming ASEAN Ministers of Energy Meeting.

Reasons to be cheerful, despite Trump withdrawing from the Paris Agreement – The Guardian The US has dropped out of the Paris Climate Agreement, but India, China and the EU are stepping up to be the new global leaders on climate change.

China’s AIIB Is About to Face 2 Major Tests – The Diplomat The bank’s directors will vote on a new energy sector strategy and a risky financing model.

China-backed AIIB touts growth – Mekong Eye Leaders of the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank touted its growing membership and commitment to sustainable development at its annual meeting, even as environmental groups were disappointed by its openness to investing in coal projects.

Asia faces challenges attracting infrastructure investment – ADB Blog Public-private partnerships are key to development projects, but inherent risks hinder private zeal. // Despite the public nature of infrastructure development, the necessity of private sector should be still stressed considering a huge financial gap between total infra needs and available public funding. This article is well-described; the importance of PPP and the collaboration among multilateral institutions to enhance PPP in Asia-Pacific region.

China’s Trump Honeymoon: Unexpected, and at Risk of Ending – NYT President Trump said that Beijing had failed to rein in North Korea, an assertion that could lead to tougher American stances on trade, currency and the South China Sea.



Making the US Navy’s South China Sea Presence Count – The Diplomat FONOPs may generate a bit too much buzz for their own good.

What’s in the First US-Philippines Downgraded Naval Exercise Under Duterte? – The Diplomat A closer look at the significance of the maritime training activity both sides launched this week

Thai-Chinese railway expected to yield stock gains – Bangkok Post The long-delayed Thai-Chinese high-speed railway line, soon to break ground after the invocation of Section 44 to clear technical and legal hurdles, is expected to help construction stocks outshine others this week.

China Cancels Military Meeting With Vietnam Over Territorial Dispute – NYT The public sign of discord is highly unusual for the two Communist neighbors, and it comes as Beijing seeks to expand its influence in the South China Sea.

2nd US Navy Carrier Strike Group Arrives in Asia Pacific – The Diplomat A second supercarrier has entered the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet area of operations.



Climate Change as a Design Problem – NYT In his “Changing Climate, Changing Cities” series, our architecture critic shows how metropolises, and residents, are preparing for the future.

Indonesian coal mining firm gets its license reinstated despite a history of violations– MongaBay As Indonesia proceeds with its campaign to stamp out illegality in the palm oil and mining sectors, canceling thousands of permits nationwide, a Sumatran court has restored a coal company’s license after the governor revoked it.

Air pollution in Vietnam threatens economic growth – Mekong Eye People in Hanoi and throughout the Southeast Asian country of Vietnam are starting to wake up and realize the gravity of the country’s air pollution problem, Nguy Thi Khanh told an air quality panel this past May.

Coal-Powered Cement Plant Starts Production Despite Local Opposition – The Irrawaddy A 500-ton cement factory has started commercial operations in Kyaikmayaw Township, Mon State, despite opposition from locals over the coal-fired plant that will fuel it. Mon State Chief Minister Dr. Aye Zan confirmed on Thursday the US$400 million project, run by Mawlamyine Cement Limited (MCL)—a joint venture between Thai firm Siam Cement Group (SCG) and Pacific Link Cement Industries—will be fueled by a coal-fired power plant built within the compound.

ADB-Supported ‘Green Financing Platform’ Launched for Better Air Quality in Greater Beijing AreaADB The Green Financing Platform (GFP) supported by ADB was launched today by the China National Investment and Guaranty Corporation (I&G) to promote air pollution-reduction investments in the greater Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH).

The Batteries Are Coming, Are Energy Planners Paying Attention? – Mekong Eyes For two decades now, energy planners in the Mekong region have referred to the hydropower potential of its river systems as untapped “batteries” ready to be exploited for economic development. But at every step of the way, local and international opposition have raised countless concerns about the social, environmental and economic merits of these “renewable” energy projects—only to see most of them built regardless.

Asia and the Fall of Coal – The Diplomat Asia’s sudden shift away from coal and toward renewable energy will have a global impact.

What Will It Take to Clean China’s Air? – The Diplomat Local governments and industries continue to skirt new regulations designed to limit air pollution.

The War on Southeast Asia’s Natural Environment – The Diplomat Southeast Asia’s infrastructure boom threatens to destroy he few remaining wilderness sanctuaries in the region.



Some Global Investors See Fresh Worries in an Old Problem: China – NYT Two years after a Chinese stock market crash, a weakened currency and rising debt sent jitters around the world, some investors are getting nervous again.

Alibaba’s Jack Ma Heads to Detroit to Impress Entrepreneurs—and Trump – WSJ The chairman of Alibaba is hosting a two-day event where he will try to make good on a jobs pledge to President Trump and convince U.S. sellers it is worthwhile to use the Chinese e-commerce giant to market their wares.

Q&A | China’s growing water scarcity challenge – Global Water Forum Over the past several years addressing water scarcity has become central to the research agenda of science and policy-making in the Peoples Republic of China.

China freezes 1,000 bank accounts – Asia News Network Over 1,000 accounts of Burmese traders frozen by Chinese banks.

China Pushes Belt and Road Despite Domestic Concerns – The Radio Free Asia While China promotes its ambitious “Belt and Road” program for investment abroad, it faces increasing signs of economic pressure at home.

China Marks South China Sea Claims With Coast Guard, Marine Militias Radio Free Asia China’s growing use of non-conventional means to assert control over the South China Sea is raising concerns among neighboring countries and regional military planners.



Vietnam, Japan Coast Guards Hold First-Ever South China Sea Drill on Illegal Fishing – The Diplomat The exercises took place near Danang and is the first of its kind.

A Closer Look at the Philippine Peace Process With Communist Rebels – The Diplomat The crisis in Marawi has eclipsed another critical front in the government’s struggle against domestic threats.

Property disputes are Vietnam’s biggest political problem – The Economist An annual survey published by the UN finds that the total number of land seizures has fallen over the past three years. But a third of those affected still report receiving no compensation, and another quarter think their pay-outs unfair.

Suicide rate ‘alarming’ at Myanmar refugee camp – Bangkok Post The number of recorded suicides and attempted suicides has soared at the Mae La refugee camp in Tak province, Thailand’s largest camp for refugees from Myanmar.

Destroying a Philippine City to Save It From ISIS Allies – NYT In Marawi, which was seized by Islamic State-aligned rebels, the military and the militants have dug in for the long haul.

Hun Sen sets Senate elections for January – The Phnom Penh Post The next Senate elections will be held on January 14, according to a directive issued on Friday and ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who noted earlier this month that his party’s performance at the June 4 commune elections means it will almost definitely win the chamber.

Fishery industry faces acute labour shortage – Thai PBS English News Members of the fishery industry have lamented a labor shortage of up to 74,000 people with as many as 4,000 ships docked due to a lack of workers, saying discussions are to be held with Myanmar to attract immigrant laborers, the National News Bureau of Thailand reported Monday.

Bangladesh Minister: Rohingya Who Fled Myanmar Pose Security ThreatRadio Free Asia A Bangladeshi minister on Thursday warned of potential security threats as the country grapples with crimes brought about by the influx of thousands of Rohingya refugees.

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Mocks Former Opposition Party Leader as ‘Coward’ – Radio Free Asia Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday called on exiled former opposition party leader Sam Rainsy to return to the country, mocking him as a cowardly politician for reneging on a statement that he would return if an order prohibiting his entry was lifted.//Another layer of election and upcoming election in Cambodia

Hundreds Flee Mining Area in Myanmar’s Kachin State to Comply With Army Evacuation Order – Radio Free Asia About 400 people who work in the Tanaing gold and amber mining region of northern Myanmar’s Kachin state arrived on Tuesday night in the town of Hkamti to comply with a national military order to evacuate the resource-rich area by June 15, local officials said.

Myanmar Contributes to Increasing Global Displacement – The Irrawaddy Myanmar’s internal conflicts left 490,000 refugees and 375,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) by the end of 2016, according to the UN’s refugee agency in Asia spokesperson Vivian Tan, adding to increasing global displacement worldwide.

Suicide Rate “Alarming” in Thai Camp for Myanmar Refugees—Study – The Irrawaddy The number of recorded suicides and attempted suicides has soared at Thailand’s largest camp for refugees from Myanmar, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Monday as it called for urgent action to treat high levels of distress.

The Failed UN Mission in Myanmar – The Irrawaddy This week we saw two news headlines related to a failed UN mission in Myanmar.The first read that Renata Lok-Dessallien, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, would be leaving her post prematurely, before the end of the typical five-year term.// The critical article about the United Nations’ role in Myanmar. What are the purpose of UN and what are their mission while locating in Myanmar. According to this article, UN hasn’t really focused on real issues in the region but rather follow the fame of what they are seen to be. This question has been addressed in many parts of the world.

Rakhine Protesters Demand UN Protect Buddhist Chakma in Bangladesh – The Irrawaddy The Arakan National Party (ANP) led 300 people, including Buddhist monks and local Arakanese, in a protest outside the UN offices in Maungdaw Township, Rakhine State on Wednesday, urging the agency to protect the Buddhist minority Chakma in Bangladesh.// Following the previous article, it is still interesting to see despite decades of failure of UN’s mission in Myanmar, people still hope that UN would provide the shelter for them.

What’s Behind Vietnam’s Rising Violence? – The Diplomat The rise of physical violence committed against activists is a troubling trend.

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



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