Regional Roundup for Week of 7.14.17


Liu Xiaobo, Chinese Dissident Who Won Nobel While Jailed, Dies at 61 – NYT Mr. Liu, who was convicted in 2009 of inciting subversion and sentenced to prison, was given medical parole recently to be treated for late-stage cancer.

How climate scepticism turned into something more dangerous – The Guardian Climate Change is the defining political issue of our times and not simply because of the risks we run if we get it wrong. An inadequate response – if we do too little, too late – could inflict untold damage on the habitable environment. But even before that day comes, the contest over the truth about climate change is doing serious damage to our democracy. //Great article to comprehend Climate Change as a political agenda. It would be also interesting to see further the role of International Organizations (IOs) in Global Climate Change issues. After decades of failure of accomplishing IO’s agendas, tackling Climate Change issues has provided an opportunity to rebuid its legitimacy. Then how this dynamic has impacted on global democracy itself?

Trump addresses North Korea ‘menace’ in meetings with China and Japan – The Guardian US president thanks Chinese president for efforts on ‘substantial problem’ despite recently voicing frustration that China has not done more.

Related: China is giving Trump a lesson in how to handle Kim Jong-un | Simon Jenkins

Related: Donald Trump’s romance with China’s Xi has cooled, ‘ass-kicking’ could lie ahead

Three major challenges AIIB must overcomeMekong Eye The first challenge is to transform the AIIB’s funding projects from “hard infrastructure” to “comprehensive infrastructure”. The second challenge is “upgrading” of the AIIB’s funding projects from “comprehensive” to “environmentally friendly” programs. The third challenge is to make the AIIB more independent in its project selection and funding. // Given the fact that this article was written by a Chinese scholar, it is interesting to read Chinese expectation toward the AIIB; high quality, environmental friendly and a global leading organization.  

China says it is not responsible for North Korea nuclear crisis – The Guardian China rejects Trump’s calls for it to do more to rein in its neighbour, saying the ‘China responsibility theory’ must stop

Trump’s America First Policy Proves to Be an Immovable Object at G-20 – WSJ From trade to climate change, the U.S. president barely budges on nationalist principles during summit with world leaders.



ASEAN-India Partnership at 25 – The Diplomat India’s plan for its relations with ASEAN were on display at the recent Delhi Dialogue. At the ninth edition of Delhi Dialogue, held in New Delhi on July 4 to 5, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj reiterated India’s benign role in the Asia-Pacific. She mentioned that India’s influence on Southeast Asia did not occur through “conquest or colonization.” // This last words ‘conquest or conlonization’ can be also interpreted India’s great concerns about increasing Chinese influence in Southeast Asia.

India, U.S. and Japan Begin War Games, and China Hears a Message – NYT The Indian Navy also announced a plan to station warships to monitor movement through the Strait of Malacca, where many Chinese vessels enter from the South China Sea.



The dark side of wildlife tourism: thousands of Asian elephants held in cruel conditions – The Guardian Elephants are being exploited to entertain tourists in south-east Asia, and kept in harsh conditions, says a new report from an animal rights NGO.

Coal undermines Indonesia’s food production: report – Conservation News Indonesia’s goal of achieving food self-sufficiency, especially for rice, might be in doubt as the country converts agricultural land into coal mining sites, a recent study found.

Industrial energy efficiency can improve air quality – Chinadialogue The Chinese government has successfully implemented large scale energy savings programmes before. The top 1,000 programme, targeted the top 1,000 energy consuming companies during the 11th Five-Year Plan. This was a key part of reducing energy-intensity in China and saved over 100 million tonnes of coal equivalent (Mtce). This was followed by the top 10,000 programme, which ran during the 12th Five-Year Plan period and covered companies using more than 10,000 tonnes of coal equivalent annually. The programme is assumed to have saved 250 Mtce.

When will they learn? More power plant waste threatens marine reserve in central Vietnam – Mekong Eye A Chinese plant has already been given permission to dump a million cubic meters of mud in the area.

 Trump’s policies could put Cambodia’s environment on chopping block – MONGABAY For Cambodia, tHIS would mean a combined cut of $11.7 million from the budgets of the U.S. State Department and USAID, with the latter involved in a host of projects meant to help sustain and protect the Cambodian environment and help curb and adapt to climate change.

Seafood giant Thai Union commits to clean up supply chains following pressure campaignMONGABAY After a two-year-long campaign that saw nearly 700,000 people call on Thai Union Group to shift to more sustainable and ethical canned tuna, the global seafood giant has committed to a series of reforms to clean up its supply chains.



California pushes ahead for new era of US-China climate partnerships – Chinadialogue The day after President Trump held a White House press conference to announce the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, California’s governor flew to China.

How China Is Emerging as a Leader in Global Innovation and IP Rights – The Diplomat Some concerns aside, China is emerging as a global IP leader.

Apple Opens Data Center in China to Comply With Cybersecurity Law – NYT The law requires companies to store Chinese users’ information in China, and Apple’s move suggests other foreign technology companies may have to do the same.

Transboundary data sharing helps Bangladesh prepare for floods – The Third Pole As the monsoons begin, some parts of Bangladesh are already flooded, and the Brahmaputra and Ganga rivers are expected to burst their banks sooner rather than later. But the people of Bangladesh are now more aware of potential disasters, thanks to improved flood forecasting and monitoring systems.// This can be a good example for many Southeast Asian countries as well. By sharing information and data, we can prevent or reduce natural disaster risks.


Myanmar Political Parties Call For Martial Law in Northern Rakhine State – Radio Free Asia Fourteen political parties in Myanmar, including the main opposition party, urged the civilian government on Thursday to order martial law in the unstable northern area of Rakhine state where a series of disappearances and murders have struck fear in ethnic Rakhine Buddhists.

Land disputes increase: report – Phnom Penh Post There were 56 new land disputes across the country last year, adding to 314 unresolved case at the end of 2015, a report issued yesterday by the NGO Forum on Cambodia says, marking the highest number of new cases since the group started monitoring in 2007.

Workers fear arrest in Malaysia – Phnom Penh Post Cambodian workers continue to fear arrest and deportation amid an ongoing crackdown on undocumented migrant workers in Malaysia, with local media reporting that 2,000 migrants have been arrested since the beginning of the month as of yesterday.

Actually, Malaysia’s Multi-Ethnic Coalition Died in 1969 – The Diplomat Those who believe that the BN is a genuine multi-ethnic coalition have simply fallen for the slick propaganda.

How Clan Feuds and Ethnic Tensions Breed Terrorism in the Philippines – The Diplomat Existing patterns of violence and narratives of marginalization provide fertile soil for terrorism. Seven weeks of war with Islamic State-inspired local terrorists, the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups, has been a blow to the popular administration of President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines.

Myanmar moves to become maritime trade hub in Southeast Asia – Southeast Asia Globe In an effort to establish its place in the global economy, Myanmar will focus on its shipping and port potential.

Cambodia prepares for a divisive national election in 2018 – Southeast Asia Globe With the dust now settled after last month’s commune elections, Southeast Asia Globe asked experts what to expect in the lead-up to next year’s crucial polls.

Aung San Suu Kyi considers change to hate speech law amid media backlash – Southeast Asia Globe Myanmar’s leader told reporters her administration is considering amending the country’s Telecommunications Law after the widely condemned arrests of three journalists.

Mother Mushroom: how Vietnam locked up its most famous blogger – The Guardian One of Vietnam’s most influential political bloggers, given a courage award by Melania Trump, faces a decade behind bars for her ‘reactionary’ work.

Myanmar And Thailand Agree to Issue Documents to Migrant Laborers – Radio Free Asia The Myanmar and Thai labor ministers reached an agreement on Friday to issue official documents to Myanmar workers allowing them to work legally in the neighboring country two weeks after new Thai labor regulations took effect under which undocumented migrant laborers can be expelled.

Illegal Lao Workers Flee Thailand Amid Crackdown – Radio Free Asia Hundreds of undocumented Laotians have fled Thailand since the Thai government imposed tough new restrictions on illegal migrant workers two weeks ago, according to a border official, with some condemning the Lao embassy for failing to protect their rights amid the crackdown. // Contrary to the Myanmar case (just above), Lao workers do not receive the same treatment mainly due to the loosen diplomatic relationship. This case also indicates that ASEAN countries’ lack of unity in overall, and ASEAN’s lack of accountability and enforcement to deal with regional issues.

Why Myanmar’s Suu Kyi Has Failed on Media Freedom – The Diplomat Instead, over the past year, press freedom in Myanmar seems to have regressed. In some respects, press freedom in Myanmar now seems more restrictive than it was in the final years of the former Thein Sein government.

NLD’s Civil Service Reforms Aim to Fight Corruption – The Irrawaddy The National League for Democracy government’s civil service reform strategic action plan (2017-2020) puts a strong focus on tackling corruption and working toward decentralization, while encouraging ethical practices in the civil service.

Laos expects 7% GDP growth next year – Investine The government in Laos expects economic growth of at least seven per cent in 2018, the same level expected for 2017, according to Vientiane Times. This is about the same as the growth rates that Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippine.

Indonesia Sets Stage for Crackdown on Hard-Line Islamist Groups – NYT A decree that will make it easier for the president to disband religious and civil society organizations was met with concern by human rights groups.


Interview: Tracking Kunming’s trash with Adam Liebman – Go Kumming Adam Liebman is a PhD candidate in sociocultural anthropology at the University of California, Davis. From 2013 to 2015 he conducted research in Kunming in support of his doctoral dissertation, which is concerned primarily with something we all tend to spend too little time contemplating — garbage.

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


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