Regional Roundup for Week of 7.5.2015

Happy July to all of our ExSE readers and happy Fourth of July to our American readers. This weekend and the week following it will be pivotal for the world economy. And I’m not referring just to the ‘Grexit’ – on the other side of Eurasia, the Chinese stock market has dropped 30% in the past three weeks. China’s top brokers collectively pledged more than 120 billion yuan ($26.6 billion) to stabilize the market.

EXSE FOCUS

China rolls out emergency measures to prevent stock market crashReuters China’s stock markets face a make-or-break week after officials rolled out an unprecedented series of steps at the weekend to prevent a full-blown stock market crash that would threaten the world’s second-largest economy. With everyone’s eyes on Greece, China’s stock market crisis gets ignored. In reality, this could turn out to be the bigger story long-term.

China Deepens Planned Cuts to Carbon IntensityChinaFile China has mapped out how it will try and peak greenhouse emissions by 2030 or before, details that could have a major bearing on U.N. climate talks aimed at delivering a deal in Paris later this year.

Related: China analysts react to national climate planChinaDialogue

Japan pledges $6 billion to Mekong nations as China prepares new bankThanh Nien A summary of the Japan-Mekong cooperation agreement expressed a veiled criticism of China’s recent maritime expansion. Japan has long been a quiet force of infrastructure development in SE Asia. Certainly staying low-key on this.

Lao Provincial Official to Grant Concession for Public Property to Chinese InvestorRadio Free Asia A Lao official has decided to grant a land concession to a Chinese investor to develop the area around one of the country’s most famous natural landmarks, despite heavy criticism by locals who oppose such deals involving public property. If this goes through, it will be a disaster. The Kuangsi Falls are one of the jewels of the Luang Prabang region, losing it to ‘development’ by anyone would be a true tragedy. 

Xi Hosts 56 Nations at Founding of Asian Infrastructure BankNYT Many attendees at the Beijing event were American allies that Washington had urged not to join the China-led bank, seen as a rival to Western-led institutions.

Related: Why US Allies Are Happy to Join China’s AIIB The Diplomat

Related: China to Hold Some Veto Powers in New Asian BankThe Irrawaddy

Vietnam Communist party chief to make first US tripThe Guardian Party general secretary Nguyen Phu Trong said on Friday he hopes to build trust and create more opportunities to improve relations between one-time foes as they mark the 20th anniversary of normalized diplomatic ties. They are also being brought closer together by shared concerns over China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Related: The Dramatic Transformation in US-Vietnam Relations The Diplomat

Who Else Will Join the TPP?Asia Unbound As the TPP’s chances rise, more countries in Asia appear ready to join the negotiations, most likely as members of the second round of nations joining the deal. Sometimes I look at the TPP/AIIB as two teams picking players for a neighborhood game of football. 

Related: Getting the Trans-Pacific Partnership RightProject Syndicate

REGIONAL RELATIONS

Thai navy votes to buy three Chinese submarines worth $1 bnThanh Nien The deal would see China build three brand new submarines fitted with arms and also include training for Thai officials.

Sino-Burmese border market shelled DVB Unknown assailants have targeted the 105-Mile Trade Zone, a major import-export camp on the Sino-Burmese border near Muse in northern Shan State. No casualties have been reported.

Southeast Asia Plans Fund to Help Migrants, But Offers Decried as InadequateThe Irrawaddy Southeast Asian nations proposed on Thursday setting up a fund to tackle illegal migration, in one of the first coordinated actions after thousands of “boat people” arrived on the region’s shores, but rights groups dismissed the offers as mere tokens. These states need to tackle the problem at its core. Why are so many people leaving? If they do leave, they need to be treated humanely. Sending them back out to sea isn’t a humane, nor viable strategy. 

Related: Burmese refugees offered job training in ThailandDVB

Related: Interior Ministry Seeks Help on Illegal MigrantsThe Cambodia Daily

Find Peng Jiasheng, Burmese military tells ThaisDVB Burmese military officials have called on their Thai counterparts to help capture Kokang rebel leader Peng Jiasheng, who they claim is hiding in Thailand. Would not be the first time Chinese nationals making a ruckus in Myanmar flee to Thailand to regroup. 

China and India Are Sitting Out Refugee CrisisNYT Asia’s giants could play leadership roles but see it as a losing issue that could diminish their clout and bilateral interests.

Mysterious Motives: India’s Raids on the Burma BorderThe Irrawaddy It has been several weeks since Indian troops crossed the Burma border and attacked camps where ethnic rebels form India’s volatile northeast have camps, and, despite some press coverage immediately after the event, few details have emerged—and what has been said has been utterly contradictory.

 Burmese Fisherman Goes Home After 22 Years as a SlaveThe Irrawaddy Thailand’s booming seafood business alone runs on an estimated 200,000 migrant workers, many of them forced onto boats after being tricked, kidnapped or sold. A heart-breaking story, very good read. 

Related: Rescued Fishermen Return From IndonesiaThe Cambodia Daily

Preah Vihear Border Checkpoint to Go InternationalThe Cambodia Daily A delegation of Cambodian officials including Foreign Affairs Min­ister Hor Namhong will meet with Thai counterparts in Bangkok next week to sign off on an agreement that will open an international border checkpoint in Preah Vihear province, the ministry said Friday.

China Angered by Philippine Documentary on South China SeaThe Irrawaddy China on Monday accused the Philippines of spreading misinformation and “creating the illusion of the victim” in their dispute over the South China Sea after Manila aired a three-part documentary defending its position.

Phnom Penh, Hanoi to Investigate Alleged Attacks Along BorderThe Cambodia Daily Cambodia and Vietnam have agreed to create a joint working group to investigate the CNRP-led trip to a disputed border mark­er in Svay Rieng province late last month, where opposition lawmak­er Real Camerin claims he was as­saulted by Vietnamese civilians backed by soldiers.

SUSTAINABILITY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Carving up Cambodia’s forestsNew Mandala Human relocation and Chinese developments threaten the country’s largest national park.

US tells China its legal imports of ivory offer loophole for black marketThe Guardian A senior US official told China on Friday that its legal imports of ivory act as a loophole for illegal traders, and that it needs to understand the importance of wildlife NGOs.

As their fields dry up, farmers face the threat of financial ruinThe Nation To rice farmers, ongoing drought is an imminent financial crisis. Their paddy fields remain parched this year as authorities warn locals against sowing seeds or planting seedlings on their farmland.

3 forest rangers arrested in Central Highlands timber poaching caseThanh Nien 139 valuable trees have been stolen from their forest this year

Shanghai residents throng streets in ‘unprecedented’ anti-PX protestChinaDialogue Daily protests against a proposed relocation of a chemical plant in Shanghai reached a peak last week of 50,000, said to be the largest protest in China so far against production of paraxylene (PX), a compound used to manufacture plastic bottles. As a comparison, the 2013 Kunming anti-PX protest drew 2,000 participants. Wherever these plants pop up in China, the protests inevitably follow. 

Krabi locals reject coal-fired power plantsThe Nation A planned coal-fired power plant could destroy the sustainable economic life cycle of Krabi and also affect the whole national economic system, the business sector in Krabi has warned.

Family Members of Lao Elite Smuggling Rosewood to ChinaRadio Free Asia Luxury rosewood illegally logged throughout Laos is routinely smuggled north across the border to China by family members of the country’s elite officials along a route paved with bribes to local authorities, according to sources with knowledge of the network.

Songkhla rides the waste-to-power bandwagonThe Nation Songkhla has come a long way from being a province with an overwhelming amount of accumulated garbage over a year ago to one that has taken a technology-savvy approach to eradicating trash via a waste-to-energy power plant.

 

Major Boost in Finance is Key to Helping Asia Manage Climate ChangeADB Asia needs at least $40 billion annually to adapt to climate change. Climate finance will need to come from different sources, such as multilateral funds, private investments, and capital markets.

Related: WLE partner ICEM releases Climate Resilience Kit for Mekong TownsCPWF Mekong

 CHINA

China Approves Sweeping Security Law, Bolstering Communist RuleNYT The measure is even broader than an earlier draft, extending its call for security to be defended on seabeds, at the poles and in space.

Related: The Truth About China’s New National Security LawThe Diplomat

Everything Xi wantsThe Economist Since taking over as China’s leader in 2012, President Xi Jinping has shown an unusual preoccupation with challenges to the country’s security.

Satellite images Chinese-built runway artificial island finished The Guardian China has almost finished construction of a 3,000m runway on the disputed Spratly islands in the South China Sea, satellite images have shown.

Related: Vietnamese Prime Minister calls for strong army to respond to new challengesThanh Nien

China freezes new share offers in bid to shore up plunging stock marketsThe Guardian China has frozen share offers and set up a market-stabilisation fund, according to reports, as Beijing intensified efforts to pull stock markets out of a nose-dive that is threatening the world’s second-largest economy.

China’s Proposed Non-Governmental Organization Law: Cooperation or Coercion? The Diplomat The language of the Overseas NGO Management Law must be amended to protect freedom of expression and association.

Related: Police, Guards Block Marches Against NGO LawThe Cambodia Daily

 China’s Anti-Corruption Campaign Enters Phase TwoThe Diplomat The second phase of Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign will require an intensification of legal efforts.

China’s military must help Xinjiang modernise, top army officials sayThe Guardian China’s military must bring “modern civilisation” to the restive southern areas of the Xinjiang region, where Muslim ethnic Uighurs are in a majority, and help develop its economy, two senior army officers wrote in an influential journal. Unfortunately, ‘modern civilisation’ is a code word for more state-led development that will most likely alienate the local population. 

 ADB Loan to Improve Urban Services, Connectivity in Xinjiang Border AreaADB ADB has approved a $150 million loan for infrastructure and service upgrades that will help lift living standards, improve the environment, and boost trade opportunities for urban centers in the northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

 Tibet After the Dalai LamaProject Syndicate On the 80th birthday of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tibet’s future looks more uncertain than ever. Once he dies, China is likely to install its puppet as his successor, potentially leading to the erosion of the institution – and fueling the rise of a violent separatist movement in Tibet.

Almost a third of China’s Great Wall has disappearedThe Guardian Around 30% of China’s Ming-era Great Wall has disappeared over time as adverse natural conditions and reckless human activities – including stealing bricks to build houses – erode the Unesco world heritage site, state media has reported.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

Vietnam Gets Fourth Submarine from Russia amid South China Sea TensionsThe Diplomat Another one of Hanoi’s Kilo-class subs arrives.

Indonesian SMEs and the ASEAN Economic CommunityThe Diplomat Indonesia’s president needs to lead in preparing the country’s small business sector for 2015.

How tourism in Laos, Cambodia is galloping ahead of VietnamThanh Nien Government agencies are greatly responsible for Vietnam’s declining tourism , an industry insider says

Burma rejects UNHCR proposal on Rohingya MuslimsDVB The Burmese government has rejected a proposal from the UN Human Rights Council decision regarding Burma’s ethnic Rohingya Muslims by the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC).

Related: The Rohingya and Islamic Extremism: A Convenient MythThe Diplomat

Fisheries operators warn strict measures will sink the industryThe Nation The fisheries sector warned that overly strict fishery regulations being implemented under the “illegal, unreported and unregulated” (IUU) fishing protocol will result in the collapse of Thai fishery and related industries, which will affect Thai people’s access to seafood.

Related: Fisheries situation ‘expected to return to normal soon’ The Nation

Related: With Stocks Falling, PM Tells Citizens, Retirees to Raise FishThe Cambodia Daily

 200,000 jobs at stake as garment factories threaten closuresDVB The Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) has threatened to close down factories if the proposed 3,600 kyat (US$3.60) per day minimum wage is approved by the Burmese government.

Khmer Rouge Leaders Begin Appeal Against Guilty VerdictsThe Cambodia Daily Appeal hearings began Thursday in the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s first case against senior regime leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, who are attempting to have their life sentences for crimes against humanity overturned.

1,142 seats up for grabs in general election DVB The Union Election Commission (UEC) has announced that the constituencies for this year’s general election as the same as those marked for the polls in 2010 with a total of 1,142 MPs to be elected for both houses of parliament and the regional assemblies.

Related: Thein Sein To Consider Second Term: Japanese MediaThe Irrawaddy

 Asia Highway Closed as Burma Army, DKBA Exchange FireThe Irrawaddy Renewed fighting between government troops and ethnic Karen rebels in eastern Burma led to a temporary shutdown of the new Asia Highway on Thursday morning. As many have warned before, Myanmar’s ethnic conflict may hamstring efforts to cash in on economic reform. Companies don’t want their investments getting blown up by mortars. On the flip side, the mining industry has done alright operating in eastern Congo, security overhead is a bit expensive though. 

Related: DOCUMENTARY: ‘With only our voices, what can we do?’DVB

UN Rights Office Urges Thailand to Free 14 Student ActivistsThe Irrawaddy The UN human rights office called Tuesday on Thailand to release 14 student activists and drop the charges that were filed against them for holding a peaceful anti-coup rally.

YUNNAN

Hairy monster: ancient ‘super-armoured’ worm discovered in ChinaThe Guardian An ancient marine worm discovered in China has been identified as the earliest known animal to have used body armour to defend itself against predators.

Monsterous mushroom found in Pu’er – GoKunming Villagers discovered the colossal fungus growing in the shade of a tree in Kangping, a town in Pu’er 30 kilometers east of the prefectural capital.

 The Dai stilted house – GoKunming When the ancestors of Xishuangbanna’s Dai people first migrated to southern Yunnan over two millennia ago they discovered the lush valleys were suitable places to grow the kind of rice that was so important to their way of living. So the new settlers selected sites near rivers or streams and set about building the kind of houses that they were accustomed to back in their original southeast China homeland. Fascinating article by Jim Goodman.

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