Regional Roundup for Week of 8.1.17


In China, Despair for Cause of Democracy After Nobel Laureate’s Death – NYT Some activists say the movement is now at its weakest point since the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.

Climate change will force mass migration of 1 billion by 2100 – Mekong Eye Massive migration is foreseen all over the world by the end of the century, with the Asia-Pacific region identified as the most vulnerable if the current climate change scenario does not improve.

Climate change pushing Asia towards doom – The Third Pole Much of Asia may see 50% more rainfall due to climate change, although countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan may experience a decline in rainfall by 20-50%, says a new report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.



Vietnam stops drilling in South China Sea after threats from Beijing – Southeast Asia Globe One week after China threatened to attack its bases in the Spratly islands, Hanoi has ordered a private oil company to stop drilling in the contested territory.

Trump Warns China on North KoreaWSJ In a pair of posts on Twitter, President Donald Trump signaled frustration with what he described as China’s inaction on North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic-missile ambitions.

How Should the US and China Approach the Next Economic Dialogue? – The Diplomat How to interpret the outcome of the first Comprehensive Economic Dialogue for future China-U.S. economic relations.

China-Vietnam South China Sea Spat in the Spotlight – The Diplomat Reports indicate Beijing’s coercive efforts continue even as it plays up a cooling down period in the South China Sea.



Switch to electric vehicles will not be enough to give us clean air | Letters – The Guardian Readers respond to Britain’s latest clean air plan and the ban on all new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040. So, the government is committed to banning all diesel and petrol cars by 2040 (Report, 26 July). Has it considered the wider impacts?

 Chinese firms urged to invest responsibly – Mekong Eye Chinese companies yesterday met with the government and NGOs in an attempt to resolve conflicts caused by investment projects in Cambodia.

Under the Radar: Forget the South China Sea, this is Asia’s real water war – Mekong Eye While tensions in the South China Sea have the potential for limited skirmishes far out to sea, the competition over the resources of the Mekong River is putting millions at risk of natural disasters, famine and regional instability.

Rayong Bay a ‘dead sea’ for fishermen – Mekong Eye PEOPLE in Rayong, especially fishermen, are still suffering the consequences of a major oil spill in Rayong Bay four years ago, because fish have not returned. However, PTT Global Chemical PLC (PTTGC), which took control of the cleanup, insists that the marine ecosystem has recovered to its normal state.

Stopping climate change may be harder than scientists thought – Monga Bay As nations attempt to hedge against the worst effects of global warming by scaling back their carbon emissions, a new study is questioning the accuracy of a pivotal “pre-industrial” measurement used as a baseline in pursuit of this goal.// This question seems critical as it also allows us to think further what measures should be taken over the course of period under the scenario that we cannot meet our goal.

Civil society groups denounce new environment bill – Mekong Eye Environmentalists have called on the authorities to rethink changing Thailand’s environmental protection law, because the process lacks public oversight.//  An example of strong environmental civil movement in Southeast Asia

Vietnam’s major cities choking as pollution exacerbates – Mekong Eye Air pollution has been getting worse across Vietnam over the past five years, breaching acceptable levels in the country’s major cities, according to a government report released on Thursday.

Thailand spearheads regional push towards organic agriculture – Investvine Thailand is establishing itself as a driving force for a push towards organic agricultural products within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, by starting initiatives to bring its regional neighbours together to develop respective strategies.// A great example of how regional organization can initiate programs that promote sustainable development in its region.



China and Russia Hold First Joint Naval Drill in the Baltic Sea – NYT As part of a budding military partnership, China and Russia hold joint military exercises in the strategic European sea for the first time, monitored by NATO.

Anti-Chinese Posters at Melbourne Universities Are Tied to White Supremacists – NYT The posters were found as Chinese enrollment at schools in Australia grows and as the country confronts concerns about Chinese influence in its politics and economy.

For China’s Global Ambitions, ‘Iran Is at the Center of Everything’ – NYT Iran’s strategic location makes it a focus, and Chinese investments and entrepreneurs are pouring into the country.

Can Jack Ma, Asia’s richest man, create 1m jobs in the US? – The Guardian The founder of Alibaba, one of the world’s biggest online retailers, made the promise at a pre-inauguration meeting with Donald Trump.

China Investment Lags in Belt And Road Countries – Radio Free Asia While China invests heavily in developed countries, it has relied mainly on construction contracts to expand its presence in the developing world, analysts say.

Liu Xiaobo Wasn’t China’s Only Prisoner of Conscience – The Diplomat The best way to honor his memory is to press China to end torture and free other dissidents.

To Be a Global Leader, China Needs a New Refugee Policy  – The Diplomat To be seen as a leader, China will need to help share burdens — including by hosting refugees.


Malaysia’s PM offers millions to farmers ahead of crucial election – Southeast Asia Globe The offer from the incumbent Najib Razak, embroiled by scandal in the halls of power, highlights the importance of winning the rural vote

Duterte confronts protesters following blunt State of the Nation Address – Southeast Asia Globe The Philippine leader doubled down on his war on drugs, confronted US colonial influence and defended his handling of Communist peace talks, prompting outrage among thousands of protesters, who he then approached

China Showers Myanmar With Attention, as Trump Looks Elsewhere – NYT Myanmar’s opening had been considered an American victory, but Beijing is bringing it into its fold with money and diplomacy.

Vietnam plans multi-billion smart cities across the country – Investvine Vietnam seems to become the driving force for smart cities in Southeast Asia with several plans for such developments on the table.

US Firms Lobby for Removal of Myanmar Trade Restrictions  – Irrawaddy American businesses based in Myanmar are urging their government to remove sections 311 and 312 of the USA Patriot Act which prohibit US banks from trading in Myanmar.

Silencing Media Has No Place in A Democracy – Irrawaddy During my 15 years as a journalist, I never thought I could be arrested for meeting insurgent groups.

Blood and Silk: Power and Conflict in Modern Southeast Asia – Irrawaddy Southeast Asia is undoubtedly one of the world’s economically fastest growing regions and the home of sophisticated cultures – but it’s also where decades-long ethnic and political rebels are still active.

ISIS’ Core Helps Fund Militants in Philippines, Report Says – NYT The Islamic State’s central command in Syria has sent tens of thousands of dollars to groups that seized a southern Philippine city, a research group said.

In the Philippines, Duterte breaks his vow to reform labour lawsThe Economist AS A presidential candidate, Rodrigo Duterte had strong views about “contractualisation” and “endo”—big firms’ habit of hiring employees indirectly, via temping agencies, often on renewable five-month contracts. He agreed with labour activists that corporate giants use these practices to avoid providing health care and other benefits, and said they should be banned.

Malaysia’s government harasses opponents as an election loomsThe Economist “UNDEMOCRATIC”, “gerrymandered” and “fix-up” are good words to describe Malaysian politics, dominated since independence by a single party. So it was a bit rich for the prime minister’s spokesman to employ them when smearing a big opposition group this month.

ASEAN Deploys Terror Aid to Philippines Amid Marawi Crisis – The Diplomat The regional grouping joined a list of actors doling out assistance to Manila.

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

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