Regional Roundup for Week of 8.11.2017


Climate Shifts Aren’t Limited to the Weather – NYT Globalization and technology are changing the world, too.

As Washington Tries to Protect Tech, China Could Fight Back – NYT As the Trump administration takes on Beijing over intellectual property, global trade rules could favor China.

At Mekong Forum, a focus on US disengagement and China’s rise – Mekong Eye As keynote speakers at this year’s Mekong Forum repeatedly underscored the rise of China amid growing unpredictability of U.S. policies, the sole U.S. representative in the half-filled ballroom of the Pullman Hotel in Khon Kaen, Thailand, cut a lonely figure.

Interview: Brian Eyler on Baihetan, China’s second largest dam –GoKunming  Eyler also keeps keenly abreast of dam and hydropower issues inside of China. We asked for his thoughts about Baihetan, its implications for the region and China’s ongoing hydropower strategy.

As Trump Unnerves Asia, China Sees an Opening – NYT Mr. Trump’s threat to bring “fire and fury” to North Korea has Beijing hoping to emerge as the sober-minded power in the region.



US, Singapore Conclude Biggest Army Exercise – NYT The latest iteration of their oldest army drills were by far the largest to date.

Vietnam, Yielding to Beijing, Backs Off South China Sea Drilling – NYT A gas project at the edge of Vietnam’s economic zone has been called off, an apparent victory for China at a time when the Trump administration is distracted.

Rex Tillerson: risk of ‘open conflict’ if US-China relations continue to grate – The Guardian Secretary of state touts cooperation and compromise on North Korea, South China Sea and trade – but says difficulties are at a ‘pivot point’

Can ASEAN Work Together to Fight Regional Terrorism? – The Diplomat As the grouping turns 50, it needs to confront the region’s biggest threat.

US-Vietnam Defense Relations Under Trump Get a Boost With First Aircraft Carrier Visit – The Diplomat The move represents yet another step forward for security ties under the Trump administration amid lingering concerns.

Trump’s Bilateralism and US Power in East Asia – The Diplomat How best to make sense of the Trump administration’s preference for bilateralism in Asia?

US, Australia, Japan Jointly Challenge China on South China Sea Issue – The Diplomat The three countries jointly called for China and the Philippines to abide by last year’s arbitral ruling.

How Much Trade Transits the South China Sea? Not $5.3 Trillion a Year – The Diplomat How much trade actually transits the South China Sea every year?

Assessing ASEAN’s Geopolitical Relevance After 50 Years – The Diplomat As ASEAN nears its 50th anniversary, what challenges does it face as a regional organization?



 Vietnamese smallholders help end deforestation – photo essay – The Guardian Growth has come at a cost. Vietnam’s forests, significantly damaged by war, have now been degraded or destroyed by logging and agricultural land clearance to the point where there is almost no untouched primary forest left.

Legal framework, roadmap needed for Vietnam’s wind power – Mekong Eye The Vietnamese government has approved several programmes to encourage the development of renewable energy in the country. However, a number of regulatory and market barriers as well as the lack of capacity have been identified as obstacles for investors in wind projects, according to Cossen.

Why Resilient Cities Are Important to ASEAN’s Future – The Diplomat To sustain ASEAN’s economic progress over the next 50 years, its leaders must commit to focusing on climate change.// To enhance the accountability of ASEAN in the region, it is important to consider sustainable development into ASEAN’s countries policy. The role of ASEAN is critical on this issue.

Asean to give infrastructure a big push – Mekong Eye ASEAN governments are set to speed up implementation of large infrastructure projects by taking advantage of the fast growth in the region and the ample liquidity in the global financial market.

Harsh sentence for blogger may haunt Vietnam’s environmental movement – Mekong Eye Condemnation from organizations like Human Rights Watch over Quỳnh’s arrest has had no impact, and there is fear that Mother Mushroom’s harsh sentence may deter other activists from speaking up on the environment, which is seen as one of the few sensitive subjects which citizens can openly discuss in Vietnam.

From Fossil Fuel to Clean Energy in ASEAN: Diversification is key – Mekong Eye Whether globally or within the ASEAN region, the pathway to an efficient and sustainable energy landscape is paved with diverse sources.

Cambodian farmers find reasons to stay on the land – ADB Blog In Cambodia, farmers are gaining access to the technology, markets, credit, and knowledge that they need to earn better incomes.

ASEAN, Beijing Agree to Talks on South China Sea Code– Radio Free Asia China and ASEAN said they both agreed Sunday to a framework for talks on a “code of conduct” in the disputed South China Sea, but the Southeast Asian side indirectly criticized Beijing’s territorial expansion there in an unusual statement.

Will the Dawei Special Economic Zone benefit the people of Myanmar? – Mekong Common Is the Dawei Special Economic Zone paving the way to environmental disaster?

Cambodia and Viet Nam Discuss Bilateral Coordination Mechanisms to Address Transboundary Water Issues – Mekong River Commission Team members of the Mekong Delta and Sesan-Srepok projects between Cambodia and Viet Nam discuss way forward to set up cross-border coordination mechanisms to address transboundary water issues.

HydroCalculator: New, Free, Online Tool Helps Citizens Assess Dams | Mongabay – International River With mega-dams planned globally, especially in the Amazon and Mekong, the Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF), an NGO, has developed a new free tool for evaluating a planned dam’s economic viability, greenhouse gas emissions and more.

In Cambodia, Holdouts Fight a Rising Tide | Devex – International River Late one night last week, scores of people packed into a wooden home located just meters from the Srepok river. As the rain pounded down, the water rose slowly up the bank. Inside the house, more than a hundred people watched as Yun Lorang spoke.



Apple’s Silence in China Sets a Dangerous Precedent – NYT Apple’s decision this weekend to give in to China’s demand to remove unregistered VPN apps is a blow for the liberties of its customers.

Trump Administration Is Said to Open Broad Inquiry Into China’s Trade Practices – NYT The investigation, focused on alleged intellectual property violations, marks a shift in policy toward Beijing after President Trump had emphasized greater cooperation.

Strong Yuan Could Open Door to Relaxing Currency Curbs – NYT China’s foreign exchange reserves have stabilized and capital flight has been stemmed. And Beijing wants to attract more foreign money into its stocks and bonds.

China Struggles to Control Coal Prices and Production – Radio Free Asia Last September, a sudden surge in coal prices caught China’s government by surprise, forcing it to boost production at a time when it had ordered the industry to cut back.

Xi shores up power with demand for army obedience and foreign respect – NYT President warns that China will not ‘swallow bitter fruit’ of threats to sovereignty, while telling military: ‘The Communist party commands the gun’.


What Did the New Asia Terrorism Meeting in Indonesia Achieve? – The Diplomat The engagement reflected growing alarm about the terrorism threat and ongoing subregional cooperation to combat it.

Is Media Biased Against Ethnic Armed Organizations? – Irrawaddy The inaccurate depiction by many media on the ethnic conflict, in most cases is unhelpful for the advancement of the peace process. In Myanmar, where the peace process involves a multitude of stakeholders, the role of the media and a need for precise, accurate reporting is imperative.// The role of media in peace negotiations seems critical as ethnic groups do not have many platforms to share its stance to the public. At least, media shouldn’t fuel the negotiation goes wrong by conveying vague or incorrect information.

Sinking feeling for Asean fisheries – Mekong Eye Escalating tensions over fishing rights in the South China Sea may be a harbinger of stormy seas ahead as more of Southeast Asia’s trawler fleet casts its half-empty nets in contested waters.

Global outcry over Thai Junta’s charges against award-winning journalist – Southeast Asia Globe Pravit Rojanaphruk, who has been detained twice for ‘attitude adjustment’ sessions since the 2014 military coup, stands charged under the Thai Sedition Act for Facebook posts, some of which reportedly date back more than a year.

Malaysia detains 400 foreigners in ‘terrorism’ sweep ahead of SEA Games – Southeast Asia Globe Many remain detained over suspected immigration violations, but police say none of the suspects had ties to terrorism.

Asean at 50: will the regional bloc overcome its midlife crisis? – Southeast Asia Globe Opinion: Sustained peace and sunny economic predictions are worth celebrating, but Asean can’t afford to ignore its problems, argues the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Miguel Chanco.

Analysis: The Peace Process and an Unattainable Plan – Irrawaddy Since the May conference in Naypyitaw, peace talks and national dialogues have stalled. The convening of national political dialogues in NCA-signatories’ controlled areas—in the case of the Restoration Council of Shan State and the Arakan Liberation Party—have not yet been able to be held due to the military and government objections over the venue and security, respectively.

Human Rights Watch Calls on Laos to Investigate Missing Thai Activist – Radio Free Asia Officials in Thailand and Laos said Tuesday they had no information about a missing activist linked with the Thai pro-democracy Red Shirts, while Human Rights Watch called for a full investigation into his alleged abduction in Vientiane over the weekend.

Islamic State and Climate Change Seen as World’s Greatest Threats, Poll Says – WSJ A Pew survey finds that while global warming is a top concern around the world, more Americans are more concerned about cyberwarfare than climate change.

How to Get Ahead in Politics in the Philippines – NYT Chronic dysfunction and selfish ambition across the political spectrum prevent the changes Filipinos deserve.

Big thanks to Riyoung Ko for curating this summer’s news digests. 

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