A huge week for Asia. An epic stock market tumble in China had repercussions for markets globally and has raised questions over China’s economic strength, while a 3% devaluation of the yuan has stoked fears of a possible trade war. Much for Xi and Obama to talk about next month. In Thailand, a key suspect, thought to be a foreigner, in the Erawan shrine bombing has been arrested. In the apartment he was found in, Thai authorities recovered bomb making materials and a stack of fake Turkish passports. Theories linking the bombing to the repatriation of scores of Uyghur refugees ealrier this summer seem to be correct. Stay with ExSE as the investigation digs further.
Wall St. Slips Lower After a Wild Week – NYT Investors were calmed by strong growth figures from the United States, while China continued to take measures to shore up stocks and the renminbi. // The government announced earlier this year its plan to freeze annual GDP growth at 7%. Recent stock slips could cause problems with this carefully calculated maneuver.
Related: Zombie Factories Stalk the Sputtering Chinese Economy – NYT
Related: Political Risks May Foil Economic Reform in China – NYT
Related: Press freedom watchdog calls for release of Chinese business reporter – The Guardian
Related: The US Still Runs the World – Project Syndicate
How to Solve China’s Currency Parity Puzzle? – ChinaFile The yuan lost about 3 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar between August 11 and 13, roiling global equity markets and stoking fears that China had pushed a trade war button.
Related: What does China’s Shock Yuan Devaluation mean for Africa? – China in Africa: The Real Story
Chinese Media Jumps on Tragic Virginia Shooting – ChinaFile Within China, the high rate of gun violence in the United States is widely known and often seen as a flaw in the U.S. political system, a criticism repeated after the Virginia shooting.
Thai Police Announce Arrest in Bangkok Shrine Bombing – NYT The Thai police on Saturday arrested a foreign man who they said was likely to have been involved in the Aug. 17 blast, which killed 20 people.//Look for ExSE’s analysis of the Erawan bombing, the search for the culprit and its connection to Uyghur and Pan-Turkic nationalism in SE Asia this week.
Related: Bangkok Bombing Spotlights Uyghur Woes in Southeast Asia – The Diplomat
National Security Adviser Meets With Chinese President Before His U.S. Visit – NYT Susan E. Rice met with President Xi Jinping and other officials and discussed a number of issues that included areas of tension between the two nations.
Related: Can President Xi’s September Visit Save US-China Relations? – The Diplomat
Related: US-China Strategic Rivalry: Balancing the Rebalance – The Diplomat
Sit-In Leaders Are Charged in Hong Kong – NYT Three students who led last year’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong were charged over their roles in setting off the massive rallies and sit-ins.
A Military Game of Chicken in the South China Sea? – The Diplomat Amid criticisms of China’s island-reclamation activities, the U.S. and China continued to trade accusations that the other is militarizing the South China Sea.
Related: Taiwan and Its South China Sea Peace Initiative – The Diplomat
Related: Philippine Nationalism and the South China Sea – The Diplomat
Human rights groups face global crackdown ‘not seen in a generation’ – The Guardian Laws affecting funding, requiring registration and prohibiting protest are among controls that are making it difficult for NGOs and other campaign groups.
Related: British rights activist charged with defamation in Thailand – The Guardian
Related: Lao Migrants To Be Witnesses in Thai Human Trafficking Case – Radio Free Asia
China, Japan battle to build Indonesia’s first bullet train – The Jakarta Post China and Japan are locked in an increasingly heated contest to build Indonesia’s first high-speed railway, with the Asian giants sweetening deals and turning up the charm as time runs out to woo Jakarta.//Add high-speed rail to the growing list of projects where the Japanese and Chinese. Look for an ExSE report on Chinese, Thai and Japanese cooperation and competition on Myanmar’s Dawei Deep Sea Port project coming soon.
Chinese oil rig to continue drilling near Vietnamese coast – SCMP A Chinese oil rig at the centre of last year’s standoff between China and Vietnam will continue drilling not far from Vietnam’s coast, China’s maritime safety authorities said on Tuesday.
US visa programme popular with Chinese derided as ‘immigration reform for 1pc’ – SCMP With immigration a hot topic on the presidential campaign trail, unions and immigrant advocates are targeting a federal visa programme popular with Chinese that they deride as “immigration reform for the 1 per cent.”//Tied up in this are discussions about job creation and China pursuing corruption and graft suspects abroad.
US Admiral: China ‘Very Interested’ in RIMPAC 2016 – The Diplomat China was invited to participate in RIMPAC for the first time in 2014, but some have already argued that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) should not be invited back in 2016.
Related: Should the Pentagon Fear China’s Newest Weapon? – The Diplomat
SUSTAINABILITY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
China, US to cooperate in developing ‘clean coal’ technologies to help combat climate change – SCMP Officials from China and the United States have taken a major step towards an agreement to advance “clean coal” technologies that claim to reduce the fuel’s contribution to climate change.//Climate change mitigation continues to be a great point of cooperation between the US and China. Good to see that stress in other areas of the bilateral relationship haven’t prevented building upon past achievements in climate change research.
Dams ‘destroying Mekong fish stock’ – The Nation Fishermen in delta and Northeast Thailand say dams in China and Laos have hit breeding and yields, forcing many to quit.//ExSE has been personally observing fish stock depletion in Chiang Rai province for the past three years. There is little doubt in our minds that hydro projects on the upper Mekong are indeed causing fish population decline.
Related: Large dams are not the answer to climate change in the Mekong Region – Mekong Commons
Adapting to air pollution with clean air stands in China – The Guardian To adapt or mitigate? As with climate change, both mitigation and adaptation are needed to tackle air pollution in China.
Related: Air quality rule changes put heat on local authorities – SCMP
Related: A Small Chinese Experiment With Large Environmental Implications – The Diplomat
Thai Locals Incensed over Krabi Coal Power Plan – The Irrawaddy Many residents of Krabi, a popular tourism province in southern Thailand, are opposing the government’s plan to build a coal plant close to their homes.
Work starts on Vietnam’s first solar power plant – Thanh Nien News Potential is huge as Vietnam records around 2,000-2,500 hours of sunlight annually.
Edinburgh zoo says giant panda Tian Tian lost cub during pregnancy – The Guardian Giant panda had been expected to give birth last week, but experts now suspect she absorbed the foetus into the womb.
Thailand destroys 2-tonne ivory stockpile amid junta crackdown – SCMP Thailand destroyed more than two tonnes of ivory Wednesday – a victory for animal rights groups fighting against the trade in a country renowned for being a hub for illegal tusks.
Related: US praises Thailand for crushing 2.1 tonnes of illegal ivory –The Nation
Related: Vietnam seizes elephant tusks, pangolin scales in large shipment from Malaysia – Thanh Nien News
China Holds 23 Linked to Fatal Blasts in Tianjin – NYT Chinese leaders have moved vigorously in recent days to quell outrage over the blasts, which rattled top leaders and raised questions about the safety of China’s industrial zones.// It was never in doubt that officials’ heads would roll over the Tianjin blast – of course many of them are being investigated for corrutpion.
Related: China’s Disaster Management – NYT
Explosion at China chemical plant leaves one dead and nine injured – The Guardian One person has been killed and nine injured in an explosion at a chemical plant in eastern China, state media has said.
A Fake Goldman Sachs Underlines a Real Chinese Strength – NYT The investment bank joins a long list of counterfeits that includes Apple stores and British villages.
China arrests Christians who opposed removals of crosses – The Guardian Human rights lawyer and church activists understood to be among people detained after Communist party campaign to take down religious symbols.
Human Rights Lawyer Prevented From Flying Out of Beijing – NYT Liang Xiaojun is part of a large circle of rights lawyers in China, hundreds of whom have been questioned or detained since early July in a crackdown.
Top bosses at website of Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily detained for suspected graft – SCMP The president and a vice-president of People.cn – the website of People’s Daily – have been taken away by Henan prosecutors for alleged bribery, state media reported yesterday.//It appears that with the arrests of journalists for reporting ‘fake information’ on China’s stock market crash, and now this, that Xi’s anti-corruption drive has switched gears. As an acquaintance said, “We always knew you couldn’t talk about politics, but now it seems you can’t talk about anything.”
China Denies Sending Additional Troops to North Korean Border – The Diplomat China’s state media stayed away from the story – in fact it appeared that censors were actively deleting the relevant social media posts – and on Thursday, China’s Defense Ministry officially denied the reports.
Related: Assessing North Korea’s ‘Ground Game’ with China – The Diplomat
The leading power: China to take charge in Iran’s nuclear plant revamp – SCMP Iranian Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi, who is also head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organisation, on Friday said China would play “a leading role” in redesigning the Arak heavy-water reactor to significantly reduce its plutonium output.//With the world watching Iran’s post-deal nuclear program, this is a good opportunity for China to positively involve itself in a very significant project. Good to see China taking Great Power responsibility.
Related: Chinese Investment in Africa: Surprisingly Small, but Growing Fast – ChinaFile
Chinese military on charm offensive as it announces joint drills with Malaysia, US and Australia – SCMP The military will hold joint drills with Malaysian forces in the strategic Strait of Malacca next month, the defence ministry said yesterday, as a training exercise launched featuring Chinese, Australian and American troops.
Related: Russia and China Kick Off Naval Exercise in Sea of Japan – The Diplomat
Related: Philippines, Malaysia Hold Joint Naval Exercises Amid Security Concerns – The Diplomat // Although the listed reasons for cooperation do not include protection against China’s militarization in the South China Sea, could this be some early signs of Southeast Asian military alliance against China’s efforts to dominate the territory?
ASEAN members discuss effective border security – The Jakarta Post Representatives of ASEAN member countries highlighted the importance of effective border security amid rapidly increasing connectivity in Asia during a regional meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday.//With the ASEAN Economic Community’s implementation happening sometime in the next century, border security will be a priority for ASEAN members.
UN warns of fresh wave of boatpeople in Asia as monsoon season ends – SCMP A fresh surge of refugees and migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh is expected to set out in smugglers’ rickety boats for southeast Asia when the monsoon season ends in about a month, the United Nations said.//After a disastrous spring, all eyes should be on the Andaman Sea and Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia’s handling of the refugee crisis.
Related: A break for the border: Mae Sot – Southeast Asia Globe Magazine
Related: Koh Kong zone ‘will reduce illegal migrants’ – NationMultimedia.com
Myanmar Democracy Icon Finds Herself Assailed as Authoritarian – NYT As landmark elections approach, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate, is being openly criticized by activists, commentators and intellectuals.//ASSK should be a more outspoken proponent of minority rights in Myanmar. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily win you votes with the people who forms her party’s base.
Related: 2 More Opposition Candidates Disqualified by Election Commission – The Irrawaddy Magazine
The Truth About Myanmar’s New Discriminatory Laws – The Diplomat The euphemistically-termed “Protection of Race and Religion” bills raise serious questions about the country’s future.
Related: Rohingya IDPs Detained in Rangoon: Police – The Irrawaddy Magazine
Related: Myanmar Striking Rohingya From Voter Rolls, Activists Say – NYT
Ceasefire date will follow next meeting: govt – DVB Multimedia Group A date will be announced for the signing of a nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) after next month’s meeting between ethnic leaders and President Thein Sein, according to the Burmese government’s chief negotiator at the peace talks, Union Minister Aung Min.
Related: Arakan Army Calls for Calm After Bangladesh Border Clash – The Irrawaddy Magazine
Thai soldiers helping Myanmar flood victims – NationMultimedia.com The Royal Thai Armed Forces yesterday dispatched 51 soldiers on a C130 aircraft to help flood victims in Myanmar.
Related: Chin Govt Requests $15.5m Flood Rehabilitation Grant – The Irrawaddy Magzine
Related: ADB to Provide $3 Million For Myanmar Flood Relief – ADB.org News Release
Disputes Continue Over Cambodian Government’s Official Map – Radio Free Asia A Cambodian official in charge of the country’s borders denounced an opposition lawmaker who accused him of lying about a map of the Southeast Asian nation he found in the U.S. Library of Congress, amid ongoing debate over the charts that the government uses to demarcate its border with Vietnam.
That’s a lot of dope: Cambodia seizes US$7 million worth of marijuana hidden in coffee bags – SCMP Cambodian police on Tuesday showed off a seizure of nearly 1.5 tonnes of marijuana worth more than $7 million packed into coffee bags, part of an ongoing drug crackdown in the country.
‘First Lady’ of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge dies at 83 – Thanh Nien Daily “Her body will be cremated on Monday evening,” her son Ieng Vuth told AFP by telephone from Pailin.
Vietnam to free 18,200 prisoners in amnesty, but no political activists – The Guardian Country’s second biggest-ever amnesty to mark independence celebrations includes release of 34 foreigners.
Related: Hanoi to close 40 streets for National Day parade – Thanh Nien Daily
Malaysia finds mass graves of 24 suspected human trafficking victims – The Guardian Malaysian authorities have found mass graves containing the remains of more than 20 people believed to be human trafficking victims near the border with Thailand, police said on Sunday.
No more Mr Nice Guy – The Economist: Asia DOWN a quiet lane in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, campaigners at trestle tables are doing a roaring trade in yellow T-shirts. The volunteers have already flogged more than 30,000 of the garments, which are becoming de rigueur for Malaysians planning to attend protests on August 29th-30th to demand the resignation of the country’s prime minister, Najib Razak.//Protests ongoing, former PM of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad has called for Najib’s resignation as well.
Singapore Gears Up for its September 11 Election – The Diplomat The city-state’s next general election will be a key test for its ruling party.
Yunnan poverty rate drops dramatically – GoKunming Recently released statistics from the Yunnan Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development show Yunnan’s poorest are significantly better off than they were four years ago. While millions continue to live at bare minimum levels, a dramatic decrease in what is termed ‘absolute poverty’ over the past four years is sign for optimism.
Yunnan’s Dulong minority, isolated no more – GoKunming The survey team from Yunnan University found state-funded housing and road projects are transforming the culture of the Dulong people (独龙族), who have for centuries inhabited the Dulong River area largely undisturbed. Now, with the opening of a tunnel and road in 2014, their traditional way of life has been changed and sometimes disrupted by a permanent link to the outside world. // Does the end of isolation in a globalizing world mean the end of zomia?
This week’s news digest was compiled by Julia Zielinski with analysis by Will Feinberg.