Regional Roundup for Week of 9.7.17

EXSE FOCUS

Cambodia Charges Opposition Leader Kem Sokha With Treason  – New York Times The president of the Cambodia National Rescue was formally charged with treason after being accused by the country’s authoritarian government of plotting to overthrow its leaders with the backing of the United States. He faces jail term of up to 30 years and his party could be dissolved.

Related: Cambodia Arrests Opposition Leader, Accusing Him of Treason – New York Times

Related: Why the Cambodian government arrested our father in the middle of the night – Washington Post

Related: Cambodia’s government is preparing for elections with repression – The Economist

Related: Cambodia says opposition party could be barred from election – Reuters

The Cambodia Daily to Close (After Chasing One Last Big Story) – New York Times The Cambodia Daily was ordered by the government to close its doors over allegations that it had not paid millions of dollars in taxes as the country is becoming more autocratic. The Daily scrambled through the night to cover the arrest of the opposition leader Kem Sokha on charges of treason before it shut down.

Related: Cambodia Daily publishers banned from leaving the country – Sea Globe Editorial

Related: Hun Sen’s closure of Cambodia Daily a major blow to freedom of expression – Asian Correspondent

Desperate Rohingya Flee Myanmar Crackdown in Growing Numbers, U.N. Says – New York Times At least 123,000 Rohingya have fled from western Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh since late last month, marching through muddy fields, the United Nations said as a military crackdown has destroyed villages and killed hundreds.

Related: ‘Endless Stream’ of Rohingya Flee Military Offensive – New York Times

Related: Violence in Myanmar Pushes at Least 18,500 Rohingya Into Bangladesh – New York Times

Aung San Suu Kyi defends her handling of Myanmar violence – The Guardian In her first spoken remarks since the crisis started in Rakhine state, Suu Kyi said her government was facing its “biggest challenge” and needed to “take care of everybody who is in our country, whether or not they are our citizens”
   Related: Aung San Suu Kyi faces global outcry over Rohingya crisis – Sea Globe Editorial

Related: Washington begins to sour on Aung San Suu Kyi amid mounting ethnic violence in Burma – Washington Post

 

REGIONAL RELATIONS

China brushes off Vietnam protests over South China Sea drills – Reuters China on Wednesday dismissed Vietnamese condemnation of its military live-fire exercises in the disputed South China Sea, saying it was acting within its sovereign rights, and asked “relevant side to regard the drills calmly and reasonably”.

Indonesian envoy to urge Burma to halt violence against Rohingya Muslims – DVB Indonesian President Joko Widodo has sent his foreign minister to Burma to urge its government to halt violence against Rohingya Muslims after a petrol bomb was thrown at the Burmese Embassy in Jakarta.

Thousands take to Jakarta’s streets in anti-Burma rally – DVB Thousands of Indonesians, led by Islamist groups, held a rally near the Burmese embassy in Jakarta to protest against the treatment of Rohingya Muslims and demand the snapping of ties between the two countries.

Thailand, Cambodia to open more checkpoints, bolster trade – Bangkok Post Thailand and Cambodia agreed to open four more border checkpoints and vowed to achieve their bilateral trade target, said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Cambodian Premier Hun Sen in Phnom Penh.

         Related: Cambodia’s Hun Sen greets Prayut with a hug – The Nation

Thailand signs four agreements with China on development of high speed train project – PBS Thailand and China have signed four agreements on the national high-speed rail project connecting Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima which is scheduled to begin construction in October. In the meantime, Thailand will be carrying out studies to gauge the environmental impact the project will have.

 Cambodia to help legalise workers in Thailand – Khmer Times The Cambodian government will send 360 officials to Thailand to implement a 100-day campaign to give illegal migrant workers proper documents, the labour minister said while also accusing an opposition lawmaker and an NGO leader of swaying migrant workers’ votes.

The Truth About China’s Indonesia South China Sea Tantrum – The Diplomat Indonesia’s stance following run-ins with Chinese vessels, its upgrading of facilities in the Natunas, visits by Jokowi to the area, and Jakarta’s North Natuna Sea renaming are specific actions designed to signal to China and other states that Indonesia intends to secure its own interests with respect to this issue even as it, like other Southeast Asian states seeks closer ties with Beijing in other areas.

Myanmar plays diplomatic card with ‘friend’ China to avert UN censure over Rohingya crisis – SCMP Myanmar said it was negotiating with China and Russia to ensure they blocked any UN Security Council censure over the violence that could force an exodus of 300,000 Rohingya. In a rare letter to the UN Security Council.

SUSTAINABILITY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 

Prayut puts Cambodia hydropower deal on hold – Bangkok Post Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered authorities to delay investment in the Stung Nam hydropower project and buying power from Cambodia, amid mounting criticism over unusually high prices in the proposed contract.

Related: Ample reason to put Stung Nam plans on hold – The Nation

Related: PM on defensive over Stung Nam dams – Bangkok Post

Towards a Resource Efficient and Pollution Free Asia-Pacific – The Diplomat Senior government officials from across Asia and the Pacific will meet in Bangkok for the first-ever Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit on the Environment to discuss how they can work together towards a resource efficient and pollution-free Asia-Pacific.

China Recalibrates Carbon-Trading Plan – RFA China plans to launch a nationwide carbon-trading system in November to help curb greenhouse gas emissions, but full implementation still faces further delays. The program aims to manage carbon emissions by major energy users in eight key industrial sectors.

Vietnam moving from energy exporter to importer: workshop – Mekong Eye Under the national energy development strategy until 2020 with a vision to 2050, Vietnam aims to produce and import 100-110 million TOEs of primary energy by 2020 and 310-320 million TOEs by 2050 so as to meet socio-economic development demand.

Sales of rooftop solar power to begin in Thailand – SCMP The Thai government will end the decade-long restriction on households and commercial buildings selling power generated by their solar rooftops to state utilities in the fourth quarter of the year.

CHINA

A Communist Party gathering in China will test Xi Jinping’s power – The Economist The 19th Party Congress will give Mr Xi his first chance to implement sweeping changes of personnel at the very top of the party. It is widely expected that this gathering will offer clues as to how effectively Mr Xi has consolidated his power and what he plans to do with it.

Student caught tearing down Hong Kong independence posters branded hero in mainland China, vilified in city – SCMP A mainland Chinese student captured on film tearing down posters advocating Hong Kong independence has been branded a hero on mainland social media. But the female student said she had been living in fear after becoming a target of cyberbullying in Hong Kong, with some internet users in the city warning her “not to step out of her room”.

Hong Kong’s Autonomy Is Slipping Away – New York Times Neutering judicial independence, turning the legislative into a servile tool of the government by eliminating veto power and the filibuster and appointing people loyal to Beijing to top jobs are possible steps Beijing will take to tighten its grip on Hong Kong.

China’s Rights Crackdown Is Called ‘Most Severe’ Since Tiananmen Square  – New York Times China’s human rights record is the worst in many years but the lengths to which China goes to prevent criticism of that record of oppression by people outside China, particularly those at the United Nations, is even worse, Human Rights Watch warned.

China tightens control of chat groups ahead of party congress – SCMP China issued new rules on instant messaging chat groups, tightening control over online discussions ahead of a sensitive leadership reshuffle. Internet chat service providers must now verify the identities of their users and keep a blog of group chats for no less than six months.

China Communist Youth League boss faces demotion, sources say, as influence of once powerful group wanes – SCMP If confirmed, the departure of Qin Yizhi, first secretary at the league, would deal a further blow to the beleaguered faction of the party that was the power base of former president Hu Jintao and current Premier Li Keqiang. Qin has been told to move to another lower ranking job.

Can China Fix Its Housing Bubble? – The Diplomat A spree of policies were released to develop a rental market. From local to central, the government has pledged to equalize the rights of renters with homeowners. However, there are concerns that the government will return to stimulation again when growth slides further.

China’s People’s Liberation Army May Have a Civil-Military Relations Problem – The Diplomat The PLA remained well-connected at a number of levels with different economic enterprises. The government crackdown in some ways merely increased the incentives for corruption by moving the economic relationships underground. Corruption among the officer corps is a serious problem both for civilian control of the military, and for military effectiveness.

Xi Jinping’s top graft-buster back in the public eye for tribute to father-in-law – SCMP Anti-graft chief Wang Qishan has appeared in public for a second day in a row after roughly a month out of the state media spotlight. Wang attended a seminar in Beijing honouring his late father-in-law and former vice-premier Yao Yilin. The appearance came a day after CCTV showed footage of Wang on a provincial visit and at a discipline inspection meeting.

Taiwanese rights activist to stand trial in mainland China – SCMP A Taiwanese rights activist held in mainland China will soon face trial after he was held incommunicado for more than 170 days. NGO worker Lee Ming-cheh went missing during a visit to the mainland in March and the Chinese authorities later confirmed he was under investigation for suspected activities “endangering national security”.

Mao Zedong’s grandson among the ‘princelings’ not invited to China’s party congress – SCMP A grandson of Mao Zedong is among the “princelings” from China’s People’s Liberation Army who have not been invited to the upcoming 19th party congress. Major General Mao Xinyu is one of five senior military figures descended from or with close family ties to revolutionary generals or former state leaders who will miss out on China’s most important political event.

China Is Risking the Lives of Political Prisoners by Denying Them Medical Care – China File Dozens of political detainees and prisoners have reported being deprived of adequate medical treatment. Deliberately depriving prisoners of medical care is a life-threatening form of torture, and appears to be commonly used against political prisoners on China.

Chinese Police Detain Associate of Poet Who Tried to Commemorate Liu Xiaobo – RFA Authorities in the province of Guangdong have detained a second person linked to a poetry anthology in honor of Liu Xiaobo. Peng Heping was detained in Guangzhou in connection with his friend’s “illegal business activity” charge brought by police.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

Boats Carrying Rohingya Fleeing Myanmar Sink, Killing 46 – New York Times At least 46 people, including 19 children and 18 women,  believed to be Rohingya fleeing violence in western Myanmar have been found dead on the banks of a river along the boundary with Bangladesh because their boats capsized when they were coming by boat from Myanmar.

Why Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize Won’t Be Revoked – New York Times Nobel Committee has never rescinded a prize and will not in Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s case although the Nobel laureate has stirred controversy for not speaking out on the Rohingya refugee crisis. The Nobel Committee will not issue condemnations or censure her either.

BBC cuts ties with Burmese state broadcaster, citing ‘interference’ – DVB The BBC’s Burmese-language news service has severed ties with Burma’s MNTV, with the former citing “interference” from the state broadcaster, saying it had constituted “a serious breach of trust with our audiences.”

New Rakhine Police Chief Appointed – Irrawaddy Myanmar’s Ministry of Home Affairs replaced chief of Rakhine State Police Force Police Col Sein Lwin with deputy chief of Shan State Police Force Police Col Aung Myat Moe.

Cambodia’s Hun Sen Vows to Lead For One More Decade – RFA Speaking to around 10,000 garment industry workers at a factory in the capital Phnom Penh, Hun Sen, 65, said he would run for two more terms as prime minister to defend the stability of the nation before considering whether to step aside, a day after a court charged the head of the country’s opposition party with treason for allegedly trying to topple the government.

Related: Cambodian PM: I’ll rule 10 more years; ‘don’t be jealous’ – Globe and Mail

Armed Thugs Invade Church in Vietnam – RFA Men in plain clothes and armed with pistols, batons, and pepper spray descended on a Catholic church in southeast Vietnam’s Dong Nai province on Monday to confront the parish priest over a Facebook post the priest had made urging political reform in the one-party communist state.

Laos looks to step up from LDC status by ’30 – Mekong Eye Laos is aiming to achieve an upgrade from its least developed country (LDC) status at the United Nations to a middle income country by 2030 through strengthening international economic partnerships, including the promotion of tourism.

Vietnamese log poacher shot dead in clash with forestry rangers – PBS One Vietnamese log poacher was shot dead and one forestry ranger was injured in a gunfight at Mae Wong national park in Nakhon Sawan province .The rangers were on a patrol in the national park when they encountered a group of log poachers illegally entering the park to cut the protected eaglewood.

Vietnam seizes over 1 ton of ivory smuggled in from Africa – AP Authorities have seized more than a ton of smuggled ivory at a Vietnamese port where some 6 tons were seized last year. The ivory was smuggled from Africa and was transiting through Vietnam to its destination in neighboring Cambodia.

Over 10 million people pay respect to late King in front of royal urn at Grand Palace – PBS  People from across the country continue to visit the Grand Palace’s Dusit Maha Prasart Throne Hall to pay respects before the Royal Urn of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej today, with latest figure showing over 10 million people have visited  in the past 305 days after the King passed away.

 Thai police probe teen’s claim that 40 men raped her – CNN Police in Thailand are investigating the alleged gang rape of a 14-year-old student last year. The victim from Koh Raed, a small island in Thailand’s Phang Nga province told authorities she was attacked multiple times between May and December of 2016 and claimed that up to 40 men were involved in the series of rapes.

 YUNNAN

Urban re-greening effort to include 37 new Kunming parks – Go Kunming The Kunming Municipal Landscaping Bureau announced details for the creation of 37 new parks and public spaces as part of the effort to turn the Spring City into a “Garden City”. The project also includes measures to improve 37 existing parks. The ambitious plan covers nearly every corner of Kunming and is expected to cost upwards of seven billion yuan (US$1.07 billion).

This week’s news digest was curated by Le Nguyen Ngoc.

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