Regional Roundup for Week of 1.26.2015

EXSE FOCUS

An Eternal Dilemma in the Golden Triangle – NYT Efforts to stop opium cultivation and heroin production have been stymied by poor farmers who have few alternative to support their families.

Yingluck Shinawatra banned from Thai politics and faces charges – The Guardian Parliament votes to impeach ousted PM as attorney general says she will face criminal charges over rice scheme

        Related: In Targeting Ex-Premier, Thai Junta Takes a RiskNYT

Beijing Investigating Detention of 100 Chinese in Myanmar – NYT A spokesman for Beijing’s embassy in Myanmar said the Chinese nationals had been detained on suspicion that they entered the country to engage in logging.

Optimism and Concern Mark Burma’s First Workshop on Hydropower Dams – The Irrawaddy An atmosphere of optimism over the sustainable development of hydropower dams in Burma was tempered by serious concern at the country’s first ever public workshop on dams in Naypyidaw early this week.

China’s economic expansion fails to hit government’s growth target – The Guardian ‘New normal’ growth hailed by policymakers as Chinese economy expands by just 7.4%. China’s economy expanded by 7.4% in 2014, its slowest rate in a quarter-century and below the government’s growth target, Chinese authorities announced on Tuesday.

        Related: China’s Economy Expands at Slowest Rate in Quarter-Century – NYT

        Related: Hard times return as China bids to bring its economic miracle to an end – The Guardian

The State of the Union: Obama’s Challenge to China – The Diplomat Obama’s annual address contained a world view that Beijing will find inherently problematic.

 

REGIONAL RELATIONS

In Remote Thai Villages, Legacy of China’s Lost Army Endures – NYT Dozens of villages in northern Thailand are home to veterans and descendants of a unit of the Nationalist Army, which lost to Mao in 1949.

Philippines Blasts China on South China Sea Reclamation Work – The Diplomat Officials criticize Chinese actions following U.S.-Philippine strategic dialogue.

        Related: Vietnam joins Philippines in war of words against China island building – Thanh Nien Daily

        Related: The Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam Race to South China Sea Defense Modernization – The Diplomat

When the fish row turns diplomatic The Jakarta Post While the governments of the nations whose fishing boats have been destroyed by Indonesian authorities have largely been silent, overseas media have not, leading to growing unpleasant sentiment against Jakarta.

Can Malaysia Shape ASEAN Beyond 2015? – The Diplomat As ASEAN chair, Malaysia can help make the group a truly people-centered community.

        Related: The Need for an ASEAN Treaty on Migrant Workers – The Diplomat

Economic Zones and Infrastructure on China’s Silk Road – The Diplomat Done right, the New Silk Road project could have a major impact on cities along the corridor.

Bridging borders – Bangkok Post Construction has begun of the second Thai-Burma bridge across the Moei River, linking Mae Sot District in Thailand’s Tak Province and the town of Myawaddy in Burma.

Pursuit of economic wealth is coming at the cost of health – Mekong Commons In the Mekong Region, changing patterns and intensity of work, lifestyle, and even relaxation, are posing new health risks and challenges.

Border hospitals in Tak face large bills for migrants, stateless people – The Nation Five border hospitals in Tak province have to shoulder Bt110 million worth of medical expenses for 12,000 migrants and stateless people last year, the Public Health Ministry has said.

US urges Burma to investigate deaths of two female teachers – The Guardian The US called on Burma to investigate the killings of two ethnic Kachin teachers, amid allegations by activists the women were raped and murdered by government forces.

        Related: The U.S.-Burma Human Rights Dialogue: Frank Criticism but No Action – Asia Unbound

Dual-Use Traders: The Real WMD Threat in Southeast Asia? – The Diplomat Southeast Asian states lack the legal framework to stop the illicit dual-use trade.

Visa fee waiver not enough, says China agent – The Star Online Chinese tour agencies, who have been looking forward to visa-free travel to Malaysia, now have to be content with the Malaysian government’s decision to waive the 80 yuan fee.

Smuggling Across Borders With China, Thailand Rising: Minister – The Irrawaddy Minister of Commerce Win Myint has said that the volume of goods being smuggled across Burma’s borders with China and Thailand is on the rise, despite recent efforts by authorities to crackdown on the rampant, unregulated trade.

        Related: In Myanmar’s ‘Black Zones,’ Illicit Chinese Commerce Is Said to Thrive – NYT

        Related: Inside Myanmar’s Opium Fields – NYT

Oil Pipeline Through Burma to China Expected to Open in JanuaryThe Irrawaddy A crude oil pipeline and a deep sea port meant to secure an alternative route for Chinese imports overland through Burma are set to open at the end of January, but an affiliated refinery in China is months away from completion, sources said.

Vietnam Shows China Its Resolve With Military Posters – NYT Military posters and billboards on display in Vietnam reflect the country’s notions of sovereignty regarding offshore islands that are also claimed by China.

 

SUSTAINABILITY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Huai River’s algal blooms may affect quality of China’s water transfer project – The Third Pole Algal blooms on the Huai River, a major tributary of the Yangtze, could destroy aquaculture and pollute water along the controversial south-north water transfer project

Safeguarding food production against climate change needs urgent measures – China Dialogue Rising temperatures are sure to have a big impact on China’s grain output and food security over the next 20 to 50 years. My research identifies some benefits but at present the negative impacts will outweigh them, leading to lower harvests unless urgent measures are taken.

Gas Projects in Doubt as Bangkok Frets about Over-Reliance on Burma – The Irrawaddy Thai investment in Burmese natural gas development might be curtailed because the army generals running Thailand are worried about dependence on supplies from its neighbor, according to reports.

Protesters in Dawei Demand Fair Energy Prices – The Irrawaddy Crowds amassed for a peaceful demonstration against electricity prices in southeastern Burma on Friday, with some attendees estimating attendance at more than 1,000 people.

Mixed Reception in Burma for Tumbling Global Oil Price – The Irrawaddy The plunge in global oil prices in recent months has proven to be good news for Burmese consumers, but is shrinking profit margins for the country’s crude exporters, industry observers told The Irrawaddy this week.

The South China Sea: Oil on troubled waters – The Economist Two Chinese oil companies show contrasting approaches in their attempts to operate in the South China Sea where, to the discomfort of its smaller neighbours, China’s claims in disputed waters have grown increasingly assertive.

Lamphun study aims to deliver ecologically friendly plan – The Nation A joint research study by the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) and the Thailand Research Fund (TRF) is underway in an attempt to improve conditions at various industrial estates in Lamphun while also tackling environmental issues.

Timber talks: Burma and China discuss logging DVB At a conference held in Naypyidaw last week, senior Burmese and Chinese government officials agreed to establish a bilateral system to recognise “legal” timber in a bid to tackle the problem of illegal logging and trade in timber.

        Related: The Guilty and the Innocent: China and Illegal Logging in Myanmar – The Irrawaddy

 

CHINA

To Invest, or Not, as China Shifts– NYT A slowdown in the pace of growth of China’s economy is leading foreign investors to reassess the country as a destination for their money.

Macau ranks No. 1 in economic performance among world cities – The Jakarta Post Macau, the Chinese territory known for casino gambling, outperformed the rest of the world’s major cities economically last year, according to a report out Thursday.

Despite a Crackdown, Use of Illegal Drugs in China Continues Unabated – NYT For all the reported successes of China’s constantly expanding antidrug campaigns, the police appear to be winning few significant victories in what the authorities have called a “people’s war.”

China: Top Anti-Graft Body Faces Historic Challenge – The Diplomat There are growing indications that Xi Jinping’s campaign is not finished yet.

Communist Leadership Approves Security Goals for China – NYT The Politburo, a council of 25 senior officials, ratified a blueprint setting out national security priorities and warning that the country faced daunting dangers.

        Related: China’s National Security Strategy – The Diplomat

What will this crackdown on activists do to China’s nascent civil society? – The Guardian The democratic push won’t stop China’s civil society has little cause for optimism in 2015. The country is now seeing the worst crackdown on lawyers, activists and scholars in decades.

 

SOUTHEAST ASIA

Myanmar military freed record 418 child soldiers in 2014, UN confirms – South China Morning Post Myanmar’s military freed more than 400 child soldiers last year, the United Nations has confirmed, a record number since the Tatmadaw army signed a 2012 pact with the UN on the issue.

Smile, you’re Thai – SEA Globe Thailand’s military-installed prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, has many ideas about how to put an end to the civil strife and corruption that have led his country astray from the path of virtue. Among them are his 12 national core values. The core values – which smack somewhat of China’s recently reignited love affair with Confucianism – urge Thais to uphold the nation, religion (Buddhism), the monarchy, show respect for parents and teachers, and, of course, preserve Thai customs and traditions.

Under siege SEA Globe With global headlines dominated by beheadings, brutality and lone-wolf attacks, Southeast Asia Globe takes a look at the numbers behind terrorist activity in the region

Cheap Vietnam stocks will rise to 7-year high, luring investors – Thanh Nien Daily Vietnamese analysts project earnings will climb 10 percent in the next 12 months, compared with a 2 percent drop for the Southeast Asia gauge.

Aging KR Leaders Still Fit to Stand Trial, Doctors Say – Cambodia Daily Former Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan are fit to continue standing trial in the second phase of the case against them, according to expert evidence from two doctors submitted to the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Trial Chamber on Friday.

Shock and Anger in Cambodian Village Struck With H.I.V. – NYT More than 200 people who tested positive for H.I.V. in Roka appear to have one thing in common: an unlicensed doctor who was believed to reuse syringes.

What the collapse of ancient capitals can teach us about the cities of today – The Guardian Warnings from history: Angkor was a thriving metropolis of 750,000 before a series of mega-monsoons made it unliveable. Can modern flood-threatened cities learn from its downfall?

Hun Sen, Cambodia’s prime minister, marks 30 years of hardline rule – The Guardian Strongman who rose from ashes of the Khmer Rouge era maintains a repressive and as-yet unshakeable grip on power

Condoms and contraceptive pills reach rural Laos – The Guardian Family planning advice service in Laos proving a success despite lack of female advisers and no government strategy to hire them

 

YUNNAN

Xi visits Yunnan, emphasizing poverty alleviation – GoKunming Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up a three-day “inspection tour” of Yunnan on Wednesday. During the speeches that peppered his visit, he repeatedly stressed the importance of speeding up development in the county’s western regions and raising up those living in poverty, according to a Xinhua report.

 

REVIEWS

Review of Burma’s Spring – New Mandala This new book by Rosalind Russell brings colorful but ordinary Myanmar stories to life from an outsider’s perspective.

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