Regional Roundup for Week of 11.9.2014

EXSE FOCUS 

US-China Relations: Attitude and Attitudes The Diplomat Obama’s second trip to China is a good opportunity to set a new course in bilateral relations.

 Defining a ‘New Type of Major Power Relations’ The Diplomat Heading into the APEC Summit, the U.S. and China may need to narrow their interpretation of the concept.

 Obama, Asia, and Democracy Asia Unbound It’s nice, in a way, to see issues one has worked on appear in major, globally important publications. This past week, just before President Obama’s trip to Asia, the Banyan column inThe Economist, a column that focuses on Asia, detailed the Obama administration’s general disinterest in issues related to democracy and human rights in Asia.

 To China, Shift in Obama’s Political Fortunes Eclipses U.S. Economic Gains NYT When President Obama visits China on Monday, authorities there are likely to dwell more on his electoral reversals than on the robust American economy, analysts say.

 The U.S. and China’s Competing FTA’s During APEC The Diplomat The U.S. is uninterested in ceding power in a more comprehensive regional trade agreement.// Interesting to look at the TPP from a strategic perspective. Many potential Asian members (Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan) have territorial disputes with China, conspicuously absent in the negotiations. Meanwhile, the US is the TPP cheerleader this side of the Pacific. 

 Beijing attempts to cut air pollution for APEC summit Guardian Factories, schools, offices and building sites to be closed and cars part-banned as city hosts world leaders including Obama and Putin. To Beijing’s 21 million residents, the city’s air pollution is a health hazard. To the city’s leaders, it’s an embarrassment. So as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit (Apec) begins this week in the city, authorities have been scrambling to keep the air clean, temporarily restricting the operation of cars, factories, construction sites and even crematoriums. 

So Long Deployment, Hello Employment: Redefining the Rebalance to Asia The Diplomat John Kerry’s definition of the U.S. rebalance to Asia is far different from Hillary Clinton’s original description.

 The New Silk Road: China’s Marshall Plan? The Diplomat China’s plan for massive investments along the New Silk Road and Maritime Silk Road is a bid for diplomatic clout.//China’s int’l economic development plan is certainly attractive, and not just for countries like Nepal or the Maldives. Indonesia just joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank this week, much to the US’s chagrin.

 

REGIONAL RELATIONS

Authorities break up China-Vietnam telecom scam GoKunming During a time of tense and increasingly complicated political relations, China and its southern neighbor Vietnam are still finding ways to cooperate, at least in the realm of law enforcement. Police from both countries announced Tuesday they have jointly broken up a cross-border telecommunications swindle that bilked its unwitting victims out of at least two million yuan.

The Tyranny of SE Asia’s Establishment The Diplomat The “old middle class” in Southeast Asia is turning against democracy in a bid to protect its interests.

China’s Uighur Unrest Is Opportunity for Afghans NYT With new aid and investments, Beijing seems to be coming to grips with Afghanistan’s role in its national security.

China and Japan, in Sign of a Thaw, Agree to Disagree on a Disputed Island Group NYT The countries’ leaders gave the first public declaration they are trying to roll back a long standoff that has inflamed nationalist sentiments and damaged economic ties.

Chinese President’s Delegation Tied to Illegal Ivory Purchases During Africa Visit NYT At a time when China says it is trying to root out corruption, a report accuses President Xi Jinping’s delegation of colluding with corrupt Tanzanian officials to smuggle ivory.// You won’t find this coming from Xinhua. Awful if true. Local friends often talk about how Xi’s clique is just as corrupt as the rest – this is a pretty shocking example.

Mexico revokes multibillion-dollar rail contract with China Reuters Mexico has sought closer ties with China but the revocation of the project is an embarrassment ahead of a state visit next week. Mexico has revoked a contract for a multibillion-dollar, high-speed passenger rail link from a Chinese-led consortium after its uncontested bid sparked complaints, souring a state visit to China next week by President Enrique Peña Nieto.

 

SUSTAINABILITY & RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

China’s EIA Industry Rife with Fraud ChinaFile A farce played out at an environmental impact assessment (EIA) firm in the southern city of Shenzhen when inspectors called round in early October, this year. //The Sino-Burmese pipeline’s EIA is a complete sham in addition to the refineries and side projects that come with it.

Counting the Varied Costs of China’s Dependence on Coal NYT A report by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Chinese partners puts a monetary price on the problems created by the energy source, like air pollution.

China and Russia Said to Block Creation of Antarctic Marine Reserves NYT International talks in Australia on establishing two marine reserve areas, each larger than Texas, in the waters around Antarctica ended in failure on Friday.

China-based companies turn blind eye to water risks third pole Big companies are more aware of water risk but are still not doing enough about it, and companies in China are falling behind. Companies based in China lag behind global counterparts in terms of addressing water risks, according to CDP’s annual water survey based on data supplied by big companies worldwide.

Snails devour paddy fields in Irrawaddy delta DVB A plague of imported snails has destroyed more than 1,000 acres of rice fields in Irrawaddy Division’s Dedaye Township, farmers told DVB this week.

Japan-China relations strained over illegal coral poaching Guardian Tokyo presses Beijing to act on poaching near Ogasawara islands, warning that Chinese boats will not be allowed to shelter there from coming typhoon

 

CHINA

Investment flows: Going out Economist A big reason for its fast economic growth is that China has been a magnet for the world’s investment capital. Over the past two decades, China attracted more foreign direct investment (FDI) than any country save America. So the recent prediction made by the Centre for China and Globalisation, a Beijing think-tank, that this year China’s outbound investments would exceed its inbound ones, is noteworthy.

China’s Questionable Economic Power Project Syndicate The World Bank recently announced that China’s economy will surpass that of the US this year, measured according to purchasing power parity. But this is far from a holistic depiction of China’s global economic standing. //It’s much better to be a healthy economy than a large one, though ‘healthy’ isn’t an adjective that could be used to describe either country right now.

In Beijing, Clearer Views Hide Real Life NYT Determined to show a cleaner version of Beijing, the Chinese authorities have ordered dozens of temporary changes that are upending daily life.

Britain soft on China over Hong Kong crisis, says Chris Patten Reuters Territorys last British governor says Beijing is being allowed to spit in the face of handover pact because of trade fears. Britain is not putting enough pressure on China to stick to its side of an agreement on the transfer of Hong Kongs sovereignty because it is worried about damaging trade links, the former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten has said.

 

NEWS FROM SOUTHEAST ASIA

 Festival ends on a high note Phnom Penh Post Third day of races wrapped up the formal part of Cambodia’s Water Festival yesterday – and a number of high-ranking officials were left enjoying the spoils of success after vessels they sponsored were winners.

 On the River, CPP Bosses Become Racing Rivals Cambodia Daily The captain blew his whistle, startling his oarsmen out of their resting places, and ordered them to gather under a ragged tarpaulin strung between three trees in the mud. Here they would discuss Water Festival racing tactics for Srey Mao Kraing Yov, the boat named and sponsored by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Cambodian-American Wins US State House Seat Phnom Penh A former refugee whose family fled the Khmer Rouge regime became the first Cambodian-American legislator in the U.S. after being elected as a state representative in Massachusetts Tuesday.

 Thailand: Man Gets Over 2 Years on Charge of Defaming King AP A Thai court sentenced Akkaradet Eiamsuwan, 24, to two and a half years in prison on Tuesday for posting a message on Facebook that the court said insulted King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Suu Kyi calls for critical eye on reforms DVB Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Wednesday that the country’s reform process has stalled.

Myanmar Policy’s Message to Muslims: Get Out NYT A government plan to resettle Muslim minorities who cannot meet strict standards for naturalized citizenship has spurred a major exodus, rights groups say.

Myanmar Not Yet Attracting U.S. Companies Asia Unbound As President Barack Obama arrives in Myanmar next week for the East Asia Summit, he will find less optimism not only about the political situation but also about Myanmar’s economic future. As I noted last week, when Obama first visited Myanmar in 2012, it was at the height of the country’s political reform process. Since then, the process of political reform has deteriorated, so much so that President Thein Sein last week held a kind of emergency summit with top civilian and military leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi. //Promised political and economic forms are all fine, but if you’re persecuting a minority to no end, still fighting a civil war and your country lacks basic rule of law, businesses might be hesitant to invest.

Burma’s state security forces profit from trafficking Rohingya Muslims Guardian Authorities are earning $7,000 per boatload in exchange for passage out to sea. Burmas state security forces are profiting directly from the trafficking of stateless Rohingya Muslims, earning up to $7,000 per boatload in exchange for passage to sea, a human rights group has found.

Laos’ Internet Law Undermines Free Speech Diplomat It appears the law gives the government broad scope to treat legitimate criticism as criminal.

On permanent parole Economist A FOUR-YEAR battle ended yesterday, when Singapore’s highest court upheld the constitutionality of Section 377(a) of the country’s penal code, which renders any man convicted of committing “or abet[ting] the commission of…any act of gross indecency” with another man liable to two years in prison. Tan Eng Hong first challenged the law in September 2010, after he was charged under 377(a) for having oral sex with another man in a public-toilet stall.

 

YUNNAN

Child trafficking ring uncovered in Yunnan GoKunming Over the weekend, authorities working in Yunnan took dozens of people suspected of being involved in a large-scale child trafficking ring into custody. While conducting raids, police also rescued 11 youngsters presumed by officers to be on their way to China’s east coast, where they would be sold to new families.

 

 

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