Regional Roundup for Week of 2.14.14

Happy Valentine’s Day from East by Southeast! Just links this week.

ExSE FOCUS

China to Reward Localities for Improving Air Quality | NYT — The financial incentives illustrate how difficult it has been for China’s leadership to get companies and government officials to comply with environmental regulations.

Pollution making Beijing hazardous place to live, says Chinese report | The Guardian — Severe pollution in Beijing has made the Chinese capital “barely suitable” for living, according to an official Chinese report, as the world’s second largest economy tries to reduce often hazardous levels of smog caused by decades of rapid growth.

Chinese villagers attack factory after reports of polluting | The Guardian — Residents of Baha, a village in Yunnan province, said they had grown increasingly angry over a local metalwork factory that had been coughing up black smoke and discharging polluted wastewater into the rural area. After the factory’s boss refused to meet with villagers last week, they smashed cars, equipment, offices and dormitories.

DealBook: U.S. Targets Buyers of China-Bound Luxury Cars | NYT — Federal prosecutors in six states have filed actions against businesses that buy luxury cars at domestic dealerships and then send them to China.

The Limbo of Asian Markets | NYT — The global currency crisis has forced markets to confront weak commodity exports before strong domestic demand can help them recover their balance.

China’s Trade Growth Beats Forecasts | NYT — Chinese exports handily beat expectations in January, rising 10.6 percent from a year earlier, while imports jumped 10 percent.

A shot in the dark | SEA Globe — A ceasefire agreement between ethnic rebels and the government has paved the way for tourists to enter the isolated Karen state in Myanmar.

CHINA

UBS Suspends 2 Bankers in China Hiring Investigation | NYT — UBS has placed two bankers on leave as it investigates its hiring the daughter of the chairman of a Chinese chemicals company that is considering a share sale the bank has sought a role in.

As U.S. Aims for Energy Independence, China Heads the Opposite Way | NYT — China’s reliance on imported oil is rising fast, according to a new study by a government research institute.

China’s Big Overseas Spending Spree | The Diplomat — While the Chinese government uses its vast financial resources to secure Beijing’s interests abroad, wealthy private Chinese citizens and corporations are on an international buying frenzy.

World Briefing: Earthquake Strikes Remote Area of China | NYT — A mountainous part of the Xinjiang region in far western China was hit by an intense earthquake on Wednesday, but officials said the area was isolated and thinly populated and there were no initial reports of deaths.

In Restive Remote China, Uighurs’ Piety and Peace | NYT — A photographer ventured to Xinjiang Province, where tensions seethe between the Muslim Uighur minority and the majority Han Chinese, and made pictures only a quiet, unobtrusive observer could.

China’s Lunar Rover Reported to Be Malfunctioning | NYT — The moon mission carries important symbolic significance for China, and was seen by space experts as a precursor to more ambitious lunar operations by a country that also seeks to have a small space station afloat within a decade.

Tapping Into a Growing Trend in China | NYT — The market for private jets is increasing as regulations ease and wealth spreads.

A Breathtaking View from Above Shanghai | NYT — A pair of Russian thrill-seekers climbed to the top of the Shanghai Tower, the tallest building in China, and shot this video.

REGION

Nanjing Meeting Leads to Pledge of Cross-Strait Communications | NYT — The chief outcome of the meeting between officials of Taiwan and mainland China, the first since 1949, was an agreement to set up a mechanism for regular communications between the two sides.

US Challenges China’s Nine-Dash Line Claim | Diplomat — In a clear policy shift, Washington is now challenging the basis of China’s claim to most of the South China Sea.

Dengue Fever on the Rise in Southeast Asia | Diplomat — Malaysia could experience its worst ever outbreak as the region explores a honey-based treatment.

Singapore Braces for Haze Ahead of Indonesian Burn | Diplomat — Indonesia will begin its slash-and-burn campaign ahead of schedule this year, prompting warnings from both the Singaporean government and Asia’s second-largest pulp and paper producer.

Why Rice Is Heating Up Politics in Thailand and the Philippines | Diplomat — A failed farming subsidy and rice smuggling have led to political discontent in Southeast Asia.

Vietnam and China: A Dangerous Incident | Diplomat — A new Chinese documentary offers startling revelations from a 2007 confrontation in the South China Sea.

CAMBODIA

Fears over human rights in Cambodia as crackdown on protests continues | The Guardian — After months of protests, which were largely tolerated by the government, human rights in Cambodia have deteriorated rapidly this year. A ban on public assembly has been implemented in the capital, Phnom Penh, and enforced by untrained “public order officers”, who are armed with batons and electric cattle prods.

Mending hearts | SEA Globe — Cambodia’s garment factories are synonymous with hard work, long hours and low wages. But among the assembly lines and dusty backstreets, couples are falling in love.

INDONESIA

Indonesian Arms Industry Seeks to Drum Up Business | NYT — President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has vowed to modernize the country’s military and has nearly quadrupled the state arms budget.

Mount Kelud Eruption: Indonesian Authorities Rush to Evacuate More Than 200,000 | Diplomat — Two eruptions on Thursday hurled ash and rock at densely populated villages in Java.

LAOS

International Education: Young Laotians Learn Chinese to Improve Job Prospects | NYT — Many Chinese schools have sprung up in towns along the Laos-China border, and the schools in Vientiane are gaining popularity.

MALAYSIA

Power Struggle in Malaysia | Diplomat — The “Allah” crisis is masking a nuanced and historic racial debate in Malaysian politics.

Malaysia Cracks Down on Political Satire | Diplomat — Comedians are coming under fire in Malaysia, where the government has decided to get tough on those who post political satire videos on the Internet.

MYANMAR/BURMA

Fair Pitches US Universities to Burma’s Young People | Irrawaddy — Representatives from more than 30 institutions of higher learning were in Burma this week for the US University Fair in Rangoon, where participants sought to lure more Burmese students to study in the United States.

No Clean Bill of Health Yet for Burma’s Anti-Money Laundering Drive | Irrawaddy —  Burma looks set to get a new law to counter money laundering soon, but the country still faces numerous challenges in curbing financial crimes.

US Exim Bank Raises Hopes in Burma With Credit Offer | Irrawaddy — Local businesses are hoping for more foreign investment in Burma, after the Export and Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) began offering credit for trade with the country last week.

PHILIPPINES

US Admiral: ‘We Would Help’ Philippines Against China | Diplomat — A U.S. admiral’s security assurance to the Philippines was not as firm as recent commitments to Japan and South Korea.

SINGAPORE

Special Report: Aviation: Covetous Scrutiny for Military Hardware in Singapore | NYT — Facing increasingly assertive Chinese territorial claims, Asian air force chiefs will be taking a close look at the military hardware on display at the Singapore Airshow.

Unaffordable cities: Singapore workers tread water on millionaires’ island | The Guardian — With 17% of city state’s residents worth S$1m, those who serve, drive and treat them may as well live on another planet.

THAILAND

Thai police arrest senior protest leader | The Guardian — Thai police made their first arrest of a senior leader of anti-government protests for violating the country’s emergency law on Monday as government officials promised to apprehend other leaders of the movement.

VIETNAM

Vietnam’s Flappy Bird Developer: It Was ‘An Addictive Product’ | Diplomat — Dong Nguyen removed the top-ranked game on Sunday, provoking death threats.

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