Regional Roundup Week of 7.12.2013

I hope this News Digest finds everyone doing well this Friday – it’s certainly beautiful in Kunming, where the summer rains have relented for a bit. This last week had quite a few hits for ExSE. Our own blogger Red Oceans’  piece on the SCS was highlighted in the Sinocism newsletter while ExSE contributor Zhou Dequn’s article on Fuxian Lake was featured in China Dialogue.   Will Feinberg’s first of many pieces in a regional timber trade series was picked up on the popular Quartz blog.  In addition, ExSE blogger Colin Flahive and his work with Kunming’s Salvador’s Coffee House and a string of non-profits in Yunnan was written up in the Christian Science Monitor (link below). Way to go Colin! (Full disclosure: I frequently enjoy Salvador’s food, especially their new falafel wrap).

This next week will also be a big week for ExSE. Four of our bloggers will be embarking on an 18-day trip through Thailand and Laos tomorrow. Our travels will be done as part of the IES Kunming Regional Development Program. We’ll be starting in Bangkok with a two day cruise on a Chao Phraya barge learning about sustainable watershed management.  Then we make to Chiang Mai and the Golden Triangle before floating down the Mekong to Luang Prabang and Vientiane.

We’ll be looking at the sustainability of infrastructure development sites, analyzing China’s deepening regional footprint, and thinking about the US’s Pacific Pivot.  Our partners at Mae Fah Luang University in will introduce us to transboundary issues in the Golden Triangle but not before we cross into Burma for a day.  Decommissioned KMT soldiers (hopefully) will welcome us into their homes where they will regale us of their days in the sun as members of the  world’s most sophisticated heroin shipping network. And we’ll spend five days in tropical Luang Prabang considering the impact of rapid development on the world’s best kept secret.

We’ll try and blog something everyday, even if it’s just a short update. There’s guaranteed to be a lot of sun, a lot of fun and plenty of opportunities to learn about successes and challenges of development in the region, so be sure to follow ExSE!


China Pledges to Boost Financial Support After Cash Crunch – Bloomberg Misallocation of capital is hampering the restructuring of the economy and the financial sector must play a better role in helping the overhaul, the cabinet said in a seven-page statement (国务院办公厅关于金融支持经济结构调整和转型升级的指导意见-– 国办发〔2013〕67号) released in Beijing today. The State Council said it will maintain its “prudent” monetary-policy stance while ensuring a reasonably supply of money and credit.

China Allows Two More Local Governments to Issue Bonds -Caijing China has added two names to the list of a trial program which allows local governments to issue bonds directly, expanding the program to six regions in the country, said the Economic Information Daily.  Shandong and Jiangsu, two neighbor provinces in east China have been given the green light from the State Council to join four local governments which got approval for bonds issues in 2011, the paper published by the official Xinhua news agency said Friday.

Foreign Capital Flows out of China on Expectations of End of QE -Caijing China has seen a monthly net capital outflow in 16 of the last 18 weeks, according to fund flow data provider EPER. EPER figures showed foreign capital registered a net outflow of $834million in the first five trading days in June, the largest since January, 2008.

An Opportunity to Strengthen U.S.-China Ties – At present, with the global economic recovery remaining unsteady and unbalanced, both nations face challenges as well as opportunities. China is the largest developing country in the world, and the U.S. is the largest developed one. Economic cooperation and trade will benefit our two peoples and contribute to global economic recovery and growth.

U.S., China can forge a more cooperative relationship – Washington Post This week’s China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue is an important platform for conducting high-level communication on long-term, strategic and overarching issues. The main task of the upcoming dialogue, the fifth such meeting,is to implement the extensive agreement reached at the presidents’ meeting last month, deepening dialogue and cooperation in various areas, and advancing a new-model major-country relationship.

China at the Tipping Point? | ChinaFile–Carl Minzer China may indeed be at a tipping point. But it is not clear which way it will tip. Authorities may restart legal reform as part of a comprehensive program of political and institutional transformation. Or they may refuse, risking an escalating spiral of social and political turmoil.

Japan Says China Using Force to Try to Change Status Quo – Bloomberg China is trying to change the regional status quo by force based on claims that contradict international law, Japan said in a defense report that the Chinese government said contained “untruthful accusations.” “In cases where China’s interests conflict with those of neighboring countries, including Japan, it has taken measures that have been called high-handed, including trying to change the status quo by force,” the Defense Ministry said in its annual report released today on Japan’s security situation.

Russia-China joint naval exercise begins in Sea of Japan – The Asahi Shimbun  “If armed forces from China and Russia conduct a (joint) military maneuver in close cooperation in the Sea of Japan, it will have a certain level of threat to Japan, which has a dispute with China over the Diaoyu Islands and one with Russia over the Northern Territories,” Chinese media quoted Rear Adm. Yin Zhuo, director of the Chinese Navy Advisory Committee for Informatization, as saying.

China Has World’s Most Active Missile Programs, U.S. Says – Bloomberg China is “developing and testing offensive missiles, forming additional missile units, qualitatively upgrading missile systems and developing methods to counter ballistic missile defenses,” according to the “Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat Assessment” report obtained by Bloomberg News. It’s an update to one released in 2009.

Liu Zhijun given suspended death penalty for bribery, power abuse – Xinhua China’s former railways minister Liu Zhijun was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve here on Monday for bribery and abuse of power. As well as the suspended death sentence, the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court deprived the 60-year-old of his political rights for life and confiscated all his personal property for taking bribes. Liu was also sentenced to 10 years in jail for abuse of power, according to the court verdict.

U.S., China agree to cut emissions from vehicles, coal | Reuters The United States and China, the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases, agreed to five initiatives on Wednesday to cut carbon output from the largest sources, including heavy duty vehicles, manufacturing and coal-fired plants, the State Department said.

China to Report Air Pollution Monitoring Data in 116 More Cities – Bloomberg AState Council notice told 116 more of its cities to disclose air quality monitoring data, including readings for pollutants such as PM2.5 and ozone, adding to 74 cities that already do so. PM2.5 refers to fine air particles that pose risks for lung and heart diseases. The country will rank its major cities by the severity of their air pollution, according to the statement, posted on the State Council website yesterday and dated July 1.

Toxic China Lake Incites Next Generation as Xi Eases GDP Focus – Bloomberg Ian Chen recalls his father quietly accepting he could no longer wade into a lake near their home in southern China where he’d swum his whole life. The raw sewage and agricultural waste spilling into the water meant it wasn’t safe anymore. Twenty years later, Chen worries a new source of pollution may be about to envelop his hometown of Kunming. Silence wasn’t an option for the 29-year-old who sold flat-screen televisions on London’s Oxford Street before returning to Kunming, where he now owns three cake shops. He took to the Internet to drum up opposition to a refinery planned on the edge of town that residents fear will spew toxic particles…“We want to trust the government but look at what happened — DianchiLake happened and something is happening right now,” Chen said. “We want them to do what they say, not just talk.”

Colin Flahive opened a restaurant in China that’s a beacon of enlightened management – Colorado native Colin Flahive sits at the bar of Salvador’s Coffee House in Kunming, the capital of China’s southwestern Yunnan Province. Employing young women from rural areas led him to take a number of steps to help his employees and the community.


Temasek Looks to Expand in China as Crunch Is Under Control – Bloomberg “There is sufficient liquidity in the system over a prolonged period,” Chia Song Hwee, head of the investment group, said at a briefing in Singapore yesterday. “We’re actually looking at it as an opportunity to build on the portfolio rather than shrinking it.”…Temasek has amassed stakes worth almost $18 billion in China Construction Bank Corp. (939), Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and Bank of China Ltd., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

A New Anti-American Axis? –  This new approach appears based in part on a sense of their growing strength relative to America and their increasing emphasis on differences over issues like Syria. Both Moscow and Beijing oppose the principle of international action to interfere in a country’s sovereign affairs, much less overthrow a government, as happened in Libya in 2011. After all, that principle could always backfire on them. They also don’t like watching the West take action against leaders friendly to them.

Submersible taps vast mineral deposits in South China Sea – Xinhua | Jiaolong, the manned deep-sea submersible, is helping the country tap a treasure of iron-manganese deposits that were first discovered in the South China Sea on Wednesday Tang Jialing, an oceanaut on the submersible, told Xinhua News Agency that although the exact area of the deposits was still unknown, he was sure that it was large.

Explore Sansha Island – Xinhua

Beijing unveils fresh campaign to promote ‘Chinese dream’ abroad | South China Morning Post In a lengthy People’s Daily article, Liu Qibao called for more resources to be directed towards sharing the idea of the Chinese dream in the media. “We should take a proactive approach to spreading and interpreting the Chinese dream, to help the international community better understand it,” he said.

China data may disappoint — but won’t veer off script – Reuters (Video) Reuters’ Wayne Arnold runs down some of the main events in the week ahead for Asia, including a raft of crucial China economic indicators and a rare glimpse into regional security issues.

China Says Mekong Operation Seized $400m of Drugs – The Irrawaddy Drugs worth more than 2.5 billion yuan ($400 million) have been seized in a two-month multinational operation targeting crime along the Mekong River, China’s drug enforcement chief said Tuesday. From late April to late June, authorities from China, Laos, Burma and Thailand shared intelligence and hunted for drug lords and fugitives, resulting in the detention of 2,534 suspects and the seizure of almost 10 tons of drugs and more than $3.6 million in drug-related assets, according to Liu Yuejin, director general of the Narcotics Control Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security.

India, China to Hold Air Force & Navy Exercises – The Diplomat  Amid more frequent military drills in the region, China and India have agreed to hold exercises between their air forces and navies for the first time. According to Indian media outlets, India and China’s navies and air forces will hold joint exercises in the near future, although the specific date of the drills will be decided by military officials at a later date. The exercises will be “elementary” in nature at first, with the expectation that larger drills would follow.


Cambodia’s sugar rush leaves farmers feeling bitter at ‘land grab’ – The Guardian The plantation extends as far as the eye can see, row after row of green leaves swaying against the dusky blue light until, finally, it merges with the horizon. There are no houses, no animals, no people. Just sugar. Standing by a rickety wooden fence that separates her clapboard home from the field in front of us, Yoen Sarin, 29, waves her hand in an arc. “My land extended from there to just over there.” She narrows her eyes. “The company tried to bulldoze their way closer but I built this fence, and even though they’ve already knocked it down twice, I’m not moving. I keep rebuilding it.”


Inmates Riot, Escape, Set Fire to Indonesia Prison – The Irrawaddy  Authorities were searching for scores of inmates, including terrorists, who escaped a crowded Indonesian prison that was still burning Friday after prisoners set fires and started a deadly riot at the facility in the nation’s third-largest city. Thousands of policemen and soldiers are deployed around Tanjung Gusta prison to blockade roads linking Medan, the capital of North Sumatra, to other provinces, while fire brigades were battling the fires. About 200 prisoners escaped following the riot late Thursday in which three prison employees and two inmates were killed.

Indonesia Adrift? – CFR Asia Unbound Over the past month,  Indonesia, the natural leader of Southeast Asia, has often seemed rudderless in its foreign policy, lashing out at other nations in the region over a haze crisis caused primarily in Indonesia, and offering little leadership as the region tries to work toward serious negotiations with China on a realistic South China Sea code of conduct. Does Indonesia have a regional strategy, or even an international one? Does it have a foreign ministry up to the challenge of returning to leadership in ASEAN, and playing a leading role in global organizations like the G-20 and the UN?


Trouble on the Mekong – The Diplomat 

Its turbulent currents snake their way through the tropical heart of Southeast Asia. The 4,880-kilometer Mekong river hosts the iconic giant catfish, the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin and the largest inland fisheries in the world. Its vast biodiversity – second only to the Amazon – offers myriad opportunities for ecotourism development. But are the wonders of the mighty Mekong doomed by a very different kind of development, fuelled by a rapacious demand for hydro-power in an energy-hungry region? Construction of a $3.8 billion mega-dam project in Xayaburi, in the north of Laos, is already underway, with ten more dams slated for the mainstream of the river.



Going strait: Discovering the Melting Pot that is Malacca – SEA Globe Chinese, Malaysian, Javanese, Indian, mixed-race: we are all people of the Strait,” says Colin Goh, who works on the conservation plans of Unesco, which added the Malaysian towns of Malacca and Georgetown to the World Heritage List in 2008.  “We are all touched by the same spirit, the spirit of harbour cities and commercial hubs.”


Sinica Podcast–Myanmar’s Uncertain Glasnost  Joining Jeremy Goldkorn for this closer look at China’s southern neighbor are guests Simon Montlake and Josh Gordon. The Beijing Bureau Chief for Forbes Magazine, Simon has been a frequent visitor to Burma since 1998, and is the recent author of a piece on General Electric and their Burmese dreams. Coming from a more academic background, Josh is an expert on Burmese-Chinese relations

Thein Sein Approves Burma Law on Central Bank – The Irrawaddy Burma’s president has signed a law giving the central bank more autonomy from the Finance Ministry and opening the way for development of the fledgling banking sector. State-owned MRTV television reported the enactment by President Thein Sein late on Thursday and said details would be published in newspapers on Friday. But there was nothing in any of Friday’s papers, including the New Light of Myanmar, a state daily that carries official announcements. The law is part of a series of economic and political reforms pushed through by the quasi-civilian government of Thein Sein, in office since nearly half a century of military rule ended in March 2011.

Burma Business Roundup (July 6) – The Irrawaddy


Singapore’s wealth machine revs up, but leaves more behind – Reuters (Video)Singapore’s economic growth jumped in the second quarter, but the gains are not trickling down to low wage earners. We look at the growing wealth divide in one of Asia’s most important financial hubs.


Govt struggles to put on a brand new face – The Nation The recent Cabinet reshuffle was viewed as an attempt to help improve the government’s worsening image problem, particularly the damage done by the corruption-plagued rice-pledging scheme. Ruling politicians have taken moves in a bid to create a better look for the government ahead of the next parliamentary session, which starts on August 1.Why the need for a good image before the next parliamentary session? It’s because the government will have to face several political challenges after the new parliamentary session begins. A number of draft laws – some of them controversial – are expected to be deliberated by Parliament during this session. Many of these bills could threaten the government’s stability, or even its survival.

Blast in Yala injures eight soldiers – The Nation Even though it was agreed at the peace dialogue with separatists that violence would be brought to a halt during the holy month of Ramadan, a homemade bomb was planted and detonated to harm the soldiers who were patrolling near the railway track in Tambon Balor at about 8am. An investigation found that the blast, which left a 3-metre-wide and 1.5-metre-deep crater in the road, had also damaged the team’s truck. Train services from Yala to Narathiwat’s Sungai Kolok were immediately suspended pending investigation. 



Asia Sentinel – Vietnam: Playing with fire  Follow America and save the country; follow China and save the party. This saying, heard everywhere in Vietnam, distills the geopolitical dilemma facing its ruling Communist Party.

The death of gold – SEA Globe Late April was not a good time for the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV). Thanh Nien, one of the most prestigious newspapers in Vietnam, published an article accusing the SBV of allegedly “laundering gold by policies” – a big blow in a country where government agencies are mostly exempt from criticism. The SBV reacted furiously, threatening the newspaper with legal action on the grounds of “propaganda against state policy” and forcing its editors to apologise and remove the article from the newspaper’s website.

Trans-Pacific Partnership benefits US-Vietnamese trade: PM – Vietnam News The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would raise Viet Nam-US trade and practically benefit the two countries’ common development, said Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. The PM was welcoming the managing director of the Warburg Pincus Investment Foundation, Kenneth Juster, in Ha Noi yesterday. Dung said that he hoped that Juster, who was once US Under-Secretary of Commerce, would do more to persuade US officials and businesses to back Viet Nam in the TPP negotiations.





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