Tag Archives: news digest

Regional Roundup for Week of 2.8.2015

 

EXSE FOCUS

Thai Junta Vows Crackdown Following Bomb Blasts – The Diplomat Security to be tightened amid heightened political tensions. Bomb blasts at the metro outside Siam Paragon mall in central Bangkok. Perpetrators haven’t been caught yet. Is this an anti-junta government attack? Were the attackers related to the insurgency in the southern Thailand? 

  Related: Details from bomb probe secret: city police chief – The Nation

  Related: Hunt on for ‘Dragon’ – The Nation

Upstream dams blamed for shrinking Mekong Delta – Thanh Nien Experts warn that dams in the pipeline could render dramatic losses predicted in the Mekong Delta far worse by the year 2100. Dams are a serious issue for sediment losses in the Delta, but the region also faces a raft of issues associated with climate change in SE Asia, as ExSE detailed last year.

Related: Starving the Mekong: A Report on the Impacts of Cambodia’s Lower Sesan 2 Dam – International Rivers

Laos: Thousands suffering from the deadly aftermath of US bomb campaign – The Guardian Fifty years after US combat troops entered Vietnam, neighbouring Laos is still dealing with unexploded bombs from fierce air attacks

Related: Laos suffers lethal legacy of Vietnam war – The Guardian

        Related: Girl Killed by UXO Explosion in Kompong Speu – Cambodia Daily

Extraordinary Meeting of the Friends of the Lower MekongChallenge Program This is the first time the Friends of the Lower Mekong, a donor coordination group, have come together with the countries of the Lower Mekong to discuss the connection between water resources, energy needs, and food security.

Related: Japan, US help to promote development in Mekong River region – Challenge Program

 

REGIONAL RELATIONS

US-Thailand Relations and Cobra Gold 2015: What’s Really Going On? – The Diplomat Strained ties cloud specifics days before the Asia-Pacific’s largest annual military exercise. The new Thai junta has drawn the ire of the US and the previously rock solid US-Thai relationship has fallen on hard times. What’s more, China seems to be growing closer with Thailand, not only strategically but with trade and infrastructure development. Interesting times in the Land of a Million Smiles.

        Related: Did China Just Boost Military Ties with Thailand? – The Diplomat

Opportunities and fears as Asean prepares for single market – The Guardian While 10-member bloc of south-east Asian nations anticipate investment riches, observers say communities may be sacrificed for big business

A new cold war? – SEA Globe With the United States’ renewed affection for Asia provoking suspicion from China, will Southeast Asian nations become pawns as the two superpowers battle for influence? The Cold War was quite ‘hot’ for most SE Asian nations. That said, any armed conflict in the region is more likely to stem from existing issues between states and not a renewed rivalry between the PRC and the US. 

Narendra Modi Will Visit China in May – The Diplomat The Indian prime minister will visit China for the first time in May.

China’s Central Asian Opportunity – The Diplomat China might be a saving grace for Central Asia’s economies.

Chitralada School, Chinese embassy sign new initiative – The Nation Teachers will be able to go to China for training in language, culture; students will get to train at Chinese establishment in Thailand

Chinese Firm Joins Local Rice Miller to Bolster Industry – The Irrawaddy A Burmese rice milling company and the Chinese firm CAMC Engineering Co. Ltd. have signed a joint venture Memorandum of Understanding to improve the quality and capacity of rice milling operations in Burma, according to Thaung Win, the secretary of the Myanmar Rice Millers Association. This is great news. Myanmar has incredible agricultural capacity – realizing their potential would leave current rice exporting kings like Thailand and Vietnam in the dust.

Thailand Undecided Over Fate Of Cambodian Migrant Workers – Cambodia Daily Thailand has still not decided what will happen to the 738,000 Cambodian migrant workers currently living in the country on temporary work permits when those documents expire at the end of March, an official from the Thai Labor Ministry said Wednesday.

        Related: 40,000 Passports Printed for Workers in Thailand – Cambodia Daily

        Related: Without Citizenship, Vietnamese Remain Adrift – Cambodia Daily

China’s Appetite for Luxury Rosewood Fuels Illegal Timber Trade in Cambodia – Radio Free Asia China’s voracious demand for luxury furniture is driving a multimillion-dollar illegal trade in rosewood in Cambodia, supported by a tycoon who controls an illegal logging network that exports the timber, according to a report by an environmental advocacy group.

Bt20m given to back Myanmar’s anti-drugs efforts – The Nation Thailand’s anti-narcotics agency has given Bt20 million to Myanmar’s counterpart body under a joint agreement to fight rampant drug abuse in both countries.

 

SUSTAINABILITY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Hun Sen Defends Proposed Areng Valley Dam – Cambodia Daily In the government’s latest defense of a proposed dam in the heart of the sparsely developed Cardamom Mountains, Prime Minister Hun Sen in a letter downplayed the impact the project would have on the hundreds of ethnic minority families it would displace and touted its likely benefits.

Oil pipeline connects Kunming to Andaman Sea – GoKunming A 771-kilometer long oil pipeline linking refineries in Kunming to oil fields off the western coast of Myanmar began shipments over the weekend. Built over six years, at a cost of 9.37 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion), the project was marred by controversy in China and, at times, violence and threatened cancellation in Myanmar. According to our sources, there isn’t any oil or gas flowing yet. If anything, this latest news concerns a test-run.

Shell Inks Contract to Explore 3 Offshore Oil and Gas Blocks – The Irrawaddy Royal Dutch Shell and its Japanese partner Mitsui Oil Exploration Co., Ltd. (MOECO) signed an exploration and production sharing contract with state-owned firm Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) in Naypyidaw on Thursday for three offshore deep-water blocks. Recent NY Times editorial lambasting the Chinese for ‘plundering’ Myanmar. Fair, but exploiting Burma for resource extraction isn’t exclusive to the Chinese 

China’s desalination plans will increase carbon emissions and water use – The Third Pole China’s ambitious plans to desalinate water would use huge amounts of energy from coal-intensive power grids, hindering moves to clean up smog-ridden cities and slow growth in carbon emissions.

        Related: China’s desalination plans could thwart “war on pollution” – chinadialogue

Jade Mines Grind to a Halt in Hpakant – The Irrawaddy Jade mining operations in northern Burma’s Kachin State have ground to a halt after more fighting between the military and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) during the week, locals have told The Irrawaddy.

Irrigation officials step in to quell Korat dispute – The Nation Agree to alter water allocation schedule amid fears of drought in many provinces

Rubber Exports Increase, Value Down for 2014 – Cambodia Daily Cambodia’s rubber export volume increased by about 33 percent last year compared to 2013, while the value of rubber decreased by about 9 percent during the same period, according to figures released by the Ministry of Commerce on Thursday.

Related: Cooperative in Trang freezes purchase of rubber sheets – The Nation

Rainforest Alliance report sparks mixed reactions – Jakarta Post The Rainforest Alliance on Thursday announced an independent evaluation of Asia Pulp & Paper (APP)’s Forest Conservation Policy (FCP), marking an immediate end to natural forest clearance by APP’s pulpwood suppliers as well as a range of other measures.

  Related: APP fails to halt forest clearing: WWF – Jakarta Post

 

CHINA

Pro-Democracy Protesters Back in Hong Kong, No Violence – The Irrawaddy Thousands of pro-democracy protesters returned to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday in the first large-scale rally since demonstrations rocked the global financial hub late last year.

Barack Obama attacked by Chinese media for ‘chumming with’ Dalai Lama – The Guardian Chinese state media has admonished US president Barack Obama for hosting the Dalai Lama and calling him ‘a good friend’ at a prayer meeting in Washington on Thursday, claiming that receiving the Tibetan spiritual leader “is a political liability which backfires”. India was also miffed at Obama for mentioning religious intolerance issues in India. Along with remarks comparing White supremacists in Jim Crow-era America to ISIS, Barack wasn’t looking to make many friends at the National Prayer Breakfast. That’s okay though – when you’re right, you’re right. 

Related: China Warns Against Obama-Dalai Lama Meeting – The Diplomat

Chinese Agency Softens Criticism of Alibaba on Sales of Fake Goods – NYT Two days after a government regulator harshly criticized the company, the two showed signs of moving quickly to cooperate.

China Proposal on NGOs Raises Transparency Concerns at U.N. – NYT The proposal, which China dropped, sought to withhold the names of countries that raised objections to nongovernmental organizations seeking accreditation at the United Nations.

China Executes Members of Sect for Beating a Woman to Death – NYT Two followers of the Church of Almighty God, a banned religious order, were executed over the deadly attack of a woman who had declined to give them her phone number. China may get criticized for having the highest number of executions per year. Some executions, however, are deserved. 

Argentina’s President Mocks Chinese Accents During Visit to China – NYT During a state visit to China on Wednesday, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner risked offending her hosts by joking about their accents on Twitter. First Maduro comes, then Kirchner. It appears the escape plan for South American leaders under fire is a state visit to China.

Time For Xi to Reform His Reforms – China Unbound As Xi Jinping nears the two-year mark of his tenure as president of China, he might want to take stock of what is working on the political front and what is not. Here are some early wins and losses.

China to Crack Down on Tax Collection From Multinational Companies – NYT The tax agency said it would be looking at how companies moved money and allocated costs among Chinese operations and overseas businesses.

   Related: U.S. Business Group Urges Resistance to Chinese Policy – NYT

Easing of China’s one-child policy has not produced a baby-boom – The Guardian A good number of Chinese families have been less than enthusiastic about the partial relaxation of the policy, choosing to stick with one child, often for practical and economic reasons, but also because decades of government propaganda have convinced them that one child really is best.

Ruling the PLA According to the Law – The Diplomat Chinese authorities are revamping the military legal system to promote the rule of law and weed out corruption.

China’s Changing Labor Conditions – The Diplomat The country’s increasingly skilled labor force will need service sector reforms to accommodate it.

 

SOUTHEAST ASIA

MPS launch petition to oppose White Card-holder voting rights – DVB Upper house MPs on Friday initiated a petition calling on the Constitutional Tribunal to rule on whether a recent motion to grant voting rights to temporary identification card-holders is in breach of the Constitution.

Related: Week of Protests Planned Against Suffrage for White Card Holders – The Irrawaddy

The little prince – SEA Globe After five decades in and out of Cambodian politics, Prince Norodom Ranariddh has breezily announced yet another return, but many doubt his abilities and motives

Peace Talks to Continue After Union Day, Bypassing Ceasefire Goal – The Irrawaddy The signing of a nationwide ceasefire agreement on Union Day is officially off the agenda, after further talks between the government and ethnic army representatives were postponed to the middle of February.

Thailand’s famous Tiger Temple raided for suspected wildlife trafficking – The Guardian Thai officials have raided a Buddhist temple that is home to more than 100 tigers and are investigating suspected links to wildlife trafficking, authorities said on Thursday.

KMITL ups pressure on SCB to submit all documents in embezzlement case – The Nation Officials at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL) are now increasing pressure on Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), saying it has so far been uncooperative with the probe into the embezzlement of more than Bt1.58 billion.

Rice Federation Votes, Approves Export Fee – Cambodia Daily The newly formed Cambodia Rice Federation voted Monday to require its members pay an export fee of $0.75 per metric ton of rice in order to raise money for educating farmers and marketing Cambodian rice overseas, according to Sok Puthyvuth, the federation’s president.

Related: Rice Federation May Rely on Banks, Gov’t For Capital – Cambodia Daily

Laos’ Killer Drunk Driving Problem – The Diplomat Cheap alcohol and an absence of breathalyzers are playing havoc on the roads of Laos. It’s not just Laos – drunk driving contributes to a large number of deaths in rural areas all over the region, often for the same reasons listed in this article. 

28 Burmese migrants rescued from suffocating truck – DVB Twenty-eight illegal Burmese migrants were rescued from the back of a poorly ventilated pickup truck in Thailand’s Chumphon province and their two alleged traffickers arrested, police said.

Student protests: Ministry says it will amend Education Law – DVB Burma’s Ministry of Education has publicly announced that it is working on amendments to the National Education Law, which it then intends to present to parliament.

Related: Burma Students Reject Govt Warning to Stop Protests – The Irrawaddy

$360k Drug Bust in Pa-O Territory, Shan State – The Irrawaddy Anti-narcotics police seized a major drug haul in the Pa-O self-administered zone of eastern Burma on Tuesday, the fifth such operation since the start of the year.

 

YUNNAN

US Ambassador to China visits Yunnan – GoKunming The highest-ranking United States official in China spent time traveling across Yunnan this week. Ambassador Max Baucus‘ trip south of the clouds lasted five days, during which he switched hats between that of well-healed tourist and diplomat. According to friends in the State Department, Ambassadors, Consul Generals and embassy staff all love coming to Yunnan for the good weather, food and fine people.

Floriculture: Let a million flowers bloom – The Economist Yunnan has rapidly emerged as China’s dominant flower-growing region.

    Related: Mekong Delta: Where the color streams begin – Thanh Nien

Lijiang to restrict risqué ads targeting tourists – GoKunming Representatives from across the province recently wrapped up an annual planning session in Kunming. Zhang Zejun, mayor of Lijiang, has made national news for announcing a crackdown on vulgar or otherwise “sexy ads” encouraging people to visit the old towns of Dayan and Shuhe.

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Regional Roundup for Week of 12.14.14

Will & Brian, ExSE founders, recently returned from an 18 day field trip to Thailand and Laos with many new stories to tell and much analysis to deliver to the readership.  By far the biggest topic heard far and wide while on the river was the run-up to last Friday’s regional consultation put on by the Mekong River Commission regarding the controversial 250MW Don Sahong dam on the Mekong in southern Laos. By most accounts the regional consultation is a step in the right direction, but it’s affect will likely be minimal and hosting the event after initial construction has already begun is out of step with the MRC’s mandate and obviously too late to have a meaningful impact.  What we did confirm on our trip to Laos was that the dam builder, Malaysia’s Megafirst, has subcontracted most of the dam’s work to Sinohydro, both China’s and the world’s largest hydropower developer – perhaps a good move for Megafirst, a firm that has never built a dam, but not a good move for China in terms of its regional image and soft power projection.  No major press releases were released on Friday’s findings, so keep your eyes posted to relevant news outlets like ones listed below as well as to ExSE for analysis on this controversial project by the end of the week.

EXSE FOCUS

Stop gambling with our future: Cancel the Don Sahong dam – The Nation Today, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) is holding its first regional public consultation on the Don Sahong Dam in Pakse. We believe the Don Sahong Dam poses an unacceptable risk to regional fisheries, food security and the future of the Mekong and, as such, should be immediately cancelled.

 Related WWF to Boycott Don Sahong Dam Meeting in Laos – Cambodia Daily The World Wildlife Fund on Thursday said it would boycott a regional public consultation today over Laos’ controversial Don Sahong hydropower dam, accusing those behind the project of ignoring the potentially devastating impact it could have on Cambodia’s communities, fisheries and endangered Irrawaddy dolphins.

 Related MRC will hold regional public consultation on Don Sahong Hydropower Project – MRC 12-Dec consultation and online feedback submission are among channels for stakeholders to participate in the project’s prior consultation.

 Wife of Missing Lao Civil Society Leader Vows to Keep Pushing For Answers – RFA  The wife of a missing prominent civil society leader in Laos vowed to continue pushing the authorities for answers over the disappearance of her husband, who vanished under mysterious circumstances in the capital Vientiane two years ago.//Sombath disappeared two years ago today.  Those who knew Sombath are celebrating his life and works this week on the Laofab gmail group.  For more information write laofab@gmail.com 

 Related Authorities look the other way as activists disappear in Asia – The Nation The wife of missing Laotian activist Sombath Somphone says his abductors still enjoy impunity two years after his disappearance – an ugly reality across a region where powerful business interests and murky state actors stand accused of routinely “disappearing” opponents.

 

Thai Princess, Queen-to-Be, Gives Up Title – NYT Princess Srirasm, mother of a presumed heir to the Thai throne, lost her title after the recent arrests of her relatives and amid King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s health problems.

Analysis What the Turmoil in Thailand’s Palace Means for Thai Politics (Perhaps) – CFR Asia Unbound As I noted last week, Thailand has been consumed by recent news that Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn appears to be on the verge of divorcing his third wife, Srirasmi, and erasing all remnants of her and her family from his life and from the royal palace. Of course, no Thai media are openly reporting this news, since saying almost anything at all about the crown prince or any other leading member of the royal family (or even about royal events that allegedly took place hundreds of years ago) can get one slapped with harsh lèse-majesté charges.//Josh Kurlantzick with interesting analysis gleaned from his SEA network as well as his reading of Andrew McGregor Marshall’s new book on the Thai royal family Kingdom in Crisis.  Essentially the crown prince’s divorcing of this third wife is a ploy to distance himself from the Red Shirt Thaksin clique (which by the way is not going anywhere anytime soon folks), and make good with the military and the  military led government.  Elite politics is on a continual slide to the conservative side in Thailand

The Year of Sustainable Development – Project Syndicate Next year represents this generation’s greatest opportunity to progress toward sustainable development. Three summits in the latter half of 2015 can reshape the global development agenda, and give an important push to vital changes in the functioning of the world economy.//by Jeffrey Sachs

 Global economy – a year of divergence looms – The Guardian The major players in the world economy all have the potential to grow at different speeds while taking divergent paths – policymakers should take note of the risks. In the coming year, “divergence” will be a major global economic theme, applying to economic trends, policies, and performance. As the year progresses, these divergences will become increasingly difficult to reconcile, leaving policymakers with a choice: overcome the obstacles that have so far impeded effective action, or risk allowing their economies to be destabilised.

 

REGIONAL RELATIONS

The Silk Railway: freight train from China pulls up in Madrid – The Guardian Madrid mayor welcomes first cargo train from China after epic 8,111-mile rail trip inaugurates the longest rail link in the world. The longest rail link in the world and the first direct link between China and Spain is up and running after a train from Yiwu in coastal China completed its maiden journey of 8,111 miles to Madrid.//Impressive, but how much did it cost?  Certainly the costs will be dropping into the future as long as the Sino-Russian relationship holds up.

World set for climate disaster, say activists, as Lima talks falter – The Guardian Proposals too weak to keep global warming to the agreed limit of two degrees above pre-industrial levels. Frustrated climate campaigners have claimed that the world was on course for an unsustainable four-degree rise in temperatures, as two weeks of negotiations for a climate change agreement headed for an unsatisfying conclusion.

Related Strange Climate Event: Warmth Toward U.S. – NYT

Related At Climate Meeting, China Balks at Verifying Cuts in Carbon Emissions – NYT

Related China pledges US$20 million a year to its new South-South Cooperation Fund – The Third Pole

 

Chinese tourists who scalded Thai stewardess with hot water, noodles to be punished – SCMP Chinese authorities vowed to severely punish Chinese travellers who threw hot water and noodles on a Thai flight attendant and threatened to bomb the plane.//Waiting for a US late night pundit to start a “Chinese people behaving badly” segment.  All jokes aside, what legal grounds does the Chinese government have to charge Chinese citizens with crimes and misdemeanors occurring over Thai airspace and on Malaysia’s property (AirAsia being Malaysian owned?)

Ancient Trade Route Delivers New Opportunities to Greater Mekong Subregion – ADB A modern highway and bridge connecting three countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion are reviving an ancient trade route and bringing new life to local communities

UN report: Golden Triangle opium trade still expanding –GoKunming  A report released this week by the United Nations shows opium production in Southeast Asia continues to rise despite eradication efforts in several countries. Demand for the drug and its derivatives, specifically heroin, remains highest in China and the vast majority arrives via Yunnan province.//Ancient trade route delivers ancient products – counter to headline above.  Blame the faltering peace process in Myanmar and big Yunnan agrobusiness for this – at least for resumed opium production in Laos.  Obviously the Chinese central government doesn’t want drugs flowing in from the Golden Triangle, but provincial Yunnanese agrofirms are buying huge tracts of land in northern Laos for rubber and banana plantation and driving small farmers off their land and into opium production.  5 years ago, opium production in northern Laos was negligible, but now is beginning to thrive again.   

Kunming to Vietnam border by rail soon to be reality – GoKunming  Yunnan’s newest railroad opened this week to test traffic, indicating work is all but finished following more than five years of slow and steady construction. Although more of an extension than a dedicated line, the Mengzi-Hekou Railway Line (蒙河铁路) will soon allow freight and passenger traffic from Kunming to travel uninterrupted to an international border.//this is a big deal.  It means that you can jump on a train in Kunming at noon and arrive in Hanoi by train at 5am the following morning. 100 years ago a rail line opened parallel to this one joining Vietnam’s Haiphong port to Kunming – that ride took nearly 5 days.  The old passenger line went out of commission 14 years ago. 

Searching for Burmese Jade, and Finding Misery – The Guardian A New York Times documentary and article look at mine workers in Myanmar struggling with poverty and drug addiction even as the country’s jade industry is booming because of demand from China.//this too slows the peace process in Myanmar.

Related: The Life and Times of an Addict in Myanmar – The Guardian

Related: An Addict on the Jade Trail to China – The Guardian

 Malaysian police detain 15 Burmese over series of gruesome murders – AFP Officials suspect killing of at least 18 Burmese nationals in Penang may be result of revenge attacks over violence at home. Malaysian police have detained 15 people from Burma over a series of gruesome murders in a popular tourist destination, and believe the killings are linked to ethnic unrest in their home country, reports say.

 India and China Slug It Out in South Asia – The Diplomat India-China competition in South Asia is as hot as ever, but India could be losing out to China in important ways.

Vietnam dismisses China’s position paper on East Sea claims Thanh Nien News Vietnam’s foreign ministry condemned Thursday a position paper China has used to outline its arguments against the jurisdiction of an international arbitration case which the Philippines has been seeking to challenge Beijing’s expansive maritime claims.

Related China’s Maritime Machinations: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – The Diplomat

 

SUSTAINABILITY & RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

European Union agrees to investigate Cambodian sugar industry – The Guardian Booming industry faces allegations of human rights abuses such as land grabs, forced displacement and child labour. The European Union has agreed to investigate forced displacement claims in relation to Cambodia’s troubled sugar industry. The move could see thousands of villagers compensated for illegally confiscated land and loss of earnings.

Traders welcome ‘Rubber Fund’ as good step to push up prices – The Nation Rubber traders yesterday welcomed the planned Bt420-million “Rubber Fund” as a good start to ensure a brighter outlook for their industry, hoping that it could help shore up prices of the commodity.//entire mountainsides of rubber production will go online in 2015-16 as trees reach maturity in southern Yunnan and northern Laos.  Look for a spike from the fund and then another dip when those trees go online.  The falling price of oil also further promotes the production of synthetic rubber.  

 

CHINA

Hong Kong Protesters Lose a Last Bastion, but Vow to Go On – NYT Even in their defeat, the protesters, mostly college students, left with a new sense of political identity and a willingness to challenge the power holders in Beijing.

Related: The Guardian view on the final dispersal of the Hong Kong protests | Editorial – The Guardian

 Liu Xiaobo sends message to the world: pay attention to other Chinese activists – AP Jailed Nobel peace prize winner tells friend he is doing well, has been reading and thinking and is convinced he has no enemies. The jailed Chinese Nobel peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has told an overseas friend that he is relatively healthy but wants the world to pay more attention to other Chinese activists

Allen Grane: Combating the African Wildlife Trade in China – CFR Asia Unbound Recently, the Animal Planet aired a documentary entitled “Saving Africa’s Giants with Yao Ming.” The show, developed in conjunction with the environmental non-governmental organization WildAid, depicts Yao meeting with wildlife conservationists to discuss the future of African elephants and rhinoceroses.

China’s water diversion project starts to flow to Beijing – The Guardian  £48bn scheme may provide relief to the parched north, but at what cost to the drought-ridden south and its displaced farmers? On Friday afternoon, China quietly inaugurated one of the biggest engineering projects of all time: the South-North Water Diversion, a £48bn, 2,400km network of canals and tunnels, designed to divert 44.8bn cubic metres of water annually from China’s humid south to its parched, industrialised north.

Chinese Health Care Draws Investors NYT Despite the system’s challenges, the sector is becoming one of the most popular for those seeking the next great untapped market.

A Top Target of China’s Graft Purge Gets Life in Prison NYT Liu Tienan was one of the first and most visible targets of the push by President Xi Jinping to take down both “tigers” and “flies” — powerful and minor officials.

China Announces Record Trade Surplus, Helped by Weak Oil Price – NYT The Shanghai stock market rose sharply after the data was released and has now climbed 26 percent since a rate cut on Nov. 21.

China Sets Economic Reform Targets for 2015 Diplomat The Central Economic Work Conference gave an overview of China’s economic goals for 2015. Topping the agenda: reform.

 

SOUTHEAST ASIA

How can ‘carpocalypse’ be avoided in Hanoi? The Guardian Vehicle ownership is status symbol in Vietnam, but congested streets are making the city unliveable. What will turn the tide?  The everyday commute in Hanoi is a test of endurance; it requires perseverance and concentration, and involves pollution, bizarre noises, and mysterious aromas. Traffic lights act more like loose guidelines for the flow of traffic, and with busy crowded streets, public buses are the most feared among bicyclists for their accelerator-happy feet.//We’ll be posting a similar article on Kunming’s traffic problems later this week.

Vietnamese blogger arrested for ‘anti-state articles’ The Guardian Press freedom group says charges are bogus. A blogger was detained in Vietnam on Saturday on anti-state charges for postings deemed critical of the government, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

World’s largest cave in Vietnam threatened by cable car – The Guardian Vietnamese are protesting plans to build a cable car through remote Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park that could carry 1,000 visitors an hour to Son Doong cave.  Plans for a cable car in Vietnam’s Unesco-listed Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park would open up the world’s largest cave to mass tourism. But Vietnamese are protesting the project, and experts warn the environmental impact could be devastating.

US Sends Mixed Message to Burma Military –  DVB  Human rights advocates and some lawmakers say the United States is sending the wrong signal by opening the door for broader engagement with Burma’s widely criticized military just weeks after President Barack Obama assured opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi that closer ties weren’t going to happen soon.

 Survey Finds Waning Confidence In Direction Country Is Headed – The Cambodia Daily Just 32 percent of Cambodians believe the country is headed in the right direction, down from 81 percent a decade ago, according to a report released on Wednesday by the U.S.-based Asia Foundation.

Cross-Border Energy Trade Powers Development in Cambodia – ADB A Greater Mekong Subregion project helps builds a transmission line from Viet Nam to Cambodia to provide a steady supply of electricity to communities and industries in the southern part of the country.

Through the eyes of a killer – SEA Globe The Look of Silence is Joshua Oppenheimer’s second film about Indonesia’s communist purges of the 1960s. The first film, the Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing, was centred on the murderers; this time the focus is shifted to the victims, who have been afraid to raise the matter for half a century.//If you haven’t seen The Act of Killing yet, do so soon.  Netflix carries it.  

Fighting fire with fire – SEA Globe One of the region’s longest-running and most intractable conflicts continues to smoulder in Thailand’s deep south. The new military government has promised peace, but one of its first moves was handing out military-grade weapons to locals

Education in Indonesia: School’s in – The Economist WITH roughly 55m students, 3m teachers and more than 236,000 schools in 500 districts, Indonesia has the world’s fourth-largest education system. But the system does not work nearly as well as it should. The country’s new president, Joko Widodo, generally known as Jokowi, hopes to change that with help from his new education secretary, Anies Baswedan, a former university president and creator of a programme that sends graduates to teach in remote areas.Like so much else in the sprawling archipelago, nothing is simple.

Malaysia Airlines appoints Aer Lingus boss as first foreign chief executive – SCMP Malaysia’s government has picked Christoph Mueller, the chief executive of Ireland’s Aer Lingus, as the new head of its beleaguered flag carrier, Malaysia Airlines.

Tourist Influx Helps Rural Lao PDR Thrive – ADB  Completion of the last overland link in the North-South Economic Corridor brings prosperity to poor provinces in the Lao PDR, a landlocked country that lies at the heart of the Greater Mekong Subregion.

 

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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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Regional Roundup for Week of 11.2.2014

The EXSE weekly news digest is back after a long hiatus – and we have a new look!  Our revamped digest is more concise and follows the general format of the website focusing on what we do best: regional relations, sustainability and resource management, Yunnan province, and book reviews.  Below you’ll see that we’ve also maintained focus on domestic issues in China and Southeast Asia.  Enjoy! Look forward to more posts this coming week on corruption in Yunnan and the engineering the Southern Silk Road.

EXSE FOCUS

What Should Obama and Xi Say to Each Other at APEC? ChinaFile Next week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing (November 5-11) between Presidents Xi Jinping, Barack Obama, and other leaders from around the world, is billed as the Chinese capital’s highest-profile international event since the 2008 Olympics. Local law enforcement have warned people they face arrest for wearing Halloween costumes on the subway as it may cause crowds to gather and create “trouble.” Hopes are high that the leaders of the world’s two largest economies won’t scare each other off

 Related: What Beijing Wants From APEC The Diplomat

Related: What Beijing Wants From APEC Asia Unbound

 The Guardian view on the Asian Infrastructure Bank: the US should work with it, not oppose it | Editorial the Guardian It’s no surprise that China is promoting a solution to the shortage of infrastructure capital in Asia. It is an exaggeration to talk of the pace of reform at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, for there has been almost none to these, the so-called Washington institutions that, together with the US Treasury, have both sustained and constrained the global economy since 1945. How to reflect the changing balance of economic power has been endlessly discussed but rarely implemented.

 Related: Australia won’t join Asian infrastructure bank ‘until rules change’ Guardian  

 Obama Prepares to Travel to Myanmar at a Critical Time Asia Unbound In November, President Obama will travel to Myanmar to attend the East Asia Summit, which brings together a broad range of nations from across the Pacific Rim. It will be the president’s second trip to Myanmar, following his landmark 2012 trip, which was the first by a sitting U.S. president to Myanmar since the country gained independence six decades ago. During the East Asia Summit, Obama almost surely will hold bilateral meetings with Myanmar President Thein Sein and other senior Myanmar leaders, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Related: Listening Post: On Visit, Obama to Face a Backsliding Myanmar NYT

 Mapping the flow SEA Globe An interactive map released by campaign group Global Financial Integrity (GFI) reveals the staggering speed illicit financial outflows – illegal movements of money or capital from one country to another – are leaving developing world countries. The information is compiled from a December 2013 report “Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2002-2011”

 

REGIONAL RELATIONS

Banyan: The city on the hill Economist WHEN Barack Obama ducked out of two summits in Indonesia and Brunei a year ago, the credibility of the “pivot to Asia” he had proclaimed, giving the region greater importance in American foreign policy, took a big knock. This month he is due to show up at back-to-back gatherings in Beijing, Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar, and Brisbane in Australia, giving him a chance to hammer out the dent. It will be a struggle. The centrepiece of the economic aspect of the pivot, a regional free-trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is still not a done deal.

The U.S. Should Not Fear Competing With China The Diplomat With the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the U.S. should not be afraid of a little healthy competition.

Not U.S. Isolationism, But a Rebalancing of Priorities and Means Asia Unbound  The Chicago Council on Global Affairs 2014 survey released last month entitled “Foreign Policy in the Age of Retrenchment” reports that over 40 percent of Americans believe that the United States should “stay out” rather than take an active part in global affairs. But the survey also shows that over four-fifths of Americans believe that the United States should continue to show strong leadership in world affairs. Possibly the strongest counter-arguments for smart American leadership versus isolationism and retrenchment are expressed in poll results regarding American attitudes toward its alliances in Asia. This is an important finding because it shows growing American understanding of the importance of Asia and growing support for the strategic value of the U.S. rebalance to Asia.

US-Philippines Defense Ties Under Fire The Diplomat A U.S. Marine accused of murder has called broader U.S.-Philippines cooperation into question.

Can China and Vietnam Overcome Their Territorial Disputes? The Diplomat Yang Jiechi’s visit to Vietnam was full of optimism, but the China-Vietnam relationship remains fragile.

How Vietnam Woos China and India Simultaneously The Diplomat In managing relations with India and China, Vietnamese diplomacy has grown dynamic and creative.

 

SUSTAINABILITY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Tibetan Plateau Faces Massive ‘Ecosystem Shift’ China File Large areas of grasslands, alpine meadows, wetlands, and permafrost will disappear on the Tibetan plateau by 2050, with serious implications for environmental security in China and South Asia, a research paper published by scientists at the Kunming Institute of Botany has warned.

Beijing Zeroes In on Energy Potential of South China Sea NYT Much of the muscle-flexing over disputed waters in the region is political. But China is also interested in the oil and natural gas that might lie below the waters.

 Dam could sound death knell for dolphins Phnom Penh Post Ahead of crucial discussions about the future of Cambodia’s wetlands this month, residents of a globally significant area of the Mekong River fear an environmental catastrophe if hydropower plans go ahead.

 China’s obsession with vertical cities Guardian By the end of next year one-in-three of the worlds 100m+ skyscrapers will be in China, as its state-orchestrated urbanisation drive prompts a megacity building bonanza

Tuna firm’s bungled IPO exposes China’s flouting of global fishing rules Guardian  Draft IPO sends a reporter down a rabbit hole to find shell companies and shady dealings in the world-wide fishing industry. Reporting on international fishing can often feel like investigating organized crime. Everyone knows how things are run, but the truth is obscured by shell companies, back-door dealings, and plausible deniability.

Growth in the New Climate Economy Project Syndicate Action to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and mitigate climate change has long been viewed as fundamentally opposed to economic growth. But a recently released report concludes that efforts to combat climate change could boost growth considerably – and soon.

 

CHINA

China upholds death penalty for three who led mass stabbing in Kunming AFP  A Chinese appeal court has upheld death sentences for three people convicted over a mass stabbing this year in which 31 people were killed, say state media. The higher peoples court of Yunnan province rejected Hasayn Muhammads appeal and upheld the penalty meted out by the Kunming municipal intermediate peoples court last month, Xinhua said in a dispatch from Kunming.

Taiwan Leader Stresses Support for Hong Kong Protests NYT President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan said that he supported Hong Kong protesters’ democratic ideals, but would still pursue trade agreements with China.

Corruption in the housing market: To those that have The Economist OFTEN the trickiest part of being a corrupt bureaucrat is not how to find new ways to extort money or accept bribes, but how to hide the ill-gotten gains. No one wants to end up like “Uncle House”, as a district official in the southern province of Guangdong was dubbed by internet users. He was outed two years ago by online anti-corruption activists after acquiring 22 properties that on his salary he clearly could not afford.However, research by Hanming Fang of the University of Pennsylvania, and Li-An Zhou and Quanlin Gu of the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University suggests that the housing market is a source of illicit riches, as well as a place to park them

China’s 4th Plenum: Rule of Law Under the Party The Diplomat U.S. editors Ankit Panda and Zachary Keck are joined by Shannon Tiezzi to discuss China’s fourth plenum.

China to put decorated general on trial over corruption Reuters A once-powerful retired Chinese military officer has confessed to taking vast amounts in bribes and will be prosecuted in court, the official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.General Xu Caihou, a former vice-chairman of the powerful central military commission, was court martialled in June. He has been stripped of his title and expelled from the military, Xinhua said, citing army lawyers.

 

SOUTHEAST ASIA 

UN Rapporteur: ‘Backtracking’ could undermine Burma’s reforms DVB UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee has expressed concern about “possible signs of backtracking” that could undermine Burma’s reform process, according to a UN press statement released yesterday which highlighted some key points of Ms. Lee’s speech to the UN General Assembly about Burma’s human rights situation.

Burma considers altering law that bars Aung San Suu Kyi from being president AFP Burmas parliament will consider amending the countrys constitution which currently bars the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, from becoming president before crucial elections next year, an official said on Friday. Suu Kyi is trying to change key sections of Burmas charter ahead of 2015 polls that are widely expected to be won by her National League for Democracy (NLD), if they are free and fair, after decades of military rule.

US Blacklists Burma Ruling Party Lawmaker DVB  The U.S. Treasury on Friday blacklisted a hard-line lawmaker of Burma’s ruling party, accusing him of undermining political and economic reforms.

The Rise of Public Opinion in Cambodia’s Politics The Diplomat The ruling elite can no longer simply ignore the opinions of the Cambodian public.

After Budget Released, Cambodia’s Opposition Blasts Process Cambodia Daily With the release of the government’s 2015 draft national budget Thursday, the opposition CNRP, whose 55 lawmakers joined the National Assembly in August, called Cambodia’s budget-drafting process “disgusting and unbelievable” on Friday.

Malaysia: A lousy sequel Economist FOR 16 years Anwar Ibrahim, leader of Malaysia’s opposition, has battled dodgy charges of sodomy and corruption designed to keep him from power. One way or another, a court hearing which began on October 28th looks like the end of the road. As The Economist went to press Mr Anwar (pictured above, with his wife) was reaching the conclusion of his final appeal against a five-year prison sentence, imposed in March, for allegedly having sex with a male aide (sodomy is illegal in Malaysia).

 

YUNNAN PROVINCE

Official: Yunnan will have two bullet trains by 2016 Go Kunming Announcing specific completion timetables for infrastructure endeavors is a dicey business in China. If a project suffers setbacks and deadlines pass without completion, officials can lose their jobs. This reality makes it maddeningly difficult to guess with any accuracy when work on a given venture might actually conclude.

A quick glimpse of Yunnan’s ancient salt towns GoKunming  Exploring Yunnan is not fully completed unless one visits at least one of the three ancient and historically important salt towns in southwest China. Heijing (黑井), Nuodeng (诺邓) and Shiyang (石羊) are three often undiscovered pearls of the province, and can provide travelers with a rare view of China from another time.

Online rumor spurs closure of ‘wild animal bazaar’ GoKunming Here at GoKunming there are several not-yet-dead horses that we routinely beat. Among these, news stories regarding the environment, wild animals, officials behaving badly and bizarre, often vague, trending internet tropes tend to receive the most user feedback. Rarely, however, has one news item rolled all of these themes into a nice compact ball exemplifying many of the challenges facing Yunnan. That is, of course, until this week.

Related: Seafood banquets put tropical reef fish at risk The Third Pole

 

REVIEWS

Hun Sen’s Cambodia: A Review Asia Unbound A new book by Cambodia-based journalist Sebastian StrangioHun Sen’s Cambodia has set the standard for compelling and accessible histories of modern-day Cambodia. In particular, the book is the first to offer an accessible but thorough biographical portrait of longtime Cambodian prime minister—and strongman—Hun Sen. Strangio details in compelling form how Hun Sen rose from a skinny, totally uneducated and unworldly senior official in the Vietnam-installed post-Khmer Rouge regime into a smooth autocrat who has dominated the country for decades. Over time, Hun Sen also has become fabulously rich and has become an increasingly powerful player in Southeast Asia, due to Cambodia’s membership in ASEAN, Hun Sen’s longevity, and Hun Sen’s ability to play his patrons Vietnam and China off of each other.

From the Ruins of Empire…arise the nation-state Jottings from the Granite Studio One of the best books on empire, colonialism, and de-colonization I have read in the past few years is Pankaj Mishra’s brilliant From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia. It’s a sprawling story told through the biographical sketches of major Asian intellectuals such as Liang Qichao, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, and Abdurreshi al Ibrahim, near contemporaries who witnessed the crumbling of empire and worried about what might come next in a world still dominated by North Atlantic states and Western value systems.

What China’s Reading: ‘Broken Dreams, USA’ China File As a kid, I couldn’t understand why Chinese people flocked to the United States when the policemen there were so cruel, the crime rate was so high, and the food was so unpalatable. Later I realized that it’s because in America there are cars, concrete jungles and skyscrapers, and color televisions. How we used to admire and worship such a country, America. But now it seems the old “American dream” is too plain for Chinese people’s desires…

 

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