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 Mekong – Challenge 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
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
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.
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.
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.