Weekly Round-up for Week of 1.10.2020


EXSE FOCUS

The Mekong Delta: an unsettling portrait of coastal collapse Financial Times Some environmental disasters present themselves over the years; others come with a bang — or a splash. The latter happened one day last August, when residents of Binh My, a commune in Vietnam’s lush Mekong Delta, heard a loud cracking sound. They went outside to watch a 25-metre-long chunk of the highway that runs alongside their houses collapse into the river as the asphalt gave way. One of Asia’s biggest wetlands is subsiding into the sea, the result in part of rising sea levels created by climate change.


REGIONAL RELATIONS

Asia braces for worst after US strike on Iran’s SoleimaniNikkei Asian Review Asian governments are warily watching the U.S.-Iran face-off, with the Philippines making preparations to extract thousands of its citizens from the Middle East.

China says US use of force aggravating Middle East tension Reuters China criticized the United States for aggravating tension in the Middle East through its use of force in the stand-off between Washington and Tehran, and urged all parties to exercise restraint to ensure peace and stability.

Duterte braces to evacuate Philippine workers in Middle East as US-Iran tensions soar South China Morning Post The increasingly volatile situation in the Middle East is putting Filipinos in ‘grave peril’, said the president. The Middle East is the Philippines’ largest destination for land-based workers, with about 1 million Filipinos heading there to work annually

Strengthening the ASEAN-centric multilateral security architecture – East Asia Forum For a good part of the post-Cold War period, ASEAN enjoyed relative success as the central multilateral organisation in its region. Its expansion through the late 1990s, as well as its inclusive approach towards non-ASEAN powers, helped it become the main convener of multilateral dialogue and cooperative platforms in the wider Asia Pacific.

Foreign Minister’s First ASEAN Voyage Spotlights Japan-Southeast Asia Relations in the Indo-PacificThe Diplomat Over the weekend, Japan’s new foreign minister embarked on his first Southeast Asia tour since taking office late last year. The four-country visit spotlighted Southeast Asia’s role in Japan’s foreign policy both on its own terms as well as within its own Indo-Pacific vision.

Why Myanmar Should Matter to India The Diplomat Myanmar is only country that sits at the intersection of India’s “Neighborhood First” policy and “Act East” policy. As one of only two Southeast Asian countries invited to attend the swearing-in of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he won re-election in May 2019, Myanmar’s relations with India have been thrust into the spotlight. Here’s why Naypyidaw should matter to Delhi in 2020.

Specter of possible new virus emerging from central China raises alarms across Asia – Washington Post An outbreak of an unidentified and possibly new viral disease in central China is prompting officials across Asia to take heightened precautions ahead of the busy Lunar New Year travel season. Officials in Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines said in recent days they will begin setting up quarantine zones or scanning passengers from China for signs of fever or other pneumonia-like symptoms that may indicate a new disease possibly linked to a wild animal market in Wuhan.


SUSTAINABILITY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Jakarta floods spark renewed calls for stronger environmental protectionMongabay The recent deadly flooding in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta and nearby cities has renewed calls from activists for the government to strengthen environmental protection and boost efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Thais asked to shower less as drought worsensThe Straits Times Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday (Jan 7) urged people to turn off their taps and shower less to cope with a drought afflicting northern and central Thailand. Last week, Bangkok’s water authority said the capital’s tap water was becoming saline as seawater pushed up the depleted Chao Phraya River, a source of much of central Thailand’s water.

Reeling plastics industry seeks state helpBangkok Post Thailand’s plastics industry, plastic reprocessors and related industries are calling for the government to provide assistance following the campaign banning plastic bags at major retailers in the country.

Activist urges investigation of sanctuary encroachmentThe Phnom Penh Post A prominent forest activist in Kampong Speu province said he would ask the provincial Department of Environment on Wednesday to investigate land encroachment in the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary. Chea Hean, the director of the Natural Resources and Wildlife Preservation Organisation, alleged that nearly 100ha in the sanctuary was being bulldozed for private ownership.

Vietnam to hold auctions for 400 MW of floating solarPV Magazine Following its decision to switch from fixed feed-in tariffs to reverse auction bidding for the setting of solar incentives, the Vietnamese government has decided to devote the first two pilot auctions to floating PV. A first procurement exercise, for a project which could reach 100 MW of generation capacity, will be held this year.

Palm oil processors top plantations in destroying proboscis monkey habitat Mongabay The oil palm processing industry has overtaken palm plantations as the biggest cause of the loss of habitat for the endangered proboscis monkey in Indonesia’s Balikpapan Bay. The oil palm processing industry has become the biggest threat to the iconic and endangered proboscis monkeys of Indonesian Borneo, a new study has found.

CHINA

Chinese electric carmaker Byton says it is on track for 2020 mass production Nikkei Asian Review Startup announces partnerships with Marubeni and ViacomCBS at Vegas event. Chinese startup Byton says it is on track to begin mass producing its first electric vehicle in 2020 after successful trial production that kicked off late last year. Speaking ahead of the CES tech trade show in Las Vegas on Sunday, the company also announced several partnerships, including an energy storage tie-up with Japanese trading house Marubeni. 

China must cancel new coal plants to achieve climate goals: studyReuters China must end the construction of all new coal-fired power plants in order to meet long-term climate goals in the most economically feasible manner, according to a study co-authored by a government-backed research institute. // China’s investment in nonrenewable energy sources outside of the country, especially in Southeast Asia have a large impact on the energy strategy for countries like Myanmar and Cambodia. By continuing to push for coal, China is disrupting the renewable energy transition process and preventing these countries from preparing for the future. 

Why don’t CPEC projects factor in the climate crisis? The Third Pole  The Pakistani government is ignoring the climate impacts of the energy and infrastructure projects under the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor. The China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is one of the most ambitious components of China’s Belt and Road Initiative to build infrastructure abroad. Its goals were set out in a long-term plan published last year by Pakistan’s Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform.


SOUTHEAST ASIA

Prawit confirms run against Prayut can go ahead Bangkok Post Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon on Monday reaffirmed that a campaign-run calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha from office will be allowed to go ahead.

Thailand rolls out cannabis clinic based on traditional medicine Reuters Thailand opened its first full-time clinic specialising in traditional and alternative cannabis-based medicine on Monday (Jan 6), as part of a move by the government towards developing a medicinal cannabis industry.

Old USSR lives on through thriving Vietnamese conglomerates Nikkei Asian Review   Vietnam’s stellar economic performance over the last few years has brought it to the attention of businesses worldwide and has also shone a light on its top performing companies that have become a force for foreign rivals to reckon with.

Thailand moves closer to US currency watchlist Bangkok Post Bank of Thailand governor says baht rise proves lack of manipulation. Thailand’s 12-month trade surplus with the US has exceeded US$20 billion, increasing its chance of being included on the US Treasury’s watchlist of currency manipulators, although the central bank governor said dialogue is ongoing.

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