Zheng He’s Modern Doppelganger

Zheng He’s Modern DoppelgangerThere is an uncanny resemblance between today’s China and the voyages of Zheng He in the early 15th century. The specific parallel I have in mind is China’s Belt and Road initiative, which is being celebrated by the May 14-15 summit meeting in Beijing of 23 leaders of nations along the routes. Back in the…

Philippines Seeks to Reverse Duterte’s Foreign Policy Botch

Philippines Seeks to Reverse Duterte’s Foreign Policy BotchPhilippine Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol is attempting to undo an international gaffe by President Rodrigo Duterte, moving to establish a research facility on Benham Rise, a 13 million-hectare underwater plateau 250 km. east of the island of Luzon. The United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf declared the area part of Philippine…

Trump’s Ominous Climate Plans

Trump’s Ominous Climate PlansThe United States could start the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change as early as this week. But some experts believe the alternative that President Donald Trump is considering – simply downgrading the country’s climate targets – could ultimately prove even more damaging for the environment.  During his campaign, Trump said…

Logging Corruption in Vietnam and Cambodia

Logging Corruption in Vietnam and CambodiaIn a new report that promises to make waves all the way to Europe, the watchdog Environmental Investigation Agency takes aim at Vietnam's timber processing industry and the role it plays in the illicit timber trade from Cambodia. The study comes just days before Vietnam and the European Union are meant to finalize their discussions…

Cambodia’s Virachey National Park in Danger

Cambodia’s Virachey National Park in DangerOn a January late afternoon I was sitting in a small jungle clearing about 500 meters over the Cambodian border in Laos, utterly lost in a lost world. It was almost completely silent save for the melodious warble of an unseen bird. There is almost nothing which demarcates the international border between Cambodia and Laos…

Return of the License Raj?

Return of the License Raj?Indian nationalists are attempting to push their country towards China-style mercantilism in hobbling US consumer giants Amazon and Uber from making inroads against local brands Flipkart and Ola, demanding that the government protect local companies against what they call predatory pricing.  The debate has been roiling corporate India ever since two of the country's leading…

New Mystery For Controversial Japanese Group

New Mystery For Controversial Japanese GroupThe Japanese conglomerate J Trust Group, which has come under the spotlight for a series of financial inconsistencies in Indonesia, Thailand and Cyprus, has added another. On April 14, an apparently frustrated J Trust put out a press release accusing the South Korean Financial Services Commission of refusing to act on a J Trust request…

Philippines Needs Commitment for Renewable Energy

Philippines Needs Commitment for Renewable EnergyThe Philippines took a major step towards a climate-resilient future after it ratified the Paris agreement last March. The country must fulfill its commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent relative to projected business-as-usual levels by 2030, as stated in its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). Achieving this target would contribute to accomplishing…

Trump Drill Edict Likely Won’t Have Much Effect

Trump Drill Edict Likely Won’t Have Much EffectAlthough President Donald Trump signed an executive order on April 28 seeking to expand offshore oil and gas drilling in the United States, it isn’t likely to have much of an impact. Low oil prices and cheap shale oil have reduced spending on conventional oil projects to the lowest level in more than 70 years.…

Najib’s Latest Smokescreen

Najib’s Latest SmokescreenThe list of names, initials, deals and numbers can make it hard for the public to keep track of what has been revealed about the goings on at 1Malaysia Development Bhd., the government’s scandal-riddled sovereign investment fund, which may have liabilities amounting to as much as RM50 billion and which is arguably the biggest scandal…