Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: China Dams Cambodia

All part of the South Asian sphere of conflict during WWIII:

"In building dam for Cambodia, China widens role — but at a cost" by Simon Denyer Washington Post  September 12, 2015

PHLUK, Cambodia — The thump of jackhammers and the whine of drills pierce the air as workmen in safety hats build a massive concrete wall that rises slowly above the river.

Here, in lush northeastern Cambodia, the $800 million Lower Sesan 2 Dam stands as a potent symbol of China’s growing reach, and Beijing’s ambitious plans to expand its influence throughout Asia by building vital infrastructure.

Nearly 5,000 people are likely to be evicted from their villages when the dam’s reservoir fills, and almost 40,000 living along the banks of the Sesan and Srepok rivers stand to lose most of the fish they rely on for food, yet this dam project is part of a much larger Chinese ambition, billed as the great rejuvenation of the nation.

We won't mention Israeli treatment of Palestinians.

China’s president, Xi Jinping, is making a bold move to restore what he sees as Beijing’s place at the center of Asia.

This is a new assertive China, with a grand strategic vision to match its still considerable economic might, countering President Obama’s foreign policy ‘‘rebalance’’ toward Asia with hundreds of billions of dollars of new investment of its own in its neighbors.

SeeChina is preparing to revamp military, taking page from US

Related: China’s Leadership: Brilliant or Clueless?

Even as Xi, keen to be seen as Obama’s equal on the world stage, prepares for a historic visit to the United States later this month, he is working behind the scenes to surpass it as Asia’s regional power.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Cambodia, a country that has found itself drawn into China’s orbit and lured away from the West with the promise of billions of dollars of easy money, offered with no strings attached and often in the blink of an eye, for roads, bridges, and dams.

‘‘Without infrastructure, you can’t revive,’’ Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol said in an interview. ‘‘We have been blamed for always going to China, but it is because we need infrastructure fast and quick, nothing more than that. Are there any conditions put on Cambodia by China? I can tell you, absolutely nothing. No conditions at all.’’

China sees opportunity in Asia much the way the United States once saw — and grasped — opportunities in Latin America. Beijing’s plans are already unfolding across the region, with China simultaneously making new friends, and new enemies, as it spreads its wings.

Are they going to work with right-wing regimes that murder thousands like the US?

Cambodia emerged in ruins from the chaos of the Vietnam War and the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. Now at peace, its economy is growing fast, but the country is in desperate need of transport infrastructure and power. 

Let's just skip over the US role in those atrocities.

China is providing the cash with none of the tiresome and time-consuming conditions the World Bank attaches to its lending, Cambodian officials say, and none of the complaints about human rights that emanate from the United States. There isn’t even much obvious concern about corruption. 

I heard corruption was good for an economy, and after the torture and mass murder under cover of war the U.S. can hardly be credible with the human rights. 

Throw on top of that the hunger and police brutality at home and the criticism emanating from those quarters is downright laughable.

Yet in the villages around the Lower Sesan 2 Dam, the drawbacks of this Chinese largesse soon become apparent. This is a project being brokered by the two nations’ elites with little or no consideration of the impact on local communities.

Why did Bo$ton just spring to mind?

With the threatened loss of most of the rivers’ fisheries resources because the dam will block key fish migration routes, experts say, hundreds of thousands of Cambodians could feel the impact across the vast Mekong River Basin. The dam could take away a key source of protein in a desperately poor country where many people depend on fishing.

The dam, according to a study by Ian Baird at the University of Wisconsin Madison, will result in ‘‘increased malnutrition and poverty over a wide area in Cambodia.’’

See Gaza.

It is, another study suggests, the most damaging of dozens of dams proposed for the Mekong’s tributaries in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos by 2030.

Yet the environmental assessment reports for the dam have failed to take this into account, and the project includes no provision for compensation for lost fish stocks.

‘‘This dam is not in a great location, it is a relatively expensive project, and it will have a major environmental and social impact,’’ said Baird, who is a geography professor. ‘‘There is no way the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank would touch this.’’

In Phluk, a village just downstream from the dam site, fishermen casting their nets into the river say dynamite explosions by Chinese engineers — as well as murky, cement-filled waters flowing from the construction site — have already depressed catches significantly.


Can't talk about Cambodia without talking about Vietnam:

Pilot who died in Vietnam 50 years ago is buried

Time to grab the first flight out:

"The airstrip will likely be used for turboprop patrol, but it could easily be equipped for “full military action” if needed, Hardy said. The most important function of the strip, he said, will be as yet another site for Chinese listening devices and early warning radar. The South China Sea is one area of disagreement between China and the United States that will be discussed during a state visit by President Xi Jinping to Washington next week."

Sorry I've been MIA regarding the latest round of conflicts, this one surrounding the South China Sea and an airstrip on one reef that is only 20 miles from a small Philippine military garrison on an existing tiny island.

Then, in an abrupt and unexpected thrust, Chinese tanks and troops turned and made a stab into Tibet, capturing the Dalai Lama and one other CIA spy (silly, I know). 

All was quiet on the Eastern Front until an American was attacked in Korea:

"North Korea says it will launch satellites" Associated Press  September 15, 2015

SEOUL — North Korea said Monday it is ready to launch satellites aboard long-range rockets to mark a key national anniversary next month, a move expected to rekindle animosities with its rivals South Korea and the United States.

A National Aerospace Development Administration director said the North has been making ‘‘shining achievements’’ in the space development field ahead of the 70th birthday of the Workers’ Party, saying scientists and technicians are pushing forward on a final development phase for a new earth observation satellite for weather forecasts.

‘‘Space development for peaceful purposes is a sovereign state’s legitimate right . . . and the people of [North Korea] are fully determined to exercise this right no matter what others may say about it,’’ the director told Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency.

The launches, if made, are certain to trigger an international standoff, with Seoul, Washington, and other neighboring countries condemning past launches as disguised tests of the North’s long-range missile technology and Pyongyang making a furious response to the criticism....

Washington sees North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles as a threat to world security and to its Asian allies, Japan and South Korea.

The North’s announcement Monday also raised doubt about recent signs of easing animosities between the rival Koreas, which have agreed to hold reunions next month of families separated by war.

SeeKoreas agree to hold reunions of war-divided families

Why hold them hostage?



Cambodian refugee’s ceramic artwork garners honors

Dalai Lama blesses followers after release from clinic

Also see:

After 6 months, North Korea frees student

Dalai Lama says his health excellent