Construction has resumed on the new US$6 billion China-Laos railway, a key piece of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, despite the deep impacts of COVID-19 across the region. But as the pandemic brings new questions about sustainable growth and resilience, it’s changing the calculus for the governments and local communities that host China’s new development projects.
Articles by Skylar Lindsay
As authorities in Myanmar seized over 800 tons of illegal timber in early April, the country’s profitable illicit logging industry continues despite disruptions to trade and economies across Southeast Asia.
Almost two years after a dam in Laos collapsed, displacing thousands, the people affected struggle to secure compensation while living in deteriorating relocation centers. A group of UN experts is now calling for the governments and companies involved to finally follow through on the recovery effort.
As COVID-19 wrecks Cambodia’s economy, workers and families face added risks from record-high levels of microfinance debt. Without income, many will be unable to repay their microloans and may lose their land or be forced further into debt.
Indonesia is bringing coal mining to West Papua despite an independence movement that has contested Jakarta’s claims to the region’s resources for almost 60 years and faced violent repression. The region also has a track record of destructive mining and gas projects that have brought few benefits to most local residents.
A Twitter war with Chinese nationalists has spawned the new “Milk Tea” alliance between pro-democracy social media users in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand. The new links signal the possibility of dialogue between pro-democracy movements that often struggle to gain ground.
COVID-19 is part of a web of factors changing the livelihoods of rice farmers and exporters in Southeast Asia. As rice prices climb and governments restrict exports, the rice economy offers a window into how the pandemic is changing our food systems.
New research shows that in 2019, Chinese dams on the Mekong River trapped nearly all of the river’s flow, causing the record-breaking drought that still plagues the region. The new findings confirm what natural resource advocates have said for years: that local experts and communities must have control over their water.
Governments along the Salween River are pushing a series of hydropower dams across the river basin but offering little information on the status of the projects or their social and environmental impacts.
Myanmar’s push to amend its military-backed Constitution forces the National League for Democracy and Aung San Suu Kyi to balance demands by the country’s military and diverse ethnic groups.