Environment

A rapidKL train travels along an elevated track above streets in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 1 June 2021. (Samsul Said/Bloomberg)

Chinese companies see ASEAN as a bright spot for investment

According to a pulse survey conducted by Standard Chartered, Chinese companies are attracted to ASEAN’s large market and potential as regional production bases. External factors such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Agreement (RCEP) could also funnel greater Chinese investment into the region in areas such as high-value manufacturing, energy and digital services.
An aerial view of the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant and its two units in Guangdong, China. (Wikimedia)

Guangdong nuclear power plant incident: Making a mountain out of a molehill?

Following news that the French co-owner of Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong had written to the US Department of Energy regarding an “imminent radiological threat”, and disclaimers by state-owned majority owner China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) that the assertions are false, Chinese social media has been in an uproar and accused Western media of stoking fires. While admitting that “about five” of the uranium fuel rods inside the power plant have been damaged, Chinese authorities maintained that there has been no radiation leak. Zaobao's China Desk puts together the ins and outs of the story.
Wind turbines at the San Gorgonio Pass wind farm in Whitewater, California, U.S., 3 June 2021. (Bing Guan/Bloomberg)

US-China competition in climate cooperation a good thing for Southeast Asia

The US is back in the international climate cooperation game, but the influence it will have remains to be seen. Its passing of a new omnibus package which includes major energy provisions to address climate change provides hope that partisan divides are not insurmountable. On China’s part, its 14th Five-Year Plan demonstrates strong impetus to tackle climate change issues. As for ASEAN, the ASEAN-China Strategy on Environmental Cooperation papers has enabled cooperation with China to progress well, but cooperation with the US can be improved with an institutional framework to bring climate cooperation to a higher level.
A worker operates a harvester machine at a tea plantation in Minamiyamashiro, Kyoto, Japan, on 14 May 2021. (Buddhika Weerasinghe/Bloomberg)

Lessons for China: The powerful position of the Japanese farming industry

Japan’s farming industry occupies a special position in the country’s political, economic and social development. Although farmers are few in number, they wield a strong influence. As a result, a protected farming ecosystem exists in Japan, which has enabled the country to make great strides in organic farming and reducing carbon emissions. The country has also been adept at leveraging its overseas industrial outposts to support its domestic farming sector. What can China learn from Japan’s experience?
People fish at the Sun Moon Lake amid low water levels during an islandwide drought in Nantou, Taiwan on 15 May 2021. (Annabelle Chih/Reuters)

Faced with a shortage of water, electricity and vaccines, can Taiwan still deliver the chips?

Water, electricity and Covid-19 vaccines — critical elements to keep Taiwan’s leading chip industry going — are in short supply. The situation is currently manageable, say industry watchers, but if this goes on, can Taiwan withstand the pressure and continue delivering the goods to the world?
Wind turbines on the outskirts of the new city area of Yumen, Gansu province, China on 31 March 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Can China keep its climate change promises?

The adoption of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) with significant targets for the development of renewable energy and other green technologies, together with the launch of a national carbon emissions trading scheme, indicates that the Chinese leadership is committed to policies that should reduce the nation’s carbon footprint, ultimately leading to a zero-emission economy by 2060. However, the complexities of implementing these policies are daunting, with stakeholders that are likely to resist change and reforms that require substantial investment over the next decades.
People visit the riverbank of the Yangtze River in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province on 2 February 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

China’s serious water woes

Water security is literally a question of life and death. And as one of the most populous nations in the world with a severe lack of water resources, China needs to ensure that its water sources are sustainable and usable. But as Chinese academic Chen Hongbin explains, this is not always easy, despite the country’s best efforts.
A massive banyan tree. Trees are worshipped like gods in rural areas and are not cut down easily. (iStock)

Taiwanese art historian: 'Lord of the banyan tree' and his grand wisdom

In a simpler age, rural communities wisely followed folk religions that respected the seasons, land and nature. Chiang Hsun rues today’s reality where modern life has encouraged the neglect of these cardinal rules, leading to environmental damage and other adverse effects.
US President Joe Biden speaks about jobs and the economy at the White House in Washington, US, 7 April 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Biden's China strategy only looks impressive on the surface

Hong Kong commentator Chip Tsao says that while the US wants China to do more to reduce global carbon emissions, surely it can expect China to prioritise its own development trajectory or to seek leverage in other areas. They should not forget that two can play at that game.