Environment

The tall and unassuming tree in the wilderness. (Facebook/蔣勳)

A tree can be like Buddha

Art historian Chiang Hsun stays awhile with a comforting big tree in the wilderness. He admires its steadfastness, its sturdiness, its generosity. He takes heart as his unassuming friend shows us that we all have it in us, whatever our beliefs, to be the bigger person, to give shade, to give rest to those around us.
The Giant Buddha overlooks the waters and Leshan city. (iStock)

Giant Buddha and sponge cities: Combating floods where three rivers meet

The recent floods in Sichuan were serious enough to wet the feet of the Leshan Giant Buddha, which sits on a platform at 362 metres above sea level at the confluence of the Dadu, Qingyi, and Min rivers. Academic Zhang Tiankan explains that while the Giant Buddha represents the ancient Chinese's wisdom in combating floods, modern-day Chinese will need to step up the building of “sponge cities” to prevent floods.
A view of the Mekong river bordering Thailand and Laos is seen from the Thai side in Nong Khai, Thailand, 29 October 2019. (Soe Zeya Tun/REUTERS)

Chinese academics: Mekong must not become second South China Sea

China said that it would share year-round hydrological information of the upper Mekong with downstream countries during the recently concluded 3rd Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders' Meeting held via video conference. Will this help assuage fears that China is using the control of water flow in the Mekong as a lever, literally, to exert greater influence on the CLMVT (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand) countries in ASEAN? Chinese academics Zhai Kun and Deng Han warn that China and Southeast Asian countries must be wary of external forces politicising matters in the Mekong region.
Fishermen pull in their fishing nets as the sun rises over the Mekong river in Phnom Penh on 9 June 2020. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Major powers react to rising Chinese influence in Mekong

In recent years, the Mekong subregion has seen a renewed engagement of external powers, particularly the US, Japan, and South Korea, mainly due to the China factor. This re-enmeshment signifies an intense power competition in Southeast Asia, in light of China’s increasing economic and political clout. Thai academic Pongphisoot Busbarat cautions that Southeast Asian states need to send a clear signal to external powers that increasing cooperation with them does not equate to choosing sides.
Workers use a fire hose to wash away mud left by receded floodwaters off the Chaotianmen docks in Chongqing, 28 July 2020. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Chongqing residents on worst floods in 40 years: This has not been a good year

This year, Chongqing has seen its worst floods in 40 years, with torrential rains swelling the Yangtze and Jialing rivers. Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong speaks to residents and shares his personal experiences.
Customers buy bananas at a market in Shenyang, in China's northeastern Liaoning province on 10 August 2020. (STR/AFP)

China's growing appetite poses environmental challenges for Southeast Asian countries

While farmers in Southeast Asia have benefited from China's growing consumer market, malpractices in the agribusiness sector often result in devastating environmental issues. Hong Kong academic Enze Han examines the situation at corn plantations in Myanmar and banana plantations in Laos to see what can be done to better monitor and regulate foreign entry and practices in these countries.
People (foreground) swim in the swollen Yangtze River as the roof of an inundated pavilion is seen above floodwaters in Wuhan, Hubei, on 8 July 2020. (STR/AFP)

Floods in China: Can the Three Gorges Dam weather ‘once-in-a-century massive floods in the Yangtze River’?

Close to 20 million people across 26 provinces and cities in the areas spanning China’s southwestern region to the midstream and downstream areas of the Yangtze River have been displaced due to severe flooding over the past few weeks. The Three Gorges Dam has long been held up as a bulwark against such massive floods in the area, but recent signs that it is literally buckling under the pressure cast doubts on its ability to be an effective flood control mechanism.
This aerial handout photo taken on March 18, 2020 and released by Thai volunteer group Jit Arsa shows a night time view of fires in Mae Rim district in northern Chiang Mai province, where the blazes have severely impacted air quality. (Handout/Jit Arsa/AFP)

Forest fires: Lancang-Mekong regional countries can work together to manage transboundary haze

With air quality in the Lancang-Mekong region entering the unhealthy range due to agricultural burning and causing air pollution in Chinese provinces, China academics Bi Shihong and Zhang Chengcen examine what countries in the Lancang-Mekong area can do to tackle transboundary haze.
A woman wearing a protective mask looks at blossoms in a park in Beijing on 21 March 2020. (Thomas Peter/File Photo/Reuters)

The world has become greener because of Covid-19, but will it last?

The world has become greener and cleaner because of a drastic drop in human activity brought about by the pandemic. Professor Koh Lian Pin opines that these effects may be only temporary but the fact remains that the world needs to direct more attention to climate change. He sees China playing a bigger role in implementing nature-based solutions for climate and sustainable development. With its experience and immense investments in scientific research and development, it could even lend a hand to countries in the Asian region.