Despite low global commodity prices, the mining sector in Lao PDR still constitutes a key source of state revenue and an important destination for foreign direct investment, especially from China, Vietnam and Thailand. However, economic development through industrial mining has not translated into employment opportunities for local communities. Rather, the Lao mining sector is marked by a parallel structure of medium- to large-scale mining operations and informal artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), which often operate in a legal grey zone. ASM communities thus suffer from the sector’s high social and environmental costs and conflicts with foreign investors over allocated land.
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.
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.
The recently signed China-Iran Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement will be a linchpin for China’s BRI in the Middle East, says Yu Hong. In the best-case scenario, it will be a win-win arrangement, providing Iran with the foreign investment it needs and China the oil supply and strategic influence it hopes to get. However, a number of challenges stand in the way including US sanctions and domestic opposition within Iran.
A 25-year cooperation agreement was signed recently between China and Iran. The West and countries in the Middle East are alarmed by what closer China-Iran ties could mean for their interests, while the Iranians and the Chinese have different reactions to the news. Fan Hongda weighs the pros and cons of the agreement and what it means for all its stakeholders.
Hanoi is applying its South China Sea playbook to the Mekong. It is putting effort into enmeshing all stakeholders while carefully balancing relationships with major powers interested in the Mekong. What does this mean for Southeast Asia and the region's relationship with China and the US? RSIS graduate research assistant Phan Xuan Dung examines how Vietnam can make a difference.
Despite China’s dominance of the rare earth industry, it will not lightly play this card against the US, simply because it knows it is weaker than the US in various areas and the US can well retaliate. Economics professor Zhu Ying looks at rare earths, the weapon of last resort in China’s defence against the US.
It is no longer an unqualified truism that China is a vast land of abundant resources, says Chen Hongbin. While it is rich in minerals such as rare earths, it is one of the world’s largest importers of natural gas, oil and iron ore, and is paying through its nose in some cases to reach a level of sufficiency. How can China achieve greater energy security?