Conservation

A giant stingray caught in the Mekong, June 2022. (Wonders of the Mekong/Facebook)

Can Mekong stingrays tell the Chinese dam story well?

China is crafting “wonderful stories” about its upstream dams in the Mekong. But the overall thrust of the narrative glosses over the more controversial aspects of dam building. The cure to the dying Mekong must begin with clinical analysis and honest exchange among riparian states. ISEAS researcher Hoang Thi Ha says China’s unilaterally imposed narratives are part of the problem, not the remedy.
This aerial photo taken on 21 July 2022 shows a bucket wheel machine tranferring coal at a coal storage centre in Jiujiang, in China's central Jiangxi province. (AFP)

Sichuan power crunch sparks calls for rethink of coal in China's energy mix

Extreme weather and declining water levels at hydropower reservoirs in Sichuan are sparking worries of a power crunch across China. This has forced electricity cuts to businesses and households in the province of 84 million people, along with loud calls for a rethink of coal in the nation’s energy mix, putting a spanner in the works of its goal to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030.
A conveyer belt dumps iron ore into a pile at an iron ore transfer and storage centre operated by the Shanghai International Port Group in Shanghai, China, on 26 January 2010. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

China’s plan to break foreign iron ore dependence — mine more at home

China's "Foundation Plan" for iron ore has gained much official support, and is aimed at reducing reliance on foreign sources of iron, including Africa and Australia. The only way to do this effectively is for China to ramp up mining of its own iron resources. However, these resources are scattered and difficult to access, and of lower grade. This means China has its work cut out if it is to succeed.
This photo taken on 2 July 2022 shows coal loaded on trains at a coal plant in Huaibei, in China's eastern Anhui province. (AFP)

A happy birthday to China’s national emissions trading scheme

Erik Baark points out some of the peculiarities of China’s emissions trading system (ETS) with Chinese characteristics on its one-year anniversary. Going forward, will the Chinese ETS gradually morph into an ETS in the likes of the EU ETS as it works towards meeting its dual carbon ambitions?
The Bakun Dam in 2009. (Wikimedia)

Building dams in Sarawak: Can China and Malaysia ensure sustainable hydropower development?

ISEAS academic Tham Siew Yean notes that it is a win-win situation for Sarawak and China to co-develop dams and produce hydropower for domestic use and export. However, more can be done to safeguard environmental sustainability standards, especially if China means to change its image as a sustainability laggard.
An employee works on solar photovoltaic modules at a factory in Hai'an in China's eastern Jiangsu province on 15 November 2021. (AFP)

China's push towards green energy accelerated by security concerns

China’s coal and electricity shortage last year and the current impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on global energy supply have highlighted China’s energy security concerns and the risks to fulfilling its climate goals. Nevertheless, while EAI academic Chen Gang believes that China is unlikely to significantly reduce its consumption of fossil fuels in the short term, he notes that there remain several drivers that will accelerate China's clean energy transition.
The Shandong and Jinan authorities have set up investigative teams to look into thousands of illegally constructed villas in the area. (Internet)

When China’s local governments ignore Xi Jinping’s instructions to demolish illegally built villas

Recent media reports have highlighted the issue of villas continuing to be illegally built in the mountains of southern Jinan even as those found are demolished. Shandong and Jinan authorities have swiftly launched investigations, including taking action against party cadres who might be involved, but will their persistence last? Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan reports.
People wearing face masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19, cast their vote at a polling station while participating in a four-question referendum in Taipei, Taiwan, 18 December 2021. (Annabelle Chih/Reuters)

Japanese academic: Taiwan’s national referendum vote shows democracy at work

​Taiwan’s four-question referendum did not pass, to the relief of the DPP and disappointment of the KMT, says Professor Yoshiyuki Ogasawara of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. That the motion to reinstate an import ban on pork with ractopamine, namely US pork, did not go through is significant, as it is an election issue that could have a detrimental impact on the DPP. Results aside, the referendum itself was a show of democracy at work and in some ways a bulwark against reunification with the mainland.
Supporters of Taiwan's main opposition party The Kuomintang (KMT) join the annual Autumn Struggle labor protest, focusing on its opposition to the government's decision to allow imports of US pork containing ractopamine, an additive that enhances leanness, and other issues related to the referendum in Taipei, Taiwan, 12 December 2021. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Kuomintang the biggest loser of Taiwan’s four-question referendum?

As the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wished, the four-question referendum held in Taiwan on 18 December — regarding the building of a third LNG plant near an algal reef, the restarting of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, pork imports, and timing of referendums — was not passed. However, they should not be too happy yet, says Chen I-hsin. Recent exposés on party members, not least on President Tsai Ing-wen herself, are draining support from the party. And though the KMT did not achieve enough “yes” votes in the referendums, if they learn from it, they could still make gains in upcoming elections.