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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.