The illusion of a rules-based global order

When the Cold War ended, many pundits anticipated a new era in which geo-economics would determine geopolitics. As economic integration progressed, they predicted, the rules-based order would take root globally. Countries would comply with international law or incur high costs.Today, such optimism looks more than a little naive.

22 December 2019

China targets one of Asia's biggest meth cartels

Chinese drug police are working with Mekong countries to strike at the heart of a mega-rich meth syndicate, a senior Beijing drugs tsar said, as the region targets top-level drug traffickers instead of street dealers.The porous lawless border areas of Myanmar, Thailand and Lao have for decades been a hub for heroin production, but the so-called "Golden Triangle" drug trade is now pumping unprecedented quantities of synthetic drugs into the global markets – fuelling a US$61 billion d

17 November 2019

Does Lao’s Xayaburi dam benefit its people?

The newly-built Xayaburi dam has raised some key concerns about Lao PDR’s hydropower strategy.While hydropower is one of the country’s main exports, Lao PDR still has to import electricity.

31 October 2019

Damming the Mekong to environmental hell

Major dam construction projects have become a favourite pastime of some autocratic governments, with China leading the way. But, far from protecting against water shortages, as supporters promise, large dams are contributing to river depletion and severely exacerbating parched conditions.

4 August 2019

Worrying days for the Mekong

Water levels at Southeast Asia’s largest river may be at its lowest levels in a century.Low rainfall, high temperatures and poor dam regulations are contributing to a historic low at the Mekong, affecting the region’s agriculture and fishing industries and leading to rapidly drying taps.Chinese dams control the flow of the 4,350-kilometre (km) river which originates in the Tibetan highlands before travelling across Myanmar, Lao, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

29 July 2019

Thailand urged not to buy power from Lao dam

The Thai government must suspend plans to buy electricity from a dam in Lao, conservationists said Friday, as water levels along the kingdom's section of Mekong river plummet to near-record lows.The Thai-built Xayaburi dam, a few hours from the northern Lao town of Luang Prabang, is set to be completed in October, the latest in a welter of barriers across the waterway.It has been cloaked in controversy since construction began in 2012, with environmentalists raising alarm about its likel

27 July 2019

Are Cambodia’s hydropower plans risky?

Along with most Southeast Asian countries, Cambodia’s electricity consumption over the past decade has skyrocketed. In a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), electricity consumption in Cambodia has been growing rapidly, averaging 20 percent growth per annum since 2010. This rate continues to accelerate as average incomes in the nation rise on the whole.Despite the growing consumption of electricity, Cambodia is one of the few countries in the region that has low access to electricity.

5 February 2019