October 12, 2005

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The Peaceful Fight for the Mekong

In Simon's absence, a quick plug for the guys at Coming Anarchy.... particularly, Chinese and Japanese struggling for the Mekong

Moves between Japan and China over the development of the Mekong River basin show signs of intensifying as Tokyo is trying to regain some ground lost in recent years to Beijing in the economic backwater of East Asia…

The Mekong region has huge potential for economic growth. In the late 1980s, then Thai prime minister Chatichai Choonhavan advocated turning Indochina “from a battlefield into a market”. Now that Cold War conflicts are a thing of the past and the CLMV countries are accelerating free-market reforms launched in the late 1980s, Chatichai”s slogan is no longer a mere pipe dream, it is a reality, although it will still take some years for private-sector investment in the Mekong region to become a flood, not just a trickle…

Self-promoting tdaxp highlighted China's expansion into Shan State, Burma, earlier...

Remote and once dirt-poor Mongla has been reborn as a tourist destination, a process that started in 1989, when Myanmar's army reached a ceasefire and autonomy deal with the Shan. The local warlord, a Shan Chinese named Sai Leun (also known as Lin Mingxian), built Mongla with an unorthodox mixture of opium profits and technical aid from China's neighbouring province of Yunnan.

Around 350,000 Chinese tourists visit every year to gamble, frequent the massage parlours, and perhaps take in a Thai transvestite show. Lin Mingxian, as he was born, has clearly come a long way from his days as a Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. Mongla's authorities earned $9.6m from tourism in 2002—and it is entirely possible that they concealed some of their income.

posted by Dan tdaxp on 10.12.05 at 02:05 PM in the


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