Asia Paradise — Written 03/18/2012

http://www.economist.com/node/21550322
http://www.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2012/03/china-great-urbanization-brings-great-health-risks/1513/

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/NC17Ae01.html
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/NC16Ae01.html

“In South-East Asia Bangkok, Manila and Ho Chi Minh City are all low-lying urban areas, yet like Jakarta they have all taken too long to react to the threat of increased flooding. Last year heavy rainfall overwhelmed the Chao Phraya river system, on which Bangkok sits, and the Thai capital only just avoided a catastrophe. As it was, hundreds died, and the World Bank estimates the floods cost Thailand $46 billion in economic damage.

Equally, last year’s flooding of the Mekong river, which devastated large parts of Cambodia, should serve as a warning to the region, says David McCauley, head of the ADB’s climate-change programme. Most at risk is Ho Chi Minh City on the Saigon river, just north of the Mekong. The city has a population of 6.3m and growing, and accounts for over a fifth of Vietnam’s economy. The ADB predicts disaster if the city’s defences are not drastically improved. Projecting to 2050, it warns that seven-tenths of the city could be affected in cases of “extreme” flooding.

Belatedly, the city government is looking at a range of new flood defences, including dykes. Manila, capital of the Philippines, is doing the same. Yet experts agree that physical flood defences will only go so far. Just as important is a willingness to limit or relocate urban and industrial expansion. In Ho Chi Minh City, the ADB authors argue that “urbanisation has contributed significantly to increasing temperature, rainfall, and flooding over the last two decades”. Concreting over flood plains does not help. Governments could do much more to encourage businesses and residents, including slum-dwelling migrants, to settle in less vulnerable areas.”

 

“To use any word weaker than explosive when describing China’s rapid process of urbanization is to risk an understatement. Since 1980 the number of people in Chinese cities has surged from 191 million to 622 million. The number continues to climb rapidly — especially as certain areas once considered countryside are converted into urban regions to accommodate growth:”

 

“Much of this urban influx is the result of the migration of rural workers into cities. That’s a particular problem in China because, as our Nate Berg recently pointed out, the country has a “two-tiered population structure of rural and urban citizens” called hukou. While urban hukou get a number of social benefits, including access to good health care, simply moving from a farm to a city doesn’t necessarily change your classification.

As a result, a great many of these rural-to-urban migrants reach the city uninsured and unlikely to visit a doctor. These conflicting realities present China with a potential health-care crisis, according to a recent review in the British medical journal The Lancet. An international group of authors, led by Peng Gong of Tsinghua University in Beijing, outline a number of public health consequences that may arise from China’s rapid urbanization, many of them related to the influx of migrant workers.”

“A copy of the famed Angkor Wat is to be built alongside India’s Ganges River by an Indian religious trust to reflect its admiration of the 12th century original in Cambodia. The flattery does not please Cambodians nor the government in Phnom Penh, amid fears that their temple’s uniqueness will be lost – along with tourists lured to the concrete upstart. -”

“The dismissal of Electricity of Vietnam’s boss may point to a shake-up in the state-controlled energy sector. Yet its inadequacies, with regular rolling power cuts a barrier to foreign investment, also reflect government indecision, while future power supplies appear restricted to polluting coal-fired plants or risky nuclear. “-

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