Tuesday, April 17, 2018

1) FREEPORT TO CLOSE GRASBERG MINE OPERATION


2) Marijuana farm found in Papua

3) What the US-China Struggle for Regional Dominance Means for Southeast Asia


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TUESDAY, 17 APRIL, 2018 | 20:44 WIB
1) Freeport to Close Grasberg Mine Operation



TEMPO.COJakarta - The management of PT Freeport Indonesia will close the operation of the open-pit gold mine in Grasberg, Mimika, Papua.
Executive Vice President of PT Freeport Indonesia for Sustainable Development Sony Prasetyo, said that Freeport's production in 2019 will be reduced by 80,000 tons per day from the previous 200,000 tons per day.
"It is a technical condition, the open-pit mine in Grasberg is about to close, and by 2019 it is expected to stop, now it is already cannot be exploited, the only way we exploit it is from below or underground," Sony said in Timika on Monday, April 16, 2018.
Meanwhile, underground exploitation cannot be immediately carried out because there are still issues that must be solved, including the permits. However, if the government gives permission for underground mining exploitation, the result will not be optimal until around 2021 or 2023.

Sony said closing the open-pit mine will affect several things, including revenue. In addition, when he was asked about the possibility of having layoffs, Sony said it will be tough decision to make.
"I have not seen [the possibility for a lay off]. For this company, an employee is a valuable asset, so it will not be easy. It's normal in business to think of efficiency, but as i have said, it will not be easy, moreover for a lay off. It's a longshot," Sony said.
ANTARA
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2) Marijuana farm found in Papua
Nethy Dharma Somba The Jakarta Post
Jayapura | Tue, April 17, 2018 | 07:43 pm

The Jayapura Police's narcotics unit found a marijuana farm on a hilly area in Abepura, Jayapura, Papua, on Monday afternoon.
Jayapura Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Gustav Urbinas said the unit had found marijuana plants between 1 and 2 meters high on a 15-square-meter plot of land, situated in an area that took 45 minutes to reach on foot.
“The farm looked neglected [] there’s no grass, but we found fertilizer and around 15 marijuana plants,” he said Tuesday.
The police, who have yet to identify the owner of the farm, received reports from local residents who often went out to hunt wild boar in the area.
“We will follow up on our findings, whether or not there are other farms like this. This suggests that marijuana has been not only been supplied from Papua New Guinea, but it has also been produced domestically,” Gustav said.
During a three-day operation over the weekend, the police arrested four people for marijuana possession and confiscated 2,382 kilograms of marijuana. In the last three months, the police have arrested 41 people and seized 22,87 kg of marijuana. (swd)

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The Diplomat

3) What the US-China Struggle for Regional Dominance Means for Southeast Asia


This week China will undertake live-fire exercises in the Taiwan Straits.  This provocative action comes on 

the heels of simultaneous major U.S. and Chinese naval exercises in the South China Sea.  While the situation is not as dire as it may seem, competition between the United States and China for dominance in the region is indeed intensifying.  Faced with this burgeoning soft and thinly veiled hard power struggle for their political hearts and minds, Southeast Asian countries are doing what they can and must to maintain their relative independence and security in this roiling political cauldron. Indeed, neither China nor the United States should be under any illusions that any particular Southeast Asian country is supporting them in general or in a particular policy or action because it believes in their vision of the ideal world order.
Some are so far skillfully negotiating this political tight rope and benefiting from both sides’ largesse in the process.  Indeed, most Southeast Asian countries are not blatantly choosing sides but are instead demonstrating that the matter of political choice between the two is not “either-or”  but a continuum. According to Max Fisher and Audrey Carlsen, writing in the New York Times, there are three groups at various stages in this ever evolving continuum — “counteracting” China, “shifting toward” China, and “playing both sides”.
Let’s look at some individual countries’ situations and current positions regarding this U.S.-China struggle.
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U.S. “strategic partner” Singapore and U.S. ally the Philippines are thought by some (though not the NYT feature) to be in the U.S. camp of “counteracting” China. But this is misleading.
Singapore does seem more ideologically aligned with the United States and even provides temporary basing for U.S. Navy warships and aircraft collecting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance regarding China. But Singapore also seems to be hedging if not waffling. Perhaps Singapore’s current role as both ASEAN interlocutor with China and ASEAN chair has resulted in it taking a more neutral position between the two. For example, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong seemed cool when asked recently about the U.S. proposed Quad — a potential security arrangement between Australia, India, Japan, and the United States — saying, “We do not want to end up with rival blocs forming.”
The Philippines is an example of a country clearly “playing both sides” — and so far successfully so. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s abrupt pivot from staunch U.S. military ally to a more independent and neutral stance between the United States and China has startled those analysts and policy makers that assumed Manila was firmly in the U.S. camp. So far the Philippines has benefited from its better relationship with China while maintaining its military relationship — if a less robust one — with the United States.
Other Southeast Asian state — like Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and perhaps nominal U.S. ally Thailand — appear to be moving toward China, preferring China’s economic incentives over the benefits of U.S. military “protection.”
Brunei may also be shifting its position. Although a claimant to part of the disputed area of the South China Sea, it has been relatively silent regarding both the disputes and the U.S.-China struggle for influence.  Brunei and China apparently have overlapping claims in the South China Sea and Brunei may be using its claim as leverage to keep badly needed Chinese investment flowing. But this is a two-way street. Beijing may try to use its economic ties with Brunei to help prevent a consensus within ASEAN regarding decisions or statements on the South China Sea.
Indonesia has sharp differences with China regarding the area of the South China Sea north and east of the Indonesia-owned Natuna Islands, where their claims may overlap. The Trump administration is trying to take advantage of this to reinvigorate U.S.-Indonesia military relations. But nonaligned Indonesia and the United States have very different world perspectives. They differ sharply regarding U.S. policies and actions in the Middle East — especially the recent move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. While the United States sees ASEAN as a useful bulwark against China, Indonesia’s current interest in leading ASEAN and in regionalism itself seem to have faded in favor of domestic concerns. Foremost among these are development projects in which China’s investment and aid can be critical.  Plus, U.S.-Indonesian military ties have a troubled past. In the late 1990s they were suspended due to alleged human rights abuses by the Indonesian military. More important, many Indonesians in high places remain suspicious of U.S. motives and worried about the potential regional destabilizing effect of the US-China competition.  Indonesia’s Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu has suggested that “if regional countries can manage the South China Sea on their own, there is no need to involve others.”
Vietnam also has sharp differences with China regarding the South China Sea. Vietnam has a policy of “diversification and multilateralization “of relations with the major powers, and the United States has tried to take advantage of this as well as Vietnam’s concerns with China. But Vietnam is steadfastly nonaligned. Indeed, its long-standing policy is the “three nos” – no participation in military alliances, no foreign military bases on Vietnamese territory, and no reliance on one country to fight against another. Meanwhile it continues to have strong economic relations with China and seems to have reached an unsteady modus vivendi with China regarding the South China Sea disputes. While Vietnam’s position may seem to be anti-China, pro-U.S. , this should not be taken for granted.
One thing is fairly certain — China –U.S. balancing will become increasingly important and difficult for Southeast Asian countries. It will also undermine ASEAN unity and weaken its “centrality” and influence in security matters in the region — both collectively and for its individual members. ASEAN’s divisions on South China Sea issues currently advantage China.
This unfolding political drama could well turn out very badly for Southeast Asian nations that are unable or unwilling to successfully hedge and waffle. Indeed, there is a yawning chasm filled with adverse implications beneath this political tight rope if a country should lose its balance and fall to one side or the other. But for clever, self-confident, and bold leaders, this dilemma presents an opportunity that could prove a boon to those skillful enough to safely navigate these treacherous political waters.
Mark J. Valencia is Adjunct Senior Scholar at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies in Haikou, China
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