Beijing has declared itself against bubbles – housing ones and sporting ones. The annual closed door Central Economic Work Conference, which maps out economic priorities, ended with the message that “houses are for living in, not speculating on.” As Lin Wanxia reports, market cooling measures have been in place in 20 cities since October. Meanwhile, an article in the People’s Daily branded football in China a “bubble”, and exhorted clubs to have focus and discipline after spending on the game this year topped US$1 billion.

The United States has launched a challenge against China’s use of tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for rice, wheat and corn at the World Trade Organization. It charges that Beijing’s administration of the scheme has breached its WTO commitments, hurting US farm exports.

The execution of Jia Jinglong in November highlights how China’s culture of secrecy fails to serve the public and undermines the country’s legal system, Amnesty International’s William Nee writes exclusively for Asia Times. Jia’s case merited leniency but no debate regarding his plight was allowed to take place. The government demands that people “comprehensively understand” the details of death penalty cases before commenting – and yet its own laws and policies fuel the ignorance it criticizes.

Japan’s box office revenue from both domestic and foreign films is expected to hit a record high this year thanks to the blockbuster success of Japanese animation film “Your Name” and other titles. The current record of 220.7 billion yen (US$1.87 billion) was set in 2010.

Kenny Hodgart

Kenny Hodgart is an editor for Asia Times.