Posted inAfghanistan, China, Hong Kong, Iran, Middle East, South Asia, Syria, World

The Daily Brief for Monday, 9 January 2017

US Marines are gearing up for a return to Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Around 300 Marines will provide support to Afghan security forces battling Taliban insurgents. The deployment to Helmand will be the Marines’ first to the southern province since they left in 2014 as the US declared an end to its combat mission.

The case against human slavery was put to rest a long time ago – so why, asks Duncan Jepson of Liberty Asia, does the scourge of modern slavery remain a thriving business in our globalized, regulated and digital world? What holds us back from ending exploitation, he says, is a lack of basic data needed to make the right decisions.

Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who died on Sunday at the age of 82, was both a president and a kingmaker. One of the last surviving veterans of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, he was central in bringing Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power in 1979 and in naming the current Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as supreme leader exactly 10 years later. Sami Moubayed, a Syrian historian, writes that he was something of a conundrum: economically liberal, politically authoritarian, and philosophically conservative; too liberal to be considered a conservative, too conservative to become a liberal.

What links Houston, in Texas, with China’s so-called New Silk Road? Quite a lot, if you’re Vivienne Tam. The US-based Hong Kong fashion designer shares her inspiration for her 2017 spring-summer collection with David Zhu.

Kenny Hodgart is an editor for Asia Times.

Posted inChina, Chongqing, Shanghai

China Digest for Monday, 9 January 2017

China promises fewer restrictions on foreign investors

China’s Ministry of Commerce is set to release a bundle of 20 policies to ensure equal treatment and fewer restrictions on foreign investments, Securities Daily reported Saturday quoting the deputy minister Wang Shouwen at a State Council meeting. Wang said China’s domestic demand will reach more than US$ 10 trillion in the next five years and more sectors will be opened to foreign investors.

PBOC plans steady, neutral monetary policies in 2017

People’s Bank of China will use multiple monetary policy tools to ensure stable liquidity of the yuan and improve the nation’s credit structure as part of steady and neutral monetary policies in 2017, Sina Finance reported Sunday afternoon citing a meeting with PBOC officials the day before.

Tangshan set goal to cut steel production capacity for 2017

Tangshan city, a major steel producer, aims to cut production capacity for the metal by 8.61 million metric tons in 2017, reported Xinhua news agency on Saturday. Tangshan accounts for one-seventh of China’s steel output.

Premier says online stores, express delivery part of ‘real economy’

Online stores and express delivery services directly promote the production and sales of factories and should be recognised as parts of the real economy, said Premier Li Keqiang at the State Council meeting on January 4, the Securities Daily reported on Sunday.

Shanghai tightens supervision of online sales of serviced apartments

Shanghai’s Housing Department tightened the rules on online sales of serviced apartments because some companies have been transforming commercial office space into such units without authorisation, reported Shanghai Securities Journal. Sales in 2016 of Shanghai serviced apartments totalled 2.74 million square meters, increasing 1.45 fold from a year earlier, with prices surging 23% to 25,679 yuan per square meter.

Chongqing bans developers from raising house prices

Chongqing banned housing developers from raising prices on Saturday after several companies tried to increase prices without reasonable cause, Sina Finance reported, citing a notice by the Bureau of Land Resources and Housing Management of Chongqing.

Number of asset managers handling bank bad debt growing

The number of asset management companies set up by local and state government to handle and restructure bad debt at banks will likely reach 50 from the current 36, the Securities Daily reported without giving the size of the debt. The China Banking Regulatory Commission first allowed such asset managers in August 2016.

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