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The Daily Brief for Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Religious and ethnic intolerance in Indonesia is clearly on the rise, with a flood of fake news adding fuel to simmering tensions, writes Yuli Ismartono. The ease of unregulated messaging through cheap and simple-to-use cellular and smartphones has unleashed a torrent of biased, speculative commentaries that have combined to trigger hatred and mistrust across Indonesian society.

The post-truth phenomenon in the world seems to have appeared from nowhere in 2016, but Ranjit Goswami writes this is an old narrative that has long existed outside the West. As the US and UK wake up to this new era, it’s worth noting that the world’s largest democracy has been living in a post-truth world for years. India can be considered a world leader in post-truth politics.

Donald Trump is now in office as the 45th President of the United States and he has fulfilled one of his promises – signing an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, involving 12 nations and covering about 40 per cent of the global economy. What will happen next for the the world’s largest regional trade agreement? Well Japan is the only nation to have ratified the deal. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has touted it as an engine of economic reform, while Australia and New Zealand said on Tuesday they hope to salvage the TPP by encouraging China and other Asian nations to join. In another corner, Harry Kazianis writes that the deal was never about trade for the US.

Sri Lanka has turned a page with a new government under President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe signaling a return to a “balanced” foreign policy, away from its tilt towards China, writes David Brewster. But Sri Lanka’s foreign debt-to-GDP ratio increased to 94% in 2015 from 36% in 2010, and with more than a third of government revenue going towards servicing Chinese loans, the country must pay the price for past economic polices before it can move forward.

As the Year of the Rooster approaches, many in Asia will be gathering with family and friends to celebrate from Tet in Vietnam to the annual colorful festivities at Chinese New Year in Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. Share your Lunar New Year photographs on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #atimescny and Asia Times will share the best of them with the world.

Posted inChinaShanghai

China Digest for Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Fiscal revenue growth slowed to 4.5% in 2016

Growth in the government’s fiscal revenue slowed sharply in 2016 from a year earlier, mainly due to reforms that replaced business tax with value-added tax, Sina Finance cited the Ministry of Finance saying on Monday. Revenue grew 4.5% to 15.96 trillion yuan (US$2.33 trillion) in 2016, from  8.4% in 2015.

Fujian tax reform saves businesses 5.2b yuan

Fujian province’s construction, real estate, finance and service sectors saw their tax bills reduced by 5.2 billion yuan in 2016 following the introduction in May of VAT in place of the previous business tax, with 98.3% of businesses benefitting from the 13.2% reduction in the tax burden, Xinhua news agency said.

Company foreign-debt cap doubled

Companies can borrow twice as much from overseas relative to their net assets, according to a central bank document cited by Sina Finance on Tuesday.  The leverage ratio was raised to 2 times from 1 times, it said.

Stock exchange turnover slumps

Turnover on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges slumped 50% to 127.8 trillion yuan in 2016, Securities Daily reported on Monday citing the annual report of the central bank.

Bitcoin platforms levy 0.2% service fee

Bitcoin trading platforms Huobi.com, OKCoin and BTCChina will start charging 0.2% of turnover as a service fee in order to curb speculation and reduce volatility, National Business Daily reported on Tuesday. The PBOC is probing illegal trading practices on the platforms. 

Internet financing firms rapped over loan limits

A number of Shanghai and Guangdong internet financing platforms were told to bring their practices in line with regulations following a review that found, among other faults, many had exceeded the limits on individual and corporate loans, Yicai reported on Monday night.

Henan FTZ to open by the end of February

Henan Pilot Free Trade Zone will start operating by the end of February, the provincial official overseeing the project said in an interview with Sina Finance published on Monday evening.

Incinerators focus of 169.9b yuan waste plan

The government aims to more than double the amount of garbage it burns to 591,400 tons per day by 2020 through a 169.9 billion yuan investment in waste-disposal facilities, Caixin reported on Monday.