Posted inAfghanistanIraqMiddle EastPakistanSouth AsiaSyriaWorld

The Daily Brief for Friday, 27 January 2017

In a deal valued at around US$800 million, Ant Financial, the payment affiliate of Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba has announced its intention to buy US money-transfer company MoneyGram International. The indebted American company is second only to Western Union among money-transfer providers.

Since the end of the Cold War, America has been exporting a mirror image of its domestic self: not the classic combo of democracy and freedom, but guns, prisons, and security forces, writes William J. Astore. Globally, the label “Made in the USA” has increasingly come to be associated with violence and war. Weapons, warriors and fear are shaping up as the New Order for America under Donald Trump, who is like a Batman villain, a man who doesn’t believe in heroes — only in himself.

Pakistan’s ultimatum to Afghan refugees living on its soil to leave the country by March 31 or face deportation has evoked much apprehension among the latter, writes Sudha Ramachandran. They are being forced back, but the situation in Afghanistan is hardly conducive to their return. The Global Peace Index notes that Afghanistan is the third least peaceful country in the world after Syria, and Iraq, where the overall security situation worsened “considerably” in 2016.

If you happen to be celebrating the Year of the Rooster, Asia Times is looking to share your most stunning images of the Lunar New Year. We’ll share the best of them with the world, so please be sure to say where each photo was taken and include a brief description of what it shows. Share it on Facebook with this hashtag, or on Twitter #atimescny.

Asia Times would also like to wish everyone a Gong Xi Fa Cai. The Daily Brief will be taking a short break before returning to your inbox on February 1.

Posted inChina

China Digest for Friday, 27 January 2017

December foreign service trade deficit at US$26.1b

The State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said China’s foreign service trade deficit continues to grow, Sina Finance reported on Thursday. The figures stood at US$26.1 billion (179.52 billion yuan) in December, up from the US$25.4 billion recorded in November and US$20.9 billion in October, SAFE data shows.

Firms must recoup losses before transferring profits offshore: SAFE

Domestic companies must make up their losses in the previous year before they can transfer the current year’s profits offshore, Sina Finance reported on Thursday evening, citing SAFE.

January QFII investment stood at US$87.3b

Up to January 25, China’s Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (QFII) have accumulated total investments valued at 600 billion yuan (US$87.3 billion), Sina Finance reported on Friday morning, citing data released by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

40 IPO requests approved, but seven rejected in January: CSRC

China approved 40 and rejected seven private companies’ initial public offering (IPO) requests in January, the Securities Daily reported on Thursday. The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) has clamped down on the verification process this year, the report added.

Regional equity markets face tighter rules

Eligible investors of the regional equity markets must be a person who owns financial assets of more than 500,000 yuan, a Caixin report said on Thursday night. In a new document released by the State Council, the 40 regional equity markets in China cannot issue securities except for stocks and convertible bonds, the report added.

300 “zombie” state-owned firms to be removed

A State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission report targets 300 “zombie” central government-owned enterprises for removal in 2017, Yicai said on Thursday. In 2016, 398 “zombie” state-owned companies were kicked out of the market, the report added.

Shanxi sees 14.4% decline in raw coal output

Raw coal production in Shanxi province stood at 738 million metric tons in 2016, decreasing 14.4% from a year earlier. It is the first year that the coal giant recorded a drop in raw coal production, Xinhua news agency said on Thursday night.