Posted inChina, Japan, Northeast Asia

The Daily Brief for Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Asia’s enforcement agencies are on the back foot in the fight against drugs. Roderic Broadhurst writes that rising affluence in the region has revitalized the narcotics trade, boosting the gangs who reap enormous profits from it. Huge demand for amphetamine-type stimulants, opiates and new psychoactive substances among the increasingly wealthy urban residents of East Asia and beyond has driven a boom that benefits criminal entrepreneurs in a global industry.

Islamic State is faltering. That’s the message from a UN report to the Security Council released on Monday. It says that the militant group is militarily on the defensive, and faces both a drop in revenue from oil and extortion activities and a shrinking ability to attract new recruits. The findings come in the wake of President Donald Trump signaling his intent to defeat the organization.

What’s been missing from recent coverage of Japan’s energy policies? Only the fundamental change happening at the local level as smart communities and renewable energy systems flourish, according to Andrew DeWit. Writing for Asia Times, he says the debate over re-starting nuclear power plants and building coal-fired plants obscures the hundreds of districts across Japan now building local distributed energy systems that tap local renewable-energy resources.

Chinese traffickers are about to face a much tougher time trying to move money out of the US following a probe into Western Union’s illegal wire fraud activities, writes Peter J. Brown for Asia Times.
Western Union agreed last week to forfeit US$586m to the US government after admitting that it violated US anti-money laundering laws by ignoring evidence that thousands of its agents were involved in sending illicit cash to criminals from 20014 to 2012. One company, Shen Zhou International, sent in excess of US$310 million in Western Union transactions to China, with around half of its money orders deliberately structured to circumvent US reporting regulations.

Kenny Hodgart

Kenny Hodgart is an editor for Asia Times.

Posted inChina

China Digest for Tuesday, 7 February 2017

State Council targets 50m new jobs from cities

Cities will have created 50 million new jobs in the 13th Five-Year Plan that lasts until 2020, with urban unemployment holding below 5% and new workers entering the jobs market having spent an average of 13.5 years in education, according to targets published by the State Council on Monday, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

3.4 trillion yuan needed for rural infrastructure

Rural and agricultural development will require 3.4 trillion yuan (US$495 billion) under the current five-year plan ending 2020, Xinhua reported on Monday, citing Central Rural Work Leading Group deputy director Tang Renjian. With only one-third of the sum funded, the government is looking at ways to fill the gap.

Land spree drives prices 38.6% higher

The 20 biggest developers spent more than 110 billion yuan on land in January, with average prices jumping 38.6% from a year earlier, the Securities Times reported on Monday, citing Centaline data.

Provinces cut fiscal revenue forecasts

Most provinces lowered their fiscal revenue growth forecasts for 2017, Caixin reported on Monday. Thirteen cut their projections; nine held steady; and seven tipped an increase — with Shanxi’s 6% gain after last year’s 7% contraction the biggest move. Two have yet to report.

40 IPOs get green light but scrutiny tougher

The China Securities Regulatory Commission approved 40 applications for initial public offerings in January, Xinhua reported on Monday. Seven were rejected and one put on hold, representing a trend toward stricter scrutiny in a bid to improve the quality of market listings, it said.

Post-1985s made 63.2% of Lunar New Year trips

People born after 1985 accounted for 63.2% of the journeys made over the Lunar New Year holiday, Xinhua news agency reported Monday, citing Alibaba’s travel site Fliggy.

Shandong plans more iron, steel, coal cuts

Shandong aims to cut capacity of pig iron by 3.87 million tons, crude steel by 2.8 million tons and coal by 3.51 million tons in 2017, Sina Finance reported Monday, citing provincial lawmakers.