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The Daily Brief for Friday, 10 February 2017

Diplomacy has been the order of the day for US President Donald Trump, with his first task being a chat with his Chinese counterpart. In the first phone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump, presumably via a translator, reaffirmed Washington’s “One China” policy in an apparent effort to ease tensions after angering Beijing by questioning a major plank of Sino-US relations. Trump “agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our ‘One China’ policy,” the White House said, adding the leaders had “extended invitations to meet in their respective countries.”

Still in a diplomatic mood, Trump is expected to be a congenial host during a visit by Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe, whose jet landed at Joint Base Andrews just outside the US capital, Washington. Harry J. Kazianis writes that both leaders have an agenda – Abe will be keen to lock in critical commitments in the flesh from Trump on two key threats Japan faces: China and North Korea, while the Donald will be keen to have some positive stories in the news cycle.

Last but by no means least on diplomacy and relationships, or should it be hardware, the Philippines took delivery of a shipment of new counterinsurgency equipment from the United States – 400 grenade launchers, 85 sniper rifles and three unmanned aerial vehicles, writes Richard Javad Heydarian. The February 1 delivery aimed at tackling rebels in Mindanao is the latest indication that President Rodrigo Duterte aims to put relations back on track with the US under Trump.

In a three-part series, Doug Tsuruoka investigates the challenges for the Trump administration in rebuilding crumbling infrastructure in the US. How will the president raise the money needed to fund the US$1 trillion plan, how railways are the biggest hurdle to his plan to renovate and modernise the country’s infrastructure and that he may need the cutting-edge technology of both Japan and China to bring American infrastructure into the 21st century.

From foreign policy, we head back to China, where the central bank is getting ready to wield a big stick over Chinese bitcoin trading platforms, which run the risk of closure if they breach new controls on the virtual currency. As authorities step up efforts to curb the flow of money offshore, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) inspection team unveiled a series of restrictions on the digital unit following a meeting on Wednesday with officials from nine Beijing-based bitcoin trading platforms.

Posted inBeijingChina

China Digest for Friday, 10 February 2017

People get less time to pay off home loans

Beijing will reduce the term on home loan repayments from 30 to 25 years on the purchase of a second property, Yicai reported on Thursday evening, citing information from multiple banks. The move is believed to be a government attempt to tighten mortgage lending, the report added.

Developed countries ‘make it hard for state-owned firms to invest’

State-owned enterprises have faced tighter requirements when investing in some developed countries, the state-run China News Service reported on Thursday, citing Ministry of Commerce spokesman Sun Jiwen. The global market, especially in finance, has seen more uncertainty and a greater volatility just recently, the report added.

81.3% jump in foreign investment for 2016 in pilot free-trade zones

Foreign investment in 2016 soared 81.3% compared to 2015 in four pilot free-trade zones, attracting a total of 87.9 billion yuan (US$12.8 billion), Yicai reported on Thursday afternoon, citing Sun Jiwen, a spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce at a press conference.

253 non-profit agricultural wholesale markets built since 2014

In the two years since 2014, China has built 253 non-profit agricultural product wholesale markets and 5,291 retail markets, said a Sina Finance report on Thursday afternoon, citing Sun Jiwen, spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce. Products sold at these markets are around 20% lower, the report added.

Pharmaceutical industry to face factory reforms

In an effort to improve the quality of drug production, the government will tighten the approval process and standardize the quality and efficacy of generic drugs available on the market in pharmaceutical industry reforms, the Xinhua state news agency reported on Thursday. These reforms can help reduce the total social medical cost on the country, the report added.