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The Daily Brief for Monday, 13 February 2017

North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile over the Sea of Japan on February 12 came about a week after the US successfully destroyed the same type of intermediate range ballistic missile in a test off Hawaii. The interceptor that took out the land-launched missile was fired from the USS John Paul Jones destroyer on February 3 in the first test of the device, known as the new Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA. Peter J. Brown writes that with the success of the Hawaii test, the Asian missile defense game has heated up considerably and deployment of the SM-3 Block IIA will add to the irritation.

The self-proclaimed “caliph” of the Islamic State (ISIS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is worried about the future of his organization in Syria and Iraq. The terror group has been ejected from strategic cities such as Ramadi, faces an uphill battle in Mosul, and is on the verge of a major confrontation with Kurdish militias in its own de facto capital, Raqqa. Sami Moubayed writes that Baghdadi is searching for new territory and recruits, with Muslim Mindanao on his radar.

Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) is famed for his colorful woodblock prints, especially the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. That masterwork was created between 1830 and 1832, when Hokusai was in his 70s, but it’s not widely appreciated that, in the earlier part of his career, he was better known for his brush-and-ink drawings. In 1814, he published the first in a 15-volume series called Hokusai Manga, which went on to become one of the best-known Japanese books in the world at the time. Richard James Havis reports on how the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has published Hokusai’s Lost Manga – a one-volume collection made up of three books of previously unpublished drawings.

We marked the final day of the Lunar New Year, which also happened to be Chinese Valentine’s Day on Saturday, with a package of stories centered on the dying traditional craft of lantern making with Chan Yiu-wah in Hong Kong and a piece on love insurance in mainland China. Benny Kung and Liu Hsiu Wen chatted with Chan on how he makes beautiful lanterns from scratch and shares a series of photos on his process, while Lin Wanxia explored the peculiar popularity of love insurance.

Posted inChina

China Digest for Monday, 13 February 2017

Preventing systemic risk is top goal this year: securities chief

Contingency plans should be comprehensive, division of responsibility among regulators should be clear, and action decisive, China Securities Regulatory Commission Chairman Liu Shiyu told Xinhua news agency on Saturday. Quality companies should receive timely listing approval and the registration-based IPO mechanism is the direction for regulation, Caixin said last Friday, citing Liu.

Controls on capital flows will remain, says SAFE, PBOC

The country will never revert back to the tight capital controls in the early days of opening up, but will keep promoting a more transparent financial market, said Pan Gongsheng, director of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange and deputy director of the People’s Bank of China, in an interview with Yicai on Sunday. Regulators of foreign exchange should both prevent the risk of cross-border capital flows, and facilitate trade and investment, Gong added.

2017 ‘a tough year for insurance capital’

The insurance industry needs to be more aware of risk responsibility and the bottom line, Chen Wenhui, Deputy Chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, said in a People’s Daily report on Sunday. The commission will support and guide the management of insurance capital to better serve the real economy, Chen said.

Split between central, local government spending targeted

Dividing the authority and responsibility of the central and local governments in public spending will be the focus of finance and taxation reforms this year, People’s Daily reported on Monday. Central government spending accounts for less than 15% of total expenditure, which will increase the burden on local governments and expose them to hidden risks, said Liu Shangxi, the director of the China Academy of Fiscal Sciences.

Bitcoin platforms set to combat illegal activities

Nine major digital currency platforms have announced new measures to combat illegal activities, including limiting the withdrawal and trading of bitcoin, freezing suspicious assets and standardizing fees at 0.1%, Caixin reported on Saturday. Some platforms also upgraded their anti-money laundering systems.