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The Daily Brief for Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Myanmar’s democratic failings: Many expected miracles when Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government took office after decades of military misrule but the political reality has been more prosaic. Bertil Lintner reports that if Suu Kyi fails to achieve more with democratic reform, economic progress and national unity, it is possible that her long awaited rule in Myanmar will be fleeting.

America’s Iraq legacy: The present ruin of Iraq and Syria is the direct result of the militarizing policies of previous US administrations that bought a temporary peace in Mesopotamia at the price of arming a Sunni resistance that eventually backed ISIS. Asia Times’ columnist Spengler predicted this exact situation in 2007 and here we republish his original article, that is as relevant today as it was ten years ago.

Pyongyang military capabilities: Senior US defense officials, serving and retired, are concerned that the recent focus on North Korea’s military has only looked at missile and nuclear weapons programs.
Harry J. Kazianis writes that Pyongyang has other military capabilities, mostly forgotten in the current debate, that could kill millions of people.

South China Sea: Sending the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and its escorts into the South China Sea is an apparent shift from the Obama administration’s policies of accommodation towards China, writes Grant Newsham. Yet in itself, the Vinson patrol doesn’t mean much — unless it is part of a broader, long-term strategy – and the important thing to watch is how the Trump administration’s China policy plays out in the coming months.

Posted inBeijingChinaShanghai

China Digest for Tuesday, 28 February 2017

January trade surplus reached US$32.6 billion

The trade surplus in goods and services reached 225 billion yuan (US$32.6 billion) in January this year, Securities Daily reported Monday afternoon, citing information released by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. It is a 45% decline from the 123.6 billion yuan in December last year.

US$262b on rural transport development

The country will invest 1.8 trillion yuan in building transport infrastructure in rural and impoverished areas as part of the 13th Five-Year Plan, Sina Finance reported on Monday afternoon, citing Li Xiaopeng, Director of the Ministry of Transport in a State Council press conference.

US$378.4b budget for transport infrastructure

The Ministry of Transport has budgeted a total of 2.6 trillion yuan for infrastructure on railways, highways and waterways, Sina Finance reported on Monday. Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng said the government aims to invest 800 billion yuan in rail construction, 1.65 trillion yuan in highways, and 150 billion yuan in water transport such as ferry services and piers in 2017. Total fixed assets investment in transportation construction reached 2.846 trillion yuan in 2016, the report added.

66 cities publish ride-sharing guidelines

Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng said 66 cities had published guidelines on cars involved in ride-sharing apps, with 127 cities seeking to do the same, Caixin reported on Monday. Li also announced support for the ride-sharing sector, including bicycles, the report said. This is a turnaround from the tough restrictions imposed on ride-sharing drivers in December last year in Beijing and Shanghai, generating heated debated.

Manufacturers, internet firms in pilot scheme

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is planning a 2017 pilot scheme for the manufacturing sector and online companies to show how the industries can work better together, Shanghai Securities Journal reported on Monday. The two- year scheme will include blending manufacturing and e-commerce, big data and injecting cyber benefits into manufacturing systems, the report said.

Shandong vice-governor is national grain bureau chief

A veteran Shandong official has been promoted to chairman of the State Administration of Grains and will become a party member of the National Development and Reform Commission, Caixin said on Monday, Zhang Wufeng, the vice governor of Shandong, has been working in the province since 1997, the report added.