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The Daily Brief for Monday, 6 March 2017

National People’s Congress: China’s Premier Li Keqiang announced new air pollution measures at the opening session of the annual NPC, writes Benny Kung. These include new emission targets for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and fine particulates and will see 300 million households in the northern part of China using cleaner energy for indoor heating, coal power plants in prefecture-level cities or above scrapped completely and the closure of factories that fail to comply.

Saudis in Indonesia: During his nine-day visit to Indonesia, the first by a Saudi Arabian monarch in 47 years, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saudi and his 1,500-strong entourage have lavished far more than the kingdom spent in direct investment to the world’s largest Muslim country for all of last year, writes John McBeth. Saudi Arabia spent US$900,000 in aid last year, far less than the US$2.1 million it cost to install bulletproof glass in the King’s presidential suite or to pay for the cost of his fleet of six jumbo jets and a Hercules cargo plane that brought his delegation from Riyadh, together with supplies weighing more than 500 tons.

North Korea missiles: Four ballistic missiles were launched from North Korea’s Tongchang-ri region near the border with China, three of which landed in Japan’s economic zone in the Sea of Japan, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. Reuters reports that Japanese officials described the launches as a grave threat and said they had lodged “strong protests” with nuclear-armed North Korea.

Women in banking: Females need to meet the challenges of working in the cut-throat world of finance head-on, said Arundhati Bhattacharya, the first woman to chair the 210-year-old State Bank of India. Lin Wanxia writes that Bhattacharya gave the keynote speech at the Fortune Most Powerful Women International summit in Hong Kong last week, where she joined 164 other female business leaders from across the world.

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China Digest for Monday, 6 March 2017

Anti-graft campaign is no joke, says disciplinary official Yang

The Communist Party’s corruption crackdown is no joke, and investigations into four heavyweight officials has begun ahead of the “two sessions,” senior disciplinary official Yang Xiaodu told Caixin. Officials who appear lax on tackling graft, receive strong complaints from people or those in key posts who are in line for a future promotion will be targeted for investigation, said Yang, deputy secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and Minister of Supervision.

US$79.68 billion cut in taxes, administration charges for 2017

The government plans to cut a total of 550 billion yuan (US$79.68 billion) in tax and administration fees on enterprises in 2017, Securities Daily said on Monday, citing Premier Li Keqiang’s government work report on Sunday. Taxes of 350 billion yuan and 200 billion yuan in administrative charges will be cut. Medium and small tech companies will enjoy an increase in the deduction ratio of research and development from 50% to 75%, the report added.

Quality of imports and exports is focus, not numbers: researcher

The government wants to focus more on the quality of imports and exports, instead of being obssessed with figures, Xinhua state news agency said on Sunday, citing Liu Yingkui, a research director at the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade. In his annual address to the legislature, Premier Li Keqiang said “imports and export should stabilize and improve”.

Pending listings can sustain IPO market for 2-3 years: brokerage

About 2,000 companies are waiting to issue shares in mainland stock markets, the Securities Times reported on Sunday, citing an estimate from brokerage Guotai Junan. The firm believed that these pending listings could sustain the IPO market for the next two to three years, if the current approval rate remains constant. Around 78 companies raised a total of 38 billion yuan this year, it said.

Changes to securities law to improve M&A, protect investors

A draft amendment to the securities law will undergo its second reading in April this year, Xinhua reported on Saturday, citing Fu Ying, a spokeswoman for the National People’s Congress. The changes will improve mergers and acquisitions of listed companies, respect the self-governance and innovation of the industry and address investor protection.

Foreign-funded companies can remit profits as usual: PBOC, SAFE

Foreign-funded enterprises can transfer their profits as usual, said the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) on their Weibo accounts, The Economic Observer said on Sunday. The move is aimed at combating rumors that BMW China has been unable to remit its profits since November. Foreign banks and companies in China told the Observer that delays were due to more paper work required on tax filings before profits could be remitted, increasing from two to six months.

Official digital currency on the way

The People’s Bank of China is sending strong signals it will launch an official digital currency after recent successful tests of a trading platform using the blockchain technology, the Economic Information Daily reported on Monday. An official research institution on digital currency will also be launched soon. Investment analyst John Dwyer said the digital currency would be a new form of the yuan, could not be mixed with bitcoin and regulators could easily trace the movement of the money.