Posted inAT FinanceChinaJapanMalaysiaNorth KoreaNortheast AsiaSouth AsiaSouth Korea

The Daily Brief for Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Fukushima concerns unanswered: The general view has always been that the Fukushima reactor meltdowns in Japan in 2011 were caused by the tsunami that knocked out backup power to the atomic plant. Daniel Hurst writes that Japanese nuclear engineers think that’s not the full story and, six years on, say a key question remains unanswered: What damage did the massive earthquake cause at the atomic plant before it was hit by the subsequent tsunami?

China trade deficit: State-owned enterprises were a key driver behind China’s resoundingly strong import figures for the first two months, that jumped 51.7% from a year ago to 466.7 billion yuan (US$67.6 billion), reports Steve Wang . State-owned enterprises’ hunger for iron ore and crude oil, along with other basic industrial materials, have pushed China import figures to their best start since 2011.

Thai political changes: Prime Minister Prayuth has been credited for managing a tranquil transition from deceased King Bhumibol Adulyadej to new King Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, who ascended the throne on December 1. However, reports Shawn W. Crispin, power dynamics are now shifting under the new royal order and this is loosening the popular junta leader’s hold on the kingdom to such an extent that he may well take a bow and assume a less dominant role.

Malaysia-NK tensions rising: North Korea announced yesterday that all Malaysian citizens, including diplomats, will not be allowed to leave the country as tensions escalate over the last month’s assassination of Kim Jong-nam, reports David Hutt. Some believe Pyongyang’s decision to take Malaysian nationals “hostage” is part of an intended trade-off for the return of Kim Jong-nam’s body and is pulling the Southeast Asian nation into a geo-strategic realm it is arguably ill-prepared to navigate.

Posted inChina

China Digest for Wednesday, 8 March 2017

President Xi condemns fabrication of economic data

Falsifying statistics could affect policy formulation, damage the image of the Communist Party and must be halted, President Xi Jinping told delegates from Liaoning province at a meeting on Tuesday, China National Radio reported. A town boasted fiscal income by 18 times, exceeding 29 million yuan (US$4.2 million), it added, citing provincial Party Secretary Li Xi.

Tax break on second child’s education costs possible: minister

New income tax allowances may include education costs for a family’s second child, Minister of Finance Xiao Jie said on Tuesday. Xiao said reforms were still being formulated, Xinhua state news agency reported. The country abolished the one-child policy in 2016 and encouraged families to have a second kid.

Steadiness trumps speed in capital market reforms: watchdog

China Securities Regulatory Commission Chairman Liu Shiyu flagged the importance of how capital market reforms should be introduced gradually, China Securities Journal said. When asked how drastic reforms would be, he said, “Capital market reform had to be steady instead of speedy.” When asked if approval of IPOs would remain the same, he said, “I think you made the right guess.”

Government debt risks are under control

By the end of 2016, the balance of central and local government debt stood at 27.33 trillion yuan with a liability ratio of around 37%, said Finance Minister Xiao Jie in the People’s Daily (overseas edition) on Wednesday. The risk on government debts is under control and the central administration still has room to borrow, Xiao added.

CBRC launches credit risks investigation

China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) has launched a special inspection on credit risks in the banking industry, Caixin reported on Tuesday. The regulator aims to examine all credit risks in loans, debt, investment and off-balance business as well as focus finding the tipping point for default in the medium and long term.

12.4 million no longer in poverty in 2016: report

In 2016, 230 billion yuan had been allocated to 961 counties around the nation to alleviate poverty, and the number of poor people has been reduced by 12.4 million, People’s Daily (overseas edition) reported on Wednesday. Liu Yongfu, the director of the Poverty Alleviation Office under the State Council, released the data on Tuesday. The 2017 Government Work Report set a target to reduce the number of poor by more than 10 million this year, the report added.