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The Daily Brief for Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Philippines and China: While President Duterte has lauded China as a national development partner, his Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana continues to ring alarm bells about China’s expanding maritime footprint. Richard Javad Heydarian writes that although it is unclear whether Duterte and Lorenzana are engaged in a “good cop, bad cop” routine to extract maximum benefits from China while still keeping the US close, Lorenzana has said he finds Beijing’s expansion in the South China Sea “very, very disturbing” and “unacceptable.”

Chinese modern art: Hong Kong-born artist Wang Tingxin blends her roots in classical Chinese painting with an immersion in contemporary western tradition to create works of striking beauty. Richard Cook visited an exhibition of her paintings, called Courtyard of the Soul, that has just opened at Halcyon Gallery in London and saw how popular her work is proving to be with art buyers.

India, China, Israel: Benjamin Netanyahu wants to boost Israeli connections with both China and India but Israel’s growing military and defense cooperation with Delhi could make this simultaneous courting tricky, writes Emanuele Scimia . If Israel continues to transfer sensitive defense technology to the Indian armed forces, Prime Minister Netanyahu may have to some explaining to do during his upcoming talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Iran and Syria: Estimates of Iran’s military expenditure in Syria vary from US$6 billion a year to US$15-US$20 billion a year. David P. Goldman writes that even if the lower estimates are closer to the truth, the cost of the Syrian war to the Tehran regime is roughly the same as the country’s total budget deficit and Tehran’s lopsided commitment to military spending can be explained by Russian and Chinese geopolitical ambitions and fears.

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China Digest for Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Bitcoin bubbles too large, says PBOC official

The People’s Bank of China will crack down on bitcoin speculation to prevent bubbles, a PBOC official said in a Yicai report. Bitcoin bubbles had been too large previously, the PBOC’s business administration unit director Zhou Xuedong told national lawmakers in Beijing. Yicai.com said on Monday that Zhou briefed lawmakers on draft rules that will include guidance on preventing money laundering.

Xi’an sets reduction target on coal output

Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province in central China aims to cut coal production by 1.7 million metric tons in 2017, Xinhua state news agency said on Monday. The city also plans to promote the use of natural gas to 20,000 families in rural areas.

US$391 billion worth of bonds issued in February

A total of 2.7 trillion yuan (US$391 billion) worth of bonds were issued in February, the People’s Bank of China said on Monday in a Yicai report. Of that total, 170 billion yuan was in government bonds, 278.6 billion yuan in financial bonds, 203.8 billion yuan in corporate bonds, the PBOC said. New bonds issued on the interbank market stood at 2.6 trillion yuan last month. The PBOC also said trade on the interbank bond market stood at 6.4 trillion yuan, rising 0.1% year on year.

Trading volume in currencies up 13.4% in February

The People’s Bank of China said currency market trading in February stood at a record 44.3 trillion yuan (US$ 6.41 trillion), a 13.4% increase from a year earlier.

High-speed train failure rate drops by 15% in 2016

China Railway Corp said the rate of failure in high-speed trains had dropped by 15%, Caixin reported on Monday. In a closed-door meeting, deputy general manager Li Wenxin said flaws in compartments accounted for 7.4% of total rail accidents last year and nearly 80% of them occurred due to a problem with production quality.