Posted inAfghanistan, AT Finance, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Middle East, Singapore, South Asia

The Daily Brief for Thursday, 16 March 2017

US, India, Iran: Delhi has signed an agreement with Kabul and Tehran to expand the Iranian port of Chabahar so it can establish a gateway to Afghanistan’s vast mineral resources, create a suitable facility to handle higher-volume Iranian natural gas exports to India and, possibly, “checkmate” the Chinese. However, reports Peter J. Brown, the project now seems at odds with US President Donald Trump posturing over Iran. Or does it?

Singapore’s political dissent: Singaporean authorities have threatened legal action over political activist Han Hui Hui’s social media posts alleging she was mistreated while in jail for staging an unsanctioned public protest. Kirsten Han writes that lawsuits are not new to Singapore, and the People’s Action Party — that has governed for over five decades — has often resorted to the courts to stifle opponents but is struggling to completely silence online-based political dissent.

Cambodia’s looming elections: Influential Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An died on Wednesday and analysts speculate there is now a substantial void in the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, one that Prime Minister Hun Sen will struggle to fill. David Hutt reports that with only three months until crucial commune elections, Hun Sen, now without his long-time “right-hand man”, will have to employ all of his political cunning to keep his government unified.

Indian filmmaker’s awards: Director Rima Das, whose debut film was screened at Cannes and the Mumbai Film Festival last year, has already found similar success with her second production, writes Poo Yee Kai and Liu Hsiu Wen . Village Rockstars, about a village girl in Assam who dreams of forming a rock band, has been selected to be shown at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and is a finalist in this week’s Work in Progress film competition held in Hong Kong.

Posted inBeijing, China, Guangzhou, Shanghai, World

China Digest for Thursday, 16 March 2017

11 million new urban jobs targeted in 2017, Premier Li says

Premier Li Keqiang focused on some key issues at his annual press conference on Wednesday after the end of the plenary session of the National People’s Congress, China Securities Journal reported.

· Jobs for all: Li said the government has the ability to create jobs and will take care of those who are temporarily unemployed. The government aims to provide 11 million new jobs in urban areas, a 1 million increase compared to last year.

· Extension of land use rights: Property owners do not need to apply for an extension of their land rights after the existing 70-year limit expired, and Li has asked the department to propose an amendment to the law.

· New fund to study smog: Given the higher air pollution in northern China in winter, Li said the government will set up a special fund to study the sources of pollution, so as to curb it more effectively.

Three cities tighten property market regulation

Property rules have been tightened on residents in Nanjing, Qingdao and Ganzhou cities, limiting the number of homes they can own, Caixin said. The policy came as the annual meeting of country’s legislature ended on Wednesday. Locals in Nanjing, the provincial capital of Jiangsu, can own up to two flats, but residents in Shandong’s Qingdao and Jiangxi’s Ganzhou can buy only one flat. Migrants in the three cities need to prove that they have paid taxes for at least a year before they can purchase a home.

Revenue stood at US$455.9 billion in January and February

The Ministry of Finance released data showing revenue in January and February at 3.14 trillion yuan (US$455.9 billion), increasing 14.9% from a year earlier. The ministry said corporate tax revenue rose 17.9% year on year to 650.3 billion yuan, while income from salaries tax soared 40.8% year on to 283.3 billion yuan, contributing to 2.78 trillion yuan collected in national tax revenue for the first two months of 2017.

We need blacklist on absconding debtors, says CBRC director

China Banking Regulatory Commission director Guo Shuqing suggested setting up a blacklist of absconding “credit breakers” who fail to pay off their debts and and ban them from obtaining any loans for life, Yicai said on Wednesday night. The blacklist will also help protect banks.

102 new airports to be built by 2025

The government plans to build 136 new airports to boost capacity across the country, with 102 of them completed by the end of 2025, China Economic Net reported on Wednesday. By then, China will see a total of 320 hubs either in service or nearing completion, it said, citing documents from the National Development and Reform Commission and the Civil Aviation Administration. Of those Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou will become competitive world-class airports, while there will be 10 international and 29 regional hubs. Private-public partnership opportunities will be sought to finance projects.