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The Daily Brief for Tuesday, 21 March 2017

China Russia ties: After curbing arms transfers and cooling military ties more than a decade ago, China and Russia are increasing joint exercises and stepping up sales of advanced weaponry to counter the US, writes Bill Gertz. The most recent military maneuvers, in the South China Sea in September, coincided with an international court ruling that challenged Beijing’s vast maritime claim over 90% of the strategic waterway and was the first time the PRC has conducted naval exercises in the sea with a foreign military.

The Global Laundromat: Several of China’s state-controlled banks, as well as HSBC’s Hong Kong branch, have allegedly processed hundreds of millions of US dollars from a vast money-laundering operation run by Russian criminals with links to the Russian government and the spy agency FSB. Johan Nylander reports that documents obtained by global network of investigative journalists, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, show that at least US$20 billion was moved out of Russia between 2010 and 2014 in a vast criminal operation called “The Global Laundromat”.

Britain’s Vietnamese slaves: Authorities in the UK are struggling to get to grips with crime gangs trafficking young Vietnamese into the UK to work in slave-like conditions on massive indoor marijuana farms, writes Richard Cook. Organised crime networks manage the large scale intercontinental distribution of both drugs and people and target increasing numbers of young people from Vietnam who are trafficked by such gangs into the UK and neighbouring Ireland to work as indentured labourers.

Duterte impeachment motion: While Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has countered and deflected criticism of his heavy-handed and often controversial rule, a new impeachment motion filed by the political opposition threatens to overthrow through legal means his popularly elected administration. George Amurao reports that the complaint, filed last Friday by Filipino lawmaker Gary Alejano, accuses Duterte of a litany of criminal offenses, including violating the constitution, betraying the public trust, bribery, graft, corruption and other alleged high crimes. Duterte has maintained his innocence.

Posted inBeijingChinaShanghai

China Digest for Tuesday, 21 March 2017

More free trade on the cards, says Premier Li

China will keep facilitating free trade and investment, protecting multilateral trade channels and promoting regional connections, said Premier Li Keqiang in a Xinhua news agency report Monday night. At the China Development Forum in Beijing on Monday, Li said the country will further open up its services, manufacturing and coal mining sectors. It will encourage wholly foreign owned enterprises to list on domestic stock markets, issue bonds or participate in the tech schemes and infrastructure construction, Li added.

First national law on foreign investment takes effect this year

The country’s first foreign investment regulations drafted by the Ministry of Commerce and National Development and Reform Commission is expected to be enacted as a law this year, the Economic Information Daily said. The law will include the country’s strategic design on overseas investment and clarify investment areas either forbidden or approved.

PBOC may consider re-lending to promote green loans

The central bank may consider re-lending, which means lending to commercial banks, to lower the financing costs of issuing green loans to enterprises, an official said in the Shanghai Securities Journal. Green loans accounted for 9% of the total loans, said Ma Jun, chief economist of the People’s Bank of China at a forum on green financing held on Monday.

Didi Chuxing shuts door on non-local registered cars

Didi Chuxing, the country’s top ride-hailing app, will stop using non-Beijing registered cars from the capital’s 3rd Ring Road on Monday, Caixin learnt on the same day. The move came after the Beijing city government announced in December last year that only vehicles registered in the capital are allowed to take part in ride-sharing and set a five-month adjustment period for firms to comply with the new rules, Caixin added. It said third-party drivers had already received notice from Didi that the ride-sharing company will stopped accepting them by March 31 this year, although Didi told Caixin the “date is not fixed.”

Co-founder of LeEco’s electric car unit resigns over ill health

The co-founder of SEE Plan, the electric car arm of Chinese tech company LeEco, resigned on Monday in a Sina Weibo post, citing ill health, reported Caixin that evening. Ding Lei was also the head of the China region for SEE Plan and rumors of his departure had been circulating since December last year. Chief Operating Officer Zhang Hailiang will replace Ding.

Phosphorous top pollutant in Yangtze River, says ministry

The environment ministry announced on Monday that phosphorous has become the main pollutant in the Yangtze River, Caixin reported on Monday evening. Zhang Bo, a director in the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said the main source of pollution was from agricultural activities and it will look to impose strict sewage standards as a means to combat pollution.