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The Daily Brief for Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Chinese overseas investments: China’s foreign exchange head has asked if the acquisition of foreign football clubs has simply been a cover for Chinese firms to sneak assets out of the country. Lin Wanxia writes that the comments from Pan Gongsheng, who is head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange and also vice-governor of the People’s Bank of China, are one more indication that the government is trying to put the screws on overseas investment.

Russia in Syria: Since late January, Russia’s losses in Syria are more than three times higher than the official toll, a tally that shows the fight in Syria is tougher and more costly than the Kremlin has disclosed, writes Maria Tsvetkova. Military casualties abroad are not as politically sensitive in Russia as in some other countries but they will send a negative message ahead of a presidential election next year which is expected to give Vladimir Putin a fourth term.

Asian Film Awards: Chinese comedy I Am Not Madame Bovary, directed by Feng Xiaogang, scored the top prize among the three awards it won on Tuesday at a ceremony in Hong Kong. Poo Yee Kai and Liu Hsiu Wen report that the film, a comedy that tackles government bureaucracy in the PRC, won the Asian Film Awards’ film Best Film, Best Actress and Best Cinematography.

Thailand rice reforms: Four decades ago the Buddhist monk Luang Paw Nan launched a campaign in Surin province to reduce poverty among farmers by encouraging them to grow organic jasmine rice. Peter Janssen writes that while most of the country’s indebted farmers still teeter on the brink of poverty, Surin is today famed for its rice with the World Bank citing the province as an example of dramatic poverty reduction, attributed in part to good working coordination between the government, farmers and civil society.

World Water Day: Today, 35.8% of the world’s population still lacks access to any proper sanitation facilities, reports Tamara Avellán on World Water Day. That’s why in 2015, world leaders agreed to strive for access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all by 2030 as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and that means more than three billion extra people will need access to a toilet.

Posted inChina

China Digest for Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Capital must not be ‘sleeping’ in accounts: Premier Li Keqiang

Premier Li Keqiang said “large sums of capital” should not be “sleeping” in the account books, and urged the use of public funds in a “safe and efficient” manner, Xinhua reported on Tuesday evening. Reports last year indicated that as much as 9 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion) of funds had not been used and were “sitting” in the account books of various government agencies, Securities Daily reported in May last year. Li’s remarks might signify an urgency to spend public funds, although no details were mentioned in the Xinhua report.

PBOC urges commercial banks to control housing ratio

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) issued a notice on Tuesday, urging commercial banks to “reasonably” control the housing loan ratio, or the amount of monthly income a borrower used to service a mortgage, Caixin reported. The PBOC is also looking at “optimizing the credit structure” at banks, the report added. The move comes as the central government fears a housing bubble will follow from recent monetary policies as the central bank has been increasing liquidity in the financial markets recently, the report said.

Two largest nuclear SOEs begin strategic restructuring

The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and China Nuclear E&C Group (CNEC), the country’s two largest nuclear state-owned enterprises, had started strategic restructuring, the Securities Daily reported on Tuesday morning. Zhang Xiwu, Deputy Director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC), said it would adopt various methods to restructure SOEs.

Qingdao raises minimum deposit on provident fund loans to 30%

The port city of Qingdao in Shandong province will increase the minimum down payment on provident fund loans from 20% to 30%, Sina Finance reported on Monday evening. The Qingdao Housing Provident Fund Management Center said the rule applies to applicants buying new properties in the city, it added.

More than half of households say property prices are too high

Around 52% of China’s urban households believed property prices were “unacceptably high” in the first quarter of 2017, and 27% were worried they will rise more in the next quarter, Caixin reported on Monday evening, citing data from a People’s Bank of China Survey. Businesses and bankers became more optimistic about the economy, with 65% feeling confident in the first quarter, up from 54% in the preceding three months, it added.