Hanoi Seoul ties: Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, who is visiting Hanoi to mark 25-years of bilateral ties, that Seoul help with “law enforcement” in the contested South China Sea. Helen Clark writes that
Vietnam recently condemned Pyongyang’s nuclear tests and Yun’s high-profile visit came against the backdrop of South Korea’s sliding relations with China, all indications that Hanoi and Seoul are considering closer strategic engagement.
China Australia rift: Days after a high-profile visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the Australian government had to postpone an extradition treaty with Beijing intended to showcase the countries closer ties. John Power reports that China holds an international 100 most-wanted list as part of Xi Jinping’s “Sky Net” anti-corruption drive – 10 of whom are thought to have fled to Australia – but Canberra politicians delayed the treaty because a number of Australians have been detained controversially in China.
India tax laws: A new taxation bill introduced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sprang a surprise that may have serious implications for the privacy of citizens and funding for India’s political parties reports Asia Times. Jaitley tacked on 30 pages of amendments, some of which will expand the power of income-tax officials who, under the new laws, will be able to enter homes and offices in order to conduct search or seizure operations without having to explain their actions.
Hong Kong autonomy: Washington will reassess Hong Kong’s special status if the city’s autonomy continues to deteriorate, reports Asia Times. US Senator Marco Rubio, chair of the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said Chief Executive-Elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor needs to take meaningful steps toward political reforms if Hong Kong is to keep this special status.