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The Daily Brief for Wednesday, 5 April 2017

More Pyongyang missiles: North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile on Wednesday from its east coast into the Sea of Japan, according to the US and South Korean military, in yet another snub to the UN Security Council. Asia Times reports that the launch comes ahead of the summit between Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping where pushing the North to drop its arms program will take centre stage.

Asia’s nuclear watershed: North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is pushing the world toward a strategic watershed much like the one that the west faced 60 years ago, when the US and the Soviet Union faced off against each other in Europe argues Michael Mandelbaum. The US and its allies successfully navigated the challenge of Europe in the 20th century without war but, says Mandelbaum, to achieve comparable success in East Asia today, Trump must persuade Xi to adopt a different policy toward North Korea.

Myanmar China tensions: Some of the heaviest recent fighting in Myanmar has taken place in the ethnic Chinese populated Kokang region, one of the least known and most misunderstood parts of the war-torn country, writes
Bertil Lintner. The China-equipped Kokang rebels are supported by the powerful Beijing-backed United Wa State Army and are part of a wider anti-government armed alliance in northern Myanmar that is central to the recent deterioration of once cozy ties between China and Myanmar.

HK Rugby Sevens: This weekend when Hong Kong hosts a leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series, this short and fast form of rugby will return to its spiritual home. Pedro Chan writes that tickets for the much-loved three-day extravaganza have long since sold out and with both Fiji and New Zealand – who have won the past six editions between them – going through generational changes, South Africa, who have never won in Hong Kong, could be the ones to watch.

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China Digest for Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Hebei to boost railway freight to 400 million tons by 2020

The northern province of Hebei is to boost its volume of railway freight to 400 million tons by 2020, a 60% increase compared to 250 million tons in 2016, Caixin reported Tuesday evening. The Hebei party committee said the move was also aimed at developing a rail network connecting provincial coal and steel businesses.

Better air quality is goal in plan to move 67 industrial firms

Cities in Hebei province will benefit from improved air quality with plans to move 67 industrial enterprises out of urban areas, Sina Finance reported. Steel, petrochemical, cement, glass and textile firms are among the industries targeted in the move, the provincial government said. All the other industrial enterprises that are causing serious air pollution and are proved to be of no economical value will be shut down by 2020, it added.

Don’t let property speculation ruin Xiongan ‘thousand year plan’

The People’s Daily published an editorial on Tuesday warning property speculators not to ruin the “thousand year” development plan for Xiongan. Major Chinese news outlets republished it, which later could not be found on the People’s Daily website. The editorial warned people not to engage in “property and land speculation” and use “different financial means” to make a profit. It also described Xiongan as a “thousand year” project because it would promote the coordinated development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, key centers vital to the country’s economic health.

Peer-to-peer online lending sets record in March

The peer to peer, or P2P, online lending sector scaled new heights in March this year, posting a record 250.8 billion yuan (US$36.39 billion) in transactions since April last year, Jiemian reported. The figure is a month-on-month 22.76% increase this year, it said. The industry also saw consolidation with 54 companies shut down in March.

Beijing to spend 1.33% of its GDP on waste incineration in 2018

A Renmin University report said 1.33% of Beijing’s gross domestic product will be spent on waste incineration, Yicai reported on Monday evening. The university’s National Development and Strategy Institute, which released the report on March 22, said 11 incineration plants, with eight due to be completed by 2018, will cost 37.32 billion yuan a year.

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