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The Daily Brief for Thursday, 20 April 2017

Pakistan-Sharif, corruption probe: Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered further investigations into corruption allegations leveled against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif but ruled there was insufficient evidence to order his removal from office. Asia Times reports that Sharif stands accused of failing to explain the source of money in offshore companies and of lying to parliament after allegations arose from leaks contained in the so-called “Panama Papers.”

Elections-Jakarta, radicals victorious: Anies Baswedan’s emphatic victory in Jakarta elections left Islamic conservatives cheering and secularists wringing their hands over the future direction of the country. John McBeth writes that Baswedan’s margin of victory raises new questions about Indonesia’s much-vaunted reputation for religious tolerance and, more importantly, how it might further embolden hardline Islamic splinter groups.

Beijing-Pyongyang, friendship over? China’s leading Korean War scholar Shen Zhihua has joined the chorus of advocates calling for China to take a tougher line with North Korea by saying the two are “no longer brothers in arms”. Asia Unhedged reports that Beijing, by allowing such criticism of a fundamental pillar of foreign policy, is considering a major shift in how it handles Pyongyang.

Duterte’s dazzling diplomacy: The Philippines president has become one of the world’s most travelled leaders and, after high-profile trips in China, Japan and key Southeast Asian nations, Duterte just concluded a week-long tour of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar. Richard Javad Heydarian reports that, with typically unorthodox diplomacy, Duterte secured around US$1 billion in pledged investments during his Middle East trip, mainly in tourism, agriculture and healthcare.

Asia-Film: Udine sponsorship: The Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy, has long championed the cause of commercial Asian cinema. For the first time, Asia Times is supporting the festival’s Campus program, by helping to sponsor five aspiring young Asian writers that will spend two weeks working alongside five European counterparts at this year’s festival, that starts on April 21.

Posted inBeijingChinaShanghai

China Digest for Thursday, 20 April 2017

Premier Li sets out more tax reforms in State Council meeting

More tax cuts are on the way from July 1 for industries from agriculture, gas and research and development in science and technology to higher deductions in personal income tax as well as small and medium enterprises, the Securities Daily said. Premier Li Keqiang outlined six targeted tax reform measures in a State Council meeting on Wednesday. Value-added tax rate cuts will come to more than 38 billion yuan (US$5.52 billion) and reduce costs for industries, a Shanghai Securities Journal report added.

Deposits on second home loans raised to 60% in Jinan

Jinan, the capital of Shandong province, has increased the down payment to 60% on loans for a second home, The Paper reported, citing information from the city’s new property purchase order aimed at cooling prices.

20 listed companies exit real estate business

Tighter market controls forced more than 20 listed companies to withdraw from the real estate business within a month, the Securities Times reported on Wednesday evening. Mergers and acquisitions of SOEs “might be the new outlet” for housing markets, it added.

More options and futures to be listed: CSRC

The China Securities Regulatory Commission will approve the listing of more options and futures based on market demands, Shanghai Securities Journal reported, quoting Fang Xinghai, vice-chairman of the CSRC. Sugar options were listed on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange on Wednesday, and was a “major development in market innovations,” Fang added.

Rumors of bank executive Lou Wenlong joining Ant denied: report

Sources had denied that Lou Wenlong, former vice-president of the Agricultural Bank of China, had joined the Ant Financial Services Group, Caixin reported on Wednesday evening. Ant is a financial services affiliate of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Speculation has been rife after Lou resigned on Tuesday evening due to a “job reassignment,” it added.

NDRC to issue second batch of PPP approvals

The National Development Reform Commission is set to announce the second batch of public-private partnerships, according to Shanghai Securities Journal on Thursday morning. The PPPs would focus on waste management and incineration, highways and power utilities, it said, but no date was given.

Pork prices in China fall to a two-year low

Wholesale pork prices dropped to 21.89 yuan per kg as of Tuesday, the lowest since 22 yuan per kg in June 2015 and almost 20% decline from last year’s high, Caixin said on Wednesday evening. The fall was due to both seasonal demand and a consumption slump last year that forced suppliers to clear stock, the report said.

Asset securitization should not be a leveraging tool: PBOC

Ji Zhihong, a department head in the People’s Bank of China, said that while the overall momentum of asset securitization was good, investors should not treat it as a leverage tool, Caixin reported on Wednesday evening.

Vanke buys US$440 million stake in real estate agency Lianjia

The country’s second-largest property developer has agreed to buy a 3 billion yuan (US$440 million) stake in Beijing-based real estate agency Lianjia, Caixin reported on Wednesday evening. The number of shares purchased was not disclosed, but the move follows Sunac China Holdings’ purchase of a 6.25% stake in Lianjia in January for 2.6 billion yuan, it said.

Increase in capacity cuts for SOEs in steel and coal

Capacity cuts in the steel and coal sectors will increase to 5.95 million metric tons and 24.73 million metric tons, respectively, this year, the Economic Information Daily reported on Thursday morning, citing sources from state-owned enterprises.