Where Pyongyang shops: As the US ratchets up pressure on China to do more to help rein in North Korea, a UN report shows how Pyongyang uses technology smugglers and financial institutions to build missiles and nuclear weapons. Bill Gertz writes that China figures prominently in the UN report that also states that North Korea’s illicit procurement activities is underpinned by continued access to the international banking system.
US-Indonesia trade imbalance: During last week’s visit to Jakarta, US Vice President Pence made it clear to President Widodo that he had to “level the playing field” to ensure US exporters can fully participate in Indonesian markets. John McBeth reports that two-way trade is at its lowest in five years, with Indonesian exports outweighing US imports by US$19.2 billion to US$6 billion, and the US sees protectionism as a significant issue
Pakistan crisis averted: A Lahore court has revived a 17 year-old money laundering case against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and will examine how his wealth was transferred to Qatar and then invested in properties in London’s Mayfair. F.M. Shakil reports that the court, by also ruling that currently there is insufficient evidence to order the PM’s removal from office, has for now averted a political crisis ahead of next year’s elections.
China steel closures: Premier Li Keqiang told 20,000 workers the government will ensure “redeployment not retrenchment” and “change of career not loss of career” when Jinan Steel Group is restructured this year. Asia Times’ China Digest this is part of a significant central government message, as capacity cuts in iron, steel and coal industries have affected more than 2 million workers since last year.
Film-Udine, Fruit Chan: Twenty years ago, at its inaugural “pre-edition”, Udine Far East Film Festival screened Hong Kong director Fruit Chan’s groundbreaking independent drama Made in Hong Kong. Richard James Havis writes that this year’s festival, that takes place in the northeastern Italian city from April 21 to 29, will see the Hong Kong classic return in a restored form – courtesy of the festival itself.