Posted inAT Finance, Indonesia, North Korea, Northeast Asia, Philippines, Russia, South Asia, South Korea, World

The Daily Brief for Monday, 15 May 2017

Pyongyang, nuclear claim: South Korea’s military said more analysis is needed to verify North Korea’s claim that Sunday’s test-launch of a ballistic missile was a new mid-to-long range rocket built to carry a nuclear warhead. Asia Times reports that the missile landed in the sea near Russia days after its new president took office pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue.

Silk Road Forum: President Xi told the Belt and Road Forum that he has earmarked an additional US$113 billion for this sprawling trade initiative, writes Pepe Escobar. Xi delivered the forum’s opening keynote speech to an audience that included Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and a host of other world leaders and top ranking officials.

Seoul looks north? South Korea’s new president has appointed a right-hand man, Im Jong-seok, who served a prison term for behavior that a court considered was aiding his country’s main enemy, North Korea. Bradley K. Martin writes that Im, who was convicted and sentenced in 1989 after arranging an illegal visit to Pyongyang by a fellow leftist activist, is now chief of staff to president elect, Moon Jae-in.

Indonesia’s Islamic intolerance: There are renewed calls to scrap Indonesia’s 1965 blasphemy law following last week’s conviction and imprisonment of ethnic-Chinese Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Purnama. John McBeth reports that the growing use of the law inhibits free speech and has marginalized Christians, minority sect Muslims and other groups in a country whose secular Constitution clearly protects religious freedom.

Russia’s Eastern gamble: After Lawrence Ho’s Tigre de Cristal casino complex project proved the concept of a Northeast Asian gambling hub, the much-delayed Mayak project near Vladivostok is at last starting to gain traction. Asia Times reports that the US$350 million resort is expected to open early in 2019 with a hotel, concert venue and casino that will boast an estimated 300 slot machines and 30 gaming tables.

Posted inChina, Shanghai

China Digest for Monday, 15 May 2017

Finance ministry signs MOUs with six banks for Obor

Xiao Jie, the Minister of Finance, said memorandums of understanding had been signed with six development banks that will provide loans for countries along the Belt and Road (Obor) region, the Paper reported on Sunday evening. Xiao also said capital financing guidelines will be set up involving taxation, trade, investment, the promotion of transparency, increased public-private partnerships, and cooperation with development banks.

PBOC says current expansion of Silk Road funds ‘very necessary’

The People’s Bank of China Deputy Governor Yi Gang said on Sunday that the influx of funds into the new Silk Road was “very necessary,” China News reported on Monday morning. The influx of cash will increase the flexibility of funding especially for infrastructure projects, Yi said.

Seven countries boost AIIB membership to 77

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) board of directors has approved the addition of seven members, including Bolivia, Chile and Greece, bringing the total to 77, the Paper reported.

China to cut 150 million tons of coal production capacity in 2017

The country plans to cut 150 million tons of coal production capacity in 2017, and close up to 1,000 coal mines in Shanxi, Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Henan and 12 other provinces by the end of November, the Securities Daily reported.

Sichuan reforms industries, caps growth in cement and glass

Sichuan has capped capacity on cement and flat glass industries, the Paper reported, with growth banned till the end of 2020. It will also accelerate upgrades in the construction material industry to cut production prices, it added.

Nanjing locks homeowners in for three years

Homeowners in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, will not be allowed to sell their new homes for three years after receiving a property certificate, the Paper reported.

Guangxi to carry out affordable housing scheme

Guangxi will start pilot schemes on leasing and selling affordable housing as well as cultivate a rental market, the Paper reported. It will encourage enterprises and individuals to lease their own homes as part of the 13th Five Year Plan, it said.

Nation buys time for long-term property cooling measures

More than 60 cities across the country introduced up to 100 property control measures in the past two months to cool down the heated market, the Securities Daily reported. The whack-a-mole game between control measures and housing prices is to buy time for a long-term mechanism to be established, the report added.

Systemic risks lower in bank sector, but higher in joint-stock banks

A Tsinghua University study found that systemic risks in the bank sector had decreased in the first quarter of this year, but it had risen for joint-stock banks, Caixin said on Saturday evening. The joint-stock banks include China Minsheng, China Everbright bank and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank.