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The Daily Brief for Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Indonesia-widening political split: A rift at the top of Joko Widodo’s government, including over issues of religion, signals potentially destabilizing politicking as the country heads towards pivotal polls, writes John McBeth. Observers are now asking if a potentially dangerous blend of religion and populist politics is likely to be the front and center agenda as the country enters the 2019 election season.

Seoul-Park on trial: South Korea’s former president Park Geun-hye arrived at a Seoul court on Tuesday to make a first public appearance since her arrest in March, reports Asia Times. Park, who faces more than 10 years in prison if found guilty of taking bribes from business leaders, was asked in court to state her job and replied: Unemployed.

Beijing-Washington, closer ties: In a further sign of warming bilateral ties, Trump cabinet member Ben Carson delivered an upbeat speech on US-China relations, writes Doug Tsuruoka. “When you look at China you see a very, very accomplished society,” said the US Housing and Urban Development Secretary, adding that “I think there’s an opportunity for China and the US to become very good friends – and the administration is looking for that.”

Vietnam’s ecotourism success: Deep in the forests of central Vietnam, home to rare flora and fauna and the world’s most spectacular system of caves, tourism is benefiting the local environment, writes Michael Tatarski. While other parts of the country have seen severe environmental degradation at the hands of tourism development, the opposite has been the case in the UNESCO-certified Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park that is home to one of the largest areas of intact primary forest in Vietnam.

Millennials, corruption? NP! The global push to root out corruption is at risk of backsliding in Asia, with young professionals in the region more open to paying bribes than older colleagues, according to a new report by consultancy firm Ernst & Young. Johan Nylander reports that the survey found 38% of so-called millennials polled in Asia Pacific region justify paying cash to win or retain business while in China, 51% would offer gifts or services as a bribe to help their business survive.

Posted inChinaChongqingShanghaiWorld

China Digest for Tuesday, 23 May 2017

More tariffs on imported sugar

Tariffs on imported raw and commercial sugars would increase to 45% from Monday to protect the domestic industry, said the Ministry of Commerce in a Caixin report. The ministry said the duty, which would be gradually decreased in three years, took effect when more than 1.95 million metric tons was imported. Any amount imported below that will incur 15% duty.

Universal life insurance revenue slumps 61% to US$33 billion

Revenue from new universal life insurance policies stood at 231 billion yuan (US$33 billion), a 61.24% decline in the first quarter of this year after rules were imposed, Yicai said. The China Insurance Regulatory Commission has published rules since March last year that limited the sale of policies.

Greenlight for insurance funds to invest in national projects

The government is encouraging insurance funds to put cash into “debt investment plans” for major national projects under the Belt and Road initiative, Made in China 2025 and the Xiongan New Area, China Securities Journal said on Tuesday. The plans will be given priority and could be exempted from credit enhancements.

Shenzhen banks axe or cut discounts on mortgage interest rates

China Construction Bank in Shenzhen has revoked its 10% discount on the mortgage interest rate of 4.9% from Monday amid the tightening up of local housing policy, 21st Century Business Herald on Tuesday. Branches of Agricultural Bank of China and China Merchants Bank had reduced their discounts to 2% and 5%, respectively.

10-year restriction in Baoding is longest resale ban

Baoding city in Hebei province has put a 10-year resale ban on owners who buy government- controlled land or homes, which is the longest restriction period compared with other cities, the Paper reported.

Vanke sets up two funds for 42 real estate projects

Vanke will invest 5.03 billion yuan to set up two funds with China Merchants Bank Capital and Changjiang Merchants Bank Industrial Fund to invest in 42 commercial property projects, a company statement said on Monday. The value of the projects of Vanke and its subsidiaries is 12.89 billion yuan.

Offshore financial hub set for Chongqing

An offshore financial service center to cover the country’s western region and links to the world will be set up in a pilot free-trade zone of Chongqing, China News Service said on Monday. The Chongqing Banking Regulatory Commission document said financial institutions would be encouraged to create services and products to attract offshore investment.

Shanghai free-trade zone sets up consultation center

A Shanghai free-trade zone consultation center will help firms export products to Belt and Road, or Obor, countries, the Paper said. It will provide information on certification and other technical barriers. The government said 40% of Chinese firms faced technical trade barriers last year and lost US$93 billion.

Online media need government license

China Internet Network Information Center published rules stipulating that online media must hold a government license before providing news services from June 1 this year, the Legal Daily said. Online media included not only websites, but apps, blogs and social network accounts.