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The Daily Brief for Monday, 5 June 2017

Washington’s geopolitical dance: In what increasingly appears to be a deliberate strategy of mixed messaging, United States Defense Secretary James Mattis has now openly challenged China’s position in the contested South China Sea. Richard Javad Heydarian writes that Mattis, now seemingly the primary shaper of American policy in Asia given the diminished role of the US State Department, seems to be sending new strategic reassurance to Washington’s regional allies.

China’s regional game-changer: The entry of South Asian neighbors India and Pakistan into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization fold this week means it now covers roughly half of humanity, reports Seema Sengupta. The SCO’s latest expansion now stretches it from Russia in the north to the waters of the Indian Ocean in the south and it stands to strongly affect the balance of power in a multi-polar world order.

Anti Iran alliance: In Pakistan there is a clamor to have a former army chief recalled from his role at the head of a Saudi-led alliance, because of the anti-Iranian direction this alliance has taken. F.M. Shakil reports that on a regional level, several key alliance partners are now cutting ties with Qatar because it is also reluctant to link Iran with terrorism.

Cambodian election results: The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party appeared to make solid gains at Sunday’s highly anticipated commune election but the ruling Cambodian People’s Party once again dominated the democratic contest. David Hutt writes that many saw Sunday’s local vote as a barometer for next year’s general election which could see the CPP lose power after almost four decades in government.

Japan-economy, sustained expansion: Activity in Japan’s services sector expanded at its fastest pace in almost two years in May, further evidence that demand in the world’s third-largest economy is picking up, reports Asia Times. Japan’s Services Purchasing Managers Index has remained above the 50 threshold, which separates expansion from contraction, for the eighth consecutive month and is now at its highest level since August 2015.

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Posted inChinaGuangzhouShanghai

China Digest for Monday, 5 June 2017

China Shenhua, GD Power Development to suspend trading

Two firms, coal giant China Shenhua Energy and electricity supplier GD Power Development issued notices, saying that trading will be suspended from June 5, the Paper reported. There is speculation that the state-owned companies will announce a merger.

Regulator slows down IPO approvals

The China Securities Regulatory Commission said only four companies were given approvals to go ahead with their initial public offerings last Friday, in a sign of a slowdown, Yicai reported. Insiders said IPO approvals were slowing down with only seven companies shortlisted two weeks ago.

Laws drafted to let local governments probe illegal fund-raising

New ordinances to empower local government authorities to investigate illegal fund-raising activities had been drafted and sent to the China Banking Regulatory Commission for discussion, said Yang Yuzhu, director of the inter-ministerial joint office, in a Securities Daily report on Monday. In 2016, there were 5,197 cases of illegal fund-raising activities involving 251.1 billion yuan (US$36.84 dollars).

Outsourcing ban on provincial, city and county governments

Provincial, city and county governments cannot outsource construction projects and can only invest in services, the National Economic Daily reported on Sunday. Jin Yongxiang, the director of a consultant company called Da Yue, said that in recent years, governments had been procuring debt financing through outsourcing of construction projects such as highways and airports.

New housing demand is double the supply in Guangzhou

Only 3,191 new homes in Guangzhou were given pre-sale permits in May, a 69% slump from April, Caixin reported on Sunday. Developers believe the government is trying to cool prices by controlling the supply of new housing. Around 7,764 contracts were signed on the sale of new homes, which is double the number of government-issued pre-sale permits.

Langfang sets limits on buyers to control housing prices

Non-local families in Langfang city south of the capital must prove they have paid three years of social insurance before they can buy a property, while locals who already own two homes cannot purchase a new one, Economic Information Daily said.

Anhui government officials ordered to meet the people

Provincial leaders should meet the public at least once every six months and city level authorities should do so at least once every quarter, Xinhua said, citing a new Anhui policy. Deng Bing, of the Anhui Bureau for Letters and Calls, said government officials would be punished if they didn’t perform their duties.

Insurance industry must look at technology, says director

The insurance industry was highly dependent on labor resources – 7 million salespeople – which was inefficient and the sector should look at ways to apply technology, especially the use of data, a Caixin report said, citing Zeng Yujin, director of the Shanghai Insurance Exchange in a forum on Sunday.

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