Posted inAT Finance, Beijing, China, Middle East, North Korea, Northeast Asia, Philippines, Thailand

The Daily Brief for Thursday, 22 June 2017

Thailand’s failing democracy: Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha insists his road map for Thai democracy is still on track but the prospects for promised polls in 2018 are fast fading away, writes Shawn W. Crispin. While Prayuth’s absolute grip on power has started to slip, with new challenges from within the military and a more assertive monarchy, this former solider does not seem ready to yield anything to opposing politicians or anti-junta activists.

Trump no pushover: Many in the Washington’s foreign policy establishment think that Trump has been played by Xi Jinping and his team of seasoned diplomats. Yet, writes Christopher Scott, while US-China relations, at a high-point not seen for some time, have given the Chinese good reasons to celebrate, Beijing needs to understand: Trump really can’t abide losing.

Philippines, terror grows: As President Rodrigo Duterte weighs the costs of Islamic State’s devastation of Marawi City, another of its affiliated groups has launched an assault in nearby North Cotabato. Jason Castaneda reports that, as fighting in Marawi continues, it is unclear how many Islamic State-linked fighters have escaped to other parts of the Philippines and the North Cotabato assault has so far seen attacks on homes and a school and hostages have been taken.

Holiday in Pyongyang? After University of Virginia student Otto Wambier’s returned to the US in a coma and subsequently died, thrill-seeking tourists should chose another isolated country to visit. North Korea-watcher, Bradley K. Martin writes that since Kim Jong-un, the young and exceedingly thin-skinned third-generation ruler, came into power, everything has changed in North Korea.

Saudi’s big gamble: The aging king of Saudi Arabia issued a stunning royal decree on Wednesday when he removed his nephew, the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef, from office and appointed his own son, Mohammad Bin Salman, as heir to the Saudi throne. Sami Moubayed writes that Bin Salman is popular with younger Saudis – he looks set to be the youngest king in Saudi Arabia’s history – but is also viewed by many as erratic and impervious to advice.

Posted inBeijing, China, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tianjin

China Digest for Thursday, 22 June 2017

Overseas capital floods into mainland a day after MSCI news

Around 1.37 billion yuan (US$200 million) in overseas capital flooded northbound via the Hong Kong Stock Connect schemes with the Shenzhen and Shanghai bourses the day after US index provider MSCI said it would include mainland A shares this year, Caixin reported. Hikvision, Kweichow Moutai and Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine were the top three in transactions.

Buying cap on foreign investors in proposed Bond Connect scheme

The People’s Bank of China has revised its draft on regulating qualified foreign investors’ purchases in the proposed Hong Kong-China Bond Connect on Wednesday, Shanghai Securities Journal reported. It deleted a rule allowing qualified foreign investors to make unlimited purchases.

Changes to Unfair Competition Law will cover the internet

An amendment to the Unfair Competition Law will include rules on the internet, which is the first revision after it took effect 24 years ago, the Economic Information Daily reported. Internet operations that interfere with users’ choices or normal market behaviors will be covered.

US$87 billion to build Hebei transport hub

The Hebei provincial government will invest 600 billion yuan (US$87 billion) to reduce travel time between Beijing and Tianjin to one hour and to nearby cities to 1.5 hours by 2020, the Economic Information Daily reported. The 13th Five-year Plan will see a 2,000km high-speed railway and a 9,000km expressway built to connect each county in the province.

Deferred taxes will encourage private pension industry: State Council

The State Council said it would provide pilot schemes and offer to defer tax payments to encourage people to fund their own pensions by buying investment products, the Shanghai Securities Daily reported. The council hoped this would speed up development in commercially funded private pensions.

Shanghai drivers can pay parking fees without having to brake

Two Hongqiao International Airport parking lots in Shanghai will allow drivers who register their car plate number with an Alipay account to pay fees by driving through special exits, International Financial News said on Wednesday. The system will send arrival and departure times to drivers’ Alipay accounts and fees will be automatically deducted.

Tencent completes Big Three’s AI research push

Tencent, one of the Big Three internet giants in the country, launched its Artificial Intelligence platform on Wednesday, following Baidu and Alibaba, the Paper said on Wednesday night. The company will make its core technologies in its “Intelligence Cloud” such as speech recognition and natural language processing available to scientists.

Alibaba logistics affiliate in US$1.24 billion joint venture

Cainiao Network, an Alibaba affiliate, will set up an 8.5 billion yuan (US$1.24 billion) logistics and warehousing joint venture fund with China Life Insurance Company, Caixin reported. Cainiao said the fund would cover the cost of infrastructure construction, technology upgrade and recruiting talent.

Registration plan for traditional Chinese medicine clinics

A draft paper for registration of traditional Chinese medicine clinics has been posted by National Health and Family Planning Commission for public review, Yicai reported. After registering, doctors with suitable qualifications can operate traditional Chinese medicine physician clinics.