Posted inAT Finance, Beijing, China, Hong Kong, Jordan, Middle East, Philippines, Russia, Syria, Thailand, World

The Daily Brief for Thursday, 29 June 2017

Hong Kong handover: As China becomes an increasingly important player in global affairs, the way Hong Kong is treated will be seen as a litmus test on whether the world can trust Beijing, writes Chris Patten, the UK’s last Governor of Hong Kong. Here Patten argues that President Xi Jinping would do well to use the 20-year anniversary of the city’s handover to reaffirm China’s commitment to the joint declaration document, an international treaty lodged with the United Nations that safeguarded Hong Kong’s autonomy and way of life until 2047.

Russia-Third Syrian base: The Russian army has quietly started construction of a new military base in the countryside near Damascus, writes Sami Moubayed. This will be Moscow’s third base in Syria – the other two have troops, sophisticated weaponry and support systems to bolster the military operation against ISIS – and this new one will help implement the eight-point ‘deconfliction’ program for the border area agreed upon by Russia, the US and Jordan while also working to ensure humanitarian aid reaches besieged villages and towns.

Asian financial crisis: At the same time as Thailand commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Asian financial crisis, Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-o-cha is rolling out his vision for a 20-year national strategy. William Pesek says few Thais in 1997 would have believed that, 20 years on, the military would be running the country but they are, and this is down to the lack of economic progress made since the baht’s devaluation started the Asian financial meltdown.

Silk Road block: Officially, the economy of the vast Xinjiang region in far western China is growing faster than the country as a whole, something that is key to Beijing’s grand New Silk Road initiative. Sue-Lin Wong reports a different story after talking to local traders, who say the Chinese authorities’ obsession with keeping the religiously restive region secure at all costs is badly effecting business.

Philippines’ Muslim fear: When a small army of militants allied to Islamic State took over parts of Marawi City in the southern Philippines last month, many of the country’s Muslims were alarmed. Manuel Mogato and Karen Lema write that although this Christian-majority country has endured bouts of Muslim insurrection for centuries, the two communities mostly live together peacefully but now many Muslims fear the battle in Marawi will intensify the divide.

Posted inBeijing, Chengdu, China, Chongqing, European Union, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tianjin, World

China Digest for Thursday, 29 June 2017

Xi Jinping’s visit to mark anniversary of Hong Kong transfer

President Xi Jinping is scheduled to arrive in Hong Kong this afternoon and deliver a speech at the airport, CCTV reported. President Xi Jinping will be in the city from June 29 to July 1 to attend a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland.

BOC report forecasts 6.8% GDP in 2017

Gross domestic product was expected to reach 6.8% this year, Sina Finance reported, citing a third quarter Bank of China (BOC) outlook report. The report also predicted a 6.8% GDP growth rate in the first half this year, a 0.1 percentage point year on year uptick, while third quarter GDP growth rate is expected to be 6.7%.

Foreign investors enjoy more access to domestic industries

The National Development and Reform Commission and Commerce Ministry cut its negative list of domestic investment options for foreign investors from 93 to 63 areas, Xinhua reported on Wednesday night. Foreign investment is banned in the country’s air traffic control, compulsory education and 28 other areas, while there is limited access to 35 sectors on the list.

5G users to break 100 million by 2025

Experts at the Mobile World Congress Shanghai predict that 5G users in the country will break the 100 million mark by 2025, the Shanghai Securities Daily reported. China Mobile Communication Corporation Chairman Shang Bing said his firm would test 5G in five cities in 2017 and expand in 2018.

Sina Weibo takes a tough stance against content

Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, said it will censor films, TV and internet programs which do not conform to the requirement of the publishing regulator, the Paper reported on Wednesday. It will eliminate accounts which offer commentary on current affairs, and close the upload function for videos longer than 15 minutes.

Railway to connect suburban and downtown areas: NDRC

The National Development and Reform Commission released a guidance to support the construction of a railway system connecting suburban and downtown areas of mega cities and major economic zones within an hour, Yicai reported. Districts include Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei circle, the Yangtze River delta, the Pearl River delta, middle reaches of the Yangtze River together with Chengdu and the Chongqing economic regions.

Fee cuts dent State Grid electricity revenue, says director

State Grid revenue has decreased 56 billion yuan so far this year, as a result of fee cuts for companies, Caixin reported. Shu Yinbiao, State Grid director, said China’s electricity price, 0.6 yuan per kilowatt remains relatively low, compared to 1.5 to 2 yuan per kilowatt in Europe.

Steam coal prices hover above “green” cap

The price of 5,500 kcal/kg steam coal in Shanxi and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region have surged by 30 and 14 yuan per metric ton in June, respectively, exceeding the level regulators had set, Xinhua reported. Regulators set the “green price,” or safe level, at around 500 to 570 yuan per metric ton and should not exceed this range.

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