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The Daily Brief for Monday, 17 July 2017

Pyongyang, what hope? Some influential minds in Washington are beginning to think that nothing can be done about North Korea’s nuclear weapons and long range missiles and that the US needs to “get used to it.” Grant Newsham writes that this line of thought says sanctions haven’t worked, China won’t help and, as war is too horrific to contemplate, the only sound course of action is to allow Kim Jong-un to arm himself and hope for the best.

Sun King Macron: The French establishment’s new golden boy, President Emmanuel Macron, is ready to occupy any vacuum, writes Pepe Escobar. It’s why he embraced America so warmly when Donald Trump visited Paris last week and, by positioning himself in these talks as Europe’s prime interlocutor, he has caused considerable alarm to the rest of the European Union.

Asia’s smoke-free future? Philip Morris International is trying to make in-roads on selected Asian markets with its smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes. Company CEO Andre Calantzopoulos explains to Kenny Hodgart how the industry is about to be turned on its head and argues that smoke-free products really are a gateway out of — and not into — smoking.

Taiwanese or Chinese? With the passage of time, the political and social gap has widened across the Taiwan Strait. On the 30th anniversary of the lifting of martial rule in Taiwan, Liu Hsiu Wen examines the Republic’s political tensions and horizons and asks inhabitants how they see themselves and their country.

New great game? The current standoff in Sikkim between China and India is not so much about territory incursions but instead comes from a ‘great game’ type conflict over who controls Bhutan, reports MK Bhadrakumar. Bhutan is in debt to India and seems to be viewing China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ as a possible salvation and this could prove to be a significant geopolitical problem for Delhi.

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Posted inBeijingChinaShanghaiSouth AsiaTianjinWorld

China Digest for Monday, 17 July 2017

New committee to oversee financial stability

A Financial Stability and Development Committee will be set up under the State Council to oversee financial growth, Sina Finance reported. Following the two-day National Financial Work Conference, which ended on Saturday, it was also announced that the central bank would play a stronger role in macro-prudential management and guard against systemic risks.

Xi Jinping touts importance of direct financing

Direct financing must be given greater importance, Xi Jinping emphasized at the recent Fifth National Financial Working Meeting. Jiao Wenchao, an analyst from Pingan Securities, echoed those remarks, saying an emphasis on direct financing would improve the trading system of stocks and debts and accelerate the approval of IPOs.

US$40.46 billion to boost Xinjiang economic zone

The northwest autonomous region of Xinjiang, a core area of the Silk Road Economic Zone, has signed 16 loan contracts totalling 154.2 billion yuan and 15 agreements of intention worth 120.3 billion yuan for the development of the economic zone, the Economic Information Daily reported.

Yunnan eyes US$14 billion multi-town project

China’s southwestern Yunnan Province will raise 100 billion yuan (US$14.76 billion) between 2017 and 2019, to support the redevelopment of hundreds of towns bearing local characteristics, the Paper reported. The province expects to develop 25 such towns for local minority groups and 20 towns at the national level by 2019.

Polluters more than triple in the second quarter

The number of enterprises that have failed to meet pollution emission standards in 28 cities, including Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, has more than tripled to 176,000 by the end of June, compared to 56,000 in the first quarter, Caixin reported, citing data from The Ministry of Environmental Protection. The sources of pollution are mostly small manufacturers in non-ferrous metals, rubber production and tannery.

Ministry to invest US$44.3 billion in water pollution control

The Ministry of Environmental Protection plans to invest 300 billion yuan among more than 3,300 projects in 228 cities to build up a reserve base for water pollution control in 2017, Sina Finance reported.

Chinese consortium wins US$11.6 billion bid for GLP

A Chinese private equity consortium backed by senior executives from Global Logistic Properties (GLP) have won a bid to acquire GLP for 79 billion yuan, marking Asia’s largest private equity buyout, the Economic Information Daily reported. The group included China’s Hopu Investment Management, Hillhouse Capital Group, real estate developer Vanke Group and the financial service investment arm of Bank of China.

Domestic spot steel prices keep soaring

The price for domestic spot steel is steadily increasing due to record-breaking commodity prices and the rising cost of raw material billets, which are small, semi-finished pieces of metal. In Shanghai, Hangzhou and Jinan, alone, spot prices have risen from 10 to 130 yuan within a week. The domestic spot steel composite index closed at 137.83 by the end of last week, increasing 2.49%.

China will import more wheat and rice: report

The total production of grains and edible oils around the world has reached 2.7 billion metric tonnes in 2016, a rise of 0.7% from 2015, according to a report released by the Ministry of Technology and reported by Economic Information Daily. The report also predicts that imports of wheat and rice commodities to China will increase in 2017.

Shanghai tops minimum wage of US$340 per month

Shanghai led the nation with a minimum wage of 2,300 yuan per month, while southern Guangxi Province ranked the lowest at 1,400 yuan, Sina Finance reported. Economically developed coastal regions topped the list as Shanghai, Tianjin, Beijing, Guangdong and Jiangsu ranked top five respectively.

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