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The Daily Brief for Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Syria’s stumbling peace: The seventh round of UN-mandated Syrian “peace talks” wrapped up in Geneva at the weekend after producing only endless bickering and American indifference, writes Sami Moubayed. With Donald Trump’s diplomats now acting as little more than observers, the Geneva talks have effectively morphed into a low-profile Russian-run event that only discusses counter-terrorism and the new Syrian constitution.

Pyongyang’s public executions: A reports says North Korea carries out public executions on river banks and at school grounds and marketplaces for charges such as stealing copper from factory machines, distributing media from South Korea and prostitution, writes Christine Kim. The report, by a Seoul-based non-government group, said the often extra-judicial decisions for public executions are frequently influenced by “bad” family background or a government campaign to discourage certain behaviour.

Malaysian harsh realities: Kuala Lumpur proudly avoided the worst of the 1997 Asian crisis, says conventional wisdom, by pegging its currency, imposing capital controls and propping up state-linked enterprises. The reality, writes William Pesek , is actually the opposite and as many countries in the region march forward, Malaysia — mired in corruption and accountability scandals that date back to the 1990s — remains in slow motion.

Singapore’s accountability question: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s efforts to absolve himself of abuse of power allegations aired by his younger siblings have only deepened the political accountability arguments in Singapore. Kirsten Han reports that the beleaguered Singaporean Prime Minister’s attempted to stop the public criticism by submitting himself and other government ministers to rare questioning by Members of Parliament but this did little to stem the flurry of allegations.

Indonesian corruption scandal: A counter-corruption agency has named Parliament speaker Setya Novanto as the mastermind behind what could be the biggest graft case ever recorded in Indonesia’s democratic era. John McBeth reports that Novanto, who has faced four previous graft cases, now faces a 20-year prison term as the alleged central figure in a conspiracy to embezzle US$173 million from a grossly-inflated electronic identity card project.

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Posted inBeijingChinaShanghaiTianjinWorld

China Digest for Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Expressway cuts distance between Xinjiang and Beijing

The G7 Expressway officially launched on Saturday, connecting the Xinjiang Autonomous Region to Beijing over a distance of 2,768 kilometers, and cutting 1,300 kilometers from the previous route, Yicai reported on Tuesday. The expressway is the world’s longest highway across desert, which bridges west Horgas Pass in Xinjiang and east Tianjin port, it added.

Sunac withdraws US$1.48 billion bond issue

Tianjin based real estate developer Sunac has halted the issue of 10 billion yuan (US$1.48 billion) in corporate bonds on the Shanghai Stock Exchange as its Chairman, Sun Hongbin, said the company withdrew the offer back in February, Yicai reported. Companies financing real estate via credit bonds totalled only 179.5 billion yuan in the first sixth months, compared to 670.2 billion yuan in the same period last year.

NDRC keeping watch on “irrational” overseas investment

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said it is keeping a close eye on “irrational” overseas investment to minimize potential outbound risks for Chinese companies, Sina Finance reported. Yan Peng, spokesman of the NDRC, said that regulatory authorities would continue to pay close attention to foreign investment in industries such as property, hotels, entertainment, cinemas and sports clubs.

Daily turnover falls at Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges

Shanghai Stock Exchange daily turnover stood at 168.3 billion yuan in June, a 7.7% decrease compared to May, the Economic Information Daily reported. Daily turnover at the Shenzhen Stock Exchange amounted to 218.5 billion yuan, a 3.0% decrease compared to May.

Beijing-Shanghai express railway to boost speed

The Beijing-Shanghai express will increase its top speed to 350 kilometres per hour in October, Caixin reported. A source from the China Railway Corporation said two models in use, both the Hexie Hao and Fuxin Hao, will increase speeds, thus shortening the entire trip by 40 to 50 minutes, to around 4 hours.

Tech products driving retail sales

Total retail sales of consumer goods in June totalled 2.98 billion yuan (US$441.08 billion), a rise of 11% from a year earlier. Zhao Ping, research head at the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said innovative tech products such as VR equipment, drones and housekeeping robots are leading the consumption, the Shanghai Securities Journal reported.

Housing prices could drop in Q2 2018: report

A report published by DBS Vickers said it will take 6 to 9 months for housing prices in China to slow down and enter a downward period. Wang Dan, director of the research at DBS Vickers, said home prices are expected to increase 0 to 5% for the second half of the year, and the much-anticipated decrease could happen during the second quarter or second half of next year.

China’s property market slows

Prices for newly built commercial housing in 15 first and second tier cities have fallen year on year in June, while home prices in the four first tier cities fell compared to May, Sina Finance reported, citing the National Bureau of Statistics. South China’s Sanya, Beijing and east China’s Wuxi fell 0.8%, 0.4% and 0.35% in June respectively, compared to May.

Property developers on land buying spree

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, real estate enterprises have purchased a total of 103.41 million square meters of land in the first six months of 2017, an increase of 8.8% year on year, while transactions totalled 437.6 billion yuan, a rise of 38.5% from a year earlier. The Ministry of Finance said fiscal income from selling land reached 1.88 trillion yuan for the first half of the year, a rise of 34% from a year earlier.

Vanke spent US$14.8 billion in land purchases

Vanke, the leading property developer in China, has spent around 60 billion yuan to buy lands on the open market in the first half of the year. The company also won the bidding for an asset package sold by Guangdong Xintuo Real Estate Development Company, which includes 16 parcels of developable land worth 55.1 billion yuan, Caixin reported.

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