Posted inAT Finance, China, Middle East, North Korea, Northeast Asia, Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Syria, Timor Leste, World

The Daily Brief for Monday, 24 July 2017

Philippine communist insurgency: There are indications that insurgents affiliated with the Communist Party of the Philippines have seized on Manila’s pre-occupation with combating Islamic State-affiliate groups to up the momentum of its attacks. Richard Javad Heydarian writes that a series of armed encounters as well as the recent raising of a luxury tourist compound by communist rebels has put President Duterte’s once hopeful peace initiative with the decades-old insurgency in a state of limbo.

Seoul-Pyongyang, silence remains: South Korea’s requests to hold talks with the North’s military and to negotiate over families separated by the Korean War have been deftly rejected by Kim Jong Un’s regime, reports Robert E. McCoy. By holding out, Pyongyang will be able to demand more and greater concessions while also resisting any discussion on its nuclear or long-range weapons programs.

Great Firewall cracking? This month has seen a renewed crackdown on Virtual Private Network providers in China and, ironically, foreign firms could stand to be the beneficiaries, writes Lin Wanxia. China’s so-called ‘Great Firewall’ has been playing a game of cat-and-mouse with VPNs for many years and the latest government’s crackdown may eliminate local players only to allow international operators to flourish.

Syria’s “de-conflict” truce: Syrian opposition leader Mohammad Alloush seems to have realized that making a deal with the Russians is better than continuing an uphill battle against them without broad support from elsewhere. Sami Moubayed writes that the “de-conflict” agreement between the rebel opposition and Russia basically ends the fighting in the war-torn agricultural belt that surrounds the Syrian capital, lifts a four-year siege and pardons the rebels but it also keeps the entire territory firmly in the hands of Damascus.

Timor-Leste election results: Preliminary indications from Timor-Leste’s general election indicate the two largest political parties, which formed a de facto ruling partnership in 2015, have retained a majority of votes, reports David Hutt. About 750,000 registered voters turned out to select their parliamentary representatives in this fledgling nation’s fourth general election, that was first that didn’t require supervision by the United Nations.

Posted inChina, Shanghai, Tianjin

China Digest for Monday, 24 July 2017

China leads way in electric vehicle development

Production and sales of hybrid and electric vehicles were robust in June as 65,000 units were produced and 59,000 units were sold, a 43.4% and 33% increase respectively from a year earlier, Xinhua Finance reported, citing figures from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. According to the research report issued by German consultancy Roland Berger, China ranked on top in the global electric vehicle development index for the first time in Q2.

Sunac chief becomes chairman of LeEco entity

Sun Hongbin, chairman of Tianjin based property developer Sunac China, was officially appointed as the new chairman of the LeEco’s listed company, Leshi Internet Information & Technology, the Shanghai Securities Daily reported. Leshi said in a statement that chief executive officer Liang Jun was named as the company’s legal representative.

Wanda Group to focus on investments in China

Wang Jianli, chairman of property and media conglomerate Wanda Group, told Caixin on Friday that the company has “decided to focus its investments to within China,” in response to “national policies.” The company has been in the spotlight recently for its US$9.3 billion sale of 77 hotel assets and 13 theme parks to property developer Sunac China.

Removal of TV content a ‘strategic adjustment’

The chairman of Bilibili, a popular online streaming service for dramas and anime, said on Sunday that the large scale removal of television dramas was part of its internal “strategic adjustments” to content operations and this will continue for at least another month, the Paper reported. Chen Rui, the chairman, was referring to rumors that the large scale removal, especially of popular overseas dramas, was part of Chinese authorities’ crackdown on “unsavory content,” the report added.

Zero tolerance on fraudulent IPOs: CSRC

The China Securities and Regulatory Commission said on Friday that it will “tighten restrictions” on initial public offerings and continue to maintain a “zero” tolerance attitude toward fraudulent listings. The move is in line with President Xi Jinping’s emphasis on “regulatory vigilance,” the Shanghai Securities Journal reported. The press statement comes amid rumors that the commission was going to loosen restrictions for IPO listings.

Guangdong to study reform of hospital pharmacy system

The provincial reform commission in Guangdong issued a statement seeking consultation from medical professionals in re-evaluating the hospital pharmacy trusteeship system, Caixin reported. The statement included a white paper on anti-monopoly policies for further discussion. Under the current system, hospital pharmacies are tendered out to private chains who generate profits from drug sales. The proposed system would see pharmacies in hospitals turning into a “cost” center, whereby hospitals have to sell the drugs at cost price to patients.

Government agencies disclose ‘three publics’ spending

The nation’s 103 central government agencies disclosed their 2016 budgets for official overseas trips, vehicle purchases and hospitality, which is referred to as the “three publics” in Chinese, Caixin reported on Saturday. The expenditures on “three publics” stood at 4.82 billion yuan (US$712 million) in 2016, which was 1.49 billion yuan less than the total budget. The China Banking Regulatory Commission, the Ministry of Finance and the National Audit Office spent only 40%, 53% and 59% of their budgets on the “three publics.”

Urban job market sees steady growth

Around 7.35 million new jobs were created in urban areas in the first six months this year, up 180,000 positions from the same period last year, the Economic Information Daily reported. The national urban unemployment rate and the unemployment rate in 31 major cities were both below 5% in June, the National Bureau of Statics added.

Sharing economy hit US$510 billion last year

The market transaction volume of China’s sharing economy hit 3.45 trillion yuan (US$510 billion) in 2016, a 103% year on year increase, with more than 600 million users and 60 million service providers, the Economic Information Daily reported. Insiders from the National Development and Reform Commission said boosting the sharing economy could improve resource utilization efficiency and inspire start-up businesses and supply side reform.

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