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The Daily Brief for Friday, 28 July 2017

Growing nuclear threat: A US admiral’s disturbing assurance that he’s ready to follow President Donald Trump’s orders to launch a nuclear missile strike against China has raised the specter of mass incineration in The Last War, Pepe Escobar writes. The current collapse of the unipolar world, with the inexorable emergence of a multipolar framework, has enabled a terrifying subplot to run amok – the normalization of the idea of nuclear war.

PLA border buildup: As tensions heat up on the Korean Peninsula, China is adding troops to its 1,416 kilometer border with North Korea, Robert E McCoy writes, with one media report saying Beijing recently conducted live-fire military exercises in the area. The troops are reportedly part of a newly formed military brigade that is seemingly there to control an expected mass exodus of refugees should war or some other catastrophe break out. It is certainly true that the People’s Liberation Army could easily be put to that use, but it seems like overkill to assign highly-trained military troops to that task.

Unfit for office: Plunging Pakistan into another bout of political turmoil after a period of relative stability, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was toppled by the Supreme Court on Friday, Asif Shahzad writes. He resigned after the court ruled he was unfit to hold office and ordered a criminal investigation into his family over corruption allegations. Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, which has a majority in parliament, is expected to name a new prime minister to hold office until elections due next year. The ouster of Sharif, who served as premier on three separate occasions, raises questions about Pakistan‘s fragile democracy as no prime minister has completed a full term in power since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

Lessons from history: Moscow must understand that winning the war and making the peace are two different things, MK Bhadrakumar writes. Valuable lessons can be drawn from the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, when the “Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck put his foot down on his generals’ plans to push forward after conquering Bohemia in the Battle of Königgrätz and march on to Vienna. Russia faces this lesson from history as the Syrian conflict is drawing to a close. When a war is cruising to an end prematurely, before peace talks gain traction, a void can appear. Foresight is needed to avoid it. Paradoxically, Russia is winning the Syrian war but may also be losing control of the peace process.

Myanmar peace talks: The cancellation of a major meeting of ethnic Shan groups has underscored the military’s long-standing divide-and-rule tactics and animus towards ethnic aspirations, David Scott Matthieson writes. A planned July 20-22 meeting of ethnic Shan political parties, armed groups and civil society organizations in Chiang Mai, Thailand, was canceled on orders of the Royal Thai Army, further chilling Myanmar’s already frigid peace process. Thailand acted on a request letter sent on July 19 by Brigadier General Khin Saw, Myanmar’s defense attaché based in Bangkok. The diplomatic missive claimed the meeting was planned between legal and illegal organizations and thus threatened to infringe on Myanmar’s election law and disrupt its government-led peace process.

Asia Times app: The Asia Times has launched an app for both iOS- and Android-based devices that will deliver the publication’s regular daily news, commentary, blogs and live coverage while also bringing readers added functionality. Asia Times Staff report that the app, launched on July 25, includes content notification, share and save functions and is free to download from both the Apple Store and Google Play.

Posted inBeijingChinaShanghai

China Digest for Friday, 28 July 2017

Xi Jinping stresses aims ahead of party congress

China’s head of state said in a high level workshop that the party must “stress what banner it wants to fly, what path it wants to take” ahead of the country’s top leadership shuffle later this year, Caixin reported. President Xi was referring to the need to emphasise socialism with Chinese characteristics and greater confidence in the party’s work, saying that “great progress” has been made since the last party congress five years ago.

Party workforce to focus on local government debt

Yang Weimin, deputy director of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, said that tackling the risks from local government debt will be the focus of the workforce for the later half of this year, Caixin reported. The workforce, which is the Communist Party’s top unit on economic policies, said that strengthening supply side reforms, reforming the “chaos” in the financial sector, stabilising property prices, ensuring that outbound and domestic investments are stable and improving the lives of the people are the other priorities, Caixin reported.

China’s major telcos to stop roaming charges

China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom will stop long distance roaming charges within China effectively from September 1, the Paper reported. The move comes a month ahead of the schedule set by the State Council in March this year.

NEEQ sees penalties soar in July

Twenty listed companies, six securities companies and five institutional investors were punished by the National Equities Exchange and Quotations (NEEQ), also called the “New Third Board,” in July, the Securities Times reported. Another 480 listed companies were punished by the NEEQ over their failure to meet disclosure obligations in the first half of 2017, accounting for more than half of the penalties.

State Council to ban foreign garbage

Foreign garbage will be entirely banned from entering the country by the end of 2017, Yicai reported, according to a decision of the State Council. The country will also phase out imports of solid waste, which can be replaced by domestic resources, by 2019. The importation of solid waste from overseas has caused great damage to the environment and people’s health, the report added.

New chairman appointed at Commercial Aircraft Corp

The state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd, manufacturer of the C919 passenger jet, announced on Thursday that He Dongfeng has been appointed as the chairman, as well as the company’s party secretary representative, the Paper reported. He was previously the general manager of the company. Other than He, the company also saw six other top level managerial changes, the report added.

Stock exchanges strengthen connections

The Shanghai Stock Exchange will raise the proportion of direct financing while the Shenzhen Stock Exchange will stick to strict delisting rules to improve the quality of companies on the Second Board market, the Securities Times reported. The two exchanges promised to promote the bidirectional opening of capital markets and guard against market risks, as per recommendations from the mid-year national work conference on securities and futures.

LeEco founder’s shares frozen by authorities

Embattled technology conglomerate LeEco said on Thursday that the shares of Jia Yueting, its founder, are now effectively frozen by the authorities, the Shanghai Securities Journal reported. The notice came after the Beijing No.3 Intermediate Court froze Jia’s shares in the company. Jia’s assets were frozen by a Shanghai court early last month, the report added.

Beijing-Shanghai bullet trains to speed up

China plans to raise the speed of its Beijing-Shanghai high-speed bullet trains, the Fuxing Hao, to 350 kilometers per hour in September, Sina Finance reported. The bullet train will reduce the connection time between Beijing and Shanghai to around four and a half hours, with no rise in ticket prices. Insiders say the 350 km/h standard will not apply to all high-speed trains.

State Council backs entrepreneurship

The State Council issued a notice on Thursday highlighting the drive for entrepreneurship in China, the Shanghai Securities Journal reported. The notice said that China would push for more highly skilled technicians and to speed up the “realisation” of research and development efforts, the report said, although details were not provided.