Posted inAfghanistan, AT Finance, Beijing, China, India, Iran, Japan, Middle East, North Korea, Northeast Asia, Pakistan, Philippines, South Asia, Vietnam, World

The Daily Brief for Thursday, 10 August 2017

Change in trajectory: North Korea said on Thursday that it was planning to fire missiles over Japan to land in the ocean near Guam in what may be a shift in its weapons testing program, not a threat of an immediate attack on Guam and its US military bases, Asia Times and Reuters report. Pyongyang and US President Donald Trump got into a war of words this week that unnerved regional powers and global investors. Trump said the North “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it threatened the United States. However, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was in Guam on a previously scheduled visit, said he did not believe there was an imminent threat from North Korea.

Tactics and strategy: As the battle between Philippine troops and Islamic State-linked militants enters its third month in the besieged city of Marawi, it has become clear that Manila’s armed forces need to shift from jungle to urban warfare tactics, and undergo a massive overhaul to counter an increasingly fierce insurgency that is using drones, mortars, land mines and sophisticated ambush and sniper tactics to put it on the back foot, Noel Tarrazona writes. Both Beijing and Washington hope to help mold the Philippine military’s strategic transformation as the threat of global terrorism rises in the region.

Beware of hubris: A war between India and China arising from the ongoing military standoff between the two powers near the Sikkim border is improbable since neither side wants it, MK Bhadrakumar asserts. But below that threshold is a vast space where miscalculations can occur. Indians and Chinese are patriotic people, driven by nationalistic leaderships, and “territorial sovereignty” is a highly emotive issue. What’s alarming is that both governments have successfully rallied domestic opinion. This holds dangers because hubris is a self-devouring monster.

Premature profits party? Vietnamese bankers are popping champagne corks to celebrate a double-digit profit growth rate in the first half of the year that points to a bubbly credit boom, Alan Boyd writes. Pre-tax earnings of the nine listed banks grew by an average 30%, with Vietcombank reaping $232.5 million, VietinBank $212.4 million, BIDV $164.1 million and Military Bank $111.7 million. However, the boom appears poised to pop later in the year as underlying problems in the country’s unreformed finance sector become inflated.

Friction over infrastructure: India has intensified its efforts to commission the Chabahar port in the strategic Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran within 12 to 18 months, as envisaged by a tripartite memorandum of understanding signed last year by India, Iran, and Afghanistan, FM Shakil writes. However, this has irked some military officials in Pakistan, who view the facility as a potential security threat that aims to economically isolate their country, and is seen by Beijing as an open challenge to its One Belt, One Road designs.

Asia Times app: 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 inBeijing, Chengdu, China, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tianjin, Wuhan

China Digest for Thursday, 10 August 2017

Chinese insurers invest US$2.39 billion in homegrown jetliner

The Huatai Insurance Group has made an agreement with the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd (COMAC) to invest 15 billion yuan (US$2.39 billion) in insurance funds into its latest C919 passenger jet project. This is the first such investment made by insurers to COMAC, and the domestic aviation manufacturer can choose to renew the plan after 10 years. The total assets of China’s insurance sector hit 16.4 trillion yuan, while insurance fund investment amounted to 4.5 trillion yuan, according to data from the China Insurance Regulatory Commission.

Xiongan to be core hub of next-gen networks

China Telecom, one of three state-owned telecommunications giants, said it plans to make Xiongan New Area into the core hub of next generation high-speed and intelligentized information networks and speed up the commercialization of 5G mobile internet services by 2020, the Economic Information Daily reported. The new networks connecting Beijing, Xiongan, Tianjin and Baoding together with south China’s Jiujiang will be under construction in 2018, the report added.

Central bank bans use of ‘cashless’ in ads

The People’s Bank of China ordered its branches to offer guidance to digital payment companies like Ant Financial Service Group in terms of their promotions for the so-called “cashless society,” the Securities Daily reported, citing anonymous sources. The central bank reportedly said that these publicity campaigns have disrupted the circulation of Renminbi. The Wuhan branch of the bank has demanded that Ant Financial leave out the word “cashless” in their ads in end July.

Alibaba to build digital home rental platform

The housing administration in Hangzhou city, Jiangsu province, will work with Alibaba and its fin-tech affiliate Ant Financial Service Group, to develop a supervision and service online platform for the housing rental market, the Economic Information Daily reported. State-owned or realtor-held rental homes and housing rented through intermediaries or proprietors will all be aggregated and traded on the platform.

Battle for parking-sharing market heats up

Parking-sharing startup companies, which develop apps that allow users to easily locate parking spaces, are in a race to seize spaces across China. Some companies deal with private car owners, while others focus on cooperating with large parking lots, said Feng Zhidong, founder of Airparking, which owns 400,000 parking places in 10 cities. Zhu Kai, Vice President of ETCP Group, which cooperates with more than 6,000 car parks in the country, said it takes at least 2 billion yuan for a new player to enter the market due to high operational costs.

Shandong moves to cut coal consumption

Officials in Shandong province have co-released a guidance on cutting coal consumption and ordered coal companies on the list to shut down their power units with a total capacity of 1.67 million kilowatts by the end of August, four months ahead of their scheduled closing. The move is to ensure the government will meet the target of cutting 20 million metric tonnes of coal by the end of 2017.

Software and info-tech services see steady increase

Revenue from the software and information technology services industry stood at 2.56 trillion yuan in the first half of this year, a 13.6% year-on-year increase, the Economic Information Daily reported. Total profit amounted to 303.9 billion yuan in the same period, a 12.1% year-on-year increase, while the number of practitioners hit 5.89 million, a 4.2% year-on-year increase, with average salary jumping 10.9%.

Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei equal one tenth of GDP

The gross domestic product (GDP) of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei district hit 3,819.86 billion yuan (US$573.53 billion) in the first half of 2017, roughly 10% of the national GDP, the Paper reported, citing the National Bureau of Statistics. The GDP of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei amounted to 1,240.68 billion yuan, 938.69 billion yuan and 1,640.49 billion yuan, respectively, in the same period.

First-tier cities leading GDP growth

The gross domestic product of the first-tier cities, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen ranked top four respectively in the first half of 2017, with each figure exceeding 970 billion yuan, the National Business Daily reported. The GDP of five prospective first-tier cities, Tianjin, Chongqing, Suzhou, Chengdu and Wuhan surpassed 600 billion yuan. Shenzhen and Chengdu led the year-on-year growth rate of 8.8% and 8.2% respectively, exceeding the average annual growth rate of 6.9%.

HKEx earns US$450 million in profit by June

Total revenue at the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing in the first half of fiscal year 2017 reached HK$6.203 billion, a 10% year-on-year rise, Caixin reported. The attributable profit of HK$3.493 billion showed an increase of 17% from a year earlier, while shareholders earned HK$2.86 dollars per share. Chow Chung Kong, chairman of the company, said the long-term goals of the HKEx are to support the development of the real economy in mainland China, as well as to win pricing power in the global commodities market.

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