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The Daily Brief for Friday, 11 August 2017

Star Wars redux: The US should not have to bandy threats with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un; it should simply make Pyongyang’s investment in nuclear-weapons technology irrelevant, David P Goldman asserts. Defending the US or Japan against a small number of intercontinental ballistic missiles by developing reliable countermeasures is a task that lies well within the technological frontier and must be made a top priority, as it was 34 years ago for the Reagan administration.

Expanding military footprint: Filipino leader Rodrigo Duterte and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s meeting this week, an unusually cordial affair at the presidential palace in Manila, has sparked speculation of possible American air strikes on militants entrenched in the besieged city of Marawi, Richard Javad Heydarian writes. Shortly after their meeting, several Pentagon sources suggested that the US aims to expand its military footprint in the southern Philippines, including through possible direct air strikes against Islamic State’s local affiliates.

Under fire online: Chelsea Football Club was labeled “persona non grata” by the People’s Daily newspaper after 21-year old player Robert Kenedy Nunes’ disrespectful Instagram posts angered China’s online community during a promotional tour last month, its first in the country since 2008, forcing the club to send him home, Nick Westra writes. Chelsea’s experience shows just how quickly online sentiment in China can turn against a foreign brand.

Paper weighs in: China’s influential Global Times said on Friday that Beijing should remain neutral if North Korea launches an attack that threatens the United States, sounding a warning for Pyongyang over its plans to fire missiles near the US Pacific territory of Guam, Ben Blanchard and James Oliphant write. The state-run organ’s comments came after US President Donald Trump stepped up his rhetoric against North Korea again on Thursday, saying his earlier threat to unleash “fire and fury” on Pyongyang if it launched an attack may not have been tough enough.

Beijing reaches out: A member of the Hong Kong Democratic Party said he was kidnapped by two suspected mainland Chinese agents in Mong Kok, Kowloon, on Thursday and warned not to contact Liu Xia, widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, Asia Times staff report. Howard Lam Tsz-kin, a pro-democracy activist, said in a media briefing on Friday that he had planned to send a signed photo of soccer player Lionel Messi as Liu Xiaobo, who died last month, was a soccer fan. He said he was drugged and beaten by the men, who used a stapler to give him “crosses” on his legs because he is a Christian. They warned him not to call the police about the attack as “it was a national matter” and accused him of “not loving Hong Kong and China.”

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.

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world's first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now. 

Posted inBeijingChinaGuangzhouHong KongShanghaiTaiwanTianjinWuhan

China Digest for Friday, 11 August 2017

LeEco employees get delayed salary

Employees of the unlisted branches of the technology conglomerate LeEco finally received June and July’s salary on Thursday after its founder and former CEO Jia Yueting successfully raised funds in Hong Kong, the Paper reported. Jia confirmed his determination on paying back the salary owed via Sina Weibo, saying he would be responsible to employees and partners even if he had to sell all of his assets to do so.

Judiciary gets tough on Internet financial crime

The Supreme Court released 30 measures to battle crime in the area of Internet finance, Caixin reported. Illegally absorbing public deposits or fraudulent fund-raising in the name of financial innovation will be prosecuted for criminal responsibility, the report added.

Local governments see debt blowout in July

Local government debt issuance reached 845.3 billion yuan in July, a rise of 65% from a year earlier, marking the highest month ever since June 2016, Securities Daily reported. For the second half of the year, new government debt is expected to reach 2.5 trillion yuan, according to a forecast by the Zhongzhaizixin Assessment Company.

First-tier cities boost residential land supply

At least 138 parcels of land have been supplied for residential use in first-tier cities this year, totaling a projected 16.36 million square meters of floor area, a 112% year-on-year jump, Sina Finance reported. Beijing provided 47 parcels of residential land, which amounted to 5.95 million square meters, leading the growth rate at a 170% increase compared to 2016. Shanghai and Guangzhou provided 68 and 23 parcels respectively.

Tianjin to see 2,000 5G base stations by 2020

Tianjin will experience a 2,000 base station increase of 5G mobile internet services for commercial use and a 4G network covering the entire city by 2020, the Economic Information Daily reported. Public Wi-Fi, called “i-Tianjin,” will be built in every common service area with a density of 2.39 5G base stations per square meter.

China Mobile hits US$9.43 billion net profit

China Mobile, one of three state-owned telecommunications giants, said its net profit reached 62.7 billion yuan in the first half of 2017, a 3.5% year-on-year increase, indicating a 346-million-yuan income per day, the Paper reported. Its revenue stood at 388.9 billion yuan in the same period, a 5% year-on-year jump, while the communication services sector contributed more than 50% of that amount. The number of 4G mobile internet service users hit 594 million, taking one third of the global market.

Ping An Bank records 1.27% slump in operating revenue

Operating revenue at Ping An Bank saw the first slump ever as that figure decreased 1.27% year on year in the first half of 2017, standing at 54.07 billion yuan (US$8.14 billion), Caixin reported. Insiders say the lower than expected net profit is due to the decrease in non-interest income, as Ping An’s interbank business and investment was regulated for the first time in the first half of this year.

Liquor maker plans financial services arm

Kweichow Moutai, the public/state-owned Maotai liquor producer and seller, announced on Thursday that it is creating a financial holding affiliate, Caixin reported. Yuan Renguo, chairman of the company, said the financial venture is expected to bring in over 20 billion yuan in revenue by 2020. With the sales of its liquor, which is expected to reach over 70 billion yuan by 2020, the company will achieve its 100-billion-yuan target, Yuan added.

PBOC denies interference in ‘cashless society’ ads

The People’s Bank of China told The Beijing News on Thursday that it has never sent out written notices to its branches about banning digital payment companies from using the words “cashless society” in their promotions, contrary to media reports. The bank said it will not intervene in those companies’ marketing efforts, but vendors should never refuse to accept cash payments. The newspaper, however, confirms that the Wuhan branch of the bank did interview Financial Ant and ask the company to delete the word “cashless” in their campaign.

Mainland tourists to Taiwan fell by half

The number of mainland Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan has seen a dramatic 48% year-on-year reduction to 874,700 over the first half of 2017, jiemian.com reported, citing data from Taiwanese officials. Hostel operators said in a meeting held by the Taiwan Sightseeing Association that there are 600 small or large hostels awaiting sale due to financial and cash-flow problems caused by the decreasing number of mainland tourists.

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world's first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now.