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The Daily Brief for Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Guam missile crisis: Fears over an imminent military clash between North Korea and the US were calmed by Pyongyang’s announcement that it was delaying its plan to fire missiles into the ocean near the US territory of Guam, Asia Times and Reuters report. The announcement followed a warning from Washington that it would destroy any missiles heading for the Pacific island. Pyongyang’s plan announced last week to land four missiles near Guam prompted a war of words with the US as President Donald Trump said he would unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it threatened the United States.

Nothing new here: Japan’s newly released defense White Paper looks conspicuously similar to last year’s document, Grant Newsham writes. It declares that North Korea is an even more serious threat than last year when it was already deemed a serious threat and that Chinese incursions are increasing to worrisome levels from the worrisome levels noted in last year’s White Paper. More significantly, the paper brings into sharp focus the government’s unwillingness to spend the money needed to address these growing threats.

Diplomatic tag team: With Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s head buried in the sand and Donald Trump breathing “fire and fury” in Washington, perhaps the best hope for restoring calm in the Korean Peninsula is South Korean leader Moon Jae-in and Japan’s Shinzo Abe, William Pesek writes. Moon, the good cop, wants to encourage détente with North Korea, resurrecting the “Sunshine Policy” of 1998 to 2008 to open diplomatic channels and dangle some carrots. Meanwhile, Abe is in a unique position to get the attention of Kim Jong-un and Xi on behalf of bad cop Trump by welcoming the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems around Japan.

Intellectual property row: China’s state news agency Xinhua said on Tuesday that a decision by the US to investigate China’s trade practices is a unilateralist “baring of fangs,” Reuters reports. On Monday, US President Donald Trump authorized an inquiry into China’s alleged theft of intellectual property that administration officials said could have cost the United States as much as $600 billion. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will have a year to look into whether to launch a formal investigation of China’s trade policies on intellectual property, which the White House and US industry lobby groups say are harming American businesses and jobs. Xinhua said the move “will hurt not only China but the United States itself in the long run.”

Raising a glass: Shanghai-listed distiller Kweichow Moutai has seen its stock price rise to a record 500 yuan (US$75), thanks to the success of Wolf Warriors 2, China’s biggest box office hit this summer, Ben Kwok writes. The compamy, which produces baijiu, China’s most widely consumed liquor, saw its share surge after the release of an open letter from Moutai president Yuan Renguo and general manager Li Bafang to thank director and actor Wu Jing for mentioning the brand four times in the film.

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 inAT FinanceBeijingChinaHong KongNorth KoreaNortheast AsiaShanghaiSingaporeWorld

China Digest for Tuesday, 15 August 2017

China joins North Korean import ban

The Commerce Ministry released a statement on Monday saying that all North Korea coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood imports will be banned effectively on Tuesday, but goods that have already arrived at the ports will continue to be clear until September 5. China, which is North Korea’s largest trading partner, said the new package of bans are part of extensive UN sanctions aimed at North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s regime.

Beijing agency clarifies joint property rights

Temporary management methods on homes with joint property rights shared between the government and buyers has been published in Beijing for public review, the China News reported. The Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said that homes with joint property rights can be treated as ordinary homes, with rights to help buyers obtain Beijing-registered permanent residence and get their children into local schools.

Commercial banks tally US$145.5 billion net profit

Commercial banks in China reached 970.3 billion yuan (US$145.5 billion) in net profit over the first half of this year, a 7.92% year-on-year increase, the Shanghai Securities Journal reported. The balance on non-performing loans hit 1.64 trillion yuan at the end of the second quarter, increasing 56.3 billion yuan, while its ratio reached 1.74%, in line with the first quarter figure.

CSRC unveils ratings on securities traders

Eleven securities traders earned the second highest “AA” rating, including GF Securities, China International Trust and Investment Corporation and China International Capital Corporation, the Economic Information Daily reported, citing the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). No trader qualified for the highest “AAA” rating, while Founder Securities and Southwest Securities trailed the list, receiving the third to the lowest “C” rating.

Zhengzhou to offer more rental homes

Zhengzhou, the capital city of central China’s Henan Province, is planning to provide 500 new home rental units by October, and around 2,000 units by the end of the year, the Paper reported. The city, which piloted the program and is aiming for a 20% market share by 2020, also plans to put forward regulations to help tenants receive local-registered permanent residence by the end of this year, the report added.

JD.com sees US$60 million Q2 operating loss

NASDAQ listed JD.com announced on Monday it suffered a 403 million yuan (US$60 million) operating loss in the second quarter of this year, Caixin reported. While sales reached new heights following the traditional Singles’ Day in June, operating costs and expenses also went up bringing pressure on its bottomline, the company said.

Pork prices likely to continue falling: WH Group

WH Group, the world’s largest pork producer, said on Monday it expects pork prices to continue falling in the latter half of this year, Caixin reported. Average pork prices in China have fallen 16.1% year on year, according to the report. The company also announced its mid-year results, showing a 2% year-on-year increase in overall revenue to US$10.66 billion.

Another acquisition for Sunac Holdings

Sunac Holdings has acquired 50% of the Heshan City Guanghong Real Estate company, according to a report by the Paper on Monday. The purchase of Guanghong, a realtor, was done through the Chuanghai real estate company, a subsidiary of Sunac. The conglomerate has been on an aggressive acquisition spree, with a record US$9.3 billion purchase of Wanda Group’s hotels and theme parks in July of this year.

Hong Kong trading hall to close in October

The trading hall at Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing will be scrapped in October as share trading becomes almost entirely electronic, the Paper reported. The hall hosted more than 900 brokers in its heyday, while now around 30 traders show up daily on the floor. Similar markets such as Tokyo and Singapore don’t operate traditional halls anymore.