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The Daily Brief for Friday, 18 August 2017

China debt warning: The IMF’s latest annual health check on Asia’s biggest economy is blunt, sweeping and sure to ruin Xi Jinping’s month as the Chinese president tries to maintain a veneer of omnipotence and stability, William Pesek writes. The IMF’s worry is debt. It has seen this horror film before in neighboring Japan and the odds of a happier ending for China are negligible. “International experience suggests that China’s credit growth is on a dangerous trajectory, with increasing risks of a disruptive adjustment and/or a marked growth slowdown,” the IMF said. When viewed through the lenses of past scenarios in Japan, Southeast Asia, and South Korea, the picture looks far from hopeful.

US weapons development: The North Korean missile standoff has prompted the US military to accelerate the development of next-generation artillery shells known as hypervelocity projectiles or HVPs, Peter Brown writes. The shells travel in excess of 5,000 mph and can hit targets with the impact of a freight train. They can be fired off at 20 rounds per minute at targets, including moving ones such as missiles, from modified artillery already in operation. Because they are precision-guided and travel at such extreme speed, they can hit targets as far as 100 miles away in 72 seconds, markedly reducing options to evade. Standard artillery shells have a range of less than 20 miles.

A silver lining? Thailand’s ruling junta takes tourism very seriously – and for good reason, Peter Janssen writes. Tourism, boosted by a surge in Chinese arrivals, has been one of the few bright spots in the economy since the military seized power in May 2014. The regime has suppressed dissent, putting an end to the disruptive street protests that plagued the capital between 2005 and 2014, periodically closing down popular tourist neighborhoods for months and in 2008 forcing the week-long closure of Bangkok’s two airports. Tourists have since returned in swarms. “After this junta came in it has been quiet, no political problems, so the tourism has been quite strong because of the stability,” said Supawan Tnomkietipume, president of the Thai Hotels Association.

Sino-India border friction: An attempt by about 15 China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers to enter the northern bank of Pangong Lake in Ladakh on Tuesday while Indians were celebrating Independence Day was the latest twist of the two-month standoff between India and China on the Dhoklam plateau, E Jaya Kumar writes. Although the situation in the lake area was quickly defused, things may spin out of control and lead to a conflict if more such incursion attempts occur on either side of the 3,488-km border dividing the two countries. The Pangong incident resulted in stone-pelting that caused minor injuries to soldiers on both sides.

Pre-mortem party plan: Businessman, socialite and cigar aficionado Sir David Tang, founder of the Shanghai Tang fashion label, is throwing a farewell do in London as his doctors have given him just a few weeks to live, Ben Kwok writes. The 63-year-old Hong Kong billionaire, who has enjoyed close relations with the British royal family and many celebrities, sent out an invitation promising “jolly merriment” and “a lot of embraces” at the Dorchester Hotel. He wrote: “I thought the best way to go would be to give a party where we can see each other at least one time more, rather than at a memorial service where I shall be dead as a dodo.”

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 inBeijingChinaEuropean UnionHong KongShanghaiWorld

China Digest for Friday, 18 August 2017

Public opinion sought on Beijing housing draft

Beijing authorities have began soliciting public opinion on a draft housing policy that would protect the rights of tenants, including allowing children to receive compulsory education in the area near the rented home, Yicai reported. Residents renting government subsidized units would also have their household registration registered to the house, the report said.

Booming quarter sees Alibaba nearly double profit

Alibaba, China’s leading e-commerce firm, saw a 56% year-on-year rise in its quarterly revenue and a net profit that nearly doubled, Yicai reported. Total revenue reached 50.18 billion yuan (US$7.4 billion) and net profit hit 14 billion yuan (US$2.1 billion) for its recent quarter that finished on June 30, it added.

Xi Jinping meets top US general in Beijing

Military ties between China and the US are an important step toward stronger relations between the two countries and should become a substantial and stabilizing factor in future relationships, Caixin reported, quoting President Xi Jinping in a brief meeting in Beijing with Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford. Xi stressed both nations “need to keep good faith” in order to build a better tomorrow and explore the potential for greater cooperation, the report added.

Developer buys US$149 million stake in Agile Property

Greenland Holdings, China’s publicly traded real estate developer, bought a 20% stake in Agile Property Management to become its long-term strategic shareholder. The transaction cost 1 billion yuan (US$149.86 million), the Paper said, adding that Greenland Holdings has also been preparing for a Hong Kong listing.

Egg contamination won’t impact mainland market

Contaminated eggs will not impact the mainland as no foreign countries are permitted to enter the market, the China News reported. Deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture on agricultural products safety, Jin Fazhong, said that the toxic insecticide fipronil detected in European egg markets is prohibited in poultry in China.

CRRC Industrial among investors in China Unicom

CRRC Industrial Investment Co, subordinate to the China Railway Rolling Stock Corp Ltd (CRRC Group), has participated in the subscription China Unicom’s A share fundraiser, the Paper reported. Rail equipment maker CRRC Group, one of the 14 investors named by China Unicom’s Hong Kong unit, denied making a rumoured investment through the purchase of shares in the Shanghai-listed unit.

Non-performing ratio of micro loans upped 2%

The non-performing loans ratio on bank micro loans aimed at poverty alleviation will be permitted a 2% increase, Caixin reported. Insiders from the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said differentiations on various non-performing loans could promote poverty alleviation for commercial banks. The CBRC called for detailed regulations on issuing micro loans to alleviate poverty while lowering the risk of bad loans.

Aluminum prices boost CHINALCO revenue

Revenue from the Aluminum Corporation of China Limited (CHINALCO) stood at 91.31 billion yuan in the first half of 2017, an 83% year-on-year increase and the best mid-yearly revenue in the past nine years, the Paper reported. Shareholders of the listed company gained a net profit of 751 million yuan, double last year’s figure and a 0.05-yuan profit per share. The staggering growth is mainly due to aluminum prices which have soared over the past six months.

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.