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The Daily Brief for Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Anger over killing: The assassination of veteran Kannada journalist and political activist Gauri Lankesh by three gunmen at her Bangalore residence on Tuesday night sparked off a wave of protests across India on Wednesday, Anusha Venkat and E Jaya Kumar write. The 55-year-old editor of the weekly tabloid magazine Gauri Lankesh Patrike was a fierce critic of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and right-wing Hindu nationalist groups. Conspiracy theories abound but police, who are examining CCTV footage and mobile phone activity in the area around Lankesh’s home, remain muted about possible suspects.

Asean free trade: The regional grouping touts a master plan to become the world’s fourth-largest integrated economy by 2050 with a value of $9.2 trillion, but rising non-tariff measures are keeping markets closed, Alan Boyd writes. Since 2000, the average tariff in Asean has been lowered from 8.9% to about 4.5%. Yet in many cases these have simply been replaced by indirect measures that achieve the same purpose – ranging from export bans to price and quality controls, technical barriers, pre-shipment checks and sanitary/phytosanitary rules. There are currently 5,919 non-tariff measures in place, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development database, and more are added all the time: in 2000, there were only 1,634 measures, but by 2015 the tally had ballooned to 5,975.

Myanmar foreign investment: Laggard market reforms, rising political instability and incipient economic nationalism have all conspired against a democracy-driven boom in the Southeast Asian country, Peter Janssen writes. When Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won the election in 2015, heralding a promised new era of political and economic openness after decades of isolated military rule, Myanmar’s entrepreneurs expected an influx of foreign businessmen entering the country’s ballyhooed “last frontier” markets. But they never came. FDI commitments and inflows have so far been disappointing under Suu Kyi’s one-and-a-half year rule, according to Myanmar Investment Commission new project approvals data.

Russia-North Korea link: The weekly ferry service between Vladivostok and the port of Rajin has been suspended for an indefinite period due to a contract dispute between the operator and Russia’s port authorities, Asia Times staff report. The vessel, ManGyongBong, has already missed two sailings because it has no alternative to landing passengers at the Vladivostok Sea Terminal, Mikhail Khmel, deputy general director of InvestStroyTrest LLC, the company that runs the ferry, told Asia Times. Russia voting in favor of United Nations economic sanctions on North Korea because of its nuclear and missile tests is not the reason for the dispute, Khmel said. “The reason is financial.”

Times are changing: High-end timepieces were one of the most sought-after luxury items by rich (and corrupt) government officials looking to flaunt their power, Yiling Pan writes. But then the Chinese government launched an anti-corruption campaign in 2014, largely curbing that demand and causing the whole market to decline. The global luxury-watch industry is, however, making a comeback and, according to data published by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, a younger generation of affluent consumers in mainland China and Hong Kong are largely responsible. Since May, the growth of the watch industry’s exports from Switzerland, the country that is virtually the sole seller of luxury timepieces around the world, has once again gone back to positive territory after nearly two years of decline.

Asia Times app: Asia Times has launched an app for both iOS- and Android-based devices that delivers the publication’s regular daily news, commentary, blogs and live coverage while also bringing readers added functionality. As we report here, 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 inChina

China Digest for Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Chinese publishing watchdogs take down 125 online dramas

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of China has taken down 125 online shows which violate publishing regulations, and has ordered 30 shows to rewrite, said Luo Jianhui, director of the Internet Bureau at the administration on Monday.

ICO regulations are reasonable, says PBOC

Regulating initial coin offerings at this time is mainly to warn of the risks and to protect the interests of investors, Sheng Songcheng, Counselor of the People’s Bank of China and Executive Vice President of the CEIBS Lujiazui Institute of International Finance (CLIIF), told Yicai.com in an interview on Tuesday.

Tourism officials to investigate ‘illegal’ fund collection

The National Tourism Administration of China said on Tuesday that it is investigating the “illegal practices” of tourist agencies who collect guaranteed sums for overseas travel without the use of an intermediary bank, the China News Agency reported.

E-commerce competition forces express companies to take sides

China’s express market has so far been dominated by six major delivery companies, including STO Express, YTO Express, ZTO Express, Yunda Express, SF Express and EMS. But new market players such as Best Logistics and TTK Express, who want to break into the game, may have to carefully choose which e-commerce platform to rely on, according to an article in 21st Century Business Herald.

China’s central enterprises may drop to 60 or 80 after reform

The number of central enterprises in China could drop to 60 or 80 after the next stage of reform, Hu Chi, researcher at the SASAC Research Center, told China Securities Journal in an interview.

Ministry urges collective land use for agricultural preservation

The Ministry of Land and Resources said in the latest issue of the party’s journal, Qiushi, that it is “steadfastly promoting” land conservation practices as well as “collective use”of land, signalling an intention to conserve agricultural land, Yicai reported.

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.