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The Daily Brief for Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Beijing leadership announcement: The seven members of the Standing Committee of the Central Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) were unveiled in the Great Hall of the People today, Jeff Pao writes. CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping, 64, and current Standing Committee member Li Keqiang, 62, renewed their terms in the first plenary session of the 19th Central Committee, which followed the week-long 19th Party Congress that ended yesterday. The five new Standing Committee members came from the Politburo of the 18th Central Committee. They are CPC General Office Director Li Zhanshu, 67, Vice-Premier Wang Yang, 62, CPC Policy Research Office Director Wang Huning, 62, the CPC Central Committee’s Organization Department head Zhao Leji, 60, and Shanghai Party Secretary Han Zheng, 64. The seven members of China’s top decision-making body were in line with the candidates suggested by recent media reports.
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Russia travel policy: The government will expand its simplified visa regime to eight airports in the Far East region of the country by the end of this year, reflecting a drive by Moscow to further open up the resource-rich, vast area facing the Pacific coast to more investors and tourists, Inga Velanskaya writes. President Vladimir Putin’s backing for the new Far East economic policy created the special economic zone known as the Free Port of Vladivostok in 2015. It offers low tax rates and other benefits that have so far attracted several hundred companies and about US$6.1 billion in investment pledges. Allowing visa applications online for stamping on arrival has also generated a spike in tourists to Vladivostok, with thousands of visitors from China, which has a land border with the area, South Korea and elsewhere using the system since it was introduced in August.
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Japan’s banking problem: Fresh off a big election win on Sunday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged an Abenomics reboot to boost competitiveness and living standards, William Pesek writes. Why not start by shaking up regional banks? These sleepy lenders are, after all, the place where the Bank of Japan’s liquidity goes to die. That’s a significant problem when BOJ easing forms the core of Abe’s five-year-long assault on deflation and malaise. For decades now, Japan’s roughly 100 proud regional lenders – some centuries old – with more than US$2 trillion on deposit avoided modernization. They service sparsely populated cities and towns far from the glare of Tokyo’s neon signs and BOJ headquarters. They also jealously protect their independence, walling the industry off from the consolidation for which analysts long clamored. It leaves Japan among the most overbanked developed economies and deadens the multiplier effect the BOJ needs to revive inflation.
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Singapore’s balancing act: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong held talks with US President Donald Trump at the White House this week to reaffirm bilateral cooperation amid considerable anxieties about US commitments to free-trade multilateralism and long-standing alliances across Asia, Nile Bowie writes. Lee, the fourth Southeast Asian leader to visit the Trump White House, is on a six-day working visit to Washington at the invitation of the president. Finding itself in a precarious alignment vis-à-vis China and the US, Singapore’s leadership has taken on a complex, multi-sided balancing act. The city-state maintains the US is a guarantor of stability in Asia but appears at pains to rationalize that claim under an unpredictable administration. Singapore’s leaders may believe safeguarding their interests in the Trump era requires doubling down on deference to American power. On the other hand, China’s leadership is suspicious of Singapore’s pro-American security orientation and its role in promoting the US position over China’s activities in the South China Sea.
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Asia lending surge: The credit binge is starting to put some financial systems under strain, with global regulators warning that upward pressure on interest rates could lift household debt and lead to a further deterioration in banks’ asset values, Alan Boyd writes. The World Bank said in its October economic update that China, Malaysia, India, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Turkey were among the countries at risk, although the extent of market stresses varies considerably. Other reports by the International Monetary Fund and Bank for International Settlements have called for loan conditions to be tightened, while admitting that this could curb business expansion, especially by smaller enterprises. Lending to the private sector surged during the first half of the year in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam; credit growth has cooled in China and Cambodia, but their outstanding debt stock is still above desirable levels.
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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

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Posted inChina

China Digest for Wednesday, 25 October 2017

China’s US$2 billion sovereign bond ‘not for financing’

China’s planned US$2 billion first sovereign bond was not created for the purpose of financing but for covering government spending, say officials from the Finance Ministry, China News Service reported.

China launches probe into new energy vehicle industry

The Chinese government is investigating the new energy vehicle industry to see if there is overcapacity in the sector, said Song Qiuling, deputy director of the Economic Construction Department in the Finance Ministry, Yicai.com reported.

Le.com CEO to resign amid financial crisis

Liang Jun, CEO of Le.com, one of the largest online video companies in China and known legally as Leshi Internet Information and Technology Corporation, has handed in his resignation, Yicai.com reported, citing inside sources.

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.