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The Daily Brief for Monday, 30 October 2017

US tax cuts: President Donald Trump is adding at least $1.5 trillion of debt for giant tax cuts America doesn’t need, William Pesek writes. He tweeted that the numbers were “GREAT” and that the US is having its “best consecutive Qs in years!” But it’s not like the US is flush – it already has a $666 billion deficit. Why, then, budget-busting tax cuts that increase inflation risk, imperil credit ratings and irk his bankers? As Trump angles to make America’s debt burden great again, he has some finessing to do with his bankers. No, not Russia in this case, but China and Japan, both by far the biggest holders of US treasuries with a combined $2.3 trillion.
READ THE STORY HERE

Pakistan ‘VIP’ trial: Amid allegations of partiality and discrimination leveled against the National Accountability Bureau by mainstream opposition parties, an NAB court last week issued a bailable arrest warrant for three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif after his failure to attend the court in person, FM Shakil writes. The Supreme Court in July disqualified Nawaz after a probe into revelations about his family’s wealth contained in the so-called Panama Papers. Cases relating to several offshore companies – including Avenfield Flats, Flagship Investment Limited, Al-Azizia Company Limited, Hill Metals Establishment, and 15 other firms set up by the Sharif family – were sent to the NAB for trial.
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Korean Peninsula crisis: The US has for the first time imposed economic sanctions on a Chinese company for providing vehicles used to transfer North Korea’s road-mobile nuclear missiles, Bill Gertz writes. However, the little-noticed October 13 announcement focused on the company’s sale of equipment to Iran. It only mentions the launcher transfers in passing – a symptom of Washington’s aversion to calling out Beijing on its covert support for the regime in North Korea. The US recently announced a new policy pressuring Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and missile programs. Yet the US’s ongoing failure to target China and its state-run companies for their role in Kim Jong-un’s rapid buildup is raising questions about whether Washington is serious about cutting off the lifeline of weapons supplies to North Korea from China.
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Cambodia sanctions impact: Many have speculated that China, currently the Southeast Asian country’s largest financial backer in terms of investment, aid and soft loans, has backed, if not prompted, the Hun Sen government’s recent assault on opposition politicians and civil society, including sections of the independent media, David Hutt writes. As such, Hun Sen may not be that concerned about disciplinary cuts in aid by America or the EU. Possible sanctions will do little to directly affect Cambodia’s tourism, energy or mining industries, all of which enjoy considerable Chinese investment. However, they would likely be ruinous to its export industries, in which Chinese firms are also heavily invested.
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Indonesia’s energy prospects: Nearly half a century after it was founded, state-owned petroleum company Pertamina will soon face its biggest ever challenge when it takes sole operational control of the Mahakham, Indonesia’s biggest-producing natural gas block, situated off the east coast of Borneo, John McBeth writes. French oil giant Total E&P, which has run the East Kalimantan concession since 1974, will pull out on December 31 after failing to come to terms with the government on a five-year transitional period under which it and Japanese partner Inpex would have retained a 30% participating interest. The fate of the Mahakam has been at the center of a politically-driven wave of economic nationalism that should eventually see Pertamina and other local companies take over half of the country’s expiring production sharing contracts (PSCs) for oil and gas by 2025.
READ THE STORY HERE

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

Posted inChina

China Digest for Monday, 30 October 2017

Waste paper box prices soar in China

Prices for waste paper boxes in China have risen drastically since the second half of 2016, the China Securities Journal reported on Monday.

Rise in consumption offers new opportunities: economist

Future investment opportunities lie in consumer industries such as medical care, education, sports, entertainment and the internet, as well as wealth management, said Ha Jiming, an economist who was the chief investment strategist at Goldman Sachs, Yicai.com reported.

New energy vehicles spark demand for lithium

Operating income at the Tianqi Lithium Corporation grew 42.96% in the third quarter of this year to 3.96 billion yuan, driven by a shortage of lithium in the production of new energy cars, the 21st Century Business Herald reported.

E-commerce giants vie for dominance in crab market

China’s e-commerce giants, including Tmall.com, JD.com and Suning.com, have been competing for dominance in the crab market, Yicai.com reported.