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The Daily Brief for Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Philippines China pivot: President Rodrigo Duterte is still waiting for Beijing to fulfill its vow to provide billions of dollars of aid and investment under its Belt and Road Initiative, Bong S Sarmiento writes. A year ago, Duterte drastically shifted Philippine foreign policy when he announced his government’s “separation” from the United States, Manila’s long-time treaty ally, during a milestone four-day state visit to China. Beijing has since aimed to adopt Manila as its new “little brother” in reciprocation of Duterte’s pivot, underwritten by a rich pledge to provide over US$24 billion in development aid and investment largely for infrastructure development. It remains unclear why Beijing has tarried in making actual outlays while other Belt and Road initiatives are steaming ahead in other Asian countries. Some analysts suggest Beijing may be withholding the funds until the bilateral relationship is more firmly consolidated, including in regard to unresolved territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
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Thailand labor shortage: January 1, 2018, marks the end of a six-month amnesty for thousands of illegal migrant workers in the kingdom to come above ground with labor authorities, Peter Janssen writes. The Management of Foreign Workers Employment Act, Thailand’s response to being downgraded to “Tier 3” status on the US government’s annual Trafficking in Persons report in 2014, will impose steep fines of up to US$24,000 and jail terms on job agencies or Thai companies that hire illegal migrant workers beginning next year. “If the law is strictly enforced and if the number of migrant workers after the registration deadline turns out to be much smaller than what used to be in the system, it will certainly be a nightmare for many businesses, especially [small and medium-sized enterprises],” predicted Charl Kengchon, managing director of the Bangkok-based Kasikorn Research Center.
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Northeast Asia security: Recent secrecy mishaps by Seoul along with its ill-advised aid to Pyongyang raise the question of whether the United States is risking its own security through its alliance with South Korea, Robert E McCoy writes. Pyongyang has hacked US and South Korean war plans, thus gaining knowledge of OPLAN (Operation Plan) 5015, which addresses all-out war with the North, and OPLAN 3100, which deals with how to respond to lesser conditions and situations. This news is greatly unsettling for a number of reasons. Of immediate concern, both Washington and Seoul must now develop a Plan B. By definition, any Plan B is inferior to Plan A simply because if Plan B were the better, it would have been Plan A at the start. The task at hand is no trivial endeavor.
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India’s improving image: It’s getting easier to do business in the country, according to the World Bank’s latest global survey on Doing Business, Vijay Chada writes. Informal reports over recent weeks had suggested India would score a better grade than the 142nd ranking the country got in the Doing Business report in 2015, the cut-off date for which was June 1, 2014 – just a week after Narendra Modi took over as prime minister. In just three years India has jumped a massive 42 ranks higher, into the top 100 countries out of the 190 ranked by the World Bank. Modi has publicly stated that he would like to see India break into the top 50 countries in the rankings by 2020. And there’s a chance that could happen. The rankings did not consider the Goods and Services Tax that was implemented after the cut-off date for this year’s report. That means there could be a further significant jump again next year.
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Celebrity wedding bells: Just as fans were cheering the marriage of Korean idols Song Hye-kyo and Song Joong Ki, China Media Capital (CMC) boss Li Ruigang – who has been dubbed China’s Murdoch – stole the show yesterday by marrying his young business partner, Rebecca Yang Yuancao, a lady known as the Queen of TV Entertainment, Ben Kwok writes. In contrast to the highly anticipated Song-Song tryst, which continued their on-screen romance in the popular drama series Descendent of the Sun, Li’s marriage to Yang came somewhat out of the blue. All eyes – even those of viewers in mainland China, where the Korean drama has been blocked for a year – were on the Songs when a couple of photos surfaced on Weibo showing Li, 48, kneeling down before Yang, in whose TV company, IPCN, he invested three years ago.
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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

Posted inChina

China Digest for Wednesday, 1 November 2017

China may exceed greenhouse gas target by 2020

China is expected to exceed the target of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% to 45% by 2020, said Li Gao, an official in charge of climate change from the National Development and Reform Commission, the 21st Century Business Herald reported.

CSRC trial committee tightens scale of IPO review

The China Securities Regulatory Commission rejected three out of six IPO requests on Tuesday, tightening control of the country’s public listings, the China Securities Journal reported.

BYD betting on low-cost SkyRail light train system

BYD, China’s leading new energy vehicle manufacturer, said it will focus mainly on the emerging technologies of electric cars and light trains, said Li Qian, the secretary of the company, the 21st Century Business Herald reported.

‘Major issues’ merit suspensions for 44 state-owned enterprises

As of Monday, a total of 56 state-owned enterprises in China were in a suspended state, of which 12 were in temporary suspension and 44 suspended due to “major issues,” China Securities Journal reported.