Posted inAustralia, Beijing, China, Iran, Japan, Lebanon, Middle East, North Korea, Northeast Asia, Oceania, Russia, South Asia, South Korea, Syria, World

The Daily Brief for Monday, 6 November 2017

Saudi Arabia purge: As Asia Times anticipated back in July, war has broken out within the House of Saud, Pepe Escobar writes. King Salman’s high-powered “anti-corruption” commission has detained 11 House of Saud princes, four current ministers and dozens of others – all have been charged with corruption. Hefty bank accounts have been frozen and private jets are grounded. The high-profile accused have been “jailed” at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton, and the military is said to be enraged. A top Middle East business/investment source who has been doing deals for decades with the opaque House of Saud offers much-needed perspective: “This is more serious than it appears. The arrest of the two sons of previous King Abdullah, Princes Miteb and Turki, was a fatal mistake. This now endangers the king himself.”

US foreign policy: Listen to President Donald Trump’s critics and you’d think the Asia-Pacific region had been idyllic until January 20, 2017, the day he was inaugurated, Grant Newsham writes. A recent speech in Australia by David Shear, a former senior US State and Defense Department official, included typical criticism of the Trump administration. He warned of the “slippage of American authority, the decline of US economic salience, the constriction of US military operations in the Western Pacific, and the gradual diminution of our alliances” ending “with Beijing’s establishment of a Sino-centric economic and security order in Asia in which America plays a minimal role.” True enough, but this was happening in the region long before Trump came into office. And many of Trump’s critics in America’s foreign policy class – both civilian and military – helped bring about the current state of affairs through “de-escalation” and accommodation of Beijing during the Obama administration.

Lebanese PM resigns: Many expected the marriage of convenience between Saad al-Hariri and President Michel Aoun to snap – but not as abruptly as it did on Saturday, Sami Moubayed writes. The prime minister announced his resignation in a televised address delivered from Riyadh. Aoun was neither consulted nor informed beforehand, which sent shockwaves throughout Lebanon. It may well be that al-Hariri was asked to resign by Saudi Arabia, a country that has long backed him and indeed bankrolled both his own career and that of his father and predecessor, Rafik al-Hariri. He blamed his resignation on Iran and Hezbollah, which he accused of being behind his father’s 2005 murder. His resignation came weeks after Saudi Arabia called for the toppling of Hezbollah, promising “astonishing developments” in the upcoming days. Hariri has been highly critical of Hezbollah’s military involvement in the Syrian conflict, claiming that it attracted ISIS and other jihadi groups into Lebanese territory.

US drug interdiction: The Department of Justice’s timing of indictments of Chinese residents accused of fentanyl trafficking was probably timed to coincide with President Donald Trump’s visit to Asia, Peter J Brown writes. Just a few days before Trump departed on his 12-day trip, he declared a national public health emergency in response to the country’s deadly opioid crisis, which has mushroomed out of control. This came close on the heels of US Deputy Attorney General Rod J Rosenstein’s announcement on October 17 that for the first time, the US had indicted major Chinese fentanyl traffickers who have allegedly been using the internet to sell fentanyl and fentanyl analogs to drug traffickers and individual customers in the US. Abraham Denmark, director of the Washington, DC-based Wilson Center’s Asia Program, said Trump will certainly press China to cooperate more fully with the US, and that this cooperation was “in their mutual interest to fight these drugs coming out of China.”

Russian Far East: As part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, China Development Bank has offered to finance construction of two key transport corridors to make exports quicker and easier, Olesya Kuvatova writes. The state lender proposed financing development of the Primorye-1 and Primorye-2 routes, which connect China’s northwest provinces with Far East Russian ports, during negotiations between China Railway Group Ltd and the first vice-governor of Russia’s Primorsky Krai territory in late October. The routes already support a growing volume of cargo but the infrastructure needs to be significantly upgraded in order to handle high volumes of exports. Primorye-1 connects northern provinces of China with the ports of Nakhodka and Vladivostok, from where cargo is sent by sea to the south of China, and to South Korea and Japan. Primorye-2 connects the province of Jilin with the Russian ports of Slavyanka, Zarubino and Posiet.

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 inBeijing, China, Shanghai, World

China Digest for Monday, 6 November 2017

First-line regulation top priority for stock exchanges: Wu Qing

The main priority of a world-class stock exchange is “supervision,” said Wu Qing, director of the Shanghai Stock Exchange, during an interview with Caixin.

New anti-corruption system includes more inspections

Xinhua news agency, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, has published a long feature to release details on pilot reform of the national inspection system in Beijing, Shanxi and Zhejiang province.

Banks, real estate firms join hands to provide high-quality housing

In just one week, the Bank of China, China Construction Bank and China CITIC Bank have successively joined hands with real estate companies to develop solid, high-quality, long-term rental housing to enterprises across the country, the China Securities Journal reported.

Managing cross-border capital flows key to risk prevention

Cross-border capital flows need to be managed in the coming five or ten years, so as to avoid systemic financial risks, said economist Li Daokui, reported.

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