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The Daily Brief for Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Saudi Arabian government: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s weekend purge of the royal family is probably the only political event in the Persian Gulf country in recent memory that has the support of Washington, Moscow and Beijing, not to mention Berlin, London, Paris and Tokyo — as well as Jerusalem, David P Goldman writes. China Daily hailed the Crown Prince’s action as a modernizing anti-corruption campaign. “The wave of arrests, the first of its kind, paves the way for a new Saudi Arabia with an intolerant approach against corruption,” the Chinese government newspaper wrote on November 5. On hearing the news, US President Donald Trump tweeted, “I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing.” Indeed they do. Saudi Arabia may now have a leader with the courage to face down his own family as well as the country’s religious establishment. It is not clear yet that Prince Mohammed bin Salman will succeed, but if he does, he will be the most popular world leader of 2017.
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North Korean dynasty: Is he with the Chinese, the South Koreans or the Americans? Pyongyang watchers are keenly interested in the whereabouts of Han-sol, the 22-year-old son of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un who was assassinated in Malaysia earlier this year in a plot involving suspected agents from Pyongyang, Doug Tsuruoka writes. He is also the grandson of former North Korean ruler Kim Jong-il. This qualifies him as the last surviving male of so-called “Baekdu” descent – the direct bloodline running from North Korean state founder Kim Il-sung. The upshot is that Kim Jong-nam’s eldest son is a genealogical successor to North Korea’s supreme leader at a time when China, the US and South Korea, in varying degrees, are believed to be mulling “regime change” as one option in defusing a nuclear crisis with Pyongyang that has the potential to erupt into World War III. Such as it is an option at all, it’s one that becomes all the more alluring as the human costs of a full-scale US military intervention are weighed.
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Trump in China: The US president touched down in Beijing today – the anniversary of his 2016 election victory – for a much-ballyhooed “state visit plus” that will be the centerpiece of his 12-day trip to Asia, Frank Chen writes. China rolled out the red carpet for the embattled US leader, who has become bogged down by several inquiries and controversies back home. Besides the usual pomp and circumstance, Beijing’s hospitality was scheduled to extend to a tea gathering and family dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping inside the Forbidden City’s sumptuous Palace of Established Happiness. A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman told reporters that Beijing looked to reciprocate the gracious hospitality that was afforded Xi during his visit to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s resort in Florida in April, and to celebrate the two leaders’ amicable rapport in dealing with matters of common concern. “It’s like you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” a commentator noted in a news program on the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
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Southeast Asia diplomacy: US President Donald Trump’s Southeast Asia tour, including trips to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit to be held in Vietnam, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit to be staged in the Philippines, are expected to focus on major geopolitical disputes, including North Korea and the South China Sea, and trade, David Hutt writes. Analysts expect the finer points of America’s relationship with individual Southeast Asian nations will be discussed at Apec behind the scenes and one-on-one with each of the countries’ leaders. Rodrigo Duterte, who will meet Trump in Vietnam before another private session in Manila, has promised to interact with the US leader “in the most righteous way,” a stark comparison to the Philippine president’s approach to former US president Barack Obama, whom he called a “son of a whore” last year in response to US criticism of his deadly drug war.
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Trump in Vietnam: The US president’s participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this week in Danang will be the first major multilateral meeting he has attended, David Hutt writes. National leader speeches at such events are typically about reaffirming their commitment to the region and articulating in general terms what their nation can offer. Trump, renowned for his active, off-the-cuff use of Twitter, is expected to stick to a tighter script when he delivers his address to the summit. But he’s likely to go off-script in bilateral talks and meetings, for which his preference is well-known. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc already has a working relationship with Trump; he was the first Southeast Asian leader to visit the Trump White House in May. On the occasion, Phuc signed new contracts to boost trade with America, including the purchase of Boeing-made aircraft.
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US firearms regulations: Are Americans more concerned about vehicle emissions than gun violence? The rules for car ownership are stricter and much more strongly enforced than the rules for gun ownership, Stephen Bryen writes. If a car owner fails to comply with the rules, he won’t be allowed to operate his or her vehicle. If the car is used without proper authorization, the vehicle can be impounded and the owner fined or possibly stripped of the right to operate a motor vehicle. Vehicles are regularly checked to make sure they comply with safety and emission standards. There are fees, and sanctions for not meeting standards. Why are gun owners and those wishing to obtain them not subject to the same stringent regulations?
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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 inChinaWorld

China Digest for Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Reform commission chops US$120.5 bln via industry audits

The National Development and Reform Commission has cut a total amount of 800 billion yuan (US$120.48 billion) via cost audits in more than 20 industries during the past four years, said Meng Wei, the spokesman of the commission, Yicai.com reported.

Consumption boom will make China the largest importer by 2020

China will surpass the United States and become the largest importer in the world by 2020, said Liang Hong, the chief economist at China International Capital, one of the nation’s leading investment banking firms, Caixin reported.

Science and technology forcing banks to change: Zhu Min

If traditional banks do not change, they will eventually become “the fish of Picasso,” — the skeleton may still exist, but it has no value — said Zhu Min, former vice president of the IMF and dean of the National Institute of Finance at Tsinghua University, in a Caixin report.

China urged to deepen reform and speed up its opening

To achieve the transition from “rapid growth” to “high-quality development,” China must continue to deepen reform in all aspects of its economy and speed up the opening of its capital market, China Securities Journal reported, citing Fang Xinghai, Vice President of China Securities Regulatory Commission, in a securities and futures regulatory roundtable.