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    Asian Insider, 20 January: Wuhan virus cases soar, bribery scandal clouds Japan’s IR plans, will US-China truce last?

    Published On: 20 January 2020

    Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents.


    20 January 2020

    In today’s bulletin: The sharp increase in the number of suspectedWuhan virus cases over the weekend is raising fresh alarm, our bureaus share their insights on the US-China trade deal, catch the latest on World Economic Forum on, read more on the bribery scandal affecting Japan’s plans for Integrated Resorts and more.



    A dramatic increase in the number of cases of people suspected of being infected with the mysterious Sars-like virus is raising alarm. China correspondent Elizabeth Law reports that the Chinese city of Wuhan reported a dramatic increase over the weekend while new cases were confirmed for the first time outside the city of Beijing and Shenzhen. In the wee hours of today (Jan 20), the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said there was one death and 59 new infections last Saturday and 77 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of infections in the city to 198. This is the highest ever jump since the authorities in the central Chinese city started sharing daily updates. Three deaths have been reported so far.

    Get up-to-date on the mysterious virus with our stories here:

    Spread of Wuhan virus may be wider than reported: Experts

    Facts on new coronavirus outbreak in Chinese city of Wuhan

    Singapore team working on test for Wuhan virus

    Japan confirms first case of Wuhan virus

    Indonesia tightens screening of travellers at entry points



    Last week’s Phase One trade deal between US and China left many wondering if it would improve trust between two of the world’s largest economies. China Bureau Chief Tan Dawn Wei says the agreement won’t reset strained ties and tech decoupling will continue. US Bureau Chief Nirmal Ghosh says trade experts see it as an interim deal. The agreement has raised concern that it might marginalise the World Trade Organisation and it is by no means the end of larger strategic competition, he writes.

    Read our Special Report here: 

    New US-China trade agreement won’t reset strained ties

    Deal being trumpeted as a win for US 

    Hopeful farmers wait for trade deal to bear fruit 

    Firms still moving production to South-east Asia, deal or no deal



    The World Economic Forum warns that the technological revolution could be worsening global inequality, in a report released on the eve of its 50th meeting being held in Davos. Among locations, Nordic countries rank high up in WEF’s Social Mobility Report. Japan took the 15th spot, Singapore 20th and the United States 27th.

    The Straits Times is covering the forum and we’ll have more reports as the sessions get underway. Read our coverage of Davos 2020 here.

    Here are some of the latest WEF reports:  

    Billionaires richer than 60 per cent of the world’s population: Oxfam

    PM Lee Hsien Loong to attend World Economic Forum in Davos this week

    World Economic Forum in Davos faces up to towering global challenges

    What kind of capitalism do we want?



    Singapore Airlines (SIA) is discussing a joint venture with Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) that will allow SIA a significant foothold in thegrowing North-east Asian aviation market. The partnership will likely allow the two airlines to pool and share resources on routes as well as discuss and coordinate networks, flight schedules etc. This latest development follows a recent agreement to expand Singapore-Japan air services.

    Here’s more aviation news: 

    5 proposals for Malaysian Airlines

    More flights between Singapore & South Korea 

    Airlines add flights to India to meet rising demand



    Japan’s plans to build integrated resorts (IRs) suffered a knock with a bribery scandal implicating a ruling party lawmaker who was a key official steering the country’s IR policy. Experts, however, do not expect plans to get totally derailed. Japan Correspondent Walter Sim says the bribery scandal exposes underlying vested interests that have unnerved people.

    More on the integrated resorts:

    Hokkaido quits race to host one of Japan’s first three IRs

    Fierce race in Japan for three IR permits

    Japan takes leaf out of Singapore’s rule book for casinos



    ABE RESUMES BID TO REVISE CONSTITUTION: Japanese premier Shinzo Abe has launched another bid to try and revise the country’s US-imposed, post-war constitution. The numbers in Parliament are not in his favour – he doesn’t have a two-thirds majority in Parliament’s Upper House which would have helped – and protests over the issue, that could occur if his efforts intensify, just before Summer Olympics might not work in his favour. Still, he’s at it.

    MAHATHIR WON’T FIGHT INDIA’S PALM-OIL BOYCOTT:Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad criticised India’s religion-based citizenship law and soon found New Delhi boycotting palm oil imports from his country. Still, he’s ruled out retaliatory trade action. “We are too small to take retaliatory action,” Dr Mahathir told reporters in Langkawi, a resort island off the western coast of Malaysia.

    CAN SOYA RESIDUE TREAT DIABETES? The answer is not immediately clear but ongoing experiments promise hope. Journalist Joyce Teo reports that a researcher here looked at whether eating fermented okara (soya bean residue) can help lower blood sugar levels. Senior university lecturer Ken Lee says in a paper that a scientific study shows that when mice eat fermented okara, 15 to 30 minutes before the actual meal, the usual blood glucose level does not spike after the meal.


    These insights are produced by The Straits Times, the official media partner for the Asia House Global Trade Dialogue, which took place in Singapore on 7 November 2019.

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