The Centre of Expertise on Trade,
Investment and Public Policy

  • Asia House
  • 63 New Cavendish Street
  • London W1G 7LP
  • +44 (0) 20 7307 5454
  • The Centre of Expertise on Trade,
    Investment and Public Policy

    Asian Insider 25 November: Xi Jinping on equality in trade deal, Seoul keeps intel-sharing pact, Huawei’s AI lab in Singapore

    Published On: 25 November 2019

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


    25 November 2019

    In today’s bulletin: Pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong romp to victory in district council elections; Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte fires a rival he appointed as drug czar; K-Pop is in crisis after another death; and more…



    Pro-democracy politicians won 385 of the 452 District Council seats contested in Sunday’s election in Hong Kong – in what is being seen as a sign that the increasing violent protests have done little to change broad sentiment on the ground. The ordinarily mundane elections – representatives voted in focus on largely municipal issues – was seen as an outlet for voters to record their unhappiness with authorities. Voter turnout was double the previous election and the highest it has ever been in the history of such elections. And while some are hoping this opportunity to send a message might quell some of the unrest, Hong Kong remains a place difficult to predict. Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam sounded a conciliatory note, saying she respects the results.

    Read the key stories:

    Hong Kong is part of China ‘no matter what happens’ in elections, says Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi

    Analysis: Why Hong Kong residents turned out in record numbers to vote

    Hong Kong stocks rally after pro-democracy candidates score huge win

    What Hong Kong voters say about district council elections

    Political reform in Hong Kong unlikely even after pan-democrats’ landslide victory, say observers



    When Ms Leni Robredo – an arch-critic of Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte who won the election for vice president – was surprisingly offered the job of drug czar by the president, advisers warned that it was a trap. Today, less than three weeks later, it is looking increasingly like they were right. After days of attacks against her by the president and his allies, including calling her a “scatterbrain” and accusing her of embarrassing the country, Ms Robredo was sacked from her lead-role on the anti-drug crackdown. Ms Robredo and Mr Duterte had diametrically opposed positions on the drug war from the beginning. And while her appointment took many by surprise, her firing shocked no one.

    Read what Robredo had pledged to do as drug czar: Philippines VP Leni Robredo calls for revamped drug war to end ‘senseless killings’



    There was a momentary uptick in Japan-South Korea relations last week when, at the last minute, Seoul decided not to allow a landmark intelligence-sharing pact to lapse. The two sides also agreed to trade talks. Today, it turns out, the uptick was fleetingly brief with both sides accusing each other of distorting the truth about how the intelligence-sharing pact known as GSOMIA was saved. It’s a complicated fight, with more than a hint of pettiness (I’ll leave you to read the full story for details), but suffice to say one of the key points of contention right now is whether Japan apologised to South Korea over what Seoul describes a wilful misrepresentation of the facts surrounding the events of last week. The most recent fight highlights how far ties have fallen and is casting doubt over hopes that the leaders of both countries might meet next month.

    Get the full story: Japan, South Korea accuse each other of ‘distorting facts’ in lead-up to renewal of intel pact

    Read what happened: South Korea salvages Gsomia military pact with Japan at 11th hour



    All the trash needed to go somewhere. When China decided it would no longer take on the task of sorting and recycling the world’s plastic waste, South-east Asia suddenly became the destination for containers full of trash from the US and Europe. Now, the region is saying enough is enough. Our correspondents in Singapore, US, Malaysia and Indonesia filed this report taking a look at the issue from all sides: Why is the US exporting its trash and what happens to them when they reach the other side of the world.

    Read it here: South-east Asia fights back after becoming dumping ground for rich world’s plastic waste



    The crisis already brewing in the K-pop industry over the pressures and abuse faced by its stars has turned into a full blown catastrophe after another star, Goo Hara, 28, was found dead on Sunday. She is the second K-Pop star to be suspected of suicide in just over a month. On Oct 14, 25-year-old girl group member Sulli was also found dead at home. This time, the death has prompted several other K-Pop artists to suspend their activities.

    See also: The toxic online world of K-Pop



    Pope Francis in Fukushima: Pope Francis called on Monday (Nov 25) for renewed efforts to help victims of Japan’s 2011 “triple disaster” of earthquake, tsunami and the Fukushima meltdown, noting “concern” in the country over the continued use of nuclear power.

    Trade deal? Don’t hold your breath: United States national security adviser Robert O’Brien said on Saturday that an initial trade agreement with China is still possible by the end of the year, but warned President Donald Trump would not turn a blind eye to what happens in Hong Kong.

    Uber’s London woes: Uber was stripped of its London operating licence on Monday (Nov 25) for the second time in just over two years as the city’s regulator said the taxi app was not “fit and proper”, having put passenger safety at risk.


    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.

    Reading this on the web or know someone who might enjoy receiving Asian Insider? The sign-up page is here