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    Asian Insider 29 November: Japan’s trade flip-flop, Uighur surveillance, Dyson’s new hq

    Published On: 29 November 2019

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


    29 November 2019

    In today’s bulletin: Top Japanese trade negotiator hints Tokyo may not sign the RCEP trade deal without India; Australian think tank releases report on Chinese tech giants aiding Uighur surveillance; Hong Kong braces for weekend protests; mounting worries about a typhoon drenching South-east Asian Games 2019 in Philippines; an old power station becomes Dyson’s new global headquarters; and more.



    Japan raised eyebrows among those interested in trade matters with a wire story quoting Japan’s top trade negotiator as saying that Tokyo might not sign a regional trade pact, that 15 members agreed on last month, without India.

    The comment was made by Deputy Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Hideki Makihara in an interview with Bloomberg and comes just before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is due to visit India and meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in mid-December.

    The news has been making headlines in India. New Delhi backed out of negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement earlier this month, in a move that disappointed several countries. Asean leaders, China and others involved in the discussions are eyeing a signing of the pact in 2020, when Asean leaders and others meet.

    Will Japan change its mind? We’ll know next year.

    Read more on one of the largest trade deals in the making: 

    India rejects RCEP as 15 other countries look to sign trade pact in 2020

    New regional pact a nod to open trade

    Modi plays it safe opting out of trade deal

    Free trade agreements and Singapore



    The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has released a new report that says some well known Chinese tech giants, among themByteDance, Tiktok’s parent company, and Huawei Technologies are working closely with the Communist Party to watch over China’s Muslims in the Xinjiang province. Tiktok, incidentally, was in the news recently after it shut down the account of an American teenager who drew attention to human rights abuse cases in China, but later admitted its error.

    This is the second report released by ASPI this week. The earlier report called on Australian universities to stop partnerships with over a 100 Chinese counterparts because of their ties with the military in Beijing.

    Here’s more on the Australia-China front: 

    Chinese defector to Australia details Beijing’s alleged intel ops

    China says defector to Australia is an ‘unemployed’ fugitive

    Australia: Growing worries over China’s hidden han



    The island city that has been witnessing a rare lull in several weeks is bracing for a fresh outbreak of protests over the weekend although a bigger one is expected on Dec 8, with a rally planned by the Civil Human Right Front, the group that organised the million-strong marches in June. Meanwhile, read what was found during searches of the Poly University that was under siege, in this story:

    Poly University siege in Hong Kong over, police return control of campus to school officials



    It has not been smooth-sailing for the Philippines as it hosts the 2019 South-east Asian (SEA) Games, with controversy swirling around the treatment of athletes, unfinished venues and spending irregularities. Now a typhoon that could intensify as it nears land is worrying organisers.

    Read more on the games here: 

    SEA Games hosting troubles anger Philippine President Duterte

    #SEAGamesfail: Host country Philippines under fire as hiccups go viral



    Dyson, known for its ultra modern machines, has chosen a colonial-era power station as its new global head office, in Singapore. And founder James Dyson will be looking to the 1927 coal-fired plant, known as St James Power Station, for inspiration.

    Here’s more on the new location: 

    Party’s over, and it’s closing time for St James Power Station

    St James Power Station: And the power… it’s still electrifying



    CHINA’S NEW ONLINE CONTENT RULES: Chinese regulators announced new rules governing video and audio content online, including a ban on the publishing and distribution of “fake news” created with technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality. The rules come into effect on Jan 1.

    RAJAPAKSA’S MIGHT UNDO HAMBANTOTA PORT LEASE TO CHINA: Sri Lanka’s new government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa wants to undo the previous regime’s move to lease the southern port of Hambantota to a Chinese venture, for reasons of national interest, reports said. This was based on remarks made by a former official who is said to be close to prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

    SEOUL-TOKYO TO TALK TRADE IN DECEMBER: South Korea and Japan have agreed to hold senior-level trade talks in December to discuss Tokyo’s export restrictions at the centre of a bitter dispute between the two countries, the South Korean trade ministry said today.




    Join ST’s US Bureau Chief Nirmal Ghosh, our global correspondents and their special guests as we ask the unanswered questions and seek the difficult answers surrounding pressing global issues to uncover the Asian perspective of the world today. Here are two of our latest videos:

    Hong Kong Protests – Future in the Balance?

    The US and China, too late to decouple? 


    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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