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    ST Asian Insider: 4 September 2020

    Published On: 4 September 2020

    In today’s bulletin: President Xi Jinping outlines areas where China will never accept foreign interference; South Korean doctors expected to end strike amid Covid-19 cases surge; Australia recommits to opening up economy by December, says PM Morrison; DBS says rich Asians are hoarding cash for post-pandemic deals; PM Muhyiddin hopes deal on worker movements between Singapore and Malaysia can be finalised soon, and more.

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    XI JINPING OUTLINES AREAS WHERE CHINA WILL NEVER ACCEPT FOREIGN INTERFERENCE

    President Xi Jinping has set a combative tone at a difficult moment in US-China relations,  asserting that nothing will come between the Chinese people and the Communist Party at an event marking the anniversary of China’s victory over Japan in World War II.

    While Mr Xi did not explicitly mention the US in his speech, his comments are being interpreted as a message about the relationship – setting the tone for state media and interactions by junior officials with the US on everything from trade to technology and the South China Sea.

    The acerbic speech – at least going by the usual standards of Chinese politics – indicates that the Communist Party is taking the threat of external challenges to their rule seriously.

    In recent months, Chinese diplomats have rebuked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and threatened “consequences” for countries ranging from Norway to the Czech Republic and Britain over perceived provocations.

    Mr Xi has frequently turned to similar nationalist themes as he seeks to strengthen his grip at home and confront a more hostile US, stressing the country’s ability to stand up to foreign aggression.

    Go deeper:

    UN experts decry Hong Kong security law in letter to China 

    ST Asian Insider video: Change and continuity seen in post-Abe Japan 

    ‘Big probability’ of China, India defence chiefs meeting, says Global Times editor

    SOUTH KOREAN DOCTORS EXPECTED TO END STRIKE AMID COVID-19 CASES SURGE

    South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun says that South Korean doctors have agreed to end a two-week strike that has hindered the country’s efforts to clamp down on a new wave of coronavirus infections after overnight talks on the government’s medical reform plans.

    Around 16,000 intern and resident doctors – who form the backbone of healthcare services in emergency rooms and intensive care units, while also volunteering at temporary testing stations – have been on strike since Aug 21.

    The strike was called off after the government agreed to halt the reforms and discuss them again with the industry and Parliament once the outbreak has been stabilised.

    Here’s more:

    North Korea state media tests new formats on air and online 

    In Indonesia, shock coffin tactics used to drive home coronavirus risks 

    AUSTRALIA RECOMMITS TO OPENING UP ECONOMY BY DECEMBER, SAYS PM MORRISON

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison says most state and territory leaders in Australia have recommitted to reopening the economy  by December, but an immediate agreement to lift border restrictions that have crippled economic activity remains elusive.

    The nation has fractured along state lines, with many leaders barring travel from New South Wales and Victoria – Australia’s most populous – over continued community transmission of Covid-19.

    Mr Morrison has warned that in the absence of a vaccine for the coronavirus, Australians may have to continue to accept curbs on their movements and social interactions for years to come.

    Read more:

    Australia says cyber attacks on the rise, cites 4,500 hacking attempts in one day 

    New Zealand retains Covid-19 measures until mid-September as it records first death in 3 months 

    ASIA’S LARGEST LENDER SAYS RICH ASIANS ARE HOARDING CASH FOR POST-PANDEMIC DEALS

    Asia’s wealthy are hoarding cash with an eye  on taking advantage of opportunities in financial markets and private equity once the impact of the coronavirus pandemic subsides, according to Mr Joseph Poon, who leads the private bank at South-east Asia’s largest lender DBS Group Holdings.

    Some clients are considering financial assets, e-commerce and logistics businesses with funding gaps, while others plan to use the cash for their own business needs or to expand companies through partners, Mr Poon said.

    However, holding on to cash may mean some investors have already missed a massive market rally that has seen the MSCI AC Asia Pacific Index surge about 43 per cent since a March low.

    MUHYIDDIN HOPES DEAL ON WORKER MOVEMENTS BETWEEN S’PORE AND MALAYSIA CAN BE FINALISED SOON

    Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is keen that procedures to allow the cross-border movement of workers between Malaysia and Singapore are finalised soon in line with efforts to boost the national economy and help affected workers.

    Before the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 300,000 travellers used the Causeway every day, including about 100,000 Malaysians who commuted between Singapore and Malaysia every day.

    IN OTHER NEWS

    AN INDIA IN RETREAT HAS IMPLICATIONS: Straits Times Associate Editor Ravi Velloor notes that the last seven days of August 2020 will probably go down as one of India’s most dismal periods in the last quarter-century, when the country reported a global record in daily coronavirus infections. To add to the bad news was an economy that contracted by nearly a quarter in the April-to-June period year-on-year amid reports of fresh Chinese military incursions on the Himalayan border.

    TANKER WITH 2 MILLION BARRELS OF OIL CATCHES FIRE OFF SRI LANKA, ONE CREWMAN PRESUMED DEAD: An oil tanker loaded with two million barrels of oil that was sailing towards India’s Paradip refinery has caught fire off Sri Lanka’s coast, raising concerns about an environmentally catastrophic oil spill. The fire in the engine room of the New Diamond was caused by an explosion and spread to other parts of the vessel, killing at least one sailor, according to the Sri Lanka Navy.

    SOFTBANK IS SAID TO CONSIDER BID FOR TIKTOK IN INDIA: Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group is looking to assemble a group of bidders for Tiktok’s India assets, and has held talks with the heads of India’s Reliance Jio Infocomm and Bharti Airtel, according to people familiar with the matter. While discussions have fizzled since, Softbank is still exploring options.

    That’s it for today. Hope today’s bulletin was interesting for you. Thanks for reading and we’ll be back with you on Monday.