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Sat, 27th May 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “republic of china” Tag

MSCI to make decision on China A-share inclusion on June 20

Mark your calendars China watchers.

MSCI will on June 20 announce whether it would finally include China’s domestic A-shares in its global indices.

The US index provider last June delayed for a third straight year the A-shares’ inclusion into its benchmark $1.5tn emerging markets stock index, citing regulation worries and accessibility for global investors.

Ahead of this year’s decision, China has embarked on a series of new actions aimed at addressing these concerns. Its banking regulator has launched a “regulatory windstorm” while the central bank has made the first move to ease capital controls, providing much needed liquidity to the offshore renminbi market.

Meanwhile, BlackRock has for the first time publicly backed the inclusion of onshore stocks in MSCI’s indices and Chinese officials have even criticised dividend-dodging companies, dubbed “iron cockerels”, and promised extra scrutiny.

North Korea says ready to strike US aircraft carrier

North Korea said on Sunday it was ready to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might, as two Japanese navy ships joined a U.S. carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific.

US President Donald Trump ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to sail to waters off the Korean peninsula in response to rising tension over the North’s nuclear and missile tests, and its threats to attack the United States and its Asian allies.

The United States has not specified where the carrier strike group is as it approaches the area. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday it would arrive “within days” but gave no other details.

North Korea remained defiant.

“Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a US nuclear powered aircraft carrier with a single strike,” the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary.

The paper likened the aircraft carrier to a “gross animal” and said a strike on it would be “an actual example to show our military’s force”.

The commentary was carried on page three of the newspaper, after a two-page feature about leader Kim Jong Un inspecting a pig farm.

North Korea will mark the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People’s Army on Tuesday.

It has in the past marked important anniversaries with tests of its weapons.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, two of them last year, and is working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.

It has also carried out a series of ballistic missile tests in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threat is perhaps the most serious security challenge confronting Trump.

He has vowed to prevent the North from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile and has said all options are on the table, including a military strike.

North Korea Threatens US With “Super-Mighty Preemptive Strike”

Whether China is right about North Korea conducting a nuclear test on April 25 remains to be seen, but for now Kim Jong-Un is content with merely escalating the verbal warfare and overnight North Korean state media warned the United States of a “super-mighty preemptive strike” following the latest round of comments by Rex Tillerson who said the United States was looking at ways to bring pressure to bear on North Korea over its nuclear programme.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, did not mince its words: “In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only U.S. imperialists’ invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes” it said according to Reuters.

The threat will hardly come as a surprise: the reclusive communist nation regularly threatens to destroy Japan, South Korea and the United States “and has shown no let-up in its belligerence after a failed missile test on Sunday, a day after putting on a huge display of missiles at a parade in Pyongyang.”

The comments come in response to Tillerson statement in Washington on Wednesday when he told reporters that “we’re reviewing all the status of North Korea, both in terms of state sponsorship of terrorism as well as the other ways in which we can bring pressure on the regime in Pyongyang to re-engage with us, but re-engage with us on a different footing than past talks have been held,”

China greasing economy with $55bn in tax breaks

China’s State Council on Wednesday approved 380 billion yuan ($55.1 billion) in tax relief that will mainly favor farmers and small businesses in a move that is seen as both economic and political.

The second large-scale tax cut to follow last year’s comes as China’s economy is forecast to slow down in the latter half of 2017, during which the Communist Party will convene its 19th National Congress and reshuffle top leadership.

China will modify its value-added tax this July by removing the 13% bracket while retaining the 6%, 11% and 17% tiers. The 13% rate currently applies to farm products and natural gas, but they will move to the 11% category. Farmers as well as households that purchase rice and vegetables will likely benefit from this change.

For smaller companies, those that pay 300,000 yuan or less in annual taxable revenue qualify for preferential tax treatment. The ceiling will be lifted to 500,000 yuan. Furthermore, small businesses and startups will be allowed to deduct 75% of research and development costs, up from 50%. These tax breaks will remain in effect until the end of 2019.

The Chinese government enacted about 500 billion yuan worth of corporate tax cuts in 2016. Helped also by a surge in infrastructure spending, the real economy grew 6.9% during the January-March period this year, marking the second quarter of economic acceleration. However, the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, has been gradually raising market interest rates in order to rein in the real estate bubble.

US agreed to clear military strike against North Korea with Japan

Multiple Japanese reports

Kyodo and Nikkei have similar reports saying that US officials have discussed the option of attacking North Korea with Japanese leaders. The US officials reportedly agreed to discussions (or notifications) for Japan before anything takes place.

North Korea has nuclear weapons that can reach Japan.

The sources who spoke with Kyodo said the action would be a second (or third) option in China refuses to pressure North Korea into curbing its missile and nuclear programs.

 

Watching and waiting for China’s capital-control-induced bubble

Anyone in mainland China with a lot of money to move — companies foreign or domestic, or individuals — now seems likely to run into the capital controls that the authorities have thrown up in hopes of stopping a sell-off in the currency.

Real estate tycoon Pan Shiyi has given up on selling the Hongkou Soho, a striking Shanghai office tower whose tenants include Japanese electronics group Panasonic. Located just north of the Bund, the city’s iconic waterfront, the building was designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Pan had been looking to invest proceeds from the sale overseas but sees little hope of gaining approval for that.

 Similar cases of apparent official obstruction have surrounded other foreign deals. Online game developer Giant Interactive’s agreed-on purchase of an Israeli peer for 30.5 billion yuan ($4.42 billion) remains under review. Technology group LeEco and conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group have yet to complete their respective U.S. acquisitions of television maker Vizio and TV studio Dick Clark Productions.

Meanwhile, total social financing, China’s broad measure of credit and liquidity, continues rising by double digits. With limited outlets to overseas, Chinese money has nowhere to go but domestic assets.

US Sends Aircraft Carrier Toward North Korea “In Response to Recent Provocations”

One day after NBC reported that the National Security Council had presented Trump with three options vis-a-vis North Korea, namely i) put American nukes in South Korea , ii) kill Kim Jong-un or iii) use the CIA to infiltrate North Korea to sabotage or take out key infrastructure, a US carrier group has departed Singapore and is headed for North Korea.

According to Reuters, a U.S. Navy strike group will be moving toward the western Pacific Ocean near the Korean peninsula, a U.S. official told Reuters on Saturday, as concerns grow about North Korea’s advancing weapons program.  The strike group, called Carl Vinson, includes an aircraft carrier and will make its way from Singapore toward the Korean peninsula.

The move of the USS Carl Vinson “is in response to recent North Korean provocations”, an official told CNN. “We feel the increased presence is necessary,” the official said, citing North Korea’s worrisome behavior.”

Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, directed the USS Carl Vinson strike group to sail north to the Western Pacific after departing Singapore on Saturday, Pacific Command announced.

The Vinson strike group will operate in the Western Pacific rather than executing previously planned port visits to Australia, Pacific Command said. The group will remain under the operational control of the Third Fleet.

This year North Korean officials, including leader Kim Jong Un, have repeatedly indicated an intercontinental ballistic missile test or something similar could be coming, possibly as soon as April 15, the 105th birthday of North Korea’s founding president and celebrated annually as “the Day of the Sun.”

Overnight: “PBOC Said to Inject Funds After Missed Interbank Payments”

Bloomberg report, citing “according to people familiar with the matter”
  • the People’s Bank of China has injected hundreds of billions of yuan into the financial system after some smaller lenders failed to make debt payments in the interbank market
  • Tuesday’s injections followed missed interbank payments on Monday
  • The institutions that missed payments included rural commercial banks
Missing payments in the interbank is not a positive … Combined with the slide in metals prices on futures exchanges, not a positive either.

President DonaldTrump calls Chinese ‘grand champions’ of currency manipulation

President Donald Trump declared China the “grand champions” of currency manipulation on Thursday, just hours after his new Treasury secretary pledged a more methodical approach to analyzing Beijing’s foreign exchange practices.

In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Trump said he has not “held back” in his assessment that China manipulates its yuan currency, despite not acting on a campaign promise to declare it a currency manipulator on his first day in office.

 “Well they, I think they’re grand champions at manipulation of currency. So I haven’t held back,” Trump said. “We’ll see what happens.”

During his presidential campaign Trump frequently accused China of keeping its currency artificially low against the dollar to make Chinese exports cheaper, “stealing” American manufacturing jobs.

But Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday he was not ready to pass judgment on China’s currency practices.

In Latest “Military Escalation” China Prepares Deployment Of SAM Batteries On South China Sea Islands

In China’s latest test of the US response to its escalating claims of islands in the South China Sea, Reuters reports that Beijing has “nearly finished building almost two dozen structures on artificial islands in the South China Sea that appear designed to house long-range surface-to-air missiles.” Predictably, such a development will likely raise questions about whether and how the United States will respond, given its vows to take a tough line on China in the South China Sea. The structures appear to be 20 meters (66 feet) long and 10 meters (33 feet) high.

Official cited by Reuters said the new structures were likely to house surface-to-air missiles that would expand China’s air defense umbrella over the islands. They did not give a time line on when they believed China would deploy missiles on the islands. “It certainly raises the tension,” Poling said. “The Chinese have gotten good at these steady increases in their capabilities.”

China’s Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea