The DailyBrief

Thursday January 19, 2017

In the lead-up to Friday’s inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th US president, China makes its case in the headlines from not one but two cities. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, China’s richest man Wang Jianlin warned Trump that Hollywood would be the biggest loser in a trade war. Wang, whose Wanda conglomerate owns a US cinema chain, a Hollywood production company and the firm that runs the Golden Globe awards, has joined a chorus of concern from international business chiefs over the protectionist leanings of the US president-elect.

Then in a speech at the United Nations in Geneva, President Xi Jinping portrays China as a global leader at the helm of international cooperation. Xi urged countries to resist isolationism: “Trade protectionism and self-isolation will benefit no one.” Xi called for the world to unite on everything from environmental protection to terrorism and nuclear disarmament, in contrast to Trump who says he has an “open mind” on climate change and that the US would win any nuclear arms race.

Myanmar’s military has intensified aerial bombardments in an escalating ethnic conflict that belies government claims of pursuing peace, writes Bertil Lintner for Asia Times. International attention is on the crisis in Rakhine State and the government bid to forge national peace after decades of civil strife, but the autonomous military is waging a less noticed vicious war in northern Kachin State.

The Chinese population in Africa is becoming more diverse than is often supposed, with workers seeing opportunities after they have completed their usually three-year stint with Chinese companies, writes Doug Tsuruoka. Rather than go back to China with the round-trip tickets they are issued, these “independent” Chinese migrants usually stay to run small grocery stores, clothing shops and restaurants across Africa as part of small Chinatown communities that can number as many as 500 people.

Smuggling of foreign culture and information, as well as portable media players, from South Korea into the North is an increasingly lucrative business amid the rise of a black market for banned and politically sensitive goods, writes Johan Nylander. Small street stalls in Pyongyang sell foreign films and animations, including Disney hits such as Aladdin. But the underground cultural revolution in the North has a dark side: It’s partly run by drug lords and corrupt military officers.