The DailyBrief

Thursday February 2, 2017

A tiny 0.1 point decrease in China’s manufacturing PMI to 51.3 in January, released over the Lunar New Year break, excited almost none globally apart from the news robots at the major financial media outlets, writes Steve Wang. At Asia Times, we can’t afford to be like them, so everything is done like newshounds did it in the 1960s – old-fashioned grunt work. He found there was something much deeper at work here than initially meets the eye.

Commentators are in a frenzy over an upcoming smackdown between US President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The contest, much like a pro wrestling matchup could come, for example, if Trump tries to pressure Kim not to test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear payload to American territory, writes Bradley K. Martin. After Kim in his New Year’s address boasted that his military was in the “final stages” of preparation for such a test, Trump was quick to tweet his initial response: “It won’t happen.”

Amid global criticism after Trump’s executive order last week that suspended the US refugee programme and restricted entry to the United States for travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, Julie L. Kessler shares her immigrant story. As a child of a Jewish refugee father from Hitler’s Austria, she says Trump’s action returns the United States to some dark chapters of history.

In choosing Elaine Chao as transport secretary, Trump has picked an ambitious overachiever in overdrive and the US Senate seemed to have no problem with that in confirming her nomination on Tuesday. Doug Tsuruoka takes a look at her credentials, what she brings to the job and whether she can open a door for Trump into China.