The DailyBrief

Thursday March 9, 2017

US and China: Lotte Group said its website in China was hacked on March 1 and in the following days more than 10 of its stores in the country were forced to close for “inspections” by authorities. Peter J. Brown writes that the events show how unhappy Beijing is after the Korean conglomerate sold a golf course in South Korea to the military, that will use the land as a base for a US missile defence system with radar powerful enough to peer into and perhaps spy on China.

China inflation concerns: Despite a substantial pullback in China’s headline Consumer Price Index in February, to just a 0.8% increase, price pressure continues to build as the Producer Price Index beat expectations with a strong 7.8% gain, writes Steve Wang. Imported inflation is now the top concern for China’s state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, which holds the power to set and adjust the prices of certain key economic influencers, including retail gasoline prices.

Bankruptcy for Westinghouse: US nuclear power plant developer Westinghouse Electric Co LLC, owned by troubled Japanese electronics giant Toshiba Corp, has brought in bankruptcy attorneys from law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. Reuters reports that the move comes after a $6.3 billion writedown at Westinghouse last month wiped out Toshiba’s shareholder equity and caused it to seek divestments to create a buffer for any fresh financial problems.

Myanmar’s drug problem: There is little disagreement that Myanmar remains one of the world’s largest producers of illicit drugs, including opium, heroin, methamphetamine and other synthetic narcotics. Bertil Lintner reports that the country’s “war on drugs” has always had more to do with counterinsurgency than suppression of the narcotics trade with government forces, including the autonomous Myanmar army which controls all security related agencies, viewing drug trafficking militias as useful allies in their counterinsurgency campaigns against ethnic rebels.