The DailyBrief

Tuesday March 21, 2017

China Russia ties: After curbing arms transfers and cooling military ties more than a decade ago, China and Russia are increasing joint exercises and stepping up sales of advanced weaponry to counter the US, writes Bill Gertz. The most recent military maneuvers, in the South China Sea in September, coincided with an international court ruling that challenged Beijing’s vast maritime claim over 90% of the strategic waterway and was the first time the PRC has conducted naval exercises in the sea with a foreign military.

The Global Laundromat: Several of China’s state-controlled banks, as well as HSBC’s Hong Kong branch, have allegedly processed hundreds of millions of US dollars from a vast money-laundering operation run by Russian criminals with links to the Russian government and the spy agency FSB. Johan Nylander reports that documents obtained by global network of investigative journalists, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, show that at least US$20 billion was moved out of Russia between 2010 and 2014 in a vast criminal operation called “The Global Laundromat”.

Britain’s Vietnamese slaves: Authorities in the UK are struggling to get to grips with crime gangs trafficking young Vietnamese into the UK to work in slave-like conditions on massive indoor marijuana farms, writes Richard Cook. Organised crime networks manage the large scale intercontinental distribution of both drugs and people and target increasing numbers of young people from Vietnam who are trafficked by such gangs into the UK and neighbouring Ireland to work as indentured labourers.

Duterte impeachment motion: While Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has countered and deflected criticism of his heavy-handed and often controversial rule, a new impeachment motion filed by the political opposition threatens to overthrow through legal means his popularly elected administration. George Amurao reports that the complaint, filed last Friday by Filipino lawmaker Gary Alejano, accuses Duterte of a litany of criminal offenses, including violating the constitution, betraying the public trust, bribery, graft, corruption and other alleged high crimes. Duterte has maintained his innocence.