The DailyBrief

Thursday March 23, 2017

China and Malaysia: Prime Minister Najib Razak and Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma announced yesterday the establishment in Malaysia of Alibaba’s first regional e-commerce distribution center outside of China. David Hutt writes that Alibaba’s choice of Kuala Lumpur puts a spotlight on growing China-Malaysia ties and highlights a warming trend that Najib has driven with a series of fruitful trips to Beijing that are starting to bring his country a much-needed economic boost.

Pyongyang and geopolitics: Beijing’s latest National People’s Congress made it clear that today’s China is framed by a set of core and non-negotiable modernizing principals centred around economic and legal reforms and expanding regional commercial partnerships. Yet, writes Pepe Escobar, a stumbling block to this framework remains North Korea, after successful Pyongyang missiles tests could translate into a first-strike capability, difficult to track, as well as the means to absorb an initial foreign attack and retaliate with – nuclear-tipped? – missiles.

Paedophilia in Vietnam: Police did not repond to a mother’s allegations that her eight-year-old daughter had been sexually abused by a family friend in Hanoi in January. Tran Thi Minh Ha reports that when outrage spilled onto social media, with Facebook users demanding to know why the allegations had gone unchecked for three months, Vietnamese police made an arrest in days and scored a rare win for public opinion in the communist country.

Brazilian meat scandal: Over a dozen Hong Kong fast food outfits, including KFC and Starbucks, announced that they have stopped serving meat from Brazil amid food safety concerns. Asia Times reports that the announcements came after Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety said it was suspending the imports of Brazilian frozen meats after 21 food suppliers in the South American country were put under investigation by police over accusations they bribed health inspectors to turn a blind eye to grubby practices.