The DailyBrief

Friday March 24, 2017

Duterte, China, USA: When the Philippines President remarked that “We cannot stop China from doing its thing” it put him at odds with his military, writes Richard Javad Heydarian. Philippine defense officials have made clear their mistrust of Beijing’s South China Sea expansion, preferring to maintain close to Washington, and given the military’s decisive role in Manila politics even a popular and strong leader like Duterte cannot afford to ignore his generals’ concerns.

Alibaba launches “techfin”: The Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial is China’s leading fintech company and is launching a new self-proclaimed “techfin” model of selling money market funds online that is likely to challenge the popular method of buying them from fund supermarkets. Lin Wanxia reports that the move shows Ant Financial’s re-positioning, from a developer of its own financial services to a provider of platforms for other institutions.

Westinghouse to Korea? Korea Electric Power Corp has emerged as a potential buyer of the deficit-ridden Westinghouse nuclear business in the US, owned by Japan’s Toshiba Corp, people with direct knowledge of the matter said. Asia Times reports that there remains caution around the potential deal, however, as the scale of losses at Westinghouse are still unclear and the uncertainty of political backing in South Korea and the US to such an acquisition raise a number of major hurdles.

East Timor Elections: Francisco “Lu-Olo” Guterres is tipped to become the next president of Timor-Leste, also known as East Timor, after exit polls showed the former guerrilla leader won a clear majority at this week’s polls. David Hutt writes that Guterres has said he might be open to the possibility of allowing gas to be piped to an existing plant in Darwin, northern Australia, or on a floating station in waters between the two nations and if the rich field’s development starts under the new leadership, the future could soon brighten for Asia’s youngest nation.

HK’s street cartoons: Ahead of Sunday’s election for Hong Kong’s chief executive – with the outcome basically predetermined by the Communist Party in Beijing – a wave of political cartoons are appearing on the walls of the city, reports Johan Nylander. The main targets of the artists’ mockery and anger are former chief secretary Carrie Lam (who is expected to win the election), lawmaker Regina Ip (who dropped out of race), outgoing chief executive Leung Chun-ying and, of course, China’s President Xi Jinping.