The DailyBrief

Tuesday March 28, 2017

China US manufacturing: Are the days of China as a manufacturing hub over? This question has sparked fervent discussion since China glass mogul, Cao Dewang, openly compared the cost of running factories in the US and China to justify his US$1 billion factory investments in the American Rust Belt, reports Lin Wanxia. “Except for labor, everything in China is more expensive than in America,” claims Cao, who owns Fuyao Glass Industry Group, China’s largest auto glass manufacturer.

Indonesia’s high-speed railway: Land, finance and security issues have dogged the much-hyped US$5.1 billion Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail project, writes John McBeth. Indonesian President Joko Widodo, keen to bridge a yawning infrastructure gap, oversaw an ambitious joint venture between China Railway International and a consortium of four Indonesian state-owned enterprises two years ago but China has since refused to disburse the funds and, amid other domestic issues, the project has stalled.

China, South Korea: Beijing’s opposition to Seoul’s deployment of the THAAD missile defense system is less about missiles and more about efforts to weaken the US’ longstanding network of formal and informal alliances in Asia. Grant Newsham writes that the THAAD controversy displays China’s familiar modus operandi: First, pick a fight over an allegedly offensive act; next, follow up with vitriol and veiled threats; and then inflict economic pressure.

Cambodia’s war debt: Since Donald Trump’s inauguration, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly asked the US to cease its demands for the repayment of a US$500 million loan that dates back to the Vietnam War. David Hutt reports the debt, that Hun Sen refers to as “blood-stained” and “dirty, could push Phnom Penh even closer to Beijing.

India’s temple politics: The 1992 demolition of the 16th Century Babri mosque in Ayodhya, believed to be the birthplace of the Hindu god Ram, marked a watershed moment in Indian politics and paved the way for the rise of the pro-Hindu BJP. Asia Times reports that in April, India’s Supreme Court will hear submissions on reopening 25-year-old criminal conspiracy charges against leading BJP figures who, it is alleged, were involved in religious riots that caused 2,000 deaths, and this something that will reopen deep and old political wounds.