The DailyBrief

Monday May 8, 2017

Vietnam’s corruption games: A scandal at PetroVietnam has implicated Politburo member Dinh La Thang and brings the first ever in-term dismissal of a top-ranking apparatchik. Zachary Abuza writes that politics in Vietnam are notoriously opaque and high-level corruption allegations are often more an indication of Communist Party divisions.

US-China, what threat? The deepening drumbeat for Washington to militarily confront Beijing in the South China Sea should be considered with a healthy dose of skepticism writes Mark J. Valencia. Yes, there are many bad things that could happen in the controversial maritime territories , explains Valencia, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will.

China’s Malaysian takeover: China has overtaken Singapore as the largest investor in Malaysia, while thousands of mainland Chinese are taking advantage of the Southeast Asian nation’s generous long-stay visa for wealthy foreigners. Johan Nylander reports that one politician is very worried and warns that China could ‘take over’ Malaysia in 20 years.

South Korean elections: The people of South Korea head to the polls on May 9 to elect a new president in the wake of the impeachment of Park Geun-hye. East Asia Forum reports that the saga surrounding Park’s fall from grace have upended the South Korean political landscape and brought strong public demands for reform.

Beijing’s slowdown concerns: The economic drivers that drove China’s stunning recovery in growth for much of 2016 and early 2017 have now seriously flagged. Asia Times reports that while the latest numbers do not necessarily indicate a pending crash, the pressure is weighing on Beijing to keep the the Belt and Road infrastructure juggernaut rolling.