The DailyBrief

Thursday June 29, 2017

Hong Kong handover: As China becomes an increasingly important player in global affairs, the way Hong Kong is treated will be seen as a litmus test on whether the world can trust Beijing, writes Chris Patten, the UK’s last Governor of Hong Kong. Here Patten argues that President Xi Jinping would do well to use the 20-year anniversary of the city’s handover to reaffirm China’s commitment to the joint declaration document, an international treaty lodged with the United Nations that safeguarded Hong Kong’s autonomy and way of life until 2047.

Russia-Third Syrian base: The Russian army has quietly started construction of a new military base in the countryside near Damascus, writes Sami Moubayed. This will be Moscow’s third base in Syria – the other two have troops, sophisticated weaponry and support systems to bolster the military operation against ISIS – and this new one will help implement the eight-point ‘deconfliction’ program for the border area agreed upon by Russia, the US and Jordan while also working to ensure humanitarian aid reaches besieged villages and towns.

Asian financial crisis: At the same time as Thailand commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Asian financial crisis, Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-o-cha is rolling out his vision for a 20-year national strategy. William Pesek says few Thais in 1997 would have believed that, 20 years on, the military would be running the country but they are, and this is down to the lack of economic progress made since the baht’s devaluation started the Asian financial meltdown.

Silk Road block: Officially, the economy of the vast Xinjiang region in far western China is growing faster than the country as a whole, something that is key to Beijing’s grand New Silk Road initiative. Sue-Lin Wong reports a different story after talking to local traders, who say the Chinese authorities’ obsession with keeping the religiously restive region secure at all costs is badly effecting business.

Philippines’ Muslim fear: When a small army of militants allied to Islamic State took over parts of Marawi City in the southern Philippines last month, many of the country’s Muslims were alarmed. Manuel Mogato and Karen Lema write that although this Christian-majority country has endured bouts of Muslim insurrection for centuries, the two communities mostly live together peacefully but now many Muslims fear the battle in Marawi will intensify the divide.