The DailyBrief

Friday July 14, 2017

Duterte’s China-pivot backfiring? When the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled last July in favor of the Philippines over China regarding their territorial disputes, many at the time thought the tribunal’s landmark ruling would at least stall Beijing’s growing militarization in the South China Sea. Richard Javad Heydarian writes that a year on and China continues its fast build-up unperturbed while the Philippines and other claimants are realizing there is no mechanism to enforce the United Nations verdict.

Workplace robot wars? After the attendees of the RISE tech conference in Hong Kong were polled on the big questions facing the industry, the age-old struggles of class and race were seen as less of a problem than sexism and ageism, reports Lin Wanxia. However the attendees thought the biggest issue by far was the imminent and acute risk of artificial intelligence depleting human jobs.

Mr Yen unmellowed: The 1997 Asian financial crisis wreaked havoc on the region’s economies but Japan’s Eisuke Sakakibara, who was at front and centre of the action at the time, says most of the damage could have been avoided. Anthony Rowley writes that Sakakibara, best known as “Mr Yen” for the role he played in yen-dollar diplomacy, remains scathing in his criticism of the IMF’s behaviour during the crisis, which he says fanned a local fire in Thailand into a regional inferno.

Thailand’s Washington boost: A surge in American weapons sales to Bangkok’s coup-installed military regime signals a shift in Washington policy away from Obama’s emphasis on rights and democracy, writes Richard S Ehrlich. Amid growing concerns about human rights records, the increase in weapon sales will arguably strengthen Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s government, as will Donald Trump’s recent White House invite.

More Beijing-Pyongyang sanctions: Frustrated that China has not done more to rein in North Korea, the Trump administration could impose new sanctions on small Chinese banks and other firms doing business with Pyongyang within weeks, reports Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom. Senior US officials said the measures would initially hit Chinese entities considered “low-hanging fruit,” including smaller financial institutions and “shell” companies linked to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.