The DailyBrief

Thursday August 10, 2017

Change in trajectory: North Korea said on Thursday that it was planning to fire missiles over Japan to land in the ocean near Guam in what may be a shift in its weapons testing program, not a threat of an immediate attack on Guam and its US military bases, Asia Times and Reuters report. Pyongyang and US President Donald Trump got into a war of words this week that unnerved regional powers and global investors. Trump said the North “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it threatened the United States. However, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was in Guam on a previously scheduled visit, said he did not believe there was an imminent threat from North Korea.

Tactics and strategy: As the battle between Philippine troops and Islamic State-linked militants enters its third month in the besieged city of Marawi, it has become clear that Manila’s armed forces need to shift from jungle to urban warfare tactics, and undergo a massive overhaul to counter an increasingly fierce insurgency that is using drones, mortars, land mines and sophisticated ambush and sniper tactics to put it on the back foot, Noel Tarrazona writes. Both Beijing and Washington hope to help mold the Philippine military’s strategic transformation as the threat of global terrorism rises in the region.

Beware of hubris: A war between India and China arising from the ongoing military standoff between the two powers near the Sikkim border is improbable since neither side wants it, MK Bhadrakumar asserts. But below that threshold is a vast space where miscalculations can occur. Indians and Chinese are patriotic people, driven by nationalistic leaderships, and “territorial sovereignty” is a highly emotive issue. What’s alarming is that both governments have successfully rallied domestic opinion. This holds dangers because hubris is a self-devouring monster.

Premature profits party? Vietnamese bankers are popping champagne corks to celebrate a double-digit profit growth rate in the first half of the year that points to a bubbly credit boom, Alan Boyd writes. Pre-tax earnings of the nine listed banks grew by an average 30%, with Vietcombank reaping $232.5 million, VietinBank $212.4 million, BIDV $164.1 million and Military Bank $111.7 million. However, the boom appears poised to pop later in the year as underlying problems in the country’s unreformed finance sector become inflated.

Friction over infrastructure: India has intensified its efforts to commission the Chabahar port in the strategic Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran within 12 to 18 months, as envisaged by a tripartite memorandum of understanding signed last year by India, Iran, and Afghanistan, FM Shakil writes. However, this has irked some military officials in Pakistan, who view the facility as a potential security threat that aims to economically isolate their country, and is seen by Beijing as an open challenge to its One Belt, One Road designs.

Asia Times app: Asia Times has launched an app for both iOS- and Android-based devices that will deliver the publication’s regular daily news, commentary, blogs and live coverage while also bringing readers added functionality. Asia Times Staff report that the app, launched on July 25, includes content notification, share and save functions and is free to download from both the Apple Store and Google Play.