The DailyBrief

Friday August 11, 2017

Star Wars redux: The US should not have to bandy threats with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un; it should simply make Pyongyang’s investment in nuclear-weapons technology irrelevant, David P Goldman asserts. Defending the US or Japan against a small number of intercontinental ballistic missiles by developing reliable countermeasures is a task that lies well within the technological frontier and must be made a top priority, as it was 34 years ago for the Reagan administration.

Expanding military footprint: Filipino leader Rodrigo Duterte and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s meeting this week, an unusually cordial affair at the presidential palace in Manila, has sparked speculation of possible American air strikes on militants entrenched in the besieged city of Marawi, Richard Javad Heydarian writes. Shortly after their meeting, several Pentagon sources suggested that the US aims to expand its military footprint in the southern Philippines, including through possible direct air strikes against Islamic State’s local affiliates.

Under fire online: Chelsea Football Club was labeled “persona non grata” by the People’s Daily newspaper after 21-year old player Robert Kenedy Nunes’ disrespectful Instagram posts angered China’s online community during a promotional tour last month, its first in the country since 2008, forcing the club to send him home, Nick Westra writes. Chelsea’s experience shows just how quickly online sentiment in China can turn against a foreign brand.

Paper weighs in: China’s influential Global Times said on Friday that Beijing should remain neutral if North Korea launches an attack that threatens the United States, sounding a warning for Pyongyang over its plans to fire missiles near the US Pacific territory of Guam, Ben Blanchard and James Oliphant write. The state-run organ’s comments came after US President Donald Trump stepped up his rhetoric against North Korea again on Thursday, saying his earlier threat to unleash “fire and fury” on Pyongyang if it launched an attack may not have been tough enough.

Beijing reaches out: A member of the Hong Kong Democratic Party said he was kidnapped by two suspected mainland Chinese agents in Mong Kok, Kowloon, on Thursday and warned not to contact Liu Xia, widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, Asia Times staff report. Howard Lam Tsz-kin, a pro-democracy activist, said in a media briefing on Friday that he had planned to send a signed photo of soccer player Lionel Messi as Liu Xiaobo, who died last month, was a soccer fan. He said he was drugged and beaten by the men, who used a stapler to give him “crosses” on his legs because he is a Christian. They warned him not to call the police about the attack as “it was a national matter” and accused him of “not loving Hong Kong and China.”

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.