The DailyBrief

Tuesday August 15, 2017

Guam missile crisis: Fears over an imminent military clash between North Korea and the US were calmed by Pyongyang’s announcement that it was delaying its plan to fire missiles into the ocean near the US territory of Guam, Asia Times and Reuters report. The announcement followed a warning from Washington that it would destroy any missiles heading for the Pacific island. Pyongyang’s plan announced last week to land four missiles near Guam prompted a war of words with the US as President Donald Trump said he would unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it threatened the United States.

Nothing new here: Japan’s newly released defense White Paper looks conspicuously similar to last year’s document, Grant Newsham writes. It declares that North Korea is an even more serious threat than last year when it was already deemed a serious threat and that Chinese incursions are increasing to worrisome levels from the worrisome levels noted in last year’s White Paper. More significantly, the paper brings into sharp focus the government’s unwillingness to spend the money needed to address these growing threats.

Diplomatic tag team: With Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s head buried in the sand and Donald Trump breathing “fire and fury” in Washington, perhaps the best hope for restoring calm in the Korean Peninsula is South Korean leader Moon Jae-in and Japan’s Shinzo Abe, William Pesek writes. Moon, the good cop, wants to encourage détente with North Korea, resurrecting the “Sunshine Policy” of 1998 to 2008 to open diplomatic channels and dangle some carrots. Meanwhile, Abe is in a unique position to get the attention of Kim Jong-un and Xi on behalf of bad cop Trump by welcoming the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems around Japan.

Intellectual property row: China’s state news agency Xinhua said on Tuesday that a decision by the US to investigate China’s trade practices is a unilateralist “baring of fangs,” Reuters reports. On Monday, US President Donald Trump authorized an inquiry into China’s alleged theft of intellectual property that administration officials said could have cost the United States as much as $600 billion. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will have a year to look into whether to launch a formal investigation of China’s trade policies on intellectual property, which the White House and US industry lobby groups say are harming American businesses and jobs. Xinhua said the move “will hurt not only China but the United States itself in the long run.”

Raising a glass: Shanghai-listed distiller Kweichow Moutai has seen its stock price rise to a record 500 yuan (US$75), thanks to the success of Wolf Warriors 2, China’s biggest box office hit this summer, Ben Kwok writes. The compamy, which produces baijiu, China’s most widely consumed liquor, saw its share surge after the release of an open letter from Moutai president Yuan Renguo and general manager Li Bafang to thank director and actor Wu Jing for mentioning the brand four times in the film.

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.