The DailyBrief

Friday August 18, 2017

China debt warning: The IMF’s latest annual health check on Asia’s biggest economy is blunt, sweeping and sure to ruin Xi Jinping’s month as the Chinese president tries to maintain a veneer of omnipotence and stability, William Pesek writes. The IMF’s worry is debt. It has seen this horror film before in neighboring Japan and the odds of a happier ending for China are negligible. “International experience suggests that China’s credit growth is on a dangerous trajectory, with increasing risks of a disruptive adjustment and/or a marked growth slowdown,” the IMF said. When viewed through the lenses of past scenarios in Japan, Southeast Asia, and South Korea, the picture looks far from hopeful.

US weapons development: The North Korean missile standoff has prompted the US military to accelerate the development of next-generation artillery shells known as hypervelocity projectiles or HVPs, Peter Brown writes. The shells travel in excess of 5,000 mph and can hit targets with the impact of a freight train. They can be fired off at 20 rounds per minute at targets, including moving ones such as missiles, from modified artillery already in operation. Because they are precision-guided and travel at such extreme speed, they can hit targets as far as 100 miles away in 72 seconds, markedly reducing options to evade. Standard artillery shells have a range of less than 20 miles.

A silver lining? Thailand’s ruling junta takes tourism very seriously – and for good reason, Peter Janssen writes. Tourism, boosted by a surge in Chinese arrivals, has been one of the few bright spots in the economy since the military seized power in May 2014. The regime has suppressed dissent, putting an end to the disruptive street protests that plagued the capital between 2005 and 2014, periodically closing down popular tourist neighborhoods for months and in 2008 forcing the week-long closure of Bangkok’s two airports. Tourists have since returned in swarms. “After this junta came in it has been quiet, no political problems, so the tourism has been quite strong because of the stability,” said Supawan Tnomkietipume, president of the Thai Hotels Association.

Sino-India border friction: An attempt by about 15 China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers to enter the northern bank of Pangong Lake in Ladakh on Tuesday while Indians were celebrating Independence Day was the latest twist of the two-month standoff between India and China on the Dhoklam plateau, E Jaya Kumar writes. Although the situation in the lake area was quickly defused, things may spin out of control and lead to a conflict if more such incursion attempts occur on either side of the 3,488-km border dividing the two countries. The Pangong incident resulted in stone-pelting that caused minor injuries to soldiers on both sides.

Pre-mortem party plan: Businessman, socialite and cigar aficionado Sir David Tang, founder of the Shanghai Tang fashion label, is throwing a farewell do in London as his doctors have given him just a few weeks to live, Ben Kwok writes. The 63-year-old Hong Kong billionaire, who has enjoyed close relations with the British royal family and many celebrities, sent out an invitation promising “jolly merriment” and “a lot of embraces” at the Dorchester Hotel. He wrote: “I thought the best way to go would be to give a party where we can see each other at least one time more, rather than at a memorial service where I shall be dead as a dodo.”

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.