The DailyBrief

Monday September 18, 2017

China’s inexorable rise: When its stock market bubble popped in 2015, prevailing Western opinion held that the country’s economic boom would flame out in a debt crisis comparable to America’s subprime disaster of 2008 or the near collapse of Europe’s southern tier in 2013, Spengler writes. However, the country’s tradable stock market has shot up by 43% during 2017 in US dollar terms, dramatically changing the way Western observers view its economic prospects. Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund, is raising money for a China investment vehicle and Bank of America now predicts Asian stocks will double in the present bull run.

North Korea crisis: If US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin follows through on his threat to launch a trade war against China if it does not uphold sanctions against Pyongyang in reaction to its ongoing ballistic missile tests, he could trigger a global economic tsunami and further heighten tensions in the Korean Peninsula, Ken Moak asserts. Such a move could push the global economy into an abyss like that of the 1930s-era Great Depression, while more threats from the US and its allies and sanctions are unlikely to deter Pyongyang from holding more missile and nuclear-weapons tests, because it considers a nuclear arsenal with the means to deliver the weapons necessary for its survival or to deter a regime change.

Cambodia’s master manipulator: Through guile, manipulation and at times force, including a bloody coup in 1997, Prime Minister Hun Sen has sought to tighten his grip on power, Xuan Loc Doan writes. He surpasses retired or existing leaders of Vietnam, his past main backer, and of China, his present primary supporter, in terms of longevity in office. Now 65, Hun Sen is the world’s longest-serving prime minister and among its longest-ruling leaders – alongside the likes of Angola’s José Eduardo dos Santos and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. On September 6, Hun Sen vowed to extend his reign for at least another decade, explaining that he had decided to stay “after witnessing the treasonous acts of some Cambodians in recent days,” referring to, among others, opposition leader Kem Sokha, who was arrested on September 3.

Legendary aviator dies: Arjan Singh, India’s sole Marshal of the Indian Air Force, passed away just two years short of a century in New Delhi on Saturday, Saikat Datta writes. As a combat pilot, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and was one of a small handful of aviators that formed the nucleus of an independent India’s air force. Born in 1919 in Lyallpur, Punjab, now in Pakistan, Singh was a legend in the Indian Air Force throughout his career. In 2002, the government took the historic decision to appoint him as India’s first Marshal of the Indian Air Force.

Boost for Pakistan: In the face of steep current-account deterioration, a bulging trade deficit, and a likely US$1.7 billion cut in US Coalition Support Fund financing, China’s offer of multibillion-dollar loans to the country will ease the immediate pressure on Islamabad’s foreign-currency reserves, FM Shakil writes. A Chinese delegation from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank conveyed to Islamabad this month that the bank was ready to discuss further investments in the country to prop up its failing economy. If they materialize, these will constitute China’s second-biggest venture in Pakistan after the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Asia Times app: Asia Times has launched an app for both iOS- and Android-based devices that delivers the publication’s regular daily news, commentary, blogs and live coverage while also bringing readers added functionality. As we report here, 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.