Asian Insider, Oct 19: China’s economy expands; Thai police restrict Telegram

Hi all,

In today’s bulletin: China’s continuing expansion raises hope; Japanese premier signs military deal with Vietnam; Thai lawmakers debate special session of Parliament; Airlines working with WHO to replace quarantine requirements to ease international travel; Bride-to-be died after botched liposuction in Malaysia, and more.

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CHINA’S ECONOMIC RECOVERY QUICKENS IN Q3

China continued to recover in the third quarter of the year keeping the economy on track to be the world’s only major economy to grow this year. 

The country’s gross domestic product expanded 4.9 per cent in the third quarter from a year ago. Both retail sales and industrial production gained momentum in September, reassuring markets that the recovery remains on track.

China has been one of the first among leading economies to recover from the pandemic even as others are still struggling to contain the fallout. 

Meanwhile, China announced several new measures to boost Shenzhen’s profile as a tech and investment hub. Shenzhen, which is home to leading tech companies such as Huawei Technologies and Tencent Holdings will be allowed to start a stock futures index, restrictions on foreign ownership in telecoms will be lifted, among others.

Also read: 

China narrows US lead in 2020 Asia power ranking as both countries hit by Covid-19

SUGA SIGNS DEFENCE DEAL WITH VIETNAM, TO DISCUSS INDO-PACIFIC IN INDONESIA

Japanese premier Yoshihide Suga’s visit to Vietnam will see Tokyo exporting military gear and technology to the Asean country, even as the leaders of the two countries agreed on the importance of maintaining peace, security and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea. 

Prime Minister Suga’s visit comes amid concerns over China’s regional assertiveness. He is due to visit Indonesia as well. In both countries, discussions are taking place on measures to realise the US backed Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept as well. 

Contrary to expectations that the new Japanese premier would focus on domestic policies, Mr Suga has been taking much interest in foreign policy and opted to host a meeting of the Quad foreign ministers as his debut foreign policy initiative. 

Also read: 

Quad gets China’s attention by Associate editor Ravi Velloor

Suga’s Indo-Pacific initiative raises concern for Indonesia and the region: Jakarta Post columnist

THAI POLICE ORDER MEDIA PROBE OVER PROTESTS; RESTRICT TELEGRAM APP

Matters were heating up in Thailand with police ordering an investigation of four news outlets under emergency measures imposed last week and imposing curbs on messaging app Telegram to try to stop three months of protests against the government and monarchy. 

Meanwhile, Thailand’s lawmakers have been locked in discussions on options to address protester demands and restore stability in Thailand. One of the options is to convene a special session of Parliament. The protesters have been calling for the ouster of Prayut Chan-ocha’s government and the reform of the monarchy.

They’re also calling for a rewriting of the constitution, which was drafted by a military-appointed panel after the premier, a former army chief, took power in a 2014 coup. Some experts don’t expect any major change even if the Parliamentary session is held although it could help to ease tensions with protesters to some extent.

Go deeper: 

Thai leaders have no easy options to end anti-monarchy protests

Thailand cracks down on protesters: A timeline of events

AIRLINES WORKING WITH WHO TO EASE QUARANTINE MEASURE

The International Air Transport Association is working with the World Health Organisation to find a solution to the quarantine issue that is slowing down measures to restore international travel. The announcement comes as countries begin to ease border control measures and set up green lanes for international travellers.

IATA, which represents about 290 airlines globally, is working with the International Civil Aviation Organization and the WHO to put in place scalable, affordable and fast testing systems, Conrad Clifford, IATA’s regional vice-president for Asia Pacific, said. More details are awaited.

Meanwhile, pandemic-hit airlines are having a trying time staying afloat. Many are shedding staff while others are launching initiatives like local travel promotions and ferrying cargo in a bid to stay aloft. 

Read our special report here:

How regional airlines are trying to stay aloft amid Covid-19 pandemic by Regional correspondent Eileen Ng 

Work together to get planes up in the air again by Associate editor Ven Sreenivasan

UMNO YOUTH CHIEF CALLS FOR CEASEFIRE AS CASES RISE

Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, the chief of Umno Youth has called for a political ceasefire as Covid-19 cases rise in the country, ahead of a series of key meetings that would determine whether Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin remains in power. 

Shannon Teoh, our Malaysia Bureau Chief, writes that the once-dominant Umno, which has chafed at playing second fiddle to Bersatu, is due to hold a supreme council meeting on Tuesday.

IN OTHER NEWS

BRIDE TO BE DIES AFTER BOTCHED LIPOSUCTION: A Malaysian woman who wanted to lose weight to look good at her wedding ended up losing her life instead when she underwent liposuction at a beauty salon that was not licensed to perform the procedure. Malaysian police have detained the owners of the beauty salon in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, and are investigating the death of 23-year-old Coco Siew Zhi Shing on Saturday (Oct 17).

DYSONS SELL S’PORE PENTHOUSE AT A LOSS: The Dysons, behind the self-named British consumer electronics company, are selling their triplex penthouse at Wallich Residence in Singapore for $62 million – less than the record purchase price of $73.8 million paid last year. Singapore’s tallest penthouse, on the strata area of 21,108 sq ft,  was sold to Indonesia-born tycoon Leo Koguan, who is a citizen of the United States. 

NEW ZEALAND’S NEW DIVERSE PARLIAMENT: New Zealand’s next Parliament is set to be the most inclusive ever, with several people of colour, members from the rainbow communities and a high number of women, once the ruling Labour party, which won a resounding mandate in the election over the weekend, forms a government.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading the Asian Insider newsletter and The Straits Times. We’ll be back with you tomorrow. 

Shefali 

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