China's most pressing challenges in the spotlight

A Chinese construction worker carrying supplies with a pole, walking past the China Central Television (CCTV) Tower in Beijing, China, on April 15, 2016.
A Chinese construction worker carrying supplies with a pole, walking past the China Central Television (CCTV) Tower in Beijing, China, on April 15, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

Briefing to explore issues that have put Beijing on the defensive and the world on guard

It chalked up its slowest economic growth in 25 years and its stock market is given to periodic turmoil. It faces growing rumblings of discontent in Hong Kong and a new independence-minded leader in Taiwan.

The world's No. 2 economy, China, is running into headwinds on multiple fronts even as it seeks to assert itself as a global power.

China's most pressing challenges and its longer-term growth prospects will be the focus of a quarterly briefing on May 11 as part of The Straits Times Global Outlook Forum. The annual forum brings together senior journalists from The Straits Times' global network and some of Asia's finest minds to discuss issues facing the region.

This year, The Straits Times, in partnership with sponsor OCBC Premier Banking, is holding three quarterly briefings leading up to the main forum in November.

The first briefing, on Feb 24, was well received and attracted about 200 participants.

The upcoming briefing, which will be moderated by ST's East Asia editor Goh Sui Noi, is titled The Triple Chinese Challenge: Hong Kong, Taiwan and the New Normal.

Ms Li Xueying, ST's senior Hong Kong correspondent, Professor John Wong of the East Asian Institute (EAI) at the National University of Singapore, and Mr Teo Joo Wah, chief strategist with OCBC Group's Lion Global Investors, will analyse the political, economic and financial issues that have put Beijing on the defensive and the world on guard.

A BIGGER HEADACHE THAN BEFORE

When we talk about China's troubled periphery, we usually think of Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia. Now, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also giving Beijing a bigger headache than before.

MS LI XUEYING, The Straits Times' senior Hong Kong correspondent.

Ms Li, who has been based in Hong Kong since 2012, will share insights gleaned from her coverage of recent key developments in Greater China. These include a growing pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and the Jan 16 presidential election in Taiwan that will see opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen take power on May 20.

"When we talk about China's troubled periphery, we usually think of Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia. Now, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also giving Beijing a bigger headache than before," Ms Li noted.

Prof Wong, currently a professorial fellow and academic adviser at the EAI, has circulated many policy-related reports to the Singapore Government. He will talk about China's longer-term growth prospects, much of which will depend on the progress of economic reform and macro-economic rebalancing.

Mr Teo has more than 22 years of investment experience and previously headed the equities team at Fullerton Fund Management Company and Temasek Holdings' fund management division.

He will speak on the most worrying China issues for investors - the economy's protracted slowdown, the depreciation of the yuan, the threat of non-performing loans in the banking sector, and the volatility in the A shares market.

The discussion will start at 6.30pm at the SPH Auditorium in Toa Payoh North. A limited number of seats has been set aside for ST readers. Readers who wish to attend must register online at http://str.sg/globaloutlook

There is no entrance fee.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2016, with the headline 'China's most pressing challenges in the spotlight'. Print Edition | Subscribe