Asian Insider Aug 27: Missing words, missing phone calls, missing retailer

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents.

In today’s bulletin: Indonesia picks a location for its new capital, Police fire a live round for the first time in Hong Kong protests, US and China talk about talking again and more.

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Indonesia’s administrative capital will move from Jakarta on the island of Java to East Kalimantan on Borneo. After months of speculation, President Joko Widodo today announced that he had chosen the province where the new capital will be. He now needs to pass a law to provide the legal basis for this very expensive move. No timeline was given but the need to move the capital has become increasingly urgent.

Why Indonesia wants to move its capital: Indonesia's quest for a new capital gains fresh impetus


For the second time in two days, China’s Foreign Ministry was asked about calls US President Donald Trump said the US received from China calling for talks to be restarted.  For the second time, presumably now with a whole day to check on phone records, China is denying that any such call was placed. Instead, the Chinese are calling on Washington to stop its “wrong actions” and create conditions for talks. It also accused the US of “maliciously hyping up” the South China Sea situation.

What you need to know about US-China ties today:

China's Foreign Ministry hopes US can create conditions for trade talks; not aware of call between both sides

China says US 'maliciously hyping up' South China Sea issue

Analysis: The Fed can't fix trade, Mr Trump


Today was a relatively calm day on the streets of Hong Kong by recent standards, but statements from China and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam make it clear that the government intends to hold its ground.  Mrs Lam denounced the violence seen over the weekend, adding that violence should not be “normalised or glorified”, while pushing back on protesters claim that she has not been listening to the people. In Beijing, the Foreign Ministry voiced strong dissatisfaction with the joint communique from the G-7 that backed Hong Kong’s autonomy. Massive protests are expected over the coming weekend.

What you need to know about Hong Kong today:

 G-7 leaders back Hong Kong autonomy, call for calm

Beijing expresses 'strong dissatisfaction' with G-7 on Hong Kong

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says escalation of violence becoming more serious


In this special report, Assistant Foreign Editor David Fogarty takes stock of the current situation in the Amazon, why the rainforest there is so critical to the world, who is to blame for the fires and what now can be done to save the Amazon.

 Feeling the burn: The fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest show no sign of abating


Two stalwarts of the Singapore retail - both fixtures in the scene -  made major closure announcements on the same day. First, the DFS Group - Changi Airport’s largest and oldest duty-free retailer - said it was leaving the airport after close to 40 years selling liquor and tobacco there. Second, department store Metro announced that it was closing its flagship store in Singapore’s once iconic Centrepoint mall. Reasons for the closures are likely different. Airport duty-free retail has not face the same sort of pressure from e-commerce the other retailers are confronting. 

DFS stores in Changi Airport to close in June 2020; South Korea's Shilla and Lotte among 3 new bidders

Metro's flagship store at The Centrepoint to close as other tenants move out


Vegetarian KFC: KFC will test vegetarian, plant-based chicken for one day in one restaurant in the US state of Georgia, the American fast food giant said on Monday (Aug 26).

Duterte visits China: President Rodrigo Duterte will head for Beijing on Wednesday (Aug 28), his fifth visit since he took office in 2016. While his previous visits have been more or less a love-fest between him and Chinese President Xi Jinping, this time their meeting promises to be less cordial.

Sri Lanka: Islamic clerics in Sri Lanka asked Muslim women on Tuesday (Aug 27) to continue to avoid wearing face veils until the government clarifies whether they are once again allowed now that emergency rule has ended four months after a string of suicide bomb attacks.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow.

- Jeremy