Asian Insider, Jan 15: Trade deal, China & Taiwan, mystery virus

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


In today's bulletin: We look at the US-China trade deal, China's stance on Taiwan, Hong Kong's colour-codes for retail outlets, growing concern over the mysterious China virus, much sought after wedding dates and more.

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As the world awaits the signing of a Phase One agreement between China and the United States, US bureau chief Nirmal Ghosh says the deal, that comes two years after a damaging trade war, will bring about a truce, with China to commit to buying significantly more US produce and products. But there is some concern that purchasing targets are set very high and the US may not even be able to supply that level of demand.

Meanwhile, China bureau chief Tan Dawn Wei reports that Beijing has vowed to keep the yuan stable and not use it as a weapon in a trade war.

Go deeper:

After riding out trade war with Trump, Xi strikes optimistic tone

US to maintain tariffs on Chinese goods until Phase 2 deal; Phase 1 deal fully enforceable: Mnuchin

Phase One commodity targets likely more than China can chew, say analysts

Trump trade deal raises issue of trusting China to deliver, analysts say


China's position on Taiwan will not change after election results, mainland Chinese official Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) of the State Council said in his first post-election briefing. However, if cross-strait relations are damaged, the situation in the Taiwan Strait will be turbulent, and the interests and welfare of Taiwan compatriots will be damaged, he added. China correspondent Elizabeth Law has a report.

Meanwhile, Katherine Wei, Taiwan correspondent, reports that President Tsai Ing-wen has called on China to reconsider its current Taiwan policy, saying that the island is already an independent country, just days after securing her re-election in a landslide victory.

Here's more on Taiwan:

China to push harder on reunification goal after Tsai Ing-wen's victory

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen's win won't help Hong Kong protests: Analysts

Constant vigilance is key at air base on Taiwan's front line with China


Protesters are encouraging shoppers to visit and buy products from stores and restaurants that support their cause, in a new trend that could annoy authorities. The outlets supporting the protests are considered "yellow stores" while pro-government and pro-China businesses are considered "blue" businesses. The latter have sometimes become targets for vandalism or boycotts. While this means good business for some, there are others that are closing shop, compounding problems for those trying to revive the economy.

Read more on Hong Kong:

Hong Kong protesters weaponising spending power as they dig in for long fight

Chow Tai Fook to shut down about a fifth of its Hong Kong stores as protests weigh

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam pledges S$1.7 billion in new relief measures to prop up weakened economy


A new virus from the same family as the deadly Sars pathogen could have been spread between family members in the Chinese city of Wuhan, local authorities said today. One of the 41 patients reported in the city could have been infected by her husband, Wuhan's health commission said in a statement. The announcement follows news that a Chinese woman had been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in Thailand after travelling there from Wuhan.

Read more online:

WHO warns of wider outbreak of Wuhan virus as Chinese New Year nears

Indonesia tightens screening at entry points following Wuhan virus outbreak

Rapid test for Wuhan virus may be days away, say Hong Kong health authorities

2/2/2020 & 22/2/2020 ARE HOT WEDDING DATES THIS YEAR

Wedding bells will ring loudly in February this year, especially on two dates, here in Singapore. 178 couples will say 'I do' on Feb 2, while 331 couples will exchange vows on Feb 22.


TOKYO - Japanese environment minister Shinjiro Koizumi, son of charismatic former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, said today he would take paternity leave, as he aims to become a role model for the country's working fathers. He plans to take about two weeks of leave over three months following the birth of his first child this month.

PETALING JAYA - A letter from Malaysia's education ministry describing Pongal as a religious festival based on guidelines from the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) has caused an uproar in the Muslim-majority country. The education ministry said its guidance on the Tamil harvest festival was merely to allay Muslim parents' concerns, while Jakim said it was only providing advice at the ministry's request.

MANILA - A tangle of cracks has opened up around an erupting volcano in the Philippines that's triggered hundreds of earthquakes and urgent pleas for residents to evacuate areas at risk of dangerous fissures and ashfall.

NEW DELHI - Inc chief executive officer Jeff Bezos said his company will invest US$1 billion (S$1.35 billion) to bring small and medium-sized businesses online in India and expects to export US$10 billion worth of India-made goods by 2025. Mr Bezos' visit comes amid strident criticism from small business owners who accuse the company and Walmart's Flipkart of unfair business practices.

That's it for today. We'll be back with you tomorrow and thanks for reading.

- Shefali

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