Asian Insider June 19: The Trump-Xi meeting is back on, but what good is it?

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

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In today’s bulletin, Trump announces he will meet Xi Jinping next week, two factions in Malaysia are coming face to face, an analysis of Carrie Lam’s apology and more.

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TRUMP-XI MEETING BACK ON

On the day US President Donald Trump was to formally launch his re-election campaign, he decided he wanted to commemorate it by adding another news point: he will be meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping next week at the G-20 summit. The tweet announcement that the on-again, off-again meeting was now on again cheered financial markets as once dire predictions about a prolonged trade war turned just ever so slightly cheerier.

The Trump tweet in full:  "Had a very good telephone conversation with President Xi of China. We will be having an extended meeting next week at the G-20 in Japan. Our respective teams will begin talks prior to our meeting."

But how optimistic should we be, really?  Many analysts were quick to pour water on whatever little joy people got out of this news, pointed - rightly-  that the two countries remain miles apart on a whole range of critical issues. Huawei, in particular, will be a difficult sticking point. The US has sought to cast Huawei as a national security threat and how does one bargain with national security?

Go deeper:

Trump says he will meet China's Xi at G-20, trade talks set to restart

Huawei a stumbling block to trade truce, say US analysts

ROUTINE MEETING COULD TURN FIERY

After over a week of sniping at each other from afar, a routine meeting of Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s political bureau taking place as I write this is set to bring the two factions face-to-face. The meeting, which will be attended by the party’s seniors leaders, is being watched for how they deal with the ongoing sex video scandal that has completely consumed Malaysian politics.

The latest developments: Late on Tuesday, the promised third tranche of videos that are meant to incriminate Mr Azmin Ali, a high-ranking minister who has been tipped as a potential challenger to would-be PM Anwar Ibrahim was released. Mr Anwar has pushed back at claims that his faction had anything to do with the leaks so far and also openly disagreed with his political secretary that Mr Azmin needs to step down. Meanwhile, an ally of Mr Azmin, federal minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, has called for stern action to be taken against Mr Azmin’s accuser. If you are finding it all too complicated to follow, all you really need to know is that the largest party in Malaysia’s ruling alliance looks on the verge of breaking into civil war - one that has deep repercussions for who will be the country’s next prime minister.

Go deeper:

Fireworks expected at PKR leaders' meeting

Third batch of video clips that allegedly implicate Azmin released

ST EXCLUSIVE: WAS CARRIE LAM’S APOLOGY GOOD ENOUGH?

The Hong Kong chief executive has now apologised twice in three days and promised to suspend the controversial extradition legislation indefinitely - giving protesters a victory after two massive public demonstrations. So that should be that right? Not quite, as out Hong Kong Correspondent Claire Huang notes.

The essential problem is trust. It is now clear that the people of Hong Kong do not trust the chief executive and so any concessions that do not fit exactly the demands from protesters - and the concessions indeed do not exactly line-up with demands - is going to be read with suspicion. Case in point, some people have noted that the apology was not sincere as she did not bow as she apologised.

Analysis: Problem with Carrie Lam's apology after Hong Kong extradition Bill protests is the unspoken words

LEGALISING EUTHANASIA

Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state had taken the rare step of making voluntary euthanasia legal. Assisted suicide is illegal in most countries and remains illegal in the rest of Autralia though the rollout in Victoria could set the stage for it to be legalised nationally.

The details:  The person seeking tuhanasia must be 18 years or older and have an advanced disease causing unacceptable suffering and likely to cause death. The person can change his or her mind at any time and health practitioners can refuse not to take part in the process.

The full story: Euthanasia now legal in Australian state of Victoria

AND FINALLY, THE WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE APARTMENTS

Sotheby’s International Realty maintains a list of what it calls “super penthouses”. These are, according to the firm, penthouses which have 10,000 sq ft of floor space or more, are located in buildings between 1,000 and 1,900 ft tall, found in major global cities, and offer spectacular views. Assuming you have upwards of $50 million lying around, where would you buy one? Well, of the 11 currently on the market in Sotheby’s list, 6 are in Singapore.

I’m just going to describe one, the one in the photo. It has a floor area of 21,108 sq ft and spans the 62nd to 64th storey of the condominium block. It has five five bedrooms, a family room, a viewing deck, a private garden, a 12m pool, a cabana, a jacuzzi, an entertainment room and bar facilities.

Other developments:

The United States, followed by China, is the clear world leader in artificial intelligence (AI) development, according to a new index. The Cambrian AI Index, which measures countries' AI readiness, compared the strategies and development environments of 13 countries with national AI strategies.

1MDB subsidiary SRC International owes state pension fund Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP) a debt of RM4.15 billion (S$1.36 billion) as of May this year, which the Malaysian government has to pay up, the Kuala Lumpur High Court heard on Wednesday (June 19) at the corruption trial of former prime minister Najib Razak.

Japanese authorities said on Wednesday (June 19) that at least 16 people were injured after a magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck north-western Japan on Tuesday night, prompting the government to issue a tsunami warning. The Meteorological Agency lifted a tsunami warning early on Wednesday after 1m tsunami waves that it had predicted were not observed on the coasts of Ishikawa, Niigata and Yamagata prefectures.

Philippine immigration agents have arrested a Pakistani suicide bomber suspected of having links with local terrorists in southern Philippines, the Bureau of Immigration said on Wednesday (June 19).

That’s a wrap for today. Thanks for reading.

-Jeremy