Asian Insider June 27: G-20 Summit; Huawei's military links

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


This looks to be one meeting when bilateral meetings might be more in the spotlight, than what may actually happen at the summit. Take a look at the meetings that are planned: 

- US President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet China President Xi Jinping on Saturday. He will also meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but will not meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. 

- Japan Prime Minister and G-20 Chairman Shinzo Abe is due to meet President Xi today (Thursday) and Mr Trump tomorrow (Friday). In all, he will have one-on-one talks with at least 17 leaders, including Mr Putin. But he has declined a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, with bilateral ties not at their very best.

The latest on Trump-Xi trade talks: The signals don't sound good. In his latest remarks, Trump has threatened to impose substantial additional US tariffs on goods from China, if there's no progress on a trade deal after his meeting at the G-20 Summit. This is quite different from US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's comments earlier that he was optimistic about uS-China trade negotiations in Osaka. The meeting between Trump and Xi is scheduled for 11:30am on Saturday. 

Japan's ties with US and China: Trump's remarks, ahead of his visit for the G-20 summit, that the military obligations in America's treaty with Japan aren't fair is not likely to be taken in well in Tokyo. Also, the meeting comes when Japan and the US are discussing bilateral trade, with Trump not in favour of trade deficits with any country.  In terms of Japan's ties with China, this is the first time that Xi is visiting Japan and it comes as the two countries have been trying to repair relations this past year. China is Japan's biggest market and talks are on to take it to the next level.

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This was suspected, but a report by Bloomberg suggests it could be true. Several employees of Huawei Technologies collaborated on research projects with Chinese armed forces personnel, indicating closer ties to the country's military than previously acknowledged by the company, says the report. 

What was the research all about?: There were at least 10 research endeavours, ranging from artificial intelligence to radio communications. The studies include a joint effort with the investigative branch of the Central Military Commission - the armed forces' supreme body - to extract and classify emotions in online video comments. And an initiative with the elite National University of Defence Technology to explore ways of collecting and analysing satellite images and geographical coordinates.  A Huawei spokesman, however, has denied the allegations. And China's Defence Ministry has not responded. 

Is this unusual?:  Tech companies do collaborate with governments all over the world. But the report is revealing given current concerns in the US and elsewhere on working with Huawei. 

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Taiwan is bracing for a deluge of fake news and disinformation, just before a presidential election, due to take place in January, with the main issue likely to be the island's ties with China. One instance that sparked criticism of the government was a widely shared but patently false report that said China had rescued Taiwanese tourists stranded in a Japanese airport during a typhoon. In another instance,  President Tsai Ing-wen's office also asked police to investigate false claims on social media that her government had given US$32 million (S$43 million) to finance huge anti-government rallies in Hong Kong.


Indonesia's Constitutional Court is due to rule today on a petition filed by retired general Prabowo Subianto challenging the presidential election result of the April elections. President Joko Widodo won April's presidential race with a comfortable double-digit lead, the Election Commission's official count showed last month. This, however, was not accepted by his challenger who has asked courts to overturn the result. 

Why the ruling will be significant: The verdict on Prabowo's petition will be final. The winnere of the polls will be announced and the next government will begin to take shape. As such the election supervisory agency (Bawaslu) has said there was no evidence of systematic cheating, and independent observers have said the poll was free and fair.

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That Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is a techie is known. Now's he revealed that he turns into a mystery shopper on government websites, to help improve online services. And he doesn't do this alone. He made these remarks while talking about Singapore's smart nation vision to use technology to improve the quality of life for all.  


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said China can't fish in the country's waters, in a U-turn on the issue. On Wednesday, he had said that he would allow China to fish in Philippine waters because "we're friends".

ingapore is setting aside S$ 40 million to accelerate the development of 5G applications, with an emphasis on six clusters. These are maritime operations, urban mobility, smart estates management, smart manufacturing, as well as government and consumer applications. 

North Korea has warned the South to stop "meddling" in talks between Pyongyang and Washington, repudiating its neighbour just days before United States President Donald Trump arrives in Seoul amid a nuclear deadlock. Talks have been stalled since February when a second summit between Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed earlier this year.

That's it for today. We'll be back with more on happenings in Asia, tomorrow. 

- Shefali