Asian Insider May 23: Historic election victory for India’s Modi; troubles mount for Huawei

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


India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed set to return to power for a second term with his ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) showing a lead position in about 300 seats - stunning the opposition. It needed 272 seats to form the government. The opposition Congress, led by President Rahul Gandhi was ahead in counting for 52 seats, showing it will be a while yet before the party can hope to return to power.

The significance of Modi's win: BJP will become the first party in three decades to command a single-party majority, in the lower house of Parliament, where bills are debated. This should mean a period of stability for the country, with coalition politics having its own limitations. But it also means it will allow the Prime Minister to consolidate his hold and there are those who are concerned about its implications for minorities in the country.

Modi's agenda: In anticipation of the win, our India Bureau Chief Nirmala Ganapathy says, the BJP started planning for the next five years of government on Wednesday. Yes, Wednesday. The BJP and its allies have held discussions on the agenda of the future government, from pushing for economic growth to dealing with the farm crisis and improving the incomes of farmers, she writes.

Don't miss this: Modi's 5M magic carries the day for BJP

Ravi Velloor, former India Bureau Chief, Associate Editor and Speaking of Asia columnist says there's a new word in India for the landslide win pulled off by India's Hindu nationalist prime minister: tsunamo. That's short for a tsunami for Narendra Modi.

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Further reading:

Early trends show BJP strong in key state of Uttar Pradesh

Indian PM's close ally Amit Shah helped craft winning election strategy

India election microsite: Read more stories


British chip designer ARM became the latest company to shun Huawei following the blacklisting of the Chinese telecom company, by the United States, and no hint of any resolution in sight still, in the ongoing US-China trade dispute. ARM's move cripples Huawei's ability to make new chips for its future smartphones. The announcement came on a day that Panasonic announced it was disengaging with Huawei. The Japanese firm supplies some components to Huawei.

Will it get worse for Huawei? Reports hint Washington has been lobbying several governments to comply with the ban. Besides Britain, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo said South Korea has been urged to reject Huawei goods. China is the biggest export market for countries in South Korea. Also, the ban has had a bearing on Huawei's ties with Google and many other partners.

Can Huawei fight back? The company certainly is trying and has announced that it will have its own operating system for smartphones and laptops ready for use in China by fall this year or spring at the latest, followed by a version for the international market. Potential consumers will be assessing how it scores over systems developed by Google and Microsoft. Much remains uncertain.

Further reading:

Will tech world of the future look like the past?

Used Huawei phone prices plunge, but some look for bargains online

Trump ban puts Huawei's smartphone plans in jeopardy


US President Donald Trump is due to arrive in Tokyo on Saturday and will be the first state leader to meet Emperor Naruhito. And Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing eagerly for the visit. The list of things he is ensuring include front-row seats to a sumo tournament, renamed the Trump Cup; 18 holes with beloved golfer Isao Aoki; a naval base inspection; and a huge state banquet.

What's up? Several matters will be up for discussion tied to the future of US-Japan ties. Among them the US President's trade policies, the way forward on denuclearising North Korea and China's rise among others. One indication that the two leaders may not be looking for immediate agreements are reports that suggest that a joint statement may not be issued after the two leaders meet on May 27. We'll have more on the discussions after the meeting.


Singapore and China will be working together to take their bilateral ties to a higher level. This was mentioned by Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat as he began a week-long visit to China. His response, in an interview with Xinhua, signals the Republic's continuing commitment to ties with China and comes at a time of growing global uncertainty. Singapore has been an early supporter of China's Belt and Road Initiative - that seeks to build China's infrastructure links with several countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.

Here are some related stories on bilateral ties:

How US-China trade war will hit Singapore

Singapore, China ink deals on trade, Belt and Road projects

Singapore and China agree to deepen cooperation in finance, infrastructure, education and science


China's Tencent is reportedly working with its US unit Riot Games to develop a mobile version of the globally popular League of Legends game, Reuters reports. If this does work out, it would mark a new chapter in ties between the two, that have been tense these past few years as they carved their own space in the growing e-sports market. Meanwhile, players will need to wait till 2020, to win the games on their mobile devices.

Other developments:

Life is returning to normal in Jakarta after two days of riots over the results of last month's presidential election. Many road blocks have been removed, motorists are back on the road and hopefully this will not be a temporary reprieve. President Joko Widodo's lead opponent Prabowo Subianto plans to file a legal challenge.

The spring climbing season is on at Mount Everest but reports of overcrowding are coming in. Four people have lost their lives so far, this season.

Thanks for reading. We'll be back with more, tomorrow.


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