Asian Insider, Nov 12: Singapore’s Asean Summit vaccine call, Typhoon Vamco hammers Philippines

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

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In today's bulletin: Singapore makes Covid-19 vaccine call at Asean Summit, Biden to be US' first Indo-Pacific President, China's trade threats put Australia on edge, Alibaba's Singles' Day sales, Typhoon Vamco in the Philippines, and more.

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S'pore calls for equitable, steady, affordable Covid-19 vaccine supply to region

The South-east Asia region has to ensure an equitable, steady and affordable supply of Covid-19 vaccines for its people once these are available, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the Asean Summit on Thursday (Nov 12), calling for "vaccine multilateralism" as he stressed the importance of regional cooperation to mitigate the pandemic's long-term impact.

In China, efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine are heating up, as scientists continue daily to administer experimental doses in thousands of Chinese people despite concerns about the vaccines' efficacy and the autonomy of those receiving the treatment, China Correspondent Elizabeth Law reports.

Over in India, its Serum Institute said it has made 40 million doses of AstraZeneca's potential Covid-19 vaccine and will soon start making Novavax's rival shot, as both firms seek regulatory approval. The latest development was announced as schools in the country registered hundreds of infections among teachers and students in several states, India Correspondent Debarshi Dasgupta reports.

Get more coronavirus updates at our dedicated website.

Biden will be America's first Indo-Pacific president

Geopolitical circumstances and the ancestries of US President-elect Joe Biden and his Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris make theirs the first "Indo-Pacific" presidency, Associate Editor Ravi Velloor writes in his letter to the incoming US president. Make it count, he says.

On Thursday, Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in spoke with Mr Biden in separate phone calls. Mr Suga and Mr Biden confirmed the importance of US-Japan ties, as well as a "free and open Indo-Pacific" region, while Mr Moon and Mr Biden reaffirmed their commitment to the US-South Korea alliance, and a peaceful Korean peninsula.

In Taiwan, the self-ruled island is hoping to repeat a convention-breaking phone call with the incoming US president, in defiance of warnings from China. Talks are ongoing to arrange a call between Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen and Mr Biden, Taiwanese officials said. Many on the island will miss US President Donald Trump's fiery anti-China rhetoric when he departs from the White House.

Delve deeper:

Associate Editor Vikram Khanna: Unpacking Bidenomics

China's trade threats leave Australia anxious

Australia has been bracing for potentially devastating trade sanctions from China, leaving exporters anxious amid worsening bilateral ties, Jonathan Pearlman writes for The Straits Times. China has restricted or delayed a range of Australian imports, including beef, wine and barley - a punitive move many say comes in response to Canberra's call for an inquiry into the coronavirus' origins.Beijing has denied that the measures are politically motivated.

On Wednesday, China stopped the import of all timber from Australia's Victoria state after Chinese customs officials said they discovered pests in the timber. The ban comes a week after China halted timber imports from the state of Queensland. China, Australia's largest trading partner, accounts for more than a third of all the country's exports, making Australia one of the world's most China-dependent economies.

Also read:

China says Australia knows what it needs to do to improve ties

Alibaba's 11.11 sales tops $101b, but planned rules sink shares

Alibaba's sales for its post-Covid-19 Singles' Day shopping extravaganza hit 498.2 billion yuan (S$101 billion) this year, but the haul was overshadowed by a 10 per cent drop in its shares on Wednesday after China published draft anti-trust rules aimed at internet platforms.

The world's biggest sales event, which spanned 11 days this year, brought sellers on Alibaba's platforms 21 times as many orders by value as Amazon's two-day global Prime Day last month. Its performance is widely considered indicative of China's post-virus economic recovery.

In case you missed it:

Winners and losers in early Singles' Day sales in China

Typhoon Vamco hammers Philippines, paralysing Manila

Typhoon Vamco slammed into the Philippines' main island of Luzon overnight, dumping record levels of rain that set off massive flooding and paralysed nearly all of Metropolitan Manila on Thursday. Across cities in the capital region, tens of thousands of people had to be rowed out of flood waters, Philippines Correspondent Raul Dancel reports.

Vamco came on the heels of Typhoon Goni, whose winds exceeding 300kmh made it the strongest to hit the Philippines in years. Warmer seas caused by climate change are making hurricanes stronger for longer after landfall, increasing the destruction they can wreak on impact, a new study has found.

Read more:

Some facts about typhoons, hurricanes and cyclones

In other news...

Indonesia pushes for South-East Asia travel bubble in early 2021: Indonesia is pushing for a travel corridor arrangement for South-east Asian countries to be in place in the first three months of 2021. Indonesian President Joko Widodo said a declaration on the travel corridor will be issued during the ongoing Asean Summit.

India's top online grocer faces potential breach of 20m users' data: India's biggest online grocer BigBasket has suffered a potential data breach that could have led to personal information of more than 20 million users being offered for sale on the dark web. The incident follows a series of data breaches that have impacted Indian companies.

Despite controversy, all signs point to resounding win for Suu Kyi's party in Myanmar polls: Myanmar's key opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party has denounced the Nov 8 general election, claiming it was full of irregularities. Bur the election commission has shrugged off all allegations as "baseless". Despite the controversy, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy appears on track for a resounding victory.

Manila court's chief clerk fatally shoots judge, then himself: A judge in the Philippine capital was fatally shot in her office at Manila's city hall, authorities said, in a burst of violence notable even for a country where shootings are prevalent. Mr Amador Rebato, a 42-year-old attorney and chief clerk at the court, was in Ms Abadilla's office when witnesses heard a gunshot ring out. The clerk then shot himself after shooting Ms Abadilla, the police said.

That's it for today. Hope the stories proved insightful, and check back for more tomorrow.


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