Asian Insider, Nov 2: Typhoon Goni slams Philippines; China’s economic recovery for real?

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: Super typhoon Goni batters the Philippines, Malaysia begins budget session in Parliament, Questions about China’s economic recovery, Thai King says he loves the protesters despite the protests, Asia simmers over French President Emmanuel Macron's remarks, and more.  

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16 dead as Super Typhoon Goni batters the Philippines

Typhoon Goni, the world's strongest typhoon this year, wreaked havoc in the Philippines leaving at least 16 people dead in parts of the country. A few others remain missing as efforts were underway to attend to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been evacuated.

In Luzon alone, Goni hit 2.1 million residents, leaving more than 50,000 homes without power, while authorities said more than 300,000 people were in evacuation centres.

The typhoon followed Molave that left 22 people dead in Manila. Officials estimate that the torrential rain damaged crops worth 1.1 billion pesos (S$30.94  million). Meanwhile, another storm, Atsani, was gaining strength in the Pacific Ocean as it approached the Philippines.  

Delve deeper: 

All about typhoons, hurricanes and cyclones by Assistant Foreign Editor Magdalene Fung

Why American voters are key to Sino-US ties

Public sentiment against the United States in China has been bitter and worsening through this year given the series of incidents widening the rift between the two economies. Washington's decision to revoke the visas of more than 1,000 Chinese students and researchers over suspicions that their institutions had links to the Chinese military, was a turning point resulting in students becoming casualties of the fight.

That has also led to questions within China about whether the US will be a destination choice in the future. It's still early days yet but factors driving the estrangement are a reason for concern. 

China Correspondent Danson Cheong says this comes at a time when national pride has been swelling over China's ability to contain the pandemic. And yet while Chinese nationalism has been growing, there also remains a fascination with all things foreign. Sentiments, in future, could still change depending on who returns to the White House.


Trump or Biden: Who's better for Asia?

Temporary lifeline for Muhyiddin with budget set to pass

Malaysia's Parliament reconvened today for a session that will see Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin present the Budget and discussions around the country's bid to fight the pandemic. Matters related to the holding of general elections will also surface.

The beleaguered PM holds the slimmest parliamentary majority in Malaysian history but federal lawmakers are unlikely to defy the palace's call to ensure government spending is approved to fight off the pandemic, writes Malaysia Bureau Chief Shannon Teoh. This is, however, only a temporary lifeline for Tan Sri Muhyiddin, as disgruntlement in his largest ally, Umno, continues.

Today's sitting, however, was adjourned after only three hours following concerns over risk of exposure to the coronavirus after a staff member of the Senate, which shares the same building as Members of Parliament, had contracted Covid-19.

Go deeper

Key issues before the Malaysian Parliament

With Budget 2021 safe, longer-term survival now the focus for PM Muhyiddin

China's economic recovery: Is the shine for real?

China’s economy seems to be recovering swiftly from the coronavirus shock latest data indicates, but this revival is not all it is made out to be.  

While many of the cities and factories have come back to life, the road to recovery has been uneven. In fact, experts have warned about the pandemic's impact on the poor, with the World Bank estimating that it could push up to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year.  

Much hope rests on Shenzhen but there are concerns, however, about the sustainability of growth given the weak international demand amid a global recession. 

Click below for the full report: 

Export-reliant traders struggling to survive and adapt by China Bureau Chief Tan Dawn Wei

China's economic recovery not reaching some of country's poor by China Correspondent Danson Cheong 

Shenzhen's tech-driven economy key to country's rebound by China Correspondent Elizabeth Law.

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn says he still loves protesters

In a rare gesture, Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn said he still loves protesters despite the hundreds of protests that have taken place. "We love them all the same," he said on Sunday (Nov 1) and called Thailand "the land of compromise". Still, there were some in the crowd who didn't seem convinced.

In other news...

50,000 join anti-France rally in Bangladesh: Asia continued to simmer over recent developments in France with at least 50,000 people joining the biggest demonstration yet in Bangladesh over French President Emmanuel Macron's defence of the right to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. In Indonesia, meanwhile, around 3,000 people also demonstrated outside the French embassy in Jakarta in Indonesia. 

Hong Kong-Singapore bubble could take off late this month: Hong Kong's officials have shared their optimism that people will be able to start flying between the two cities by the end of the month. At least one designated flight between the two cities every day is expected during the initial phase of the travel bubble, writes Hong Kong Correspondent Claire Huang.

S. Korea's Lee Myung-bak goes back to prison: Former South Korean president headed to prison on Monday after a Seoul court upheld a 17-year term on corruption charges, in what is effectively a life sentence, as the 78-year-old will be 95 in 2036. The country's Supreme Court last week upheld Lee's conviction for embezzling 25.2 billion won (S$30.3 million) and accepting bribes totalling 9.4 billion won.

Thanks for reading the Asian Insider & The Straits Times. We'll be back with you tomorrow.