Photo Credit: Kr-Asia
Economy, Investment and Trade
Tencent and Baidu introduce video streaming services into crowded Vietnamese market
(30 July 2019) Chinese technology giants Tencent and Baidu started offering video-on-demand (VOD) services in Vietnam on July 30 through their platforms WeTV and iQIYI. According to Vietnamese media, Vietnamese users can now download the WeTV and iQIYI applications from Apple and Google’s app stores, and access content for as low as US$1.08 per month on WeTV and US$2.13 per month on iQIYI (although both only provide Chinese content as of now). The entry of these Chinese service providers were met with raised eyebrows, as it means even more competition for local VOD providers who already face competition from US’s Netflix (US$7.8 per month), Malaysia’s iflix (US$2.56 per month), and other popular illegal movie streaming websites. As well, Vietnam is currently in the midst of amending a decree that could potentially require foreign streaming services to obtain a license from the Ministry of Information and Communications.
China vows to narrow trade deficit with Indonesia, approves more Indonesian exports
(4 August 2019) China’s commerce minister has pledged to “prioritise Indonesia in accordance with President Xi Jinping’s instruction” and work towards narrowing its trade surplus with Indonesia, said Indonesian trade minister Enggartiasto Lukita. According to Enggartiasto, the General Administration of Custom China (GACC) has also approved several requests that he had made a week ago, including providing permits to 60 Indonesian companies to export commodities to China. Indonesia’s trade deficit with China stood at US$18.5 billion in the first five months of 2019. Indonesian President Joko Widodo met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit recently, where Joko asked China to open a wider market for Indonesian goods.
Malaysia-China bilateral trade expected to hit new high this year
(1 August 2019) Trade between Malaysia and China will likely hit a record high in 2019 what with bilateral trade in the first half of the year recording a 10.7% year-on-year growth, said Chinese ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian. According to him, trade between the countries reached US$57.35 billion during the period, thus signalling that they are likely to top last year’s total of slightly more than US$100 billion if this growth continues in the second half of the year. Furthermore, Bai Tian said that he expects the recently-relaunched East Coast Rail Link project as well as Malaysia’s participation in the upcoming China International Import Expo (CIIE) to create more opportunities for Malaysian and Chinese companies in each other’s markets and cooperate to enter third markets.
Myanmar to export fish to China through barter trade agreement
(5 August 2019) Myanmar’s fisheries department has sent an inventory of fish that it hopes to export to China under the barter trade agreement that the countries signed earlier this year, said Myanmar fisheries department official U Thet Naing. According to commerce ministry deputy secretary U Khin Maung Lwin, the inventory was sent on the request of Chinese authorities who are studying potential aquaculture products to be imported. Myanmar exported 570,000 tonnes of aquaculture products worth US$712 million in the 2017/2018 fiscal year and are targeting US$1 billion for this year.
Planned economic zones on northern Filipino islands spark national security concerns
(5 August 2019) Chinese investors are planning to turn three northern Philippines islands — Fuga, Grande and Chiquita — into economic and tourism zones, according to Filipino media. The proposed investment projects would include a US$2 billion “Smart City” on Fuga Island comprising an agriculture hub, medical schools and a high-tech industrial park. These proposed investments were part of the 19 agreements inked during President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in Beijing in April, altogether worth US$12.16 billion worth of investments. Nevertheless, the country’s military officials have voiced their concerns regarding the strategic positioning of these island investments and how they may affect national security. Fuga Island, for example, controls access to the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, while Grande and Chiquita islands are located in the former naval base of Subic Bay and located 260 kilometers from the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.