China-ASEAN Monitor


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Photo Credit: Reuters

Economy, Investment and Trade

China and Japan both seek to control RCEP
A tug-of-war can be seen between China and Japan as they both try to steer the RCEP negotiations. China is pushing for a fast conclusion to the agreement with its main agenda being to remove tariffs in the ASEAN region. While Japan, along with Australia, wants a more comprehensive trade deal which will also layout guidelines for services and investment. A Japanese negotiator said that if China pushes for a speedy wrap up to the negotiations ASEAN will only focus on removing tariffs instead of looking to negotiate rules on services and investment. RCEP would cover almost half the world’s population and a third of its economic output. RCEP includes the 10 ASEAN countries, Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.
Source: The Financial Times (14 March 2017)
 

China’s capital controls hit property developers
Tight capital controls in China has forced a property developer to close its showrooms in mainland China. Country Garden who built the US$ 100 billion Forest City in southern Malaysia, is now having to renovate the sales centre “to better fit with current foreign exchange policies and regulations”. Currently, 70 percent of buyers of units in this development are Chinese nationals. China has implemented measures to limit the outflow of capital by making approvals for foreign acquisitions by Chinese companies and individuals more stringent.
Source: The Financial Times (14 March 2017)

 

Foreign Affairs

Philippines takes preemptive action over Chinese presence in Benham Rise
The Philippines has been vocal about asserting its sovereign rights over Benham Rise, an area declared by the United Nations in 2012 as part of its continental shelf. This comes after a Chinese vessel was seen moving back and forth, seemingly surveying the area. Benham Rise is a 13 million hectare undersea region rich in biodiversity and yellowfin tuna, to the east of the Philippines. President Rodrigo Duterte called for “structures” to be built in the area to denote Philippine jurisdiction and told the navy if Chinese vessels return, “go there and tell them straight that this is ours”.
Source: Channel News Asia (14 March 2017)

South China Sea code of conduct draft ready, says China
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced, at his annual news conference on the sidelines of China’s National People’s Congress, that a first draft of a code of conduct for behaviour in the South China Sea has been completed. He also went on to say that the situation in the area was now stable and implicitly sent a message to the U.S. saying that those who wanted to “stir up trouble” would be condemned by countries in the region.
Source: The Straits Times (8 March 2017)

Joint training conducted by Filipino and Chinese coast guards
The first-ever reciprocal visit between coast guards from the Philippines and China will be conducted later this year. A ship from Guangdong, China, the Coast Guard headquarters in China, will be visiting the Philippines in August or September of this year. The Philippines will then send two vessels to accompany the Chinese ship back and during this period the coast guards from the two countries will conduct joint training which may include search and rescue, law enforcement, or environmental exercises. Both countries have also laid the groundwork for mutual agreement on the handling of illegal drugs and piracy on the high seas.
Source: CNN Philippines (14 March 2017)