Week in focus: A US-China Trade War Looms, Myanmar's President Steps Down

Week in focus: A US-China Trade War Looms, Myanmar's President Steps Down
Photo Credit:Reuters/達志影像

What you need to know

A weekly roundup of the most important news from around the region.


China responded to the threat of new tariffs from the United States by vowing Tuesday to further open its own markets to foreign trade and investment, while warning that a trade war between the two nations would hurt both sides. - The Washington Post

China’s capital city has given the green light to tech giant Baidu Inc to test self-driving cars on city streets, an important step as the country looks to bolster its position in the global race for autonomous vehicles. - Reuters

Credit: Reuters

China on Monday appointed a former missile force commander as its new defense minister amid lingering concerns over the goals of its rapid military modernization. - ABC News

Tackling China's rampant corruption has been a personal mission of Xi Jinping's since he became president, and his campaign is now moving up a gear with the establishment of a new anti-corruption agency overseeing millions of people. - BBC

China’s media regulator is cracking down on video spoofs, the official Xinhua new agency reported, amid an intensified crackdown on any content that is deemed to be in violation of socialist core values under President Xi Jinping. - Reuters

While President Xi Jinping extends his influence over the Chinese government, his signature political philosophy is becoming standard fare in the country’s classrooms. - The Wall Street Journal

Asian stock markets slumped Friday after Beijing responded to the Trump administration’s tariff hikes by saying it may order higher import duties on a range of U.S. goods, ratcheting up fears of a trade war. - AP News


A widely read Chinese state-run newspaper said on Thursday (Mar 22) China should prepare for military action over Taiwan, and pressure Washington over cooperation on North Korea, after the United States passed a law to boost ties with Taiwan. - Channel News Asia

Photo credit: Reuters/達志影像

The United States’ commitment to Taiwan has never been stronger and the island is an inspiration to the rest of the Indo-Pacific region, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alex Wong said on Wednesday, in comments certain to anger Beijing. - Rueters

An avalanche of apparently mistaken orders at the close knocked Taiwan’s third-biggest stock down almost 10 percent in minutes, draining $3 billion from its market value. - Bloomberg

South Korea:

The South Korea presidential office on Thursday (Mar 22) proposed a four-year, two-term presidency, as widely expected, saying the current five-year single-term presidency hails from the age of dictatorship. - Channel News Asia

South Korean former president Lee Myung-bak was detained early on Friday on charges of taking bribes when he was in office, becoming the country's fourth leader to end up behind bars. - Channel News Asia

李明博 South Korean President Lee attends the 21st ASEAN and East Asia summits in Phnom Penh
Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

The air in Pohang is thick with steel dust and anxiety. No place in South Korea has more to lose from President Trump’s tariffs on steel imports than this industrial city on the country’s southeast coast. - The Washington Post

North Korea:

Voices of concern emerged in South Korea and elsewhere in Asia on Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump shook up his foreign policy team again, prompting worries over Trump's pending summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. - Reuters


Japanese automaker Toyota said on Thursday (Mar 22) it was suspending tests of its self-driving cars so staff could "emotionally process" after an autonomous Uber car killed a pedestrian in an accident. - Channel News Asia


The Philippines’ decision to leave the International Criminal Court will not derail an on-going preliminary probe into possible crimes committed during Manila’s war on drugs, the court said Tuesday in its first reaction to the Asian nation’s withdrawal. - AP News

Photo Credit:AP/達志影像

Duterte takes aim at the press, testing the foundations of Philippine democracy. - The Washington Post


Thailand’s ruling junta fired a key election official for criticizing delays in a long-promised vote, deepening uncertainty about the transition to a more democratic government. - The Wall Street Journal

Singtel to bring Dash mobile wallet to the region, starting with Thailand. This will allow Singtel Dash users to pay for goods and services at places like Chatuchak Market, MBK Center and Pratunam from mid-2018, says Singtel. - Channel News Asia


Cambodia has rejected a statement to the United Nations from 45 countries urging it to improve its civil rights climate as Prime Minister Hun Sen strengthens authoritarian rule ahead of national elections scheduled for July. - The Wall Street Journal


President through whom Aung San Suu Kyi exerted political power steps down for health reasons amid pressure over Rohingya crisis. - The Guardian

Burma’s government, struggling to handle accusations of ethnic cleansing over its treatment of Rohingya Muslims, is contemplating legislation that would seek greater oversight of the work of international nongovernmental organizations, including the United Nations, prompting concerns of a crackdown on their activities. - The Washington Post


Indonesia has asked telecoms providers to shut down some mobile internet services in its holiday island of Bali on Saturday, to respect the predominantly Hindu island's New Year "day of silence". - U.S. News


The Malaysian cabinet has approved a controversial Bill to counter fake news and plans to table it in parliament next week amid fears from the opposition that it will be used to crack down on dissent ahead of looming polls. - Channel News Asia

A man was referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation when the Islamic crescent on his Malaysian flag was mistaken for an American flag "desecrated" with an IS symbol. - SBC News

An online petition calling for "equal justice for the rich and poor" after a woman escaped jail time for abusing her maid in Malaysia has received almost 50,000 signatures in just three days. - Channel News Asia

Editor: Morley J Weston