PM courts investors in Italy

Srettha on 5- morning excursion with list of priorities

PM courts investors in Italy
Srettha Thavisin, the prime minister, meets with professionals from the Italian style home in Valdilana, Italy, on Friday. ( Photo: Thai Government )

Thailand and Italy will push for further assistance in the fields of clean energy, sports hospitality, medical science, pharmaceuticals, and military, according to assistant state representative Radklao Intawong Suwankiri.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and his Roman equivalent Giorgia Meloni likely discuss them as part of their ongoing dialogue to strengthen bilateral relations as the prime minister is currently on a five-day attend to Italy as of Friday.

According to Ms. Radklao, this year marks the 156th celebration of the two countries ‘ diplomatic relations.

The prime minister will even ask European companies to invest in Thailand’s fashion industry, soft power, agrarian technology, food industry, and sustainability- linked bonds, as well as the government’s Land Bridge project.

Both sides may share their knowledge in GI ( geographical indication )- listed products, the development of SMEs, the space industry and food conservation.

Mr. Srettha will also advocate for important issues like the completion of the Thailand-EU FTA negotiations by 2025, and the future job of Thai employees who have come back from Israel.

Mr Srettha even met monday with Carlo Capasa, president of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion, Attilio Fontana, the government of Italy’s Lombardy place, and Raffaele Cattaneo, the state’s secretary for international and European relationships.

Mr. Srettha met with professionals from Versace, as well as representatives from Zegna and Loro Piana, at the Milan-based style home.

Ms. Radklao claimed that the prime minister also brought textiles from the Sakhon Nakhon fashion houses to show them as part of efforts to spread native Thai wisdom in conventional indigo dyeing.

The spokesperson stated that the project is the product of Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya.

Mr. Srettha led a group of Thai enterprise managers to the French Business Forum in France on Thursday before his trip to Italy.

Following on the findings of their previous meeting, he met with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss trade and investment, the defense sector, soft power, and strengthening the France-Thailand strategic partnership in accordance with the Roadmap for Thai-French Relations ( 2022-2024 ).

At the conference, Mr. Srettha delivered a conversation. Ms. Radklao encapsulated the main factors.

The primary secretary stated that after taking office, he made his first official trip to France. His next visit to the two nations in three months demonstrated how close the two countries are together.

Next month, he invited the CEO of Comité Colbert to Thailand to encounter first- hand Indian culture and design.

Thailand hopes to learn from and work with a leader like France to advance its creative economy sectors, according to the PM.

He added that prominent Thai businesses were traveling with him and that it was the president’s priority to set the stage for meetings, connections, and collaboration between private sector parties.

Thailand is France’s third- largest trading partner in Asean. Mr Srettha said that under his administration, the country can and should become France’s largest partner in the region, Ms Radklao said.

There are around 30, 000 Thais living in France while some 40, 000 French nationals reside in Thailand, the second- highest number of French expats in Asia.

Last year, about 270, 000 tourists from France visited Thailand while France welcomed almost 200, 000 Thais.

Recently, the government launched its” Ignite Thailand” vision to establish the country as a global hub in eight sectors, including tourism, wellness &amp, medical, aviation and logistics.

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China unveils property stimuli amid falling sales - Asia Times

After falling in house sales and purchase in the first four months of this year, China released an extraordinary bundle of measures to encourage homebuyers to enter markets on Friday. &nbsp,

The People’s Bank of China ( PBoC ) said it will establish a nationwide program to unleash 300 billion yuan ( US$ 41.5 billion ) in cheap funding to help state- owned- enterprises ( SOEs ) buy unsold homes.

The minimum down payment ratios for first-time purchases were reduced from 20 % to 15 %, and second-time purchases were reduced from 30 % to 25 %, according to the PBoC and the NFRRA. &nbsp, &nbsp,

Additionally, it stated that first and second home loan rates will be abolished nationwide at the lowest rate possible. &nbsp,

According to the central bank, central bank branches is then set lower mortgage rates in accordance with local circumstances. Financial corporations should set the minimum borrowing costs based on their business climate and customer threats, it remarked.

From May 18, the PBoC may also reduce the mortgage rates of the individual accommodation retirement account, a long-term cover savings plan made up of required regular deposits by both employers and employees, by 0.25 percentage points.

Stocks of the Hong Kong-listed Chinese engineers increased on Friday after many of them more than doubled in value during the week that ended Thursday. &nbsp,

Shares of China Vanke Co increased 19.4 % to close at HK$ 6.84 (88 US cents ) on Friday while shares of Sunac China rose 25.9 % to HK$ 1.85. &nbsp,

Agile Group gained 24.3 % to 92 HK cents while Guangzhou R&amp, F Properties surged 12.7 % to HK$ 1.33. &nbsp,

Poor house figures

Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Statistics ( NBS ) released new economic data for January- April 2024 on Friday.

In the first four weeks, China’s estate investment fell 9.8 % year- on- yr to 3.09 trillion yuan. For the 23rd subsequent month, the number has been declining.

In January-April, investment in residential real estate decreased by 10 % to 2.34 trillion yuan from last year.

New home sales fell 28.3 % to 2.81 trillion rmb for the same time. New home sales slumped 31.1 %. &nbsp,

New home sales size decreased 20.2 % to 293 million square feet. New home sales level decreased by 23.8 % year over year.

In April, the average home price in 70 largest Chinese cities fell 3.1 % from a year ago, according to the NBS. It’s the biggest year-on-year drop since November 2014, in terms of terms of year on year.

” March and April are a classic great time, but both new house sales and sales volume have decreased year-on-year over the course of that time, demonstrating how severe the Chinese home markets are right now,” said Wang Xiaoqiang, chief scientist with the Zhuge Real Estate Data Research Center. &nbsp,

Wang claimed that new home sales volume in the first four months of this year decreased by 26.4 % from the same time last year, when most Chinese cities still adhered to Covid laws.

Zhang Hongwei, founder of Jingjian Consulting, said property activities may improve if some urban commercial banks start offering mortgage borrowers10- 20 % discounts in the coming few months. &nbsp,

SOE home purchases&nbsp,

He Lifeng, the vice president of China, stated at a teleconference on Friday that the government will make more efforts to address the risks associated with unfinished commercial housing projects, ensure the delivery of housing projects, and encourage the reduction of property inventory in the markets.

He claimed that local governments are permitted to purchase unsold homes at fair prices and turn them into affordable or rental housing units.

In the upcoming year, 21 national banks, including China Development Bank, policy banks, state-owned commercial banks, Postal Savings Bank of China, and joint-stock commercial banks, will be given loans worth 300 billion yuan at an interest rate of 1.75 %, according to PBoC Deputy Governor Tao Ling. The period of time can be extended four times. &nbsp,

She stated that the central bank will provide loans to national banks to cover 60 % of the scheme’s lending, allowing them to lend SOEs an additional 200 billion yuan, increasing the total to 500 billion yuan.

She suggested that national banks should grant loans to SOEs designated by local governments in accordance with market rules, while local governments should make their own decisions about whether to join the scheme.

” The SOEs for home purchases will be designated by local governments”, Tao said. ” They must not be local government financing vehicles ( LGFVs ) or companies related to local governments ‘ shadow financing” .&nbsp,

China’s total local government debt, including LGFV loans and shadow credit, was about 90- 110 trillion yuan, or 75- 91 % of the country’s GDP in 2022, according to a research report published last November by the 21st Century China Center of the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California San Diego. &nbsp,

Read: China to reboot markets with SOE home purchases

Follow Jeff Pao on X: &nbsp, @jeffpao3

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Sasakawa keeping China-Japan military lines open - Asia Times

This week, Chinese military officers are visiting their Japanese counterparts, raising hopes for more stable diplomatic relations or at least greater experience with how to deal with any unforeseen crises. What it probably wo n’t do, however, is make any fundamental change in their East Asia stand- off.

On May 14, a committee of 20 People’s Liberation Army ( Army ) senior officials arrived in Japan for six weeks of markets with Japan Self- Defence Forces rivals. It is the first PLA visit to Japan in four decades, thanks to the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.

The trip will stop at the Ministry of Defense in Tokyo, Komaki Air Base close to Nagoya, and Maizuru Naval Base in the Japan Sea, west of Kyoto. The more significant US bases at Yokosuka, on Okinawa and elsewhere in Japan are not on the PLA’s tour plan.

Chinese officers last traveled to China in July 2023, but Beijing’s subsequent set reciprocal visit to Japan was postponed because it was upset that Japan had decided to release waste from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean.

Water is stored at Fukkushima in three different ways. At the back of this photo, two different types of above-ground water tank can be seen, and the workers are employed in an underground store lake. Photo: Wikipedia

The Japan-China Field Officer Exchange Program was established in 2001 by the privately held Sasakawa Peace Foundation, a non-profit firm with a headquarters in Tokyo.

Reverse visits were originally intended to be conducted every year, but the two parties ‘ tumultuous feud over command of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and subsequent controversy surrounding the Covid crisis ended everything.

However, 26 visits involving some 400 officials have taken place so far under the plan, with PLA representatives even paying calling on Japan’s Ground Self- Defense Force (army ), Chinese companies and actually farming villages.

In May 2023, amid tensions over the situation in the South China Sea and Taiwan, the foundation’s honorary chairman, Sasakawa Yohei, told The Diplomat that” At times like this, it is effective for the private sector to create a window for mutual understanding. It’s very important to hobnob together and have informal conversations. Even in the world, this military exchange is unique.

China’s Communist Party- run Global Times, known for its nationalistic stances, also favors the officer exchange program.

The China Institute of International Studies research fellow Xiang Haoyu, who believes that the resumption of bilateral military exchanges is a positive development that contributes to the rebuilding of trust, was quoted in an article published on May 14.

” China- Japan relations have started to bottom out and the beginnings of a gradual rebound,” according to the report from last year. While negative factors affecting bilateral relations, especially Japan’s dumping of nuclear- contaminated wastewater and some Japanese politicians ‘ hyping of]the ] Taiwan question, still exist, both sides have maintained some exchanges and gradually restored relations”, said Xiang. &nbsp,

That may be an optimistic or even opportunistic take on the actual situation, but it does offer some insight into China’s official position on the matter. The PLA officers ‘ visit received a scant amount of coverage in the Japanese press.

The Nippon Foundation and the Japanese motorboat racing organization were the foundations of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation in 1986. &nbsp,

The Nippon Foundation’s history dates back to 1951, when Sasakawa Ryoichi persuaded the Japanese Diet to pass the Motorboat Racing Law, which authorized gambling at motorboat races to raise money for projects like the rebuilding of Japan’s maritime industry.

Sasakawa Ryoichi, a well-known right-winger, was a major player who forged a name for himself in rice speculating, mining, and other endeavors. In the 1930s, he used his wealth to finance a private air squadron. In 1939, he and his squadron flew to Rome to meet Mussolini, whom he called a “perfect fascist”. He gave his aircraft and related equipment to the Japanese military in 1941.

Sasakawa became an independent candidate for free speech in the Diet in 1942. He spent much of the war years in Manchuria and China, where he is rumored to have started highly profitable smuggling operations many years ago. He gets nowhere with that idea.

Sasakawa allegedly pushed the American occupation authorities into detaining him after the war for “instigating aggression, nationalism, and hostility against the United States.” He was the author of a book defending their actions after three years spent with the leaders of wartime Japan, seven of whom were hanged.

He then turned to anti- communist political activity and philanthropy. He and Syngman Rhee, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the unification church’s founder, and Chiang Kai-shek, who were in good terms.

The Japan Shipbuilding Industry Foundation was established in 1962, and it was granted the legal authority to administer grants made from motorboat racing proceeds. Naturally, Roy Sasakawa assumed the role of chairman.

The Nippon Foundation was given its new name in 2011 after working with the UN on maritime law, contributing more than US$ 70 million to the WHO’s fight against leprosy, and funding other philanthropic initiatives.

Sasakawa Ryoichi passed away in 1995 at the age of 96. One of his three sons is Sasakawa Yohei. In 2011, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation was transformed into a public interest incorporated foundation, which is one type of Japanese non- profit organization.

In June 2023, Sasakawa Yohei ( C ) holds a press conference. Image: Facebook Screengrab

In addition to these four regionally focused funds, the Sasakawa Pacific Island Nations Fund, the Sasakawa Pan Asia Fund, the Sasakawa Middle East Islam Fund, and the Sasakawa Japan- China Friendship Fund, it contributes to international exchange and cooperation.

Through the joint disaster prevention, rural health activities, and the military field officer exchange program described above, the Japan- China Friendship Fund aims to promote peace and mutual development between Japan and China.

Sasakawa Ryoichi created the Sasakawa Japan- China Friendship Fund as a means of “promoting permanent peace and mutual understanding between China and Japan.” At present, it serves as a back channel to China at a time of escalating tensions.

Follow this writer on&nbsp, X: @ScottFo83517667

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Controversy erupts over India’s electoral bonds, opposition calls it ‘world’s biggest scam’

Since its founding, CPIM has been one of the biggest reviewers of political bonds and has made it known that the party may not accept donations made through the system.

Additionally, it is one of the petition in the Supreme Court case that brought a case involving the constitutionality of democratic bonds.

Critics claim that the BJP has now gotten the rewards because political parties have now squandered the majority of the donations.

NO UNDUE ADVANTAGE IN POLLS: BJP

But, the BJP said that despite getting a lion’s share of the money, it does not give the group an unfair advantage in the current vote.

The Lok Sabha ( House of the People ) is the party with the most members of parliament. But the amount received by the BJP is less than 40 per cent”, said one of the group’s officials Nalin Kohli.

It is a tiny sum in comparison to political parties that have received significantly more money but have a much smaller social existence than our MPs, according to the amount or proportional to our MPs.

Given that ruling parties typically have influence, spectators claimed that the BJP’s gain of more funds is certainly unforeseen.

” I’m not surprised that ( BJP) got the majority of the share. In fact, I’m surprised they did n’t corner 90 per cent of funds. Ruling parties wherever have an benefit”, said SY Quraishi, a previous election director of India. &nbsp,

QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT RETURNS DONORS GET

Not just the fact that Mr. Modi’s gathering benefits overwhelmingly from poll donations worries critics.

These discoveries have heightened concerns about a social party-to-corporate installation in a federal election.

At least 30 commercial sponsors donated to political events, according to studies, after federal authorities began looking into revenue and money laundering against them.

Another report revealed that 33 businesses donated securities worth more than their gains, with three-quarters of those gifts going to the BJP.

Many people are questioning the compensation companies have received as a result of the discovery.

” The people who donate are no saints. There is no free meal. They give because they have vested passions, and they expect a reward, according to Mr. Quraishi. &nbsp,

According to one American media outlet, businesses that make significant donations to the BJP were given significant state contracts.

” It is a means to extract cash from businesses. It provides businesses with a means of offering deals for cash. It is perhaps the country’s biggest bribery scam”, said Congress head Rahul Gandhi. &nbsp,

In a new interview, Mr. Modi defended the electoral bonds, saying that the system was a good way to combat “black money,” which refers to money obtained through illegal methods.

Nothing has been put in place to exchange political bonds as a source of political funding so much.

According to projections from the Center for Media Studies in New Delhi, which tracks social spending, parties likely spent a total of US$ 14.4 billion to entice voters this election.

Political observers claim that the political bonds scheme’s funding has generally been used to finance that expenditure in order to earn what is shaping up to be one of India’s most expensive polls always.

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China tech shares hint at economic green shoots - Asia Times

Strong tech company results are obscuring China’s gross domestic product ( GDP ) data, which some analysts believe will indicate better days for Xi Jinping’s largely underperforming economy.

China’s standard data readouts these weeks can make for disturbing reading. Deflationary pressures are making headlines, but there are n’t any indications of a clear and sustained acceleration.

Case in point: news on Friday ( May 17 ) that China’s consumer spending lost steam in April, rising just 2.3 % year on year versus 3.1 % in March.

Industrial output accelerated, while, expanding 6.7 % over the same time. The discrepancy demonstrates how the Chinese market is still reliant on global demand and the uneven nature of growth.

According to Lynn Song, chief economist for Greater China at ING Bank,” the history of this week’s statistics is that of prevailing prudence by households and the private sector, as financial sales and fixed property purchase came in weaker than expected.”

Alibaba Group, Tencent Holdings, and another Chinese tech behemoths are, however, presenting a pleasant counternarrative of financial green stems that suggest Beijing’s signal initiatives are gaining some sway.

Alibaba, the e-commerce giant, reported its biggest annual growth increase in the first quarter, with net income rising 10 %. Gaming giant Tencent, meanwhile, reported a 62 % surge in net profit.

Example abound among other island computer systems, suggesting Beijing’s efforts to achieve this year’s 5 % GDP growth target are fairly working.

They even mention Team Xi’s renewed assurance that the country’s government is finally committed to resolving the housing crisis that is the source of the country’s sagging consumer prices and uncertain economic prospects.

According to UBS’s planner Meng Lei, current property sales and fresh starts have yet to reach bottom, while total earnings have remained pressured despite subdued demand in the first quarter.

China’s home shortage will remain to stymie growth in 2024. Image: Twitter Screengrab

However, Meng predicted that as house exercise stabilizes and inflation recovers, earnings will increase as inflation and household income rise.

Venu Krishna, a planner at Barclays, continues,” The club for the party to offer has been set very high, but the Big Tech basics still look good below and we think there’s room to run over the next pair of rooms.” Post-quarter income from the largest companies in the S&amp, P 500, and now the big tech adjustments have increased even more.

This year, Xi’s group unveiled plans to address real land troubles some economists compare to Japan’s 1990s awful- product debacle. According to reports, Beijing is reportedly coercing local governments and state-owned corporations to purchase thousands of properties that have not been sold.

Strong efforts to clear China’s extensive undisclosed housing stock may significantly increase consumer and business confidence.

Reversing the turmoil narrative had likewise stifle Xi and Premier Li Qiang’s ability to boost capital markets, rebalance growth engines toward new products and services, and create more potent social safety nets. The former effort is essential for influencing customers to invest more and keep less.

In a fresh document, JPMorgan asserts that” we believe this could be a game change in the sense that home sales may at least maintain rather than worsen.”

Franklin Templeton also cited positive indicators that the real estate nightmare is coming to an end in a note to clients. The signs that” Chinese authorities have been easing home purchase restrictions – these restrict buyers to purchases in their home province and/or limit the purchase of a second property” and that” they have been lowering mortgage interest rate floor limits” encourage this.

As Beijing addresses economic headwinds more forcefully, count Michael Burry among the China tech optimists. The investor made famous by the book&nbsp,” The Big Short” &nbsp, upped his bets on Alibaba and JD.com in the first quarter of this year.

According to recent filings, JD is the top holding by Burry’s Scion Asset Management, with its stake in the e- commerce giant increasing by 80 % in the first quarter, representing an additional 50, 000 shares.

Burry, who saw the 2008 US subprime crisis coming better than peers, has seen a zigzag in China tech investments recently.

Burry’s most recent bets demonstrate the cautious yet discernible return by global investors as China’s stock market shifts from a US$ 7 trillion rout from a 2021 peak to January 2024.

Among Burry’s new holdings is in search engine giant Baidu, sometimes likened to China’s Google. Those on which he’s scaling back include Amazon, Google parent Alphabet and Warner Bros Discovery.

Of course, the decisions of one investor do n’t make or break global investment trends. It’s interesting that a well-known value investor known for his grave warnings and cataclysmic predictions is bullish on a sector that many Western peers have left for dead in recent years.

According to Brendan Ahern, chief investment officer at KraneShares, a provider of exchange-traded funds in China,” we believe many Asia-focused investors who have been overweight India and Japan are becoming concerned about India’s high valuations and Japan’s continued currency weakness.”

According to Ahern,” China’s equity market could benefit from investors shifting profits from high-value markets to low-value markets.”

People pass by the Tencent headquarters in Shenzhen, in the Guangdong province of southern China. Photo: Asia Times Files / AFP / Noel Celis

It also highlights the dangers of Xi and Li failing to take bold financial decisions at the moment. Since 2015, a well-established cycle of boom-bust cycles has plagued Chinese markets. In the summer of that year, Shanghai shares plunged 30 % in just a few weeks.

Many top fund managers have found that success in bolstering capital markets, increasing transparency, and reducing the dominance of state-owned enterprises has been too inconsistent since then. Xi’s headline- grabbing clampdown on tech platforms, including Alibaba and Tencent, beginning in late 2020 and arguably still ongoing, also torpedoed confidence in the sector’s future profitability.

And so John Woods, chief investment officer for Asia at Lombard Odier, speaks for many when he worries China’s equity rally is at odds with fundamentals.

” The equity rally may be driven by a combination of fear of missing out, hopes of a Chinese economic recovery, Beijing’s pro- growth policy stance, foreign investor rotation from US and Japan stocks, as well as attractive valuations, particularly in technology- related names”.

Furthermore, Woods notes,” the stability and consistency of Hong Kong’s dollar peg to the US dollar also offers foreign investors some confidence. Meanwhile, Chinese authorities would like to sustain the rally with policy proposals. The most recent proposal would exempt individual mainland investors from a 20 % tax on Hong Kong-listed dividends.

Yet the rally” seems to be expectation- based and liquidity- driven”, Woods says. ” Whether it can continue largely depends on China’s corporate revenue outlook”.

And the broader economy’s ability to turn the corner. The good news is that the first-quarter earnings for China’s major tech companies are encouraging signs of green growth.

According to Allianz Global Investors, “tighter control of costs has fed through into improved bottom-line profitability. While top- line growth has generally been as muted as expected.” A notable increase in dividend payouts has been witnessed in addition to the improved earnings picture. The dividend hikes have, to an extent, been spurred by a recent regulatory push, but from a fundamental perspective, there certainly appears to be room to increase dividends”.

The bad news is that Xi’s reform team has a lot to prove in light of the market’s frequently wild gyrations since 2015.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley, for example, counsel caution about the upside for mainland shares. ” We see near- term technical overbought signals, which could deter further buying by global quant funds”, they write. Consumption and the housing market” could continue to be under pressure” due to” continuing pressure on deflation and corporate earnings.”

The same goes for financial reforms. Along with China’s ever-present regulatory risks and concerns about growth, tech shares are subject to headwinds as a result of worries about the property crisis and the yuan asset exodus.

This latter dynamic is being complicated by the US Federal Reserve’s reluctance to ease interest rates, extending the “higher for longer” era for yields.

The success of Huawei Technologies&nbsp and other companies in avoiding US sanctions designed to stifle the sector has contributed to the bull case surrounding China technology.

How China Inc. has been catalyzed by US presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden to innovate and advance up the value-added scale is one of the potential unintended consequences of attempts to undermine the semiconductor industry.

US sanctions were characterized as “double-edged sword,” according to Bernstein analyst Qingyuan Lin. It “may stifle China’s progress in cutting-edge regions, and they also compel it to expand its supply chain, pursue self-sufficientness, and prosper in sectors that benefit from increased domestic substitution.”

However, Xi’s success in promoting private sector innovation over outdated state-owned enterprises depends on whether Chinese tech shares gain a wider audience. In theory, Beijing must do so more quickly and credibly to establish equal playing fields, strengthen capital markets, promote transparency, and strengthen corporate governance.

And, of course, to end a property crisis that has China in global headlines for all the wrong reasons. Beijing is now asking SOEs to purchase unsold property, which would introduce non-commercial distortions in a market already fraught with them. This is significant because it is already rife with them. &nbsp,

In February, Premier Li called for “pragmatic and forceful” steps aimed at “boosting confidence”. He urged policymakers to” concentrate on addressing real-world problems that concern both consumers and businesses.”

President Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Li Qiang. Photo: Xinhua, China .com.cn

Li’s comments came around the time Beijing statisticians were confirming the lowest annual&nbsp, foreign direct investment&nbsp, since 1993— just$ 33 billion in 2023. The figure, which records monetary flows involving foreign- owned entities in China, was 82 % lower than the 2022 tally.

Xi’s efforts to rebuild confidence have been hampered by MSCI’s earlier this year decision to remove dozens of Chinese companies from multiple indexes. The action highlighted the need for reform as investors look for less risky places to invest, including Japan, which is nearby.

The trick is to take the lessons learned in 2015 and subsequent years.

At the time, Xi’s Communist Party loosened rules on leverage, reduced reserve requirements, delayed all initial public offerings, suspended trading in thousands of listed companies and allowed mainlanders&nbsp, to use apartments as collateral to buy shares. Then, Xi’s government rolled out advertising campaigns to buy stocks out of&nbsp, patriotism.

Given the severity of the property crisis and deflationary pressures of the present, it seems as though merely providing stimulus will be less effective this time.

Another issue is the US’s continued efforts to slow China’s growth as a tech superpower. Biden unveiled a new round of tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles earlier this week, totaling 100 % of Trump’s.

Biden also slapped new taxes on mainland solar cells, batteries, construction cranes and medical equipment as well as steel and aluminum.

Team Xi has already stated that it will “take resolute measures to defend its rights and interests.” That could, in turn, see Biden up the sanctions ante ahead of the November 5 election, putting China’s tech industry on edge.

The next wave of restrictions, it seems likely, will attempt to stymie China’s ambitions in the field of artificial intelligence. Already, the specter of heavy- handed regulation – and Xi’s party putting its own priorities ahead of tech development – are clouding China’s AI future. &nbsp,

Even before Biden’s latest tariffs, analysts at Barclays were doubtful about China’s ambitious goal of reaching 70 % self- sufficiency in semiconductors by 2025. The endeavor is still “at the start of a very long journey”, Barclays says.

China is indeed moving quickly toward a faster transition of its economy, moving away from property to technology and services. Tech profits are telling the story, and they are piqued by optimism in some circles that the economy is moving on a more dynamic, value-added path.

Follow William Pesek on X at @WilliamPesek

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US ban on Russian uranium could backfire - Asia Times

The Prohibiting Russian Uranium Imports Act, which prohibits the transfer of unirradiated low-enriched uranium ( LEU) produced in the Russian Federation or by a Russian object, is then signed into law by US President, Joe Biden.

Discounts may be granted to let the trade of minimal amounts of LEU, under specific circumstances, until January 1, 2028. The Department of Energy ( DOE ) is authorized by the new legislation to grant waivers authorizing the total volume of Russian uranium imports that are within the export restrictions established by an earlier anti-dumping treaty between the Department of Commerce and Russia, which expires in 2027.

There are forecasts for the need and grant of exemptions. ” No one will try” to enforce the law without granting discounts, says Alexey Anpilogov, a Soviet political scientist and professional in nuclear energy – “because American nuclear reactors produce low power. Additionally, the natural transition that was initiated in the United States requires the survival of nuclear power as a carbon-neutral industry.

A longer past

Russian-enriched uranium has a long record of US issue. The US nuclear power market launched an anti-dumping petition in 1991 to stop the flow of cheap Russian enhancement services into the US following the Soviet Union’s collapse. The US Department of Commerce and Russia’s Ministry of Atomic Energy ( now Rosatom ) signed the Russian Suspension Agreement ( RS A ) in 1992 as a result of this. Russian enriched plutonium imports were formalized by the contract. It was amended in 2008 and 2020.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, Russia has been supplying about 24 % of enriched uranium used to fuel the US fleet of 94 commercial reactors, with 12 % coming from Germany and 11 % from the UK. US production accounts for 27 %.

According to the US DOE, Russia accounts for roughly 44 % of the world’s uranium enrichment capacity and supplies about 35 % of US imports of nuclear fuel.

Production for the United States Enrichment Corporation ( USEC ) stopped in 2001. Following its debt in 2014, USEC re-joined as Centrus Energy Corp. Centrus works as a dealer of enriched uranium, sourcing international supplies for US and worldwide clients, while developing innovative spinning technologies with the intention of restoring US home uranium enrichment capabilities.

According to Centrus’s 2023 monthly statement to the US Securities &amp, Exchange Commission, Russia’s Tenex is Centrus’s largest provider, followed by French business Orano. Tenex and Centrus have agreements to provide Russian enhancement service until 2028.

Centrus has stated in full that it will obtain waivers from the minister of power and other relevant government agencies in order to keep supplying LEU to its customers. ” It is questionable whether any cancellation may be granted and, if granted, whether any exemption may be granted in a timely manner”, it noted. The Company anticipates having sufficient cash to assistance its business activities for at least the upcoming 12 weeks.

Urenco’s facility in New Mexico, which started operations in 2010, is the only professional enhancement procedure in the US. Urenco is cooperatively owned by the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

Urenco approved an investment to increase the number of enriched products at its center in the Netherlands at the end of next year. Urenco received a$ 96 million ($ 245 million ) grant earlier in May to construct a new uranium enrichment facility at its Capenhurst site in northwest England.

Apart from Russia, additional countries with enhancement potential include Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Iran, Japan, the Netherlands, North Korea, Pakistan, and the UK. Some are nowadays seeking to expand their infrastructure.

Russia is currently the only commercial source of the more highly enriched high-assay low-enriched uranium ( HALEU) fuel that many of the small and advanced reactors are currently in the design stage need.

Some companies in the US, with national aid, are in the process of producing HALEU. Under a 2019 deal with &nbsp, DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, Centrus licensed and built a new sequence of 16 centrifuges at Piketon, Ohio, to exhibit production of &nbsp, HALEU. The Piketon presentation project second produced HALEU for next-generation reactors last year, and it intends to increase production to 900 kilograms soon. But, this is nowhere near enough to fill the gap that will be left &nbsp, if Russian products cease. &nbsp,

Enthusiasm in the Biden presidency

The ban has piqued the interest of US authorities. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan quoted as saying that the new law “re-establishes America’s authority in the nuclear industry. It will help safeguard the future of our electricity industry. And it will help to boost the United States ‘ record-breaking$ 2.72 billion in federal money, which Congress just appropriated at the President’s request, and send a strong message to market that we are committed to long-term progress in our nuclear industry.

Sullivan noted that the law likewise fulfills international goals, such as a US announcement last year that the United States and Canada, France, Japan, and the UK would invest$ 4.2 billion to increase their potential for advancement and change. ” With these resources from Congress, we have nicely- exceeded that commitment and are working with business to understand this ambition”, Sullivan said. &nbsp,

The  ban, according to Board, “brings us one step closer to developing a reliable source of nuclear energy that will be necessary for the United States and its allies to triple nuclear power by 2050, creating thousands of high-paying work along the way.” &nbsp,

Squeezing the industry

Concerns about fuel supplies &nbsp were having an impact on the myriad of companies that have created designs for small and advanced modular reactors, some with significant government support, even before the ban became law. Although the majority of companies are still in the design phase, many still have very optimistic goals for deploying their first reactors by 2030. &nbsp,

For instance, the US TerraPower and GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy-developed Natrium technology includes a 345 megawatt liquid-sodium-cooled fast reactor with a distinct molten-salt-based energy storage system. &nbsp, Along with PacifiCorp and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, members of the demonstration project team include engineering and construction partner Bechtel, Energy Northwest, Duke Energy and nearly a dozen additional companies, universities and national laboratory partners.

Natrium is one of two Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program ( ARDP ) projects that DOE has supported in a competitively selected manner. In order to launch a demonstration unit by 2028, the company had originally intended to use Russian-provided HALEU fuel to start operation in 2028. However, concerns about &nbsp, Russian HALEU deliveries have pushed the commissioning date to 2030.

The uranium ban legislation expires at the end of 2040. While one of its goals is to undermine Russia’s position as the world’s leader in terms of nuclear fuel and technology, Russian officials have been quick to point out that the world market is likely to suffer the most from its most detrimental effects.

Kremlin reaction

Rosatom, a state nuclear corporation in Russia, described the ban as a discriminatory political move that would threaten the world’s exchange for enriched uranium but not prevent Russia from expanding its global business.

Russian nuclear industry is not in any danger from the ban, according to Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin.” It’s difficult for Americans to compete with us on the international market,” he added. According to Peskov, “our nuclear industry is one of the most developed in the world.” ” We will continue to develop this industry”.

Russia’s ambassador in Washington, Anatoly Antonov, &nbsp, said:

The Administration continues to pursue its stillborn strategy of economic devastation. The current attack, which will impact both Russia and the world market for uranium fuel used in nuclear power plants, will cause fresh shocks in international economic relations. Uranium exporters and importers ‘ delicate relationship is in jeopardized. Washington is putting its own economy at risk by having a sufficient level of national enrichment capacity. Additionally, the financial losses for Russia will be much greater than for the United States.

The world leader

Rosatom is the world leader&nbsp, in terms of the number of nuclear reactor construction projects being undertaken simultaneously, with three units in Russia and 33 abroad.

Moreover, its foreign projects all involve ongoing technical support, training and 60- year- long fuel supplies. Rosatom has also become Brazil’s exclusive supplier of enriched uranium products since 2023. This long-term partnership with Brasilia replaces previous imports from European and Canadian consortiums. &nbsp,

Rosatom’s foreign projects include:

  • The four-unit Akkuyu NPP in Turkiye Akkuyu is being constructed.
  • the four-unit El Dabaa NPP is undergoing construction in Egypt.
  • four more units at Kudankulam NPP in India, with promises of further contracts,
  • four units in China, and
  • two units in Bangladesh.

Several countries in sub- Saharan Africa including Burkina Faso, Mali, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and Ethiopia also have agreements related to nuclear energy with Rosatom. It is also negotiating with Sri Lanka and South Africa. It is finishing up the construction of a research reactor and laboratory complex in Bolivia. &nbsp,

Anpilogov, the expert quoted in the third paragraph of this article, claimed that the ban would mean that the US would no longer be able to replace Russia’s LEU and HALEU deliveries for a while. He also stated to the Sputnik news agency that the US would be unable to replace the US with a quarter or even a third of all American nuclear generation.

He emphasized that, if the DOE should fail to issue waivers, the US nuclear fuel market could collapse, leading to skyrocketing costs of enriched uranium. He also suggested that US businesses might use “gray schemes” to buy Russian nuclear fuel, disguised as contracts with French or other foreign companies. &nbsp, &nbsp,

” Back in the 1980s, the Americans de facto destroyed their enrichment industry because it was ineffective, being based on old gaseous- diffusion technologies”, said Ampilogov, who is president of Russia’s Foundation for Support of Scientific Research and Development of Civil Initiatives Research. They spent 30 years purchasing Russian uranium at a relatively low price. The cornerstone of America’s nuclear energy generation ca n’t be abandoned through a simple vote in Congress”.

After launching a similar initiative in 2019, Ampilogov pointed out that it took the US about four years to produce the first 20 kilograms of HALEU. He noted that the planned UK enrichment plant is only expected to start producing its first batch of HALEU in 2031, and that” a lot is going to change on the market” by that time.

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Lab-grown meat has a long way to go before mainstream acceptance in Singapore, experts say

SINGAPORE: It was June 2022, and the lab- developed beef industry looked like it had a sizzling potential. &nbsp,

The largest planted chicken meat hospital in Asia broke ground in Singapore, with a 30, 000 square ft advanced at Bedok Food City, set to make “tens of thousands of pounds” of foods a year. &nbsp,

US-based Eat Merely, the company behind this outrageous opportunity, had plans to sell lab-grown chicken meat under the name Great Meat. &nbsp,

At the breakthrough service, Eat Only representatives from Singapore included Grace Fu, the Minister for Sustainability, and other ministers.

Indeed, in October 2022, the government announced it had set aside fresh funding of S$ 165 million ( US$ 122 million ) to accelerate R&amp, D in sustainable urban food production, future foods, and food safety science and innovation. &nbsp,

This was above the S$ 144 million of analysis money that was initially provided in 2020. &nbsp,

The first nation to review the purchase of lab-grown flesh was Singapore, with Huber’s Butchery in Dempsey Hill becoming the only restaurant in the world that sold lab-grown meat in the beginning of 2023. &nbsp,

However, it seems as though the economy is sluggishing in just two short years. &nbsp,

According to the Straits Times, Eat Only suspended its lab-grown beef production at the Bedok service in March of this year. The solution was discontinued by Huber’s Butchery in December of last year.

It was reported that Shiok Meats and Umami Bioworks, both of which are lab-grown shrimp, were merging in Singapore in the same month. &nbsp,

The market is sluggish not just in this area. The reduction of the sector was described in a February New York Times article, which had a promising beginning with investors investing more than US$ 3 billion between 2016 and 2022. &nbsp,

The entire sector is in jeopardy due to a combination of unrealistic optimism from investors and the realization that the science behind the product could n’t compete with consumer demand for lower prices and higher production volumes. &nbsp,

Sandhya Sriram, co-founder of Shiok Meats, wrote an emotive LinkedIn post in Singapore last May about the agonizing process of allowing 50 % of her team leave in 2023, and the online abuse she endured as a result. &nbsp,

She described the support investors and the media had for her designed lab-grown crab meat, such as crab and lobster, but her business, like many other planted meat companies, quickly encountered the ongoing challenge of scaling manufacturing.

She told CNA that while this challenge continues to annoy her business, it has more confidence in overcoming it now that Umami Bioworks has been combined. &nbsp,

Singapore continues to be a desirable location for cultivated meat startups, according to the Singapore Food Agency ( SFA ), the statutory board governing food safety and security. &nbsp,

Startups are encouraged to establish their R&D and pilot manufacturing in Singapore thanks to our proximity to the large Asian market and the robust food safety regulatory system, according to SFA in a joint response to CNA’s queries from Enterprise Singapore and the Economic Development Board. &nbsp,

The favorable setting allows them to test their technology and demonstrate the viability of their goods.

Despite the challenges, some cultivated meat firms are not backing down. On Wednesday ( May 15 ), Eat Just announced that it would begin selling hybrid meat made with only 3 percent lab-grown chicken and a lower-cost formulation.

According to one expert, the successful scaling and production of lab-grown meat may be necessary because the meat’s current production may not be sustainable for generations to come.

The National University of Singapore ( NUS) Institute for Health Innovation and Technology’s Associate Professor Alfredo Franco-Obregon stated that the livestock industry is not sustainable and that we must acknowledge this at some point. As a result, this science will advance once ( lab-grown meat ) is widely accepted.

Assoc Prof Franco Obregon, who is in his 60s, said this mainstream acceptance may not even happen in his lifetime, but he thinks it is inevitable. &nbsp,

” It will eventually be realised, because of the urgency of it”. &nbsp,

INDUSTRY PLAYERS QUIETLY OPTIMISTIC&nbsp,

Lab-grown meat producers in this country remain cautiously optimistic and believe that the cultivated meat industry’s heyday is yet to come. &nbsp,

Asked about their pause in production, a spokesperson from Eat Just, which the Good Meat label is under, said that it is still business as usual. &nbsp,

The pause is part of our regular operations, according to Ms. Carrie Kabat, director of global communications at Eat Just, who said:” We began producing and serving in Singapore in 2020. We produce and pause, produce and pause”.

She said this is a” campaign- style approach” to producing lab- grown meat. &nbsp,

Eat Just’s hybrid meat consisting of 3 per cent cultivated chicken meat went on sale at Huber’s Butchery on Thursday, priced at S$ 7.20 for a&nbsp, 120g package. &nbsp,

According to Ms. Kabat, Eat Just will produce three times more product than any previous year, which is roughly ten times what the rest of the cultivated meat industry has produced so far.

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Seeking immunity from cybercrime

Number of online crimes ‘ nearly as high as pharmaceutical cases’, writes Wassayos Ngamkham

Seeking immunity from cybercrime
Chatpunthakarn:

As criminals continue to develop new ways to defraud victims, crime has gotten frighteningly more sophisticated today.

The Central Investigation Bureau ( CIB ) is advising against quick-changing cyber threats, warning that clicking a false link could cause scammers to void your bank accounts. The Cyber Crimes Investigation Division (CCID ) has recently launched a campaign to protect users from online threats.

According to CIB inspector Pol Lt. Gen. Jirabhop Bhuridej, scammers now use various online resources and malicious software to extort money from customers.

He claims that scamming connections can be found in five different ways. The first is used to trick a government agency into stealing money from the defendant’s accounts using false links.

Patients are tricked into using these references to transfer funds, for instance, to place an app for financial transactions or to pay utility bills.

The second type of scam involves tricking people into giving out their login credentials and personal information via fraudulent websites that appear almost identical to real ones.

Fourth types of investment scams are found on websites where patients are duped into participating in financial schemes that promise quick profits in exchange for their money. The scammers use photos of reputable companies and people to improve a program’s trust.

The third sort are links that point users to both real and fake online casinos. According to Pol Lt. Gen. Jirabhop, those who gamble on these websites may lose both their funds and their jobs as a result.

The sufferers are duped into paying fees for loans that turn out to be false due to product links, which are the next one.

CYBER ‘ VACCINE’ on sell

The commander of the Cyber Crimes Investigation Division 1 (CCID1 ), Pol Maj Gen Chatpunthakarn Klaiklueng, stated that the number of online crimes reported in Thailand is nearly double that of drug crimes.

From March 2022 to April this month, 504, 616 crime cases were reported in the country, causing 68 billion ringgit in damage. Of that number, just 5.9 billion ringgit has been retrieved.

He added that most victims of online scam are elderly and retired people. Some were alleged to have lost up to 100 million ringgit to swindlers, not just a few million baht.

As a result, the CCID1 chief said the public needs to be given a” digital immunization”.

Thus, the CCID1 has launched a campaign to stop cyber risks through individuals ‘ membership.

The campaign, which is a component of King Prajadhipok Institute’s Higher Diploma in Politics and Governance for Senior Executives ( Por Por Ror 27 ), aims to recruit volunteers to raise awareness of cyber security and stop people from falling for online scams.

Recently, Rajamangala University of Technology Rattanakosin’s Bophit Phimuk Chakkrawat Campus and Rajamangala University of Technology Rattanakosin collaborated on a pilot initiative for the promotion.

30 college students were chosen for their computer knowledge as ambassadors for the seven-month project, which wrapped up in April, and may begin with their families and friends.

We can no longer afford to have unprotected or vulnerable citizens uninoculated against crime. We need to address the issue with particular targets, particularly the elderly”, Pol Maj Gen Chatpunthakarn said.

Authorities are frequently using various media to promote net criminal activity, but the effort however needs more tact from the general public. Fresh volunteers who are exposed to more information online are the best way to avoid threats, he said.

The AOC was established in November of last year as a one-stop services to prevent transactions made through unlawful financial accounts, according to the CCID1 commander.

It is a cooperative effort between the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, the CCID, the CIB, the Anti- Money Laundering Office, the Thai Bankers Association and wireless network services, he said.

He claimed that the digital vaccine campaign was successful and demonstrated that addressing cybercrime issues may start with spreading awareness and understanding within individuals or groups.

” We are planning to create the strategy to various colleges and broaden our focus to all demographics,” he said.

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