Asia News Bulletin - August 20


Singapore will allow quarantine-free arrivals from Hong Kong and Macau, even though the measure will not be reciprocated as discussions on a travel bubble would no longer take place. Japan will extend its state of emergency in some regions as COVID cases remain high, while Hong Kong also tightens travel restrictions. China made further moves to tighten its grip on cyberspace, which triggered days of selling in the nation’s bellwether technology stocks. Hong Kong issued new guidelines on the ethical development of AI, while the city’s bourse sees three AI companies planning a listing.



MAJOR HEADLINES IN ASIA

This section tracks major political, economic and business news from the key economies in Asia.

  • As the IMF puts hold on pandemic funding and the Biden administration blocks Taliban access to Afghan central bank reserves held in US banks, the people of Afghanistan are facing “dire” financial prospects. – The Financial Times

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping has fleshed out his plans for wealth redistribution in a top-level conference, to restrain “unreasonable income”, hike wages and expand the middle class. – Reuters

  • BlackRock has said China should no longer be considered an emerging market and recommended investors boost their exposure to the country by as much as three times. – Financial Times

  • China is planning to set up new central government-owned conglomerates focusing on strategic emerging industries, which are expected to step up innovation and strengthen tech R&D. – Reuters

  • The latest Hong Kong population statistics showed a net outflow of 90,000 residents, following an exodus after the imposition of the national security law last year. The 1.2% YoY drop in population since last June is the biggest drop in at least six decades. – Bloomberg

  • The Bank of Thailand plans to test its retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) for the public in the second quarter of 2022 as an alternative payment option. The pilot project will evaluate the use of the CBDC in cash-like activities within a limited scale. – Cointelegraph


EQUITY AND DEBT CAPITAL MARKETS

This section highlights the biggest ECM and DCM developments in China and Hong Kong which are moving markets and grabbing headlines.

CHINA

  • China’s latest moves to tighten its grip on internet giants trigger a fifth consecutive day of selling in the nation’s bellwether technology stocks. – Bloomberg

  • Baidu has raised US$1 billion in a heavily oversubscribed bond sale on strong appetite from investors even as its shares have been hit by Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on tech groups. – Financial Times

  • China Evergrande Group has endured multiple credit-rating downgrades that sent its stock and bonds tumbling, only to see them recover briefly after it confirmed talks to sell some prized assets and as creditors extended liquidity relief to help it pay overdue bills. – Bloomberg

HONG KONG


PE/VC DEAL ACTIVITY

This section tracks the fundraising, deals and other activities conducted by the PE/VC funds in Asia.


CHINA AND HONG KONG

  • Neolix Technologies, a Chinese autonomous vehicle startup, has raised an undisclosed amount in Series B funding co-led by SoftBank Ventures Asia and CICC Capital. – TechinAsia

  • Petkit, a Chinese manufacturer of smart devices for pets, has raised US$50 million in a Series D round of funding led by Sofina and CDH Investments' wealth management platform. – AVCJ

  • Shukun, a Chinese developer of AI technology used in medical imaging diagnosis, has raised US$108 million from Goldman Sachs, Primavera Capital Group, Sequoia Capital China, Marathon Venture Partners, and Sage Partners. – AVCJ

  • Hong Kong-based ESR Cayman Limited has announced its partnership with APG Asset Management and RECO Investor to launch a new logistics development platform in China, which will have an initial equity commitment of US$1 billion. – DealStreetAsia

JAPAN AND KOREA

  • South Korea’s Danggeun Market, the company behind secondhand marketplace Karrot, has raised US$162 million in a Series D led by DST Global. – The Korea Herald

  • Affirma Capital has secured the third deal for its latest Korea fund, with an agreement to invest US$100 million in Metanet T Platform, a local cloud managed service provider. – AVCJ

SOUTHEAST ASIA

  • Jenfi, a Singapore-based startup that provides non-dilutive growth capital to business owners, has raised US$6.3 million in a Series A funding round led by Monk’s Hill Ventures. – TechCrunch

  • Mekong Capital has invested US$10.2 million in Rever, a leading online-to-offline real estate brokerage business in Vietnam. – AVCJ


REGULATORY UPDATES

This section highlights the major regulations, policy changes and political developments in China and Hong Kong that have implications for the business environment.

CHINA

  • China has issued a draft of new rules (link in Chinese) to empower market regulators to look into and discipline internet firms for inappropriate activities in cyberspace. Targeted practices would include ones that have been widely used by Big Tech companies, such as faking traffic data and blocking links from competitors. – South China Morning Post

  • Hosts in China's live streaming industry should speak Mandarin and dress appropriately when they market products online, the country's commerce ministry said, as it looks to tighten its oversight of the sector. – Reuters

HONG KONG

  • The Privacy Commissioner's office has issued new guidelines on the ethical development of AI, which recommends that organisations embrace three fundamental data stewardship values when they develop and use the technology, namely, being respectful, beneficial and fair to stakeholders. – Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong

  • Top executives of mainland Chinese enterprises and business associations will make up a new “patriotic force” in Hong Kong’s powerful revamped Election Committee, drastically weakening the political clout of the city’s property tycoons. – South China Morning Post

  • Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the Government will cut ties with any group, including professional associations if they get involved in politics. – Bloomberg


ONE FOR THE WEEKEND

Each week we will select one or two articles which have caught our attention – long reads, institutional outlooks, analysis or interesting viewpoints


While it is too early to know the wider strategic fallout from America’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal, Chinese state-media the Global Times called the situation “an omen of Taiwan’s future fate” as China’s Foreign Ministry took a victory lap in a press briefing that said the US shouldn’t interfere in other countries’ “internal affairs”, despite Taiwan being a self-governing democracy. Read here for the Wall Street Journal’s view on how the countries are likely to respond.



THE WEEK AHEAD

It is reported that Beijing officials will host their first seminar at LegCo next Monday 23 Aug to brief the city’s lawmakers on the country’s 14th five-year plan, a move that is said to be “symbolic” as it shows Chinese officials no longer view meeting local legislators as taboo. – South China Morning Post



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