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from The Great Debate:

Fires in Vietnam could ultimately burn Beijing

vietnam

The spilling of blood and burning of factories by anti-Chinese rioters sweeping across Vietnam reinforces Beijing’s message to other countries claiming territory in the South China Sea: resistance is costly and ultimately futile.

But a region in which anti-Chinese sentiment grows and where sovereignty disputes disrupt trade and economic growth will burn Beijing as well. Over the long term, a commitment to peaceful dispute resolution in accordance with international law, including some concessions on historic claims, would serve China better than its current path.

China made the provocative first move in this latest incident by deploying a massive oil rig to the contested Paracel Islands. There was no doubt that Vietnam would respond, and China prepared by sending an armada of 80 ships -- including seven naval vessels along with the rig. The two countries’ maritime forces are now locked in a standoff with aggressive and dangerous maneuvers, water canons and collisions at sea.

Deploying the oil rig allows Beijing to show that Vietnam is in a lose-lose situation when faced with Chinese aggression. If Hanoi ignores the Chinese move, it allows “new facts on the water” that will bolster China’s legal claims down the road. If it resists, its coast guard and navy will be dragged into a long and costly contest against a stronger force. And if the dispute continues to spark violent protests at home by angry Vietnamese nationalists, investment and international confidence gets disrupted for Vietnam -- not China.

from Photographers' Blog:

China’s sea burials

Shanghai, China

By Carlos Barria

Before Li Zhenxuan died at the age of 101, the former chief officer of a riverboat told his son he wanted to be buried at sea with his mother, who passed away in 1965, and his wife, who died in 1995.

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

On a rainy Saturday this month, his son released three bags of ashes into the wind and sea from a boat near the mouth of the Yangtze River, and Li's final wish was granted. Faced with a growing population, soaring property prices and increasingly scarce land resources, the Chinese government has been trying for years to convince more people to break with tradition and bury loved ones at sea, like Li. The practice has been slow to catch on. Many older Chinese oppose cremation and prefer to be buried beside ancestors, according to tradition, ideally on a verdant hillside with the proper 'feng shui'.

from Breakingviews:

CITIC goes slowly on reform with $5.1 bln placing

By Una Galani 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

CITIC Pacific is going slow on reform with its $5.1 billion placing. The Chinese group’s Hong Kong subsidiary will sell new shares to 15 investors as part of a union with its state-owned conglomerate parent. The placing allows CITIC Pacific to keep its stock market listing. Yet most of the money is coming from buyers also backed by the Chinese government. A deeper overhaul of state firms looks a way off.

from Breakingviews:

Macau casino stocks have further to fall

By Ethan Bilby 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Macau casino stocks are still too high. A crackdown on Chinese payment card UnionPay is the latest threat to the gambling bonanza in the former Portuguese colony. Though casino stocks have fallen by almost a fifth in a few months, there’s not much room for disappointment.

from Breakingviews:

China’s other e-commerce giant is priced to go

By John Foley
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Being second has its advantages. JD.com, China’s number two e-commerce company, has set an indicative range for its initial public offering that values it at around $23 billion. That’s far behind the $100 billion-plus price tag attached to rival Alibaba. But it leaves room for a decent performance.

from Ian Bremmer:

Japan’s path forward, in five steps

japan888

On the surface, Barack Obama’s recent Japan visit struck all the right chords for Tokyo. For the first time ever, an American president stated that the U.S.-Japan security treaty extends to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands dispute, the most combustible geopolitical conflict between Japan and China. And Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a “key milestone” for negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the trade deal that encompasses 12 countries and more than 40 percent of the world’s economic output.

But there was less to the visit than meets the eye. Obama’s Senkaku pledge was a restatement of existing U.S. policy. The “key milestone” on TPP was never identified; in fact, it seems that the 40 hours of bilateral discussions between the U.S. and Japan led to no breakthrough at all. And while the trip was a big win for Obama -- he managed to placate Tokyo without provoking Beijing -- it didn’t offer any solutions for how Japan should deal with a rising China.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba finance arm better out than in for IPO

By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Alibaba’s secret weapon is its payment division. Yet Alipay isn’t part of the Chinese e-commerce company’s upcoming initial public offering. The company is “conceptually” thinking about reuniting them, according to people familiar with the situation. But the status quo, however strange, looks better.

from Breakingviews:

Pfizer unlikely to avoid China anti-trust therapy

By Ethan Bilby

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The chance to vet Pfizer’s $106 billion offer for rival drug-maker AstraZeneca looks too good to pass up for China’s competition watchdog. Pfizer should brace for some antitrust therapy, though getting Astra’s board on-side first may help.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba’s big reveal: high growth, odd governance

By John Foley 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

There are two things to know about Alibaba, which filed for an initial public offering in New York on May 6. First, China’s dominant e-commerce company is huge, and could be even bigger. Second, new investors will have little say in how it is run – the founders are keeping a firm grip.

from Breakingviews:

Muzzling China’s money market mania

By John Foley 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

China’s craze for online money market funds is giving savers a taste of financial democracy. That’s a good thing, if China avoids the mistakes that have given these products a bad name elsewhere.

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