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23.07.21 - 29.07.21 Sup SEAkers!





Philippines’ Hidilyn Diaz reacts while competing in the women’s 55kg weightlifting competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum. Photo: AFP



This Week's News Spotlight:

How making travel easier will change Laos tourism - SCMP| Duterte Pushes to Open Philippines to More Foreign Investors - Bloomberg| Singapore-Based Cyberdyne Exchange to Debut China Carbon Credit-Backed Tokens - Caixin Global| As Vietnam’s coronavirus surge continues, lockdowns take their toll on factory output, small businesses - SCMP| Thailand Risks First Double-Dip Recession Since 1998 Crisis - Bloomberg |The China Model: What the Country’s Tech Crackdown Is Really About - Bloomberg

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How making travel easier will change Laos tourism - SCMP




The opening of the line and a north-south highway will change tourism in Laos by making it easier to travel to and within the country. Photo: Getty Images


For better or for worse, Chinese-developed and -funded infrastructure is opening Laos up to the outside world. This development is best exemplified by two major projects: the 414km (257-mile) rail link that, when it opens (scheduled for December 2021), will connect Boten in Yunnan province, on the China-Laos border, with Vientiane, the Laotian capital; and the China-Laos expressway, the Vientiane-Vang Vieng section of which was inaugurated in December 2020. These links are expected not only to boost trade between the neighbouring nations, but also to open Laos up to more international tourists.


As well as attracting individual travellers who would have once been put off by the limited options for getting and out of the country – expensive flights or bone-juddering bus or van journeys – the new links and associated upgrades will, Phommavong hopes, appeal to a different kind of visitor. “The luxuries offered by more modern cities could attract more higher-end, longer-staying tourists, with better accommodation, restaurants and shops selling local products.


“More tourists translates into more opportunities for tour operators and the area’s villages. This also leads to more jobs. But the stress must be placed on sustainability.”





Duterte Pushes to Open Philippines to More Foreign Investors - Bloomberg





Duterte to Make Last Annual Address to Congress


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is poised to capitalize on his popularity with voters to push for pandemic recovery measures that could bolster his favored candidate in next year’s election.


In his last annual address to Congress on Monday, Duterte is expected to to urge lawmakers to pass bills to complete his tax agenda and open up the economy to foreign investors.


Duterte’s sustained appeal with voters will also be an advantage for his chosen candidate in presidential elections next year. Among his possible bets are his daughter Sara, his aide Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, and former Senator Ferdinand Marcos.






Singapore-Based Cyberdyne Exchange to Debut China Carbon Credit-Backed Tokens - Caixin Global





Photo: Cyberdyne


Digital green exchange Cyberdyne Tech Exchange will next month debut Chinese carbon credit-backed digital tokens, its co-founder and executive chairman told Caixin.


The Singapore-based exchange’s carbon neutrality tokens (CNTs) are a type of non-fungible token stored on a blockchain, with each representing 1 ton of carbon credits. These credits are tradable certificates that allow holders to emit 1 ton of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.


Such blockchain-backed tokens, which contain information — including data on emission volume, carbon offsetting and carbon capture — can be traded on Cyberdyne’s platform by global investors.






As Vietnam’s coronavirus surge continues, lockdowns take their toll on factory output, small businesses - SCMP




A deserted highway in Ho Chi Minh City, which remains under lockdown to curb an outbreak of Covid-19 cases. Photo: AFP


In the first six months of 2021, 70,209 businesses shut down – a 24.9 per cent increase year on year, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment. This equates to about 400 businesses closing each day. Most of these enterprises were small-scale, less than five years old and in the commercial and services industries which “were continuously affected by recent [Covid-19] outbreaks”, a ministry report published earlier this month said.

In comparison, more than 67,000 new businesses were registered, up 8.1 per cent in the same period, mostly in the manufacturing, car and motorbike retail and repair, and construction fields.

Almost 1.2 million people of working age lost their jobs in the second quarter, the same period the fourth wave hit Vietnam, with those between the ages of 15 and 24 comprising one-third of this group, potentially affecting their long-term employment prospects.




Thailand Risks First Double-Dip Recession Since 1998 Crisis - Bloomberg





A near-empty Patong Beach in Phuket, on July 19. Photographer: Andre Malerba/Bloomberg


Thailand will likely be the worst economic performer in Southeast Asia this year, with economists continuing to slash the country’s growth forecast amid surging Covid-19 infections, mounting political tensions and fading hopes for a tourism revival.

Gross domestic product is expected to grow 1.8% this year, according to the latest weighted average of 36 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. That’s particularly weak considering it’s a comparison to last year, when the Thai economy contracted 6.1%, the most in more than two decades.

Bangkok and 12 other provinces, which account for more than half of Thailand’s economy, have been under lockdown and curfew since last week as the delta variant threatens to overwhelm the country’s public health system. The Bank of Thailand has said the outbreak could shave as much as two percentage points off GDP this year if current measures fail to quell it and the pandemic endures for the rest of the year.




The China Model: What the Country’s Tech Crackdown Is Really About - Bloomberg





Employees at Hello Inc. headquarters in Shanghai on April 26, shortly after the company confidentially filed for a U.S. initial public offering. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: 731: PHOTO: BLOOMBERG


Lillian Li, founder of the newsletter Chinese Characteristics, deems the disruption “a rebalancing of the dynamics, redrawing the boundaries. I don’t think the Chinese government is out there to destroy tech giants.” After decades of an anything-goes ethos, she says, China wanted to remind its tech industry “what they can do and can’t do.”

If China is abandoning the Silicon Valley model, what will it replace it with? Insiders suggest it will be less founder-driven and more China-centric. U.S. antitrust action often focuses on strengthening consumer protections, but China’s crackdown is ultimately geared toward protecting government policy.

The cost of China’s turn on tech is also being borne by its future business leaders, who, after years of looking up to the founders of DiDi and Alibaba, now have to figure out how to think differently.

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