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Nikkei Asian Preview

Virtual Canton Fair, JD.com HKEX debut and Japan baseball opens

Your weekly lineup of Asia's biggest business and political events

Visitors attend the China Import and Export Fair, also known as Canton Fair, in Guangzhou, China, in April 2018. It will be conducted online this year for the first time.   © Reuters

Welcome to Nikkei Asian Preview.

Another major Chinese company listed on U.S. exchanges will begin trading in Hong Kong this week. JD.com's second listing will be watched closely by other mainland companies caught in the crosshairs of Washington and Beijing's regulatory disputes.

The weekend will bring relief for sports fans in Asia, as professional basketball and baseball leagues in China and Japan resume play after the coronavirus suspension. Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines are set to lift quarantine restrictions this week. And central banks in Japan and Taiwan will hold monetary policy meetings on Tuesday.

Keep up with our reporting by following us on Twitter @NAR.

MONDAY

Canton Fair goes online

The Canton Import and Export Fair, held every spring and autumn since 1957, will be conducted online for the first time. The 10-day spring exhibition opens on Monday, and its success will be critical as exports from China have lost steam in recent months due to the coronavirus.

In the spotlight: Tencent Holdings' prowess in cloud computing and other advanced solutions, as the Chinese social media conglomerate provides the backbone of the online trade fair.

TeamLab opens Macao exhibit

Japanese artist collective teamLab will open a new permanent exhibition inside the Venetian Macao casino resort, following a three-month delay due to the coronavirus. Visitor traffic, however, is likely to be limited until travel restrictions into Macao are loosened.

The new teamLab SuperNature will be one of the group's largest exhibitions at 5,000 sq. meters. It will feature "artworks that aim to explore new perceptions of the world and the continuity between humans and nature."

Verdict on Maria Ressa libel case

A Philippine court is scheduled to issue a verdict on the "cyber libel" case against journalist Maria Ressa, founder and editor of the Rappler news website. The case, filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng in 2017, stems from an article published by Rappler in 2012 linking Keng with ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Why it matters: The lawsuit came amid pressure from President Rodrigo Duterte, whose government previously charged Ressa and Rappler for tax evasion and ordered the news site to shut down for violating a law that prohibits foreign ownership of mass media. Human rights and press freedom advocates have slammed the moves as an attempt to silence critical media.

TUESDAY

Want Want China's annual results

Want Want China, one of the largest snack food and non-alcoholic beverage makers in mainland China, is scheduled to announce earnings for the year ended in March. The company, listed in Hong Kong and controlled by Taiwanese tycoon Tsai Eng-meng, has a solid footing in the Chinese market, and its performance is a key indicator of retail consumption in the mainland. Tsai, who also controls major Taiwanese media outlet China Times, is widely recognized as a leading pro-Beijing figure.

WEDNESDAY

Japan Diet closes session as domestic travel eases

Japan's parliament ends a tumultuous 100-day session that has seen two record-shattering stimulus packages, a $243 million program to hand out masks, and the shelving of a controversial bill that would allow the government to extend the retirement age of handpicked prosecutors.

The session's end on Wednesday will be followed two days later by the lifting of restrictions on domestic travel across prefectural borders. The easing is aimed at kickstarting the tourism industry as summer begins, but economic challenges are likely to remain.

May trade data to be released on Wednesday is expected to show a continued slump in exports, as auto sales stayed weak in the U.S.

THURSDAY

JD.com starts trading in Hong Kong

China's second-largest online retailer JD.com will debut on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, after raising at least $3.9 billion in an offering that attracted subscriptions multiple times the shares on offer. The Nasdaq-listed company's listing follows a week after that of game developer NetEase, and will coincide with its largest annual online sales event.

Why it matters: Mainland Chinese companies listed in the U.S. are preparing a similar move to Hong Kong, amid the threat of forced delisting in American exchanges if they fail to comply with U.S. regulatory audits for three consecutive years.

What's the issue? China requires audit papers for overseas-listed Chinese companies to be held in the mainland, making compliance impossible. The documents also cannot be examined by foreign regulators.

NPC Standing Committee meets

The standing committee of the National People's Congress, China's top decision-making body, will start on Thursday a three-day meeting to deliberate legislation, possibly including the controversial national security bill for Hong Kong. Critics and international communities have voiced concerns over the law, saying it would undermine democratic freedoms in the former British colony.

Go deeper: Five things to know about China's security law for Hong Kong

FRIDAY

Japanese baseball returns -- without fans

After its spring opening was postponed by the pandemic, Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league begins its season on Friday in empty stadiums. Spectators may be allowed to attend later in the season if the coronavirus situation improves.

Related: The Yomiuri Giants' virus approach offers clues for Japanese business

Related: Coronavirus and baseball collide in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea

Shareholder meetings: JAL, Renault and Honda

Japan Airlines' annual general meeting will be on Friday, when the coronavirus-hit carrier will elect new directors. The company plans to gradually resume its domestic flights as demand is slowly recovering.

In the automotive sector, Honda Motor and France's Renault will also hold their annual general meetings on Friday. Investors at Honda, which suffered serious cyber attacks last week, will be listening for the company's plan to weather the hammered market as the pandemic progresses. The French carmaker, on the other hand, revealed last month a new midterm plan with alliance partners Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors.

WEEKEND

China Basketball Association resumes play

China's popular basketball league will continue its 2019-2020 season on Saturday, the first sports event in China since Jan. 24. All 20 teams will play behind closed doors in two locations -- Qingdao in the northeast and Dongguan in the south -- with online broadcasts.

The CBA's resumption could be a precursor to other sports events and will provide relief to fans missing broadcasts of U.S. National Basketball Association games. The NBA felt Beijing's ire in October after Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey expressed support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters in a tweet.

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