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Your Week in Asia

Duterte's farewell speech, Evergrande's dividend decision and Hong Kong's trading tax

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

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, in his final State of the Nation Address Monday, is expected to tout his administration's accomplishments. At the same time, opposition activists are planning to stage large-scale demonstrations.   © Reuters

Welcome to Your Week in Asia.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrives in Asia this week just as Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman leaves the region.

Austin's message of pandemic recovery may not travel far with Southeast Asia battling a COVID surge fueled by the delta variant. But the Malaysian parliament is nevertheless due to reconvene, with the fate of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in the balance, while Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gives his last annual address to Congress.

South Korea is due to report quarterly gross domestic product figures on Tuesday, just ahead of the results of key exporter Samsung Electronics, while Taiwan and Hong Kong will give updates on Friday.

Keep up with our reporting on the Olympics and follow us on Twitter @NikkeiAsia.


Duterte plays the hits

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his sixth and final State of the Nation Address. He is expected to tout his administration's work on infrastructure, security and foreign policy while opposition activists are set to mount large street protests despite pandemic gathering restrictions.

What to listen for: Clues about Duterte's political future. He has recently expressed openness to the idea of running for vice president in 2022 to circumvent a constitutional single-term limit on the presidency. His daughter Sara, now mayor of Davao City, currently leads in opinion polls on potential presidential candidates.

Your papers, please

Hoping to smooth the way for its business people to resume international travel, Japan will start accepting applications for COVID-19 vaccination certificates.

Successful applicants will be given paper versions, with the potential for digital ones later, listing the vaccine they received and when they were injected, along with their personal details.

Where will it be valid? Five countries including Italy and Turkey are set to waive quarantine and other entry requirements for vaccinated travelers from Japan, with South Korea also accepting the documents from those seeking quarantine exemptions.

But some countries including France have said they will not recognize the certificates unless Japan reciprocates by opening its borders to their citizens.

Back to business in Kuala Lumpur

The Malaysian parliament reconvenes for the first time since meetings were suspended in January after the declaration of a national emergency to battle COVID-19.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's position looks shaky after the United Malays National Organisation, the biggest party in parliament, pulled its support two weeks ago, though members have kept their positions in his cabinet.

Swapping Acer for MIT?

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. shareholders will meet behind closed doors, with COVID restrictions precluding the chipmaker's customary press briefing.

L. Rafael Reif, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been nominated to take the seat held by Acer founder Stan Shih, who is leaving TSMC's board after 21 years. The newly constituted board is expected to decide soon on whether to proceed with a plan to build a plant in Kumamoto, Japan.


Evergrande's gift decision

The board of China Evergrande Group will consider a proposal to issue a special dividend even as the company scrambles for cash to stay current on its huge debts.

Some analysts think the company may distribute shares in its Hong Kong-listed electric vehicle business to shareholders as a bonus, a move that would also make its books look healthier.

Showing the stars and stripes

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin becomes the first member of U.S. President Joe Biden's cabinet to visit Southeast Asia. He is to deliver a lecture in Singapore making the case for the U.S. as a partner helping regional nations recover from COVID, even as China's shadow looms ever larger, and is also set to stop in Hanoi and Manila.

Landmark verdict in Hong Kong

Three Hong Kong judges will rule on the case of Tong Ying-kit, the first person to be tried under the national security law imposed on the city by Beijing last year.

The 24-year-old is charged with inciting separatism and terrorism, after driving his motorbike into police lines with a flag that read, "Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times." His trial focused in large part on whether the slogan promotes Hong Kong independence.


Seeking a spark at Nissan

Investors will be watching for any signs of a turnaround in the quarterly results of Nissan Motor, which has already forecast that it will post its third consecutive annual loss in the financial year through March 31, 2022.

A quiet royal birthday

The streets of Bangkok have been strewn with yellow decorations ahead of King Maha Vajiralongkorn's 69th birthday. Celebrations are expected to be subdued as the country suffers through a third COVID wave. The delta variant has forced several provinces including Bangkok to go on lockdown and ban gatherings of more than five people.


Samsung spills the beans

Samsung Electronics is due to give details on how it managed to post a 53% jump in operating profit in the second quarter from a year before. Analysts see strong demand for memory chips as the likely explanation, with gains there offsetting declining sales and production delays in India and Vietnam for its smartphone business.

Huawei's pride and joy

Huawei Technologies launches the long-awaited next generation of its flagship P series smartphone, a debut delayed for months due to the company's difficulties acquiring microchips under U.S. sanctions.

Once the world's second-largest smartphone maker, its market share has been tumbling but the company is expected this week to report its financial results for the first half of the year too.


Tolls for traders

Hong Kong's tax on stock trades, known as the stamp duty, jumps to 0.13% from 0.1%, the first increase in 28 years as the government seeks to plug its COVID-induced budget deficit.

Analysts say the move could hurt trading volumes at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, which soared 60% during the first half of the year. The government expects to pocket 92 billion Hong Kong dollars ($11.84 billion) in revenues from the tax in the year ending March 31, 2022.

Closing the exits in Hong Kong

A new immigration law giving the Hong Kong government the power to stop people from leaving the city takes effect. Officials insist this will be used only to expedite the handling of cases involving illegitimate asylum seekers, but activists and lawyers worry about "exit bans" on those seeking to emigrate or leave the city amid business disputes.

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