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Your Week in Asia

European Council chief visits China, Jimmy Lai trial, Thailand motor expo

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

Chinese EV makers GWM and BYD will face off against Japanese automakers at the Thailand International Motor Expo this week.   © AP

Welcome to Your Week in Asia.

Big developments are expected in three legal cases this week. A Macao court will hear closing arguments in the trial of the gambling hub's junket king Alvin Chau on Tuesday. The following day, Tokyo District Court in Japan will hand down its ruling on whether not recognizing same-sex marriage is constitutional. In Hong Kong, media tycoon Jimmy Lai is expected to stand trial under the territory's national security law.

The presidents of Laos and the European Council are due to visit China. President Xi Jinping has resumed in-person meetings with foreign leaders after securing a precedent-breaking third term as Communist Party leader.

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MONDAY

Earnings: Pinduoduo

TUESDAY

Closing arguments in ex-Suncity boss Alvin Chau's trial

Defense lawyers and prosecutors will deliver their closing arguments as the trial of Macao's junket king Alvin Chau comes to an end. The former Suncity boss faces charges including fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling, with the threat of decades in prison if convicted.

Authorities have also accused Chau and his co-defendants of cheating the world's biggest gaming hub out of about $1 billion in tax revenue. Dubbed the junket king, Chau was once seen as a pillar of the city. His arrest last year came as a surprise to many in the industry and signaled Beijing's tightening grip over the sector. Chau has pleaded his innocence.

Background: Macao's junket king Alvin Chau on trial: 4 things to know

Laos leader visits China

Laotian President Thongloun Sisoulith pays an official visit to China from Tuesday to Thursday. One of the least developed countries in Southeast Asia, Laos is more dependent on China than other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Experts estimated Laos' debt exposure to China is approximately $12.2 billion, or 64.8% of its gross domestic product.

Go deeper: Laos' debt pressure raises specter of a China vassal state

Taiwan announces Q3 GDP

Earnings: Bilibili

WEDNESDAY

Tokyo court ruling on same-sex marriage

Tokyo District Court is due to rule on marriage equality in Japan. This will be the third court ruling on the issue in the country. To date, a Sapporo District Court in March 2021 ruled that not recognizing same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, whereas an Osaka District Court came to the opposite conclusion in June.

Japanese startup Ispace lunar lander launch

A moon lander developed by Japanese space startup Ispace is due to launch aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral. It will be Japan's first commercial moon landing mission. The lander will carry small lunar rovers from the United Arab Emirates and Japan, and is expected to reach the surface of the moon in April.

India, Turkey announce July-September GDP

Monetary policy announcement: Thailand

China releases November manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index

Earnings: Xpeng

THURSDAY

European Council President travels to Beijing

European Council President Charles Michel is due to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing. The visit comes as the European Union leaders reassess the bloc's relationship with China against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war and Beijing's growing threats toward Taiwan.

"The visit is a timely opportunity for both EU and China to engage," said Michel's office, adding that the leaders "will discuss global challenges, as well as subjects of common interest."

National security trial starts for Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai

The high-profile national security trial of Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, a vocal critic of the Chinese Communist Party, is expected to start on Thursday. Under a draconian national security law imposed by Beijing, Lai is charged with conspiring to collude with foreign forces. The hearing will look at several articles that called for Western sanctions on Hong Kong officials over their roles in quashing the pro-democracy movement.

The Hong Kong government has been trying to block Tim Owens, a British senior counsel, from representing Lai. A decision by the court of appeal will be handed down on Monday. The trial is expected to last 30 days.

Thailand motor expo

Chinese electric vehicle champions BYD and Great Wall Motor will face off against Japanese automakers at the Thailand International Motor Expo, which begins Thursday. BYD made a splash this year with plans to open its first plant outside China in Thailand, and GWM told Nikkei Asia it would launch four models and double its investment in Thailand to 22.6 billion baht ($633.2 million). Meanwhile, Japanese automakers face an uphill battle in retooling their model lineup and extensive Thai supply chains to meet growing demand for EVs in the Southeast Asian market.

FRIDAY

Bank of Thailand hosts central bank summit

Heavyweights from among the world's central banks gather in Thailand on Friday, when the Bank of Thailand co-hosts a forum with the Bank for International Settlements. Speakers including BIS chief Agustin Carstens, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, Singapore's Ravi Menon and People's Bank of China Gov. Yi Gang will talk about growth and inflation and central banks' role in combating climate change.

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