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Your Week in Asia

Hong Kong ends flight ban, Singapore restrictions ease, Thai crypto crackdown

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

Hong Kong is set to lift its ban on flights from nine countries on Friday, saying it is "no longer timely nor appropriate."   © Reuters

Welcome to Your Week in Asia.

Several of Southeast Asia's tourism-dependent countries are taking steps to lift COVID-19 restrictions this week. Malaysia and the Philippines will reopen to all vaccinated travelers, while Singapore will ease workplace restrictions and rules on wearing masks.

Elsewhere in the region, Hong Kong will end its ban on flights from nine nations.

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


U.S.-Philippines military exercises

The 37th annual military exercises known as Balikatan, or "shoulder-to-shoulder," begin Monday with 3,800 Philippine troops and 5,100 U.S. personnel. Running through April 8, the drills will focus on areas such as maritime security, amphibious operations, live-fire training, urban operations, aviation, counterterrorism and disaster relief. 


Singapore eases COVID curbs

Singapore will roll back some of its domestic COVID restrictions from Tuesday as a wave fueled by the omicron variant subsides. Wearing a mask outdoors will be optional, while the maximum size of social gatherings will double to 10 people. Up to 75% of employees can return to workplaces, from the current limit of 50%.

Vietnam reports first quarter GDP

Company earnings: Kuaishou, BYD


South Asian leaders summit

Sri Lanka will host a summit on Wednesday for BIMSTEC, or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. The regional grouping comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Min Aung Hlaing, who leads Myanmar's military regime, is expected to join the event, which is set to discuss ways to enhance regional cooperation. He was not invited to last year's summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Company earnings: Country Garden, Vanke, China's big 3 airlines

Monetary policy announcement: Thailand


Bank of Commerce IPO

Philippine lender Bank of Commerce, the banking arm of beer-to-infrastructure conglomerate San Miguel, is set to list on the Philippine Stock Exchange on Thursday. It plans to raise up to 3.36 billion pesos ($64 million), partly to fund its lending to clients.

China statistics bureau posts monthly PMI

Company earnings: Shimao, Sunac, R&F, Logan, Agile, Zhenro


EU-China summit

The European Union and China will hold an online summit, as both sides try to ease growing tensions that include a stalled investment agreement. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is expected to be on the agenda amid souring bilateral relations -- the EU has accused Beijing of human rights violations and member state Lithuania has adopted a pro-Taiwan policy.

Hong Kong lifts flight ban

Hong Kong will begin allowing passengers from nine countries to enter, after barring flights from Australia, Canada, France, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, the U.K. and the U.S. for three months.

The government says the ban is "no longer timely nor appropriate," and is also easing social distancing restrictions in three phases after April 20.

Philippines opens to vaccinated tourists

The Philippines will reopen to fully vaccinated foreign travelers from all nations. Malaysia will also shift to a similar policy from Friday, as Southeast Asian countries push to revive their pandemic-hit tourism industries.

Ramadan starts in Indonesia

Indonesia is expected to lift a domestic travel ban during Ramadan, which begins in early April. The Islamic holy month is typically when Indonesian Muslims head to their hometowns to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of fasting. Domestic travel has been banned for the last two years due to the pandemic.

Thai crypto ban kicks in

Consumers in Thailand will no longer be able to use bitcoin to purchase goods or services from Friday, when a ban on cryptocurrency payments takes effect. Payment operators will have a grace period through the end of April. Thai regulators are taking the step in a bid to stabilize financial markets.

Bank of Japan publishes quarterly Tankan business survey


Philippines second presidential debate

As election day on May 9 draws near, the Philippine Commission on Elections will hold another presidential debate on Sunday. Presidential front-runner Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the late dictator, has yet to confirm his participation after skipping the first debate on March 19.

Hong Kong chief executive nominations

The nomination period for Hong Kong's next chief executive will begin on Sunday, after being postponed last month amid the city's worst coronavirus outbreak. Over 1,000 "patriotic" members of an election committee will select the next chief executive on May 8, the city's first new leader after Beijing overhauled the electoral system last year.

Among the political elite, the latest names floated to run include Chief Secretary John Lee and Financial Secretary Paul Chan. Incumbent Carrie Lam has remained tight-lipped about reelection.

Israeli prime minister visits India

Naftali Bennett will visit India for three days from Sunday, at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. The trip, Bennett's first to India as Israeli prime minister, comes as the two countries commemorate 30 years of full diplomatic relations. The two leaders are expected to discuss cooperation in agriculture, water, trade, education and technology.

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