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Your Week in Asia

Huawei hearing, Trump in Davos and StarLux Airlines launch

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

As China prepares to ring in the Year of the Rat, travelers are on high alert for symptoms of a pneumonia virus that has spread in the city of Wuhan, a major transport hub. Nearly 3 billion passenger trips were made during last year's holidays.   © Reuters

Welcome to Nikkei Asian Preview, a list of the most important business, economic and political events happening in Asia each week.

Here's what we're watching:


Huawei CFO's hearing begins

The case of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies who is charged with misleading banks about the company's business in Iran, has become a tinderbox for Canada, bringing it into the middle of U.S. tensions with China and Iran.

The burden is on Canada's attorney general to prove that the crime Meng is accused of -- committing fraud to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran -- is also a crime in Canada, before the country can extradite her to its southern neighbor. Meng's lawyers have argued that fulfilling the U.S. extradition warrant would undermine Canada's policy toward Iran.

Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou returns from a lunch break during a hearing at the British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver, Canada, on Sept. 23.   © Reuters

AmCham gives advice to Hong Kong

The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong will lay out its priorities for 2020 on Monday. AmCham was particularly vocal last year in urging the territory's government to drop or delay the now withdrawn proposed extradition bill.

The group, which has about 1,400 members, says it "hopes to take a lead in refocusing Hong Kong for a new era, including building a workforce for the future, private public partnership with the government and dialogue" with the U.S.

Abe lays out agenda

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will deliver his annual policy speech on the first day of this year's parliamentary session.

Abe's agenda: His longtime goal of constitutional revision, Japan's diplomatic strategy toward the Middle East and China, and social welfare reform.

Parliament's pulse: During the 150-day session, the lawmakers will discuss the government's annual budget, which will include another stimulus package, and proposed bills for 5G communications networks in Japan.

Go deeper: Will Abe risk it all for constitutional revision, or focus on picking a successor?


Trump returns to global stage at Davos

Marking the 50th anniversary of the World Economic Forum, political and business elites from around the globe will gather in the Swiss village of Davos to discuss the central topic of stakeholder capitalism.

Who's on the guest list? U.S. President Donald Trump will deliver a speech on Tuesday after skipping the conference last year. Three hours later, it will be the turn of Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng. Also speaking is Huawei chief executive Ren Zhengfei, a day after his daughter Meng Wanzhou's extradition hearing.

The ski resort town of Davos, Switzerland, where political and business elites convene every year for the World Economic Forum.    © Reuters

Thai court rules on opposition party's future

Thailand's constitutional court will pass down a verdict on the Future Forward Party, which may lead to its disbandment. The petition claims that the opposition party, founded by young millionaire Thanathorn Juangruangroongkit, has attempted to undermine the kingdom's constitutional monarchy.

Why it matters: Some see the development as a clampdown against the anti-military party by the pro-military government. Founded in 2018, the party has become the second-largest opposition group in Thailand, with over 50,000 members.

Interview: Thanathorn told Nikkei this month that repression would only feed the Thai public's anger

Taiwan reaps gains from trade war

Taiwan is scheduled to release fourth quarter and annual gross domestic product figures on Tuesday. The island's third-quarter growth of 2.91% outpaced Asian peers such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea, which releases its data on Wednesday.

The U.S.-China trade war has pushed Taiwanese companies to shift investments back to the island from the mainland, while exports from Taiwan to the U.S. grew in light of Washington's tariffs on Chinese goods.

BOJ to paint positive picture

The Bank of Japan is expected to publish a positive forecast for Japan's economic growth, in response to a major fiscal spending program unveiled by the Abe government at the end of last year. But the central bank is likely to keep monetary policy unchanged.

A look back: Japan stimulus package swells to $120bn in Abenomics reboot

Monetary policy meetings will also be held in Malaysia on Wednesday, and Indonesia on Thursday.


Court challenge for India's citizenship law

India's Supreme Court will hear petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the country's new citizenship law, which grants citizenship to non-Muslims from three surrounding countries. The law, which is viewed as discriminatory against Muslims, has sparked nationwide protests.

Background: Five things to know about India's revised citizenship law


ICJ rules on restraining order against Myanmar

The International Court of Justice will rule this week on a request for a restraining order against Myanmar. The order would protect Myanmar's Rohingya population until a case brought by Gambia alleging genocide against the Muslim minority is heard in full.

StarLux launches first flight

Taiwanese startup airline StarLux Airlines, founded by former EVA Air CEO Chang Kuo-wei, will start commercial services on Thursday. Its first flights are bound for Macao, Danang in Vietnam, and Penang in Malaysia.

The launch of StarLux comes after two small Taiwanese air carriers, TransAsia Airways and Far Eastern Air Transport, went bankrupt in 2016 and stopped services last year.

A family affair: Chang, the youngest son of late founder of EVA Air, was forced to leave the company in 2016.

StarLux Airlines founder and Chairman Chang Kuo-Wei aims to have the carrier compete directly with Taiwan's major commercial airlines. Founder Chang Kuo-wei aims to have StarLux Airlines compete directly with Taiwan's major commercial carriers.   © Reuters


Rats away

The annual mass movement of people returning to their hometowns for the Lunar New Year is expected to peak this weekend, as China celebrates its Spring Festival from Jan. 15 to 30. Authorities expect 2.46 billion trips by road, 413 million by rail and 73 million by air.

Worries of contagion: The celebration for the Year of the Rat comes amid the spread of a new coronavirus. The number of deaths rose to at least two by Thursday and more have been hospitalized in the mainland, Hong Kong, Japan and Thailand.

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