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Your Week in Asia

Philippine president inauguration, Widodo visits Putin, Hong Kong anniversary

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

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the 64-year-old namesake son of the late Philippine dictator, will take his oath as the country’s 17th president at the National Museum in the city of Manila on June 30.   © Reuters

Welcome to Your Week in Asia.

Philippine president-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. officially takes office on Thursday. A day later, Hong Kong's John Lee will be sworn in as chief executive as the city marks the 25th anniversary of its return to China.

Elsewhere in the region, Thailand on Friday joins its neighbors in fully opening its doors to vaccinated tourists.

Get the best of our coverage of Asia and much more by following us on Twitter @NikkeiAsia.


End of Shanghai party congress

Chinese President Xi Jinping's embattled ally Li Qiang comes under the spotlight as the Shanghai Communist Party congress elects delegates to the national congress, to be held this fall. Li, Shanghai's top official, had his reputation shaken after he struggled to contain the city's COVID-19 outbreak even after confining over 25 million residents to their homes for two months. Failing to make it onto the delegate list might threaten his career, which was on the ascent before the outbreak.

India begins requiring data on VPN users

India's deadline for VPN services to start storing user data for at least five years falls on Monday. The data required to be stored include customers' names, email addresses and how much time they spend using the service. The government says the move is meant to fight cybercrime. The services say it will deal a blow to user privacy. Already Express VPN, SurfShark and other providers have removed their servers from India.

U.S. Treasury delegation to Sri Lanka

A high-level delegation from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Department of State begins talks with Sri Lankan government officials in Colombo. On the agenda is the South Asian nation's crippling debt, which has triggered an economic meltdown and its first default. The talks, due to go through Wednesday, come after a visit by International Monetary Fund officials to discuss a bailout. Washington is supportive of assistance from the multilateral lender.


NATO summit in Madrid 

NATO leaders gather for a summit in Madrid, Spain, through Thursday, to determine the allies' strategic path for the next decade. The Russian invasion of Ukraine will be the main focus, but the alliance will also outline strategic Indo-Pacific issues, especially the rise of China as a systemic challenge. The future of the Sino-Russo relationship, the need for the U.S. to prioritize between Europe and the Indo-Pacific, and a common position toward China are also likely to be discussed.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol will attend.

India's Modi visits UAE

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the United Arab Emirates to pay condolences on the death of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the former UAE president and Abu Dhabi ruler. He will also take the opportunity to congratulate Sheikh Khalifa's successor, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The visit follows outrage from the Arab world over the controversial remarks against the Prophet Muhammad made by two functionaries of Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party who have since been removed. Modi travels to the UAE from Germany after attending the G-7 summit as a special guest.

Toshiba and J-Power AGMs

Toshiba holds an annual general meeting to vote on board nominations including for an investment banker and two hedge fund managers, as the Japanese industrial conglomerate explores a possible private equity buyout. Toshiba has received 10 competing proposals from potential strategic partners, and the new board's mission will be to choose strategic partners and carry out a business overhaul.

On the same day, Electric Power Development, commonly known as J-Power, faces the judgment of investors regarding climate-related proposals submitted by a group of global asset managers. The nation's largest coal-fired power generator has refused to approve demands to strengthen its decarbonization strategy. It will be the first Japanese company to face asset managers rather than environmental campaigners in regard to its climate stewardship.


Indian court to hear defamation lawsuit against Sequoia Capital

A former general counsel at Sequoia Capital's India outfit who left the firm in 2019 to launch his own law firm has filed a defamation suit against the venture fund and some media businesses. Sequoia had allegedly sent out a missive to its portfolio companies urging them to refrain from working with the firm. Sequoia has urged the court to dismiss the suit, saying it limits the fund's free speech rights.


Philippine presidential inauguration

Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., the 64-year-old namesake son of the late Philippine dictator, takes his oath as the country's 17th president at the National Museum in the city of Manila. Marcos won an electoral landslide on May 9, securing nearly 60% of the votes, the biggest popular mandate for a president in decades.

Widodo meets Putin

Indonesian President Joko Widodo is expected to meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow. The current G-20 chairman is also slated to visit Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his tour of Europe (the presidential office in Jakarta has not released the exact dates of the visits). Widodo seeks to discuss humanitarian and food crises during the meetings and mediate the conflict.

China official PMI

Following the easing of COVID-triggered lockdowns across the nation, China's purchasing managers index for June might show signs of improvement along global supply chains. The PMI has been in contraction territory since March as massive lockdowns hurt production and business activities.

China opens exchange-traded bonds to foreign investors

Chinese financial regulators start allowing foreign institutional investors to trade the country's exchange-traded bonds. The foreign investors were already able to buy and sell these bonds in the interbank market, but the latest move more widely opens the door to the world's second-largest bond market by size.

The announcement to allow more foreign access came on May 27. It was made by the People's Bank of China, the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. It came as foreign ownership of local bonds was falling. The most recent monthly data, disclosed days later, shows foreign bond holdings as of the end of May marking four consecutive month-on-month declines.

The central bank stressed the significance in a statement on May 27. The move is another "important step" in the opening of the bond market and meant to be conducive to "expanding the inflow through the capital account" and "enhancing the capabilities of the financial system in dealing with the complex international situation," the statement says.


John Lee takes office as Hong Kong's leader

Security hawk John Lee will be sworn in as Hong Kong's chief executive by Chinese President Xi Jinping as the city marks the 25th anniversary of its return to China after 156 years of British rule. This will be Xi's first trip out of mainland China since January 2020, when the world was first learning of COVID-19. It signals a commitment to the territory's "new chapter," the theme of this year's event.

Hong Kong officials, lawmakers and invited guests have been in a "closed loop" since Thursday and must undergo daily COVID tests. They are also required to quarantine in a hotel for 24 hours ahead of the event. Hong Kong has experienced a relentless crackdown on civil society and its freedoms since Beijing imposed a national security law two years ago.

Thailand lifts all COVID entry requirements

The final pandemic-era hurdle for inbound travelers to Thailand lifts. Visitors will no longer have to register online for a Thailand Pass, which requires medical insurance and proof of vaccination. Thailand follows other tourism-dependent Southeast Asian neighbors Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam in fully opening its doors to vaccinated tourists.

BOJ releases Tankan quarterly survey

The Tankan business sentiment survey is expected to paint a mixed picture of Japan's economy, with some domestic demand-oriented businesses recovering on the back of fewer COVID cases but export-dependent manufacturers slowing due to COVID lockdowns in China and higher prices for materials. The BOJ has said it will maintain its loose monetary policy, and the Tankan survey isn't expected to change the policy direction.

HKEX requires IPO candidates to have female directors

Hong Kong's stock exchange launches a regulation requiring more than 2,500 listed companies to have at least one female board member by 2024. But companies planning a new listing on the bourse after Friday must immediately comply with the rule. The move to shake up all-male boards comes with data showing that Hong Kong's listed companies, including many based in mainland China, are falling behind companies in Europe, North America and elsewhere in Asia in this regard.


Hong Kong Palace Museum opens

The Hong Kong Palace museum opens on Saturday, marking the 25th anniversary of the handover. The museum will exhibit more than 900 Chinese artifacts, including paintings, rare books and sculptures on loan from Beijing's Palace Museum in its seven galleries. Authorities say the Palace Museum is a "major milestone" in cultural collaboration between the mainland and Hong Kong and will "help nurture a national identity among residents."

Shimao $1bn bond due

Shimao Group will come under scrutiny as a $1 billion bond with a coupon rate of 4.75% matures on Sunday. In recent months, the Shanghai-based developer asked investors for more time to make payments, resulting in its bond prices declining.

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