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Your Week in Asia

US tariffs kick in, Tankan survey, and Taiwan campaign kicks off

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

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a signed memorandum to slap tariffs on high-tech goods from China, at the White House on March 22, 2018.    © Reuters

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

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Here's what we're watching, plus scroll down for a sneak peek of our next cover story:


Hong Kong's protests hit half-year mark

Six months in, Hong Kong's anti-establishment protests show no sign of dying down. While the government has scrapped the controversial extradition bill that first triggered demonstrations in June, protesters continue to press Chief Executive Carrie Lam on other demands, such as universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into police brutality.

The milestone on Monday will be followed by a court ruling on Tuesday regarding a "mask ban" imposed by the government to hinder protests. The court previously ruled the law unconstitutional but delayed implementation to give the government time to prepare for an appeal.

Opinion: Hong Kong won't be a global finance hub without neutral courts


China releases price data

China will release inflation data for November. This follows some alarming figures the previous month, when the producer price index fell the most in more than three years as demand weakened for factory products, while the consumer price index rose at its fastest rate since January 2012.

Showa Denko to outline its plans for Hitachi Chemical

Showa Denko is expected on Tuesday to outline its strategy to purchase Hitachi Chemical. Last month, the Japanese materials maker spent double its domestical rival's market value to beat other bidders to the deal.

A big gamble: The company appears to be pegging everything on the Hitachi deal to diversify its portfolio, which faces weak prospects in magnetic disk and graphite electrode production amid cooling demand for personal computers and the global economic slowdown.

Aung San Suu Kyi to defend Rohingya treatment at The Hague

State counselor Aung San Suu Kyi will lead a delegation to The Hague to defend Myanmar's human rights record on Tuesday, when the International Court of Justice hears a case filed by Gambia alleging genocide against Myanmar's Rohingya minority.

International pressure: Facing mounting calls from other countries and the United Nations to ensure the safe repatriation of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Suu Kyi, once an icon for democracy in Asia, defended the crackdown against the group as a response to a "terrorist attack" in an interview with Nikkei.

Rohingya refugees march on to camps after crossing the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh in October 2017. Their situation remains tenuous two years later.   © Reuters


China car sales

Another Chinese economic indicator to watch out for will be November's passenger vehicle sales, which fell 5.7% in October from the previous year to 1.84 million units. An industry watcher expected sales to be subdued in the fourth quarter and in the first quarter of 2020 based on weak demand.


Philippine central bank to sit tight

The Philippine central is expected to keep it benchmark rate unchanged at 4% at its last meeting for the year.

Despite hints by central bank governor Benjamin Diokno of a "possible" cut, analysts at Nomura believe that accelerating inflation and an improving labor market make the case for a pause.

Brexit on the line as Brits go to the polls

Ahead of the U.K.'s third general election since 2015, polls are projecting an outright majority for Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party.

It matters to Asia: Johnson has pledged to "get Brexit" done by January 31, a move that would likely to see him traveling across the world in an attempt to sign trade deals with the U.S. and possibly Asian countries such as Japan, China and South Korea.

Corbyn closing in: But the opposition Labour Party is narrowing the gap in the polls, leaving the possibility of a hung parliament and a minority government led by left-wing politician Jeremy Corbyn, who has said he would put any exit deal with the European Union up to a second referendum.


Japan takes its business sentiment pulse

The Bank of Japan's quarterly Tankan survey is expected to show a deterioration in business sentiment, due to the Oct. 1 consumption-tax increase and the havoc wreaked by Typhoon Hagibis.

Why this matters: A further decline would result in the lowest reading in more than six years, the fourth consecutive drop on a quarterly basis, and the longest declining spell since the financial crisis a decade ago.

More: Japan stimulus package swells to $120 billion in Abenomics reboot

Taiwan election campaign starts

The one-month countdown for Taiwan to elect its next leader starts on Friday. President Tsai Ing-wen from the China-skeptic Democratic Progressive Party is likely to be reelected as she holds a substantial poll lead over the China-friendly Kuomintang presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu.

Over the past few months, Tsai's popularity has significantly risen as pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have alarmed the Taiwanese public about mainland China's expansionist goals. With a month to go before the elections, however, analysts say anything could still happen.

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen and her opponent, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu. (Source photos by Reuters)


Abe meets Modi in India

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will leave for New Delhi on Saturday to hold his annual summit with his counterpart Narendra Modi.

On the agenda: The two leaders are expected to discuss cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in the areas of security, defense and economic exchanges.

Tariffs set to go into effect

Unless a so-called Phase One trade deal is reached, Washington is set to move forward with a 15% tariff on $156 billion of Chinese goods on Sunday. However, the chances of the world's two biggest economies inking an agreement before Dec. 15 are looking increasingly slim, with U.S. President Donald Trump last week declaring that he does not see the date as a deadline. Beijing continues to insist that the deal include a rollback of some existing tariffs.

Holiday pinch: The new round of levies, which will for the first time fall on a range of consumer goods such as smartphones, is likely to make average Americans feel the pinch of Trump's trade war. The U.S. has delayed these tariffs once before from its original September 1 date, citing the potential impact on holiday shoppers.

Don't forget to tell us what you think of our Monday newsletter here.

STAY TUNED: This week's cover story on the new carbon economy comes out on Wednesday.

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