CHINA HYPE China fills the vacuum Beijing's global ambition poses 'world's biggest geopolitical risk -Nikkei

China’s Soft and Sharp Power When I introduced the concept of soft power in 1990, I wrote that it is characterized by voluntarism and indirection, while hard power rests on threats and inducements. If someone aims a gun at you, demands your money, and takes your wallet, what you think and want is irrelevant. That is hard power. If he persuades you to give him your money, he has changed what you think and want. That is soft power. -Project Syndicate

NOT SO SOFT Four Chinese ships enter Japanese waters around Senkakus -The Japan Times

SHARPENING Japan’s defense policy decisions in 2018 Abe said something unprecedented: that, while continuing to uphold an exclusively defense-oriented posture and other fundamental principles, the upcoming NDPG revision will not be considered based on a linear projection of the past evolution of Japanese defense policy. Rather, Abe stressed, the revision will be based on an honest assessment of the aggravated security situation that Japan finds itself in today. -The Japan Times

What's Next for Taiwan's Political Party Structure? Power in Taiwan has swung between the KMT and DPP but appetite for new parties and ideas suggest a fragmented future. -The News Lens 

Is North Korea running rings around the South? Sports diplomacy has not proven to make any significant or lasting impact on geopolitics in North-east Asia -The Straits Times

Rohingya rebels say ‘no other option’ but to fight Myanmar -SCMP

ECONOMIC STATECRAFT Why Australia’s cure for Chinese influence is worse than the disease Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has cause to push back against undue political influence from Beijing, but the economic price, and the price paid by his fellow citizens who happen to be of Chinese descent, is too high -SCMP




FEAR UNCERTAINTY DOUBT Intel Faces the China FUD Factor Beyond that, though, it's an excuse for the Chinese government to issue directives against buying Intel and instead procure homemade alternatives. No such alternatives exist, really, but it may not be too long before half-decent knock-offs are churned out. -Bloomberg Gadfly

CHINA ENTRY  Zurich Insurance keen to re-enter China with a joint venture as rules relaxed for foreign financial firms Zurich Insurance eyes return to China’s life insurance market and is now in talks to find a joint venture partner in the country -SCMP

CHINA EXIT CapitaLand to sell 20 malls in China for $1.7 billion -The Straits Times

The US Government blocks MoneyGram’s $1.2B sale to Alibaba’s Ant Financial -Tech Crunch

DISRUPTING JAPAN Abenomics should follow Masayoshi Son’s lead The 60-year-old Son is taking risks. He’s discarding the groupthink that deadened Japan’s innovative mojo. He’s generating fresh growth and wealth. He’s putting the Japan brand back on the global radar screen, and doing so almost single-handedly. -The Japan Times

PODCAST OF THE WEEK What Every Foreigner Needs to Know about Hiring Staff in Japan -Disrupting Japan

Japan set to bank ¥40 billion per year for tourism sector with new departure tax -The Japan Times

New car sales in SE Asia climb 5% in November, up for 2nd month Thailand, Philippines buoy market, but Indonesia key to sustainable growth -Nikkei

COLLUSION Singapore fines five electronics firms $14.7 million in biggest anti-competition penalty Singapore on Friday fined five electronics parts makers a total of S$19.5 million ($14.7 million) for price-fixing and other cartel activities, the biggest anti-competition penalty in the city-state, the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) said. -Reuters

#SMART Uber partners with Goldman Sachs-backed startup for cashless payments in Vietnam -Tech-in-Asia


Is a full oil embargo against North Korea even possible? A total cutoff on exports to North Korea could lead to regime collapse in Pyongyang – something Beijing fears more than a nuclear-armed neighbor -SCMP

China aims to supersize coal sector through mergers China said on Friday it plans to create several “super-large” coal mining companies by the end of 2020 as the world’s biggest producer of the fuel ramps up years of efforts to streamline the fragmented sector and slash outdated capacity. -Reuters

Taiwan's Dollar Problem Taiwan's chief financial officers have a problem. Their currency is among Asia's top performers, strengthening 8 percent against the dollar over the past 12 months. -Bloomberg

Indonesia plans to sell 264 LNG cargoes in 2018 -Jakarta Post