Hong Kong is expected to hold its Chief Executive elections in March 2017. Carrie Lam is widely seen by political punters as Beijing’s favorite in the race. The former Chief Secretary is popular with the public as well.
Being in the driver’s seat for regionalism and positing its centrality in East Asia, ASEAN can aggregate the interests of all major powers like US, China, Japan, India, Russia and the EU as well as middle powers like South Korea and Australia.
One indication of a stable Sino-US relationship is revealed in the Chinese reaction to the Trump-Tsai phone conversation. Beijing sought to downplay its significance, and the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi described it as “just a small trick” by Taiwan.
An influence-peddling scandal raised a groundswell of anger towards South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Members of the public took part in large rallies to voice their opposition. On December 9, South Korea’s parliament voted to impeach Park.
After fighting between government forces and rebel groups broke out in the northeast Myanmar border towns of Muse and Kutkai, some Myanmarese fled into Chinese territory. A Chinese daily reported that a state-owned structure suffered light damage from stray shells.
The ultimate goal is for TPP or RCEP to be a gateway to a macro Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) objective that APEC has set its sights on. The FTAAP can help harmonize existing multilateral and bilateral trade linkages.