CHINA & HONG KONG
Hong Kong demonstrators will need to look beyond mainland China for supplies of protest gear that has defined the look of the movement.
Queries on Chinese e-Commerce portals such as Alibaba Group’s Taobao for umbrellas, masks, and helmets would return the searches as “item not found” for buyers based in Hong Kong, while those on the mainland have positive results. Hong Kong logistics companies said a list of “sensitive items” which include black T-shirts, banners, laser pens, and facial masks will be detained at customs.
Protests in Hong Kong have dragged on since early June, with the government warning of the damage to the economy and the city’s reputation. Police have used tear gas and rubber bullets on demonstrators who linger after peaceful rallies ended, and the confrontations have turned increasingly violent in recent weeks.
In such fights, protesters wear gas masks and helmets, and police have said some target strong laser beams at them. After entering search queries, e-Commerce site JD.com showed helmets and laser pens are “out of storage for Hong Kong and Macau”.
A representative of Hong Kong’s customs says it did not receive any directive to control the import of protest-related items, and it does not know if there are any restrictions from mainland customs. Outside of business hours, a call to China’s customs went unanswered, while representatives for JD and Alibaba, which owns Taobao, did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
According to a notice on the website of Hong Kong logistics company Dailybuyco.com, customs has strengthened controls over imports and exports. The current list of “sensitive items” also includes towels, umbrellas, glow sticks, flashlights, and helmets. The list, as defined by the customs, is constantly changing, the website said, without specifying if it was Hong Kong or China authorities.
Another delivery company Taopai.hk posted a similar notice earlier this month, saying that customs and the Hong Kong government are posting restrictions over imported goods, including yellow umbrellas, yellow helmets, iron pipes, and knives. No “goods for riot” can be transported in freight, the post said. – Bloomberg News.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.94% to 25,734.22 on Friday (16 August) and the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.29% to 2,823.82.
REST OF ASIA
Indonesian President Joko Widodo is facing an uphill battle to make good on an ambitious reform plan with a rapidly deteriorating global outlook prompting doubts, including from within his own government, over growth projections for Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
Despite acknowledging mounting risks, Widodo will head into his second term having handed down a budget at the heart of which is a forecast for growth next year of 5.3%. If realised, it would be the fastest pace of expansion in seven years. The 2020 outlay ramps up spending to an all-time high of IDR2.5t rupiah (USD178b), while also projecting a narrower fiscal deficit.
Yet, within hours of the budget being delivered Friday (16 August), the government was already expressing doubts over its own projections, underscoring the depth of anxiety among policymakers around the world toward fresh volatility, waning demand, and an escalating trade war.
Citing growing uncertainties in the global economy, and the possibility of recession in some countries, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the numbers outlined in the budget were not “fixed”. – Bloomberg News.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.81% to 6,457.50 early-Monday (19 August) morning. The index dipped 0.04% to 6,405.53 in the previous session.
South Korea’s Kospi Index gained 0.52% to 1,937.16 on Monday morning, reversing the previous session’s 0.58% loss to 1,927.17.
The Taiwan Stock Exchange Weighted Index added 0.91% to 10,420.89.
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