Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:
China's “9-11” crackdown.
Last year's deadly car explosion in Beijing's Tiananmen Square -- blamed on Uighur separatists from the far-western province of Xinjiang -- was plenty disturbing for Chinese. But the March 1 train-station massacre in Kunming that killed at least 29 civilians has prompted President Xi Jinping to order a crackdown on “violent terrorist activities.” While the investigation is focused on Uighur extremists, Beijing's reaction to an event Xinhua journalist Gui Tao calls China’s “9-11” is sure to reverberate around the nation in unpredictable and perhaps draconian ways.
Japan's richest man on global quest.
No Japanese CEO personifies the nation's global potential better than Tadashi Yanai of Fast Retailing and its increasingly-ubiquitous Uniqlo brand. In recent months, media speculated that Uniqlo had expanded too much, too quickly. The betting was that Yanai would reduce his own ambitions, as so many Japanese titans have since the end of the bubble years 20-plus years ago. Far from thinking smaller, as Bloomberg News reports here, he's in talks about a potential acquisition of J. Crew. Clearly, Yanai is of the view that increasing Japan's global footprint is very much in fashion.
South Korea's next central banker.
As Kim Choong Soo's tenure as Bank of Korea head draws to an end, markets have been hankering for continuity. President Park Geun Hye seems to have found just that in Lee Ju Yeol, a former deputy governor with more than 30 years experience at the BOK. Of course, upcoming confirmation hearings could prove rough as opposition lawmakers pounce on Park's policies and try to discern whether Lee will be more hawkish than Kim. Still, today's news is sure to cheer those worried Park would make a radical choice to replace the respected Kim, whose term ends March 31.
Going after Asia's sex-industry johns.
Contained in this anti-prostitution rant by a Malaysian journalist is a very timely question: Why do Asian governments tend to punish sex workers, not the johns? Authorities might have far more luck reining in the oldest profession by attacking the demand side at least as much as the supply side. Scare away customers and brothel owners would have few incentives to exploit Asia's women.
China's world-altering wanderlust.
Time to put that bucket list together. Fancy that perfect hotel-room view of the Eiffel Tower or Venice's Grand Canal? That romantic villa in the Maldives or Seychelles? That iconic inn in Kyoto to experience cherry-blossom season or that spot on a tour to Galapagos? You might want to start now, because when 300 million or so Chinese start booking reservations to the world's most amazing locales, good luck getting your own. This Globalist.com piece offers a glimpse of what's to come.
(William Pesek is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @williampesek.)
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