Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:
Thai generals eye economic steps.
Buoyed by Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej endorsing their coup, military leaders are meeting with heads of the central bank, the stock exchange and other economic officials to mull ways to safeguard growth. They need to act fast. Curfews since the May 22 coup are discouraging tourists who were already wary about visiting the nation amid political violence that has killed at least 28 people since November. Even before the power grab, Thailand was sliding toward recession. The Bank of Thailand should take the lead with interest-rate cuts and the junta must devise rapid stimulus efforts. Otherwise, Army Commander Prayuth Chan-Ocha and fellow coup leaders will have lots of explaining to do for wrecking Thailand's economy along with its democracy.
China-Japan "Top Gun" scenario.
Odd as it sounds, Japan's military brass has Maverick, Goose, Iceman and Tony Scott's 1986 box-office hit on their minds this week. They claim that on Sunday, Chinese fighter jets flew within 30 meters of Japanese ones, "Top Gun"-style, over disputed waters to see what the opposing pilots would do, reprising a famous scene from the film that catapulted Tom Cruise to stardom. It marks a dangerous escalation in the fast-increasing number of aerial contacts in the Asian skies. Were any of these planes to collide, the China-Japan Cold War could become a real one. It also may give Cruise's production company fodder for another script.
California killing spree claims ethnic Chinese.
As Americans criticize China for its human rights abuses, it's worth considering how their own nation's gun violence plays in Asia. The latest mass killing spree is getting lots of attention on the mainland, partly because three ethnic Chinese students were among the casualties (apparently stabbed by attacker Elliot Rodger before he began shooting others). Nothing scientific or quantifiable here, but at what point will Asian parents start opting against letting kids visit or study in the U.S. en masse for fear of student-on-student violence? Some food for thought as American politicians ignore yet another cry for stronger gun laws.
Is Modi's solar focus in India wrong?
As Narendra Modi, prime minister-elect of India, plots a clear and more efficient energy course for 1.2 billion people, is his focus on solar realistic? No, says, energy economist Michael Lynch. In this Forbes piece, he explains why Modi should put more stock in liquefied natural gas early on and later adopt more ambitious renewable-energy plans. While climate scientists a world away might disagree, India, Lynch agues, needs cheap power more than clean power today. "Why," he asks, "if solar is too expensive for Germany, would it be the choice for India?"
Hong Kong tycoon wife's expensive greeting.
Well, that's certainly one way to try to meet your favorite actor. What else can one say about a Hong Kong tycoon's wife buying a $39,000 magazine ad to say hello to South Korean heartthrob Kim Soo-hyun? Korean media are only identifying her as "Cecelia." But tongues are wagging in Korea: Is this the start of a new trend of rich Chinese women lavishing attention on Seoul's celluloid heroes? If you ask me, it's just a sign that amid widening inequality in the greater China region, some there really do have way more money than they know what to do with.
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