Asian Insider, Sept 15: Chinese cables at Himalayan flashpoint; Taiwan’s quest for international space; Snap elections in Japan next month?

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents and commentators.

Hi, 

In today’s bulletin: Indian officials accuse China of laying cables at Himalayan border flashpoint; Taiwan’s quest for international space; EU urges China to tear down barriers; Tencent to set up Asia hub in Singapore; Will Yoshihide Suga call for snap elections next month, and more.

Reading this on the web or know someone who might enjoy receiving Asian Insider? Our sign-up page is here.

INDIA ACCUSES CHINA OF LAYING CABLES AT BORDER FLASHPOINT; CHINA DENIES

Fresh accusations made by two Indian officials against China threatened to escalate the most serious confrontation between the two countries in recent years. 

The two officials said Chinese troops were laying a network of fibre optic cables at a western Himalayan flashpoint with India, suggesting they were digging in for the long haul despite high-level talks aimed at resolving a stand-off there.

The cables, to provide secure lines of communication, have been spotted to the south of Pangong Tso lake in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, one of them said. But a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry cast doubt on the report of the cable network.

Also read: 

India, China defence ministers blame the other for fresh border conflict, but agree to defuse tensions

TAIWAN'S QUEST FOR INTERNATIONAL SPACE

Taiwan's growing interest in ties with Somaliland in recent weeks is just yet another indicator of the island's intent to build its ties in the international space, despite pressure from Beijing, which has increased since President Tsai Ing-wen came to power in 2016. 

The island's efforts have been aided by the widening rift between the United States and China. But what does the future hold? 

Will it continue to meet with success in its efforts to pushback against China's efforts to isolate it? Read Global Affairs Correspondent Goh Sui Noi's latest commentary to find out more. 

Read more: 

Taiwan bird group blames political flap for ejection from global network

MERKEL URGES CHINA TO OPEN UP

Despite differences over a range of issues, a video summit between the leaders of the European Union and China went off reasonably well with the EU signalling it would not take sides in the global standoff between the United States and China. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, had an opportunity to clarify Beijing's stance on Hong Kong and Xinjiang related matters.

Trade issues figured high on the agenda with German Chancellor Angela Merkel urging China to be clear about whether it really wanted an investment agreement being negotiated between the two and which would force China to open up its markets.

With more than a billion euros a day in bilateral trade, the EU is China's top trading partner, while China is second only to the United States as a market for EU goods and services.

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab asked his officials to work carefully to manage relations with the United States and China - and avoid the UK becoming trapped in a new "Cold War" between the two countries. Mr Raab's comments come as he prepares for talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington this week.

Also read

Global Affairs Correspondent Markus Ziener: EU hardens stance against China's power play

TENCENT PICKS SINGAPORE AS ASIA HUB AFTER US, INDIA BANS

China's largest social media and gaming company Tencent has decided to set up its Asia hub in the Republic, people familiar with the matter said. The move comes after the firm faced several setbacks in the United States and India. 

Tencent becomes the latest Chinese corporate giant to step up its presence here after Alibaba Group Holding and ByteDance. But increasingly other Chinese tech behemoths are eyeing other locations in Southeast Asia, lured partly by the growing number of the region's smartphone users.

Read more: 

Singapore continues to draw investments from global players including TikTok owner ByteDance, PayPal

US, Chinese tech giants look to Singapore for IP services

WILL JAPAN HOLD SNAP ELECTIONS NEXT MONTH?

Japan's new prime minister designate dodged a question about whether he will call for snap elections next month but his resounding victory in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) election has fuelled talk that he could do so. A snap election would allow him to cement his position with a public mandate, writes Japan Correspondent Walter Sim. Mr Suga has said that he has "no interest in leading an interim government" and already, Japanese media are discussing Oct 25 as a possible snap election date. 

IN OTHER NEWS

INDONESIA TO BEEF UP SOUTH CHINA SEA PATROLS: Indonesia will increase maritime security operations near some of its islands in the South China Sea after a Chinese coast guard vessel was spotted lingering in the waters for long long and raising suspicions about its intentions. A senior security official said the vessel entered Indonesia's 321km exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the northern Natuna islands on Saturday and left on Monday after radio challenges over jurisdiction. 

WALMART'S FLIPKART TO CREATE 70,000 JOBS: Walmart's Flipkart said it would create 70,000 new jobs and employ many more as delivery partners as it prepares for a surge in online shopping during the upcoming Indian festive season. Flipkart, Amazon.com's Indian unit and Reliance Industries' fledgling e-commerce business are vying for a share of the booming online retail market with more and more people using their smartphones for shopping. 

WORKING FOR TIKTOK WON'T BE ILLEGAL: United States officials have clarified that an executive order by President Donald Trump will not prohibit Americans for working for the social media giant. The department will specify by Sept 20 which transactions with TikTok and parent ByteDance are to be prohibited in the US, reports said.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading. We’ll be back with you tomorrow. 

Shefali

LISTEN TO ASIAN INSIDER PODCAST