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The Economist Asia Edition

The Economist Asia Edition August 8, 2020

The Economist is the premier source for the analysis of world business and current affairs, providing authoritative insight and opinion on international news, world politics, business, finance, science and technology, as well as overviews of cultural trends and regular Special reports on industries and countries.

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The Economist Newspaper Limited - Asia Pacific
51 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
coronavirus briefs

Manila was put back into lockdown. The 13m people in the Philippine capital will endure fewer restrictions than under an earlier lockdown, but mass transit is shut. The Australian state of Victoria declared an emergency and imposed a night-time curfew in Melbourne, its capital. The city’s residents can only shop and exercise within 5km of their home. The Democratic convention in Milwaukee will now be entirely virtual. Some party officials will still go to the city, but Joe Biden is to broadcast his big speech from Delaware. Deborah Birx, who heads the White House’s task force on covid-19, warned that the disease is more widespread in America now than in April. That earned her a rebuke from Donald Trump, who tweeted that she was “Pathetic!” for repeating what he said was a Democratic…

7 min.
the world this week

Politics A state of emergency was declared in Lebanon, after a huge explosion at Beirut’s port. The blast was felt in Cyprus, 240km away. It killed at least 135 people, injured 5,000 and left 300,000 homeless. The cause was a fire in a warehouse holding 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in fertiliser and bombs. This highly explosive stockpile had lain neglected for six years. Lebanon’s prime minister, Hassan Diab, vowed that those responsible would “pay the price”. Lebanon was in an economic and political crisis even before the blast. Israeli aircraft struck military targets in southern Syria, in retaliation for an alleged attempt by militants to plant explosives near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights area, which is also claimed by Syria. The United Arab Emirates began operating the Arab world’s first…

5 min.
the absent student

IN THE NORMAL run of things, late summer sees airports in the emerging world fill with nervous 18-year-olds, jetting off to begin a new life in the rich world’s universities. The annual trek of more than 5m students is a triumph of globalisation. Students see the world; universities get a fresh batch of high-paying customers. Yet with flights grounded and borders closed, this migration is about to become the pandemic’s latest victim. For students, covid-19 is making life difficult. Many must choose between inconveniently timed seminars streamed into their parents’ living rooms and inconveniently deferring their studies until life is more normal. For universities, it is disastrous. They will not only lose huge chunks of revenue from foreign students but, because campus life spreads infection, they will have to transform the…

3 min.
trumpian tiktok

IN DECEMBER 2017 a Chinese technology firm called ByteDance bought Musical.ly, an app which let its young users dance and lip-sync to music videos. This did not, at the time, look like a recipe for geopolitical strife. ByteDance merged Musical.ly with a similar app called TikTok, which started growing at a blistering pace. Today TikTok has 100m users in America, and competes with Facebook and Snap. With growing popularity has come growing scrutiny, as Sino-American tensions spread from trade to tech, and a barrage of invective from President Donald Trump. This looks set to culminate in a forced sale of TikTok’s American business to a domestic buyer. Touted as vital to protect Americans’ data, the crackdown is in fact a depressing example of jingoistic opportunism, more likely to chill investment…

4 min.
no way to run a country

SO POWERFUL WAS the explosion that rocked Beirut on August 4th that people in Cyprus, 240km (150 miles) away, thought they had suffered an earthquake. Scores of people died and thousands were injured in the blast, which left the port in ruins. The Lebanese government says it was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which can be used as fertiliser or as an explosive (see Middle East & Africa section). This appears to have been confiscated years ago from an abandoned Russian-owned cargo ship heading to Mozambique. Customs officials proposed exporting the stuff, giving it to the army or selling it to an explosives company—but they needed the judiciary’s approval. Their repeated requests were met with silence. So the material sat in a warehouse at the port. What kind of…

4 min.
a bigger dose

CONSIDER THE following thought experiment. If you fail to eat a pizza within an hour, you will die from hunger. What do you do? Most people would immediately order a pizza—and not just one Margherita, but lots of them, from several different parlours. In order to maximise the chances that at least one pizzeria got you what you needed in time, you would not care that some of the pizza would be sure to go to waste. The world is hungry for a vaccine against covid-19. So far about 700,000 deaths have been recorded from the disease, and the total is increasing at a rate of roughly 40,000 a week. If you also include unrecorded deaths, the actual numbers are much higher. Meanwhile, the global economy is experiencing its sharpest contraction…