President Joe Biden paid his first-ever visit to Asia as president this week, conducting a series of summits in South Korea and Japan – both close US allies. He held talks, launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (involving 13 nations) and attended the Quad summit in Tokyo.
But none of the talks included China, the world’s second-largest economy. During the Quad summit in Tokyo, China and Russia just so happened to run military drills with aircraft approaching Japanese and South Korean airspace. Japan called this a “provocation,” but China’s defense ministry called it a “routine” military exercise.
On Wednesday, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned against isolating China from regional summits, saying that it would cause problems in supply chains and that it would mean China could play by “a different set of rules.” Loong warned against “reshoring” or “friend-shoring,” which is when countries only build supply chains with friends and allies.
HSBC’s Indonesia arm weighs IPO
HSBC’s Indonesia unit is considering filing an IPO to tap into a hefty investor market in the world’s fourth-most populous country, according to anonymous sources familiar with the plan.
Indonesia’s economy has been relatively unharmed by recent COVID waves, and the government is predicting economic growth of up to 5.5% this year; for reference, the US is expected to grow somewhere between 2% and 2.5% this year.
Cathay Pacific looks to rehire ex-staff
During the early days of COVID, thousands of Cathay Pacific employees, from flight attendants to pilots, got laid off. Now that the pandemic has settled down, the airline company is inviting them back to the team as part of its “anticipated recovery.”
On Tuesday, Cathay sent an email to ex-staff, inviting them to submit a “priority application” to rejoin the company. “If you are still passionate about delivering the world’s best inflight service we would be delighted to welcome you back,” Cathay said.
China’s Pacific proposal
A day after Joe Biden returned to the US from an Asia trip where he proposed the Indo-Pacific pact agreement, China is reportedly working on its own proposal to 10 Pacific nations that covers everything from security in the region to things like fishing and 5G.
A draft of the proposal shows, among other things, that China has an interest in training local Pacific police forces, developing joint plans for fisheries and building out regional internet networks. The proposal is the latest in a string of moves that increase the geopolitical tensions in the region.
The US wasn’t too crazy about the news, expressing concern that the process for these agreements can be rushed and saying that China has a habit of being nontransparent. At least one Pacific country and close US ally, the Federated States of Micronesia, also reportedly expressed concern about the proposal. President David Panuelo urged other Pacific nations to reject the suggested agreement because he feared it could spark a new “Cold War” between China and the West.
An update on the high-profile Johnny and Amber case
Over a month into the defamation case, the jury in Amber and Johnny’s trial have been shown very different recounts and versions of pretty much … everything. Meanwhile, the rest of us on social media have been spinning clips and sound bites into memes. But things are now wrapping up.
Speaking on the last day of the trial, Depp’s attorney (and social media’s favorite lawyer) Camille Vasquez and Heard’s lawyer will present their closing statements, Closing arguments should begin on Friday, followed by jury deliberations. This could take days or weeks, depending on how long they need to reach a consensus.
Some key things that happened this week include Heard’s lawyers trying to get the lawsuit dismissed, which the judge denied. Also, Kate Moss, one of the most highly-anticipated witnesses against Amber in this case, said that Johnny never pushed her down the stairs.
But remember, this is a civil case, not a criminal one – meaning, it’s not meant to tie the defendant to criminal charges but instead compensate for the plaintiff’s damages. So, no one is going to jail.
If Amber loses, she’ll have to pay Depp for damages. He is suing her for US$50 million, but the jury has a say in the final amount that he receives. If Johnny loses, she won’t have to pay for any damages. And yes, Heard has countersued Depp for US$100 million for his legal team defaming her. That’s a separate case expected to move to trial later this year, and if she wins, she can receive damages.
In other news …
🇺🇸Abortion: Even if you’re not American, chances are you’ve seen some social media content about how the US is about to pass a law that would allow states to make their abortion laws as strict as they want. With that, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law the nation’s strictest abortion ban yesterday.
🏫Texas shooting: More details have emerged about the Texas shooting, with reports of the gunman walking into the school “unobstructed." It is unclear if the school was locked. There is also an investigation into law enforcement’s response, with some witnesses saying that police took longer than they should have to respond. Two of the victims were teachers who died trying to protect their students. On Thursday, the husband of one of the two teachers killed, Joe Garcia, died from a heart attack while preparing for his wife’s funeral.
🇱🇰The IMF and Sri Lanka are still in talks after two of the world’s largest credit rating agencies said the nation had defaulted on its debt. According to the IMF on Thursday, though, they’re making “good progress" in analyzing the country’s economic situation.
💰Mark Zuckerburg has said that he will put a lot of money into the metaverse over the next three to five years, which means that the project will also be losing a “significant" amount during this period.
🇯🇵Trip to Tokyo? Ending a ban put in place two years ago to control COVID within its borders, Japan will let in some overseas package-tour tourists from June 10.
🇨🇳Tesla is trying to get production at its Shanghai Gigafactory back up and running again, and to do that, thousands of workers have been sleeping on the factory floor and working 12-hour shifts six days a week since mid-April. The next batch of workers will be traveling back and forth from temporary housing to the factory in special buses after quarantining for 48-72 hours.
🎤Justin Timberlake has sold the rights to his song catalogue to Hipgnosis Song Management, giving the new owner full ownership and control over Timberlake’s 200 or so songs he has written over his career. Financial details weren’t disclosed, but sources close to the deal valued it at around $100 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.