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Monday, February 26


Monday, February 26

Xi Jinping Communist Party


President Xi Jinping to oversee key leadership meeting in Beijing

Xi Jinping Communist Party
Photo: EFE

The Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, the country’s top decision-making body, will hold its Third Plenum meeting today through Wednesday to address high-ranking leadership positions and Mr Xi’s vision for China’s future.

While the Third Plenum is traditionally held in autumn, Mr Xi has opted to preempt March’s annual legislative meetings. China’s leader has expressed commitment to further economic liberalisation for this year’s agenda, lowering barriers to international investment and potentially tying the yuan to the market.

Reports suggest that Liu He, one of Xi’s most senior advisors, will be handed leadership of the People’s Bank of China, opening the door for appointment as vice premier of the economy next week.

This comes as China has lifted presidential term restrictions as of yesterday, clearing a path for Xi Jinping to remain in power beyond 2023. Mr Xi appears set on creating a vast legacy, with the ability to hold power for the foreseeable future and momentum for debt-reduction and investment reforms.

Additionally, look for Liu to address China’s economic concerns when he meets with Washington officials this week.


Junior coalition partner to appoint new leader following scandal

Michael McCormack National Party
Photo: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Today, lawmakers from Australia’s National Party will appoint their new leader after incumbent Barnaby Joyce stepped down over sexual assault allegations last Friday. As the rural conservative partner of PM Malcolm Turnbull’s centre-right coalition government, the National’s new leader will automatically become Australia’s deputy PM.

The clear favourite is minister for Veteran’s Affairs Michael McCormack, who is believed to have the numbers over the only other official challenger, David Gillespie.

Turnbull would likely welcome McCormack as leader, as he is not as scandal-prone as Joyce. However, with a history of threatening to vote with the opposition on several occasions, he’s unlikely to prove a pushover for PM Turnbull.

Turnbull’s 2015 election mantra of “stable government” has taken a hit over the Joyce scandal along with the opposition regaining a lead in the latest poll. However, Turnbull continues to be preferred PM, so he is unlikely to face a caucus revolt before the 2019 elections. Expect the new National leader and Turnbull to try regaining the image of a stable government over the next year.


Emergency meeting to be held as Latvia’s third-largest bank fails

ABLV Latvia bank fail
Photo: Bloomberg

Latvian authorities will meet today to discuss how to increase financial supervision following this week’s failure of ABLV Bank, the country’s third-largest lender.

Principally dealing with foreign markets and deposits, ABLV was recently accused by US officials of aiding the breach of North Korean sanctions, money laundering and bribery. The threat of further action against the bank led to depositors withdrawing more than $7 million, nearly a quarter of its total deposits, in the span of days.

Last year, two other Latvian banks were also fined more than $3 million for permitting clients to violate UN sanctions against North Korea. Additionally, other European banks such as those in Cyprus have been accused of illegally breaching humanitarian sanctions against Russia.

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It is unclear what steps the country’s officials plan to take in order to reassure investors and increase oversight. Expect strict supervision of Latvia’s other lenders as this month’s breach rekindled worries of corruption across the financial sector, an outlook which threatens to further destabilise the Baltic nation.


5G network demonstrations to dominate Mobile World Congress

Samsung 5G network
Photo: Xinhua

The mobile industry’s largest exhibition opens today in Barcelona, with an agenda featuring the emergence of fifth-generation (5G) network technology anticipated for later in 2018.

5G promises mobile internet speeds up to 100-times faster than the current fourth-generation network. 5G will be key to the expansion of the so-called internet of things (IoT), which connects all internet-enabled technology, increasingly including everyday devices such as cars and household appliances. Estimates suggest at least 26 billion devices will be connected by 2020.

A new wave of the tech revolution is possible with 5G and the IoT. South Korea scratched the surface when it rolled out hundreds of synchronised drones during the PyeongChang opening ceremony.

Despite the advantages of a fast, integrated internet network, some fear the concentration of such a wide array of user data. The IoT is growing exponentially, already making it difficult for security to keep up with 4G networks.

Pundits suggest using the decentralised, cryptographic blockchain system to protect data in the IoT: expect this to be a major talking point in Barcelona. The incorporation of blockchain would totally change the internet’s structure, completely decentralising networks and mobile service markets.

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