Sri Lanka elects new President, Japan CPI, Thailand no-confidence vote

Welcome to your week in Asia.

As US President Joe Biden wraps up his trip to the Middle East, Russian President Vladimir Putin will arrive in Tehran on Tuesday to meet with leaders of Iran and Turkey.

Separately, Turkey is expected to host another round of a quartet meeting with Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations aimed at reaching agreement on a UN plan to allow Ukraine to ship grain across the Black Sea to export. UN chief Antonio Guterres expressed optimism last week, saying: “Hopefully we can reach a final agreement during the new round of talks.”

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Presidential election in India

India is holding its presidential election in which Droupadi Murmu, a prominent tribal leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, is expected to beat opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha. Although the President is the head of state, the office has no executive powers. Presidents are elected by members of the country’s parliament and state legislatures. If she does win, Murmu would become the country’s first female tribal community president and the second woman to hold the post, replacing incumbent Ram Nath Kovind, whose five-year term ends later this month.

Tencent shuts down Kuai Bao’s news app

Tencent Holdings officially shuts down its news aggregator app for Kuai Bao. The company has scaled back its non-core businesses since not posting growth in the first quarter. China’s most valuable private company has gone through multiple rounds of layoffs since the beginning of this year, and more layoffs are expected, particularly in content production. Tencent also shut down several content production studios in the past month.


Putin meets leaders of Iran and Turkey

Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to visit Tehran following US President Joe Biden’s trip to Iran’s regional rivals, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Putin’s trip comes after Washington said Iran plans to supply Russia with military drones for use against Ukraine.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will arrive in Tehran on the same day for a summit with Putin and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Erdogan recently announced plans to launch a cross-border operation in north-west Syria against Kurdish armed groups, which Turkey describes as a threat. Russia and Iran, the two main foreign backers of President Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship in Damascus, oppose Turkey’s plan.


Sri Lanka elects a President

Sri Lanka’s Parliament meets on Wednesday to select a President to fill the vacancy of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled the country after an anti-government popular uprising and sent his letter of resignation from Singapore. Rajapaksa’s departure was unprecedented in the country’s history, as were Parliament’s moves to select a candidate from among the legislature for his term. This political crisis is taking place against the backdrop of the South Asian nation’s economic collapse.

The Hong Kong Book Fair begins

The annual Hong Kong Book Fair begins amid rising concerns over freedom of expression as the city comes under pressure from a Beijing-imposed security law. The week-long fair, which can attract up to a million visitors, was once a symbol of publishing freedom for the Chinese-speaking world. The venue usually attracts hundreds of exhibitors.

Several publishers who were banned from this year’s show for reasons not explained by the organizers planned to host their own show elsewhere. But the landlord of that venue said he couldn’t let it go ahead because the competing exhibition had drawn “too much attention”.

Tourism data for Japan

The Japan National Tourism Organization is releasing visitor arrival numbers for June and the first half of 2022. The numbers are being closely monitored as Japan slightly eased its strict COVID restrictions on foreign tourists over the past month. Japan welcomed 387,100 arrivals in the first five months of the year, 3% of the number in the same period in 2019.

Tesla reports Q2 financial results


Monetary policy announcements: Japan, Indonesia, Turkey


Japan June CPI

Japan releases its CPI for June, showing the country’s latest rate of inflation for food, energy and other essentials. The core consumer price index, which excludes fresh groceries, rose 2.1% in May from a year earlier. More food manufacturers have announced price increases in recent weeks, citing rising raw material costs, in part due to the yen’s crater.


No-confidence vote in Thailand

Thailand’s House of Representatives will decide whether Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and 10 cabinet ministers have enough support to serve the final term. The debate, which begins Tuesday, will be the second in less than a year to take up Prayuth’s handling of COVID-19, Thailand’s economic woes and corruption. To remain in office until the next general election, Prayut needs more than half of the 477 MPs backing him. The trigger for the vote was the opposition party Pheu Thai.

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