This week, a trade war that was supposed to tear the world of high-tech manufacturing apart ended peacefully, quietly and with few casualties.

China announced plans that would comply with a WTO decision from last year by removing export quotas and other restrictions on rare earth elements (REEs), the minerals used widely in the manufacture of electronics, computers and cars. It was another success for the US, which has not only chalked up a series of impressive wins against China in the WTO’s dispute settlement process but also (by no means a given) often succeeded in getting Beijing to implement the decisions.

So, a big victory for global governance? Huzzah for the international rule of law, and a celebratory round of Dan Drezners?

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In spite of Mikhail Gorbachev’s warning this month that the world is on the brink of a new Cold War, it is Asia that we should be worrying about, says former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The region is home to seven flashpoints which, if they erupt, could end the greatest economic growth story of the 21st century.

“We face this remarkable set of circumstances where global growth will be driven from Asia,” Rudd told beyondbrics in a recent interview in Dubai.“But Asia from a political perspective is a potentially unstable region. So the world [should have] a deep interest in not just the future growth trajectory, but also the political and security circumstances which underpin that equation.” Read more

Japanese fast food lovers: Indonesian yakitori and chicken nuggets may be coming to a table near you soon as Southeast Asia’s biggest economy tries to take advantage of China’s latest food safety woes.

McDonald’s Japan stopped importing Chinese chicken in July, part of a broader backlash after a major Chinese supplier was accused of selling meat beyond its shelf-life. Read more

By Ifty Islam of AT Capital

The debate continues on the motivations and risks of China’s decision on November 23 to announce an East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) which critically includes the disputed Senkaku Islands (know in China as Diaoyu). There is little dispute that the standoff between China, Japan and the US has the capacity to escalate into something much more dangerous unless US Vice-President Joe Biden’s recent Asia trip is effective in ratcheting down tensions. Read more

Tensions over a disputed island chain known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China continue to hurt relations between Asia’s two largest economies. With China displaying its increasing military muscle both on land and at sea, and Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe seeking to loosen the terms of the country’s anti-war constitution, any accidental confrontation could escalate. The FT’s Demetri Sevastopulo reports.

Overseas funds have rushed to Japan this year to buy the bull market touched off by prime minister Shinzo Abe. And it seems there has been one big seller quite happy to let them: Beijing.

For the past six years companies from Toyota Motor to SoftBank have noticed a custodial account called OD05 cropping up on their shareholder registers. Sometimes identified as “SSBT OD05 Omnibus China”, and sometimes going by “OD05 Omnibus China Treaty”, it is has been linked in media reports to China Investment Corporation, the giant sovereign wealth fundRead more

As beyondbrics reported yesterday, Myanmar’s new trasparency zeal could be a nightmare for China, given the close relationship between the two nations on various projects.

So how are China’s investments in the country going? And which other countries are waiting in the wings? Read more

Hong Kong has endured almost daily thunderstorm warnings in recent weeks. On Friday, as markets reopened after a one day holiday, the gloom was clear to see in the equity market. The Hang Seng dropped 2.9 per cent.

Though the spectre of a fresh flu epidemic was cited as the immediate cause, there are deeper currents dragging the Hong Kong market down. Read more

KDDI and Sumitomo Corp, the dominant shareholders in JCom, Japan’s number one cable-TV company, have been waiting since October to launch an offer to mop up the shares they don’t own. And now, thanks to China, they’ll have to wait a little longer.

On Friday the pair announced that Beijing’s Ministry of Commerce (Mofcom) would not after all clear the Y759bn ($8.2bn) deal by early February, as they had earlier indicated it would. Read more

In recent years, commentators have cited the strong yen and anaemic domestic growth as key drivers of surging investment by Japanese companies in southeast Asia.

With the yen having weakened by over 10 per cent against the dollar since prime minister Shinzo Abe was elected in December with a mandate to re-inflate the moribund Japanese economy, will the tide of Japanese investment into Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam recede? Read more

The escalating row over some uninhabited islands in the East China Sea has already deeply hurt economic ties between Japan and China. As military and political tensions have risen, Japanese automakers have seen China sales plummet, business at Japanese restaurants and Japanese-owned department stores in China has suffered and travel in both directions is down.

But at least one group is trying to benefit from the dispute: Chinese fireworks makers, who are peddling colourful explosives on an anti-Japanese theme. Read more

It’s not just the Japanese carmakers that have suffered from their country’s territorial dispute with China.

Canon, the camera and office equipment manufacturer, reported on Wednesday that its sales in China fell by more than 30 per cent last year due, as the company put it, to a “cooling off of demand in China during the latter half of the year”.

The Beijing-Tokyo spat compounded difficulties caused by weak economic growth in Europe, consumers switching from cameras to smartphones, and the strength of the yen. The group’s results – and its 2013 forecast – fell well short of analysts’ forecasts. Read more

They don’t call them the “Fishing” islands for nothing, it seems. The territory at the centre of the protracted Sino-Japanese-Taiwanese islands dispute is known as Diaoyu in Chinese, which means fishing, and now Beijing is making sure that Chinese citizens get a taste of the islands – just in time for Chinese New Year when fish is usually high on the menu. Read more

Xi JinpingMuch has been made this week of Xi Jinping’s “southern tour”. In retracing the footsteps of Deng Xiaoping, the leader who turned China to markets after Maoism, Xi’s trip to the southern province of Guangdong has been interpreted as the possible beginning of a new push for economic reform.

But Xi’s tour was about more than just the economy. He also spent three days inspecting a military base in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, and made a series of speeches calling for stronger, combat-ready fighting forces. Read more

Violent protests over the ownership of some uninhabited islands have brought the fractious relationship between Japan and China into the spotlight. From both sides of the East China Sea, the FT’s Mure Dickie examines the issue of rising nationalism.

The territorial dispute between China and Japan has already given business a jolt between the two nations, especially car sales.

On Thursday, three of the big Japanese carmakers released numbers showing how the spat has hurt production. The numbers are grim, but could have been grimmer. Read more

Japanese carmakers have had a rough time of it in China for the past two months, hit by plummeting sales due to the Sino-Japanese islands dispute.

But they have not shied away from the Chinese auto industry’s biggest event of the autumn, the 10th China International (Guangzhou) Automobile Exhibition, held in the stronghold of Japanese cars on the mainland, southern China. Read more

Can it really happen? Investors are wondering whether South Korea, Japan and China are serious about a proposed trilateral trade pact as their trade ministers prepare to meet in Phnom Penh on Tuesday to discuss launching negotiations. Political tensions will inevitably rear their ugly heads. Read more

Shares in leading Japanese car makers slipped on Friday as evidence mounted of the scale of the customers’ revolt in China prompted by the territorial row between the two countries.

Whether the clients are genuinely angry about the disputed islands, or simply worried about what the neighbours might think, matters less for the hard-pressed sales executives than the hard numbers. Reuters reported on Friday that Chinese sales at Toyota Motor, the top Japanese carmaker, plunged 40 per cent last month. Read more

Tuesday was the day that the long-running territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo became a real concern for global investors. With thousands taking to the streets across China, many Japanese businesses chose to shut up shop, while some still have to repair the physical damage done to production plants during weekend demonstrations.

The knock-on effect was clear to see on the Nikkei 225. Read more