Myanmar

♦ As the Chinese economy slows, some believe the government will stand firm in the face of the deceleration, potentially leading to much more pain as the cash-tight environment forces companies to cut spending and eats into fiscal revenues.
♦ In the wake of last week’s coup those living in Egypt’s provincial towns and cities are looking for ways to coexist, despite differences of opinion over the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi.
♦ Since Morsi’s ouster, there has been an end to the crippling energy shortages and the police have re-emerged. Is that an attempt to undermine the quality of life under the Islamist administration?
♦ Myanmar’s ban on virgin teak exports could put a strain on the luxury yacht industry.
♦ Francesca Borri, an Italian journalist, describes the travails of working in Syria as a freelancer and a woman: my editor… sent me an email that said: “Should you get a connection, could you tweet your detention?”

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Mr Bernanke scared markets after announcing Wednesday that the Federal Reserve will take a more heavy-handed role in the US economy with an “ambitious timetable” of quantitative easing. The announcement fueled a sell-off in equities, bonds and commodities causing world-wide financial turbulence and hitting emerging markets the hardest. People are questioning his earlier optimism in the US economy, the FT reports.

♦ Ashin Wirathu, leader of a radical Buddhist group in Myanmar, has launched a campaign against the country’s Muslim minority, according to the New York Times.

Manhattan-based analysts at United Against Iran, a “privately funded advocacy group,” are trying to keep Iranian merchant ships from breaking economic and trade sanctions via satellite transmissions, navigational data and computer algorithms.

♦ The FT’s Phillip Stephens finds the election of Iranian president Mr. Rohani will likely not stop the country’s development of a nuclear weapon.

China’s central bank has refused to ease the country’s credit crunch by injecting extra cash into the market, which has led to suspicions that the government is to blame.

♦ Actor James Gandolfini died Wednesday, having achieved recognition late in life for his lively characterization of Tony Soprano in the hit television seriesRead more

 

David Pilling

Built five years ago, Myanmar's capital is still eerily quiet. (AFP)

At Naypyidaw’s international airport, members of staff in stylish uniforms are at their posts behind ranks of check-in counters. The large departure hall is brightly lit and the air temperature pleasantly cooled. Two pilots and a glamorous young air hostess in traditional Burmese dress breeze across the polished marble floor of a terminal that would grace any European capital.

The only thing missing in this palace of modernity is passengers.

The airport was completed last December on the edge of a ghostly city that had itself not formally existed until November of 2005. After several years of construction, the generals who then ran Myanmar announced without warning that they had built a new capital in the interior of the country 200 miles north of Yangon. Government ministries were to relocate immediately.

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David Pilling

Aung San Suu Kyi arriving in New Delhi. (AFP)

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s opposition leader, gave an exceptionally interesting interview to the Hindu newspaper ahead of her trip on Tuesday to India, her first visit since she studied there as a schoolgirl nearly half a century ago.

The interview is worth reading in its entirety.

On whether she had ambitions to succeed Thein Sein as president after elections due in 2015, the 67-year-old recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize was pretty unequivocal.

“I’d be prepared to take over the position of president. Not so much because I want to be president of a country but because I want the president of the country to be elected through the will of the people.”

She added that she believes her party, the National League for Democracy, “has the people behind it” but made no reference to the recent divisions within it.

An important test of the irreversibility of reform, she said, would be the military’s willingness to change parts of the 2008 constitution that were undemocratic. This would include sections that guarantee the military one-quarter of parliamentary seats as well as a provision – aimed explicitly against her – that bars people married to foreigners from becoming leader. Such changes would need to be made in advance of the 2015 elections, she said. Read more

Here are our picks to take you into the weekend:

 

John Aglionby

The Financial Times has decided to change its style and from today will use the name Myanmar rather than Burma.

Is this premature, too late or just wrong? Please send us your comments or tweets at @ftworldnews

The reasons for the change are explained in the following editorial, which appeared in today’s newspaper: Read more