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Nikkei Asian Preview

Moon and Abe in China, Taiwan debate, and Japan troop decision

Your weekly lineup of Asia's biggest business and political events

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Welcome to Nikkei Asian Preview, a list of the most important business, economic and political events happening in Asia each week.

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Here's what we're watching:


Abe and Moon meet Xi in Beijing

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Beijing on Monday for a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Abe will discuss regional peace and will seek to improve bilateral ties as Tokyo plans to invite Xi as a national guest next spring.

Xi will also meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Beijing.

Tencent on trial

Tencent Holdings, creator of WeChat, will stand trial in Beijing over an antimonopoly lawsuit filed by Zhang Zhengxin, a user of the popular messaging app.

The plaintiff said in an April indictment that Tencent had restricted his direct sharing of services provided by its competitors via WeChat. Zhang is seeking 20,500 yuan ($2,900) in damages, as well as a public apology.

Why this matters: This is not the first time that Tencent has been accused of monopolistic behavior -- the Chinese entertainment conglomerate has long been locked in a bitter legal battle with ByteDance, the operator of short video app TikTok. But Monday's trial is a rare move by a Chinese individual against a tech giant.

China reviews market bills

A committee of the National People's Congress, China's rubber-stamp legislature, will review bills in a six-day meeting starting on Monday. Some of the draft laws that may be passed involve the securities market, the Export Control Law, and Taiwanese investments in mainland China.


China-South Korea-Japan summit in Chengdu

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will host the leaders of South Korea and Japan in the southern Chinese city of Chengdu on Tuesday -- a meeting that comes as North Korea threatens action if the U.S. does not meet Pyongyang's year-end deadline for sanctions relief.

Moon will be seeking cooperation to help defuse the North Korean situation, and will also hold a formal meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Abe for the first time since last September to discuss the various historical and trade issues that have deepened a rift between the two U.S. allies.


Japan decides on sending troops to the Middle East

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet is expected to decide whether to send Japan's Self-Defense Forces to the Middle East. Officials from the U.S., Japan's closest ally, are keen to have Japanese troops join Operation Sentinel, an international coalition to patrol and gather intelligence around the Persian Gulf from next month, but the Japanese government will limit the SDF's activities to international waters outside of the Persian Gulf.

Background: The U.S. called for assistance after two tankers were attacked in June while traversing the Strait of Hormuz.

Constitutional controversy: Involvement in foreign conflicts is a politically fraught topic in Japan, because it could violate the country's war-renouncing constitution. If deployed, SDF personnel will be restricted to survey and research activities, which will not involve the use of arms, unless Japanese vessels are attacked.

By week's end, Japan may decide to deploy its Self-Defense Forces to the Middle East.

Investors seek answers from Garuda

Indonesia's state-owned flagship carrier will hold a briefing for investors and analysts. Managers are likely to face questions regarding two recent scandals: the sacking of its CEO and other executives over smuggling accusations, and air hostesses allegedly being forced to serve executives sexually.

While the carrier returned to profit under the fired CEO -- it posted a net profit of $122 million in the nine months ended September after a loss of $114 million in the same period last year -- the quick succession of scandals has led to Garuda's share price plunging more than 7% since the start of December.


Baoshang Bank faces debt deadline

China's troubled regional lender Baoshang Bank is facing a Saturday deadline to pay the annual interest on its 6.5 billion yuan of tier-two capital bonds. Investors might be asked to accept some discounts, said S&P, reflecting the ongoing reform in the banking sector, in which market forces are allowed to play a wider role.


Tsai and Han face off in Taiwan

The first televised debate for Taiwanese presidential candidates will take place on Sunday afternoon.

Who will be on stage? President Tsai Ing-wen, the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang candidate Mayor Han Kuo-yu, and People First Party Chairman James Soong. Tsai and Han traded barbs over China in a policy presentation last week.

What's on the agenda? Questions from five local media outlets will likely touch on the handling of delicate relations with Beijing and leading Taiwan through the U.S.-China trade war. The debate will take place less than two weeks before citizens cast their votes on January 11.

Who's in the lead? Tsai has maintained a wide lead over her two rivals in recent polls.

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