Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Germany ups Airbus stake, North Korea ups tension

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Good morning, Quartz readers! 

What to watch for today:

Airbus restructures to give the German government a larger stake in the European aircraft builder. The company is expected to announce that Germany will take a direct stake in the company equal to that of France, while at the same time ending the two countries’ ability to veto management decisions, a practice that led to this autumn’s failed merger talks with BAE.

The US opposition’s plan to avoid the fiscal cliff: After presenting their plan to avoid the US’s upcoming austerity trigger and seeing it rebuffed, the Obama administration is waiting for Republicans, led by Speaker of the House John Boehner, to continue talks with an offer of their own 

The Philippines braces for Typhoon Bofa, expected to make landfall in the next 24 hours.

While you were sleeping:

Plans for a Delta take-over of Virgin Atlantic emerged. The major carrier is reportedly seeking to purchase Singapore Air’s stake in Sir Richard Branson’s airline, in an effort to expand its access to London’s busy Heathrow Airport.

Enrique Peña Nieto was sworn in as Mexico’s president. The country’s new leader will need to bolster his country’s emerging middle class in a country where drug-related turmoil masks an increasingly dynamic economy.

In Egypt, judges postponed an important ruling after protests from the Muslim Brotherhood. The tensions between Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and the country’s judges continue to rise as the country awaits a decision on the legality of its new constitution.

Also in the news this weekend:

North Korea announced it will launch a ballistic missile into space between Dec. 10-22. The plan to place a satellite in orbit, in violation of a UN Security Council resolution, was condemned by Japan and South Korea, and even prompted warnings from China. The rocketry exercise ratchets up tension between the US and North Korea at a time when some hoped the new leadership of dictator Kim Jong Un might bring calm.

The question in France’s steel spat with ArcelorMittal: Racism or socialism?

Chinese industrial purchases hit a seven-month high, with new growth coming from state infrastructure investments. China’s slowdown is still apparent in the private sector there, but the government remains committed to expansion, and is willing to pay for it.

A stalemate in Damascus. The Assad government used aerial bombardment to pummel rebel forces seeking to take the Syrian capital, with neither side gaining ground after a major advance by the Syrian Free Army marked the opposition’s boldest campaign to date.

The UK gears up to take action on multinationals’ taxes. There’s no better time to ratchet up tax collection than during a bout of austerity, and authorities in London are looking askance at multinationals who are paying minimal taxes. Officials there want to work with international counterparts to collect more corporate taxes from companies such as and Google. Starbucks, which funnels revenue through the Netherlands to lower its UK tax bill, said Sunday it was reviewing its tax payments in the UK—the US coffee chain has paid only £8.6 million in corporation tax since 1998 on sales of more than £3 billion.

Quartz obsession interlude: 

Chris Mims looks at Jolla, the mobile start-up gunning for iPhone and Android: “Jolla cannot possibly take on Google and Apple head-to-head, and it doesn’t plan to. Rather, the company, which is rapidly becoming a Finnish-Chinese hybrid with headquarters in both Helsinki and Hong Kong, and an R&D operation in a yet-to-be-named location in mainland China, plans to nurture and grow an entirely new mobile ‘ecosystem’—meaning the phones, the operating system that runs on them, and the apps that run on that. And it plans to do it in China because that is the one market producing first-time buyers of smartphones fast enough to give such a scheme a chance.” Read more here

Matters of debate:

Chinese dissident Chan Guangchen blasts the PRC’s new leaders. In a video released before Dec. 10’s international Human Rights Day, the blind lawyer calls for the release of political prisoners.

If you completely evade the Greek legal system, then it’s easy to do business in Greece.

Goodbye outsourcing, hello insourcing. Is the next trend for US multinationals bringing production home?

Redistributing income boosts economic growth. Who knew class warfare was a win-win?

Surprising discoveries:

Is Tonga’s weird satellite program just a puppet for China’s space ambitions? Then there’s the matter of a potentially misappropriated $75 million payment from China to the island country’s space program, TongaSat.

Today is the twentieth anniversary of the text message. TTYL.

Coin flips aren’t really an even chance. More like 51-49, according to one mathematician. I like those odds.

In Japan, they’re farming tuna. Meet one of the people trying to keep bluefin from disappearing forever.

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