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Xi Jinping meets US chief executives to lure foreign investment to China, Baltimore’s bridge collaps͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
snowstorm Beijing
snowstorm Baltimore
sunny Khartoum
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March 27, 2024


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The World Today

  1. Xi meets US CEOs
  2. BYD’s record profits
  3. Bridge collapse hits trade
  4. Court’s abortion accord
  5. Thai same-sex marriage
  6. Kyiv’s Black Sea success
  7. US wants Sudan talks
  8. Mexico’s migrant plans
  9. Adult diaper boom in Japan
  10. NKorea censors pants

The age of US college basketball teams, and an exhibition explores Canadian Inuit life.


Xi courts US businesses

Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with several visiting U.S. chief executives as part of efforts by Beijing to lure foreign investment. The talks came following a two-day conference, and with Chinese authorities talking up an improved business climate after years of crackdowns on private companies and COVID-related curbs on movement. They also come with U.S.-China relations no longer at their lowest ebb. But a push for supply-chain diversification away from China, the country’s own drive towards self-sufficiency, and ongoing trade restrictions, as well as geopolitical tensions, have meant that “multinational companies are sending less from China, exporting fewer products there and seeing declines in their revenue from the country,” The Wall Street Journal noted.


BYD showcases sales dominance

Stella Qiu/Reuters

The Chinese electric-vehicle giant BYD reported profits surged 81% to a record high, spotlighting the growing risk posed to Western automakers from Chinese competitors. BYD’s aggressive sales tactics, offering an array of deeply discounted but high-quality vehicles, has helped it become the world’s biggest EV maker, and upended the strategies of historically dominant car manufacturers: The Japanese automaker Nissan said recently it would partner with domestic rival Honda to make EVs, while the European giants Stellantis, Volkswagen, and Renault are considering teaming up to do the same. The threat from China’s EV firms is intense and immediate: A new report suggested they could take a quarter of the European Union EV market as early as this year.


Bridge collapse hits global markets

Maryland National Guard/Handout via Reuters

Experts warned of disruptions to global energy markets, shipping, and car sales as a result of yesterday’s U.S. bridge collapse that left six people presumed dead. Investigators are reportedly probing whether contaminated fuel played a role in the incident, in which a cargo ship rammed into the Baltimore structure, as well as questioning the construction and upkeep of the bridge itself. The accident forced the closure of Baltimore’s port which — though not enormous by global standards — is a key node for supplies including coal, lumber, and sugar. “The 1.6 mile-long bridge collapsed in a matter of seconds,” Bloomberg noted. “The catastrophic consequences are set to stretch out for weeks.”


US court unlikely to block abortion drug

The U.S. Supreme Court looks set to preserve access to the abortion drug mifepristone. Opponents had challenged regulators’ approval of the drug, which patients can receive through the mail without the need for a doctor’s visit. In a 90-minute debate, justices appeared to agree that those opponents had no legal standing. It was the first abortion-related case before the court since it overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, but even the court’s conservative judges seemed skeptical of claims that doctors were forced to assist in abortion against their will. Abortion will be a crucial battleground in this year’s presidential election: The issue is credited with the Republican party underperforming polls in the 2022 midterms.


Thai lawmakers OK same-sex marriage

Thai LGBT campaigners. Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters/File Photo

Thailand closed in on becoming the first Southeast Asian nation to recognize same-sex marriage. The country’s lower house overwhelmingly approved a bill replacing words like “husbands” and “wives” to gender-neutral terms, and offering LGBTQ+ couples equal inheritance and adoption rights. The bill must still be approved by the upper house and the king, but those are unlikely to be obstacles, analysts said. Thailand had already been seen as a relative haven for sexual minorities in Asia, where only two other places — Nepal and Taiwan — allow for same-sex marriage. Momentum is growing across the region, though: Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam have all made fitful moves towards marriage equality.


Ukraine’s ongoing naval success

Smoke rising from what Ukrainian military said is a Russian patrol ship. Ministry of Defence of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters

Ukraine said a third of all Russian warships in the Black Sea have been sunk or disabled. While Kyiv has faced setbacks on land, it has been successful at sea, having damaged or sunk, among other things, eight landing ships, a cruiser, and a submarine. On Saturday a missile strike on a Crimean dock hit an amphibious Russian landing ship and damaged two others. The strikes have provided a morale boost and helped boost exports by weakening Moscow’s maritime control. Landing ships are not as vital to the Kremlin now a railroad connects occupied Ukraine to Russia, Forbes reported, but nonetheless, the attacks have been so successful that “the Black Sea Fleet could cease to function in another 18 months.”


US looks to revive Sudan talks

Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters

The U.S. aims to revive peace talks on Sudan next month as it seeks to prevent the conflict from escalating into a regional war. After almost a year of fighting, Sudan is grappling with the world’s largest internal displacement crisis, while the war has in recent weeks moved to areas around the capital Khartoum. According to Martin Griffiths, the United Nations’ aid chief, more than 25 million people — upwards of half of the country’s population — are in need of assistance as an appeal struggled to raise funds. The conflict, largely overshadowed by the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, has turned Sudan into “the place of the greatest suffering in the world,” Griffiths said.

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Mexico to train migrants going home

Mexico announced a series of economic incentives to repatriate undocumented migrants from South America and reduce the number of people arriving at its border with the United States. Under the new program, Venezuelan, Ecuadorian, and Colombian migrants in Mexico will be offered a monthly stipend and training at industrial facilities in order to ease their resettlement in their home countries. “It’s proven that when we invest in migrants’ home countries … we can temper migration flows,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador — who has been under pressure for months from Washington to stem the arrival of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border — said after announcing the measures.


Japan diaper maker to focus on adults

A Japanese diaper manufacturer will stop making products for babies and instead focus on adults. Oji Nepia produces 400 million infant nappies a year, down from a 2001 peak of 700 million. Last year Japan registered 758,631 births, whereas in the 1970s there were more than 2 million a year. The adult diaper market, meanwhile, is booming: The largest nappy manufacturer’s adult sales outstripped infant ones in 2011. Almost 30% of Japanese people are over 65. The shrinking workforce reduces investment, but also means employers must fight to attract workers, pushing up wages and bringing Japan out of its deflationary spiral. The aging population is, the Financial Times said, “both the cause of Japan’s disinflationary woes, and its potential saviour.”


NKorea censors gardener’s pants

Alan Titchmarsh/Flickr

North Korean TV censored a BBC gardening presenter’s pants. A 2010 episode of Alan Titchmarsh’s Garden Secrets aired recently on Central TV blurred out Titchmarsh’s jeans: North Korea has had laws banning jeans since the 1990s, after then ruler Kim Jong-il declared them symbols of U.S. imperialism. His son Kim Jong-un similarly dislikes them. North Korea pirates some ideologically approved Western material for its state media, and in 2014 the BBC discussed gifting some inoffensive programs, although whether Garden Secrets was among them is unknown. Titchmarsh, a beloved and somewhat gentle figure, was amused by his unaccustomed outlaw status: “I’m generally regarded as rather cozy and pretty harmless, so actually it’s given me a bit of street cred.”

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  • Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni visits her Lebanese counterpart in Beirut.
  • Chinese leader Xi Jinping will meet Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to discuss economic ties, including recent tensions over chip exports.
  • A giant mural of the baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani is set to be unveiled in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, ahead of his team’s opening game.
Semafor Stat

The average age of the starting lineup for the University of North Carolina’s top-ranked men’s basketball team. That compares to 22.6 for the Oklahoma City Thunder, a professional team that currently has the third-best record in the National Basketball Association. Several factors are responsible for the trend of older teams in the college ranks: For one, the best prospects leave for the NBA as early as possible to begin earning big bucks, while lower-tier players stick around in top-tier college basketball programs for protracted periods to “land name, image and likeness money,” The Wall Street Journal noted.

The Perimeter

A new exhibition in London explores life in the Canadian Arctic. When I Draw by Shuvinai Ashoona, a third-generation Inuit artist, is mostly a collection of coloured pencil drawings that reimagine the landscapes and community where Ashoona lives with a surrealist lens. In her work, men are depicted as part-walrus and women can morph into dolphins, Time Out reported. It’s “a gorgeous reflection of life in the ice-bound north that’ll leave you shivering, snow-blind and totally mesmerised,” wrote a reviewer.

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