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Your Wednesday News Briefing: China, Myanmar, Elon Musk

Your Wednesday News Briefing: China, Myanmar, Elon Musk


Asia and Australia Edition

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Good morning. A Chinese dissident speaks out, Elon Musk has an eventful week, and a hotel defies all odds. Here’s what you need to know:

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CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

• China is running out of options.

Since President Trump initiated tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods in July, Beijing has been able to put up equal trade barriers on its end, ratcheting them up tit-for-tat.

But this week Mr. Trump announced new tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods. Beijing could only respond with tariffs on $60 billion worth of goods — almost everything else the country buys from the U.S.

China’s approach has failed to thwart Mr. Trump’s trade offensive, leaving its leaders in a bind. “They don’t know what to do,” said one analyst. Above, factory workers in China’s Fujian Province.

CreditVincent Yu/Associated Press

“Suffering and hardship belong to me.”

Xu Zhiyong, one of China’s most prominent human rights activists, was arrested in 2013 and sentenced to four years in prison for founding a grass-roots movement to improve the rule of law, part of President Xi Jinping’s broader crackdown on dissent.

This week, Mr. Xu, pictured above, released an essay describing his time behind bars.

“The road is long — the road leading to a free China, a beautiful China,” he wrote. “I’ve become a determined revolutionary.”

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CreditTomas Munita for The New York Times

Myanmar’s “gravest crimes” against the Rohingya.

The country’s military killed at least 750 people in one village and at least 10,000 in its broader operations in the western state of Rakhine, where many of the country’s Rohingya Muslims live, according to a U.N. inquiry. Above, two survivors of a massacre.

The report describes the military’s brutal actions in detail, from throwing infants into a fire to systematically raping women and girls. It called for constitutional changes and an overhaul of the military and named army officials who should stand trial.

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CreditNikita Shchyukin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• The fog of war.

Syrian forces accidentally shot down a Russian military plane, like the one pictured above, after an Israeli airstrike on Syrian territory, the worst case of friendly fire for Russia in the Syria war.

The loss of the plane immediately raised tensions between Russia and Israel and underscored the risks of inadvertent casualties among the different forces operating in Syria.

But the risk of escalation was tamped down when President Vladimir Putin laid the blame on “a chain of tragic accidental circumstances.”

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CreditDavid McNew/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Elon Musk’s eventful week.

Tesla said the Justice Department had asked it for information after Mr. Musk announced he was considering taking his company private on Twitter, which appears to indicate the department has opened an investigation into the episode.

The disclosure came a day after a British cave explorer who helped rescue a Thai soccer team sued Mr. Musk for defamation.

But, despite the troubles, Mr. Musk named the Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa as the first SpaceX passenger signed up to loop the moon.

Mr. Maezawa, founder of the Japanese online clothing company Zozo and a former rock drummer, pictured above with Mr. Musk, plans to take up to eight artists with him.

CreditDrew Angerer/Getty Images

• Chinese I.P.O.s are bringing wild oscillations to New York financial markets. Shares of the news aggregator Qutoutiao, for example, rose nearly 130 percent on the first day of Nasdaq trading, pictured above, and then crashed 40 percent the next day.

• Bigger is now definitely better, at least for iPhones, our columnist writes.

• A former Beijing bureau chief for The Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Kaiman, resigned amid accusations of sexual misconduct.

CreditGreg Gibson/Associated Press

• In Opinion, the law professor Anita Hill who accused Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991, urges senators not to repeat the mistakes from her hearing as they weigh sexual assault claims against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. [The New York Times]

• And Christine Blasey Ford, Mr. Kavanaugh’s accuser, has not said whether she’ll testify before a Senate committee on Monday. [The New York Times]

• Japan took the unusual step of announcing that one of its submarines participated in military exercises in the South China Sea, signaling pushback against China’s territorial claims in the region. [The New York Times]

• Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan promised to grant citizenship to 1.5 million of the estimated 2.7 million Afghan refugees in the country. [The Guardian]

• A fatal rave in Vietnam: Seven people have died and five are in comas after taking drugs at an electronic dance music festival in Hanoi, prompting the authorities to cancel other concerts. [The South China Morning Post]

• German doctors who have been treating the male Pussy Riot activist who lost his sight, speech and mobility in Moscow said it was “highly plausible” that he was poisoned. [The New York Times]

Smarter Living

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

CreditEvan Sung for The New York Times
CreditAndrew Quilty

• The Bost Hotel, a relic of America’s mid-20th-century presence in Afghanistan, has refused to close its doors despite being at the center of decades of war. Above, the skeleton of its swimming pool.

• Did you catch the Emmys yesterday? There was an onstage marriage proposal, bold fashion statements and an awkward musical bit about diversity. Here are the best and worst moments and the full list of the winners.

• Kakigori, the traditional Japanese dessert of delicately shaved ice flakes topped with syrups and purées, is becoming increasingly popular among pastry chefs in the U.S.

Back Story

“We believe that a very large number of women do not desire to vote. They shrink from having to go to the polling booths on election days. They would much prefer staying at home and attending to their household duties.”

So said The Press in Christchurch, New Zealand, after the country became the world’s first to give women the right to vote, on this day in 1893.

When women cast ballots later that year, The Press grudgingly admitted it happened without “any very remarkably disastrous consequences having become apparent.”

The victory (which enfranchised Maori women, too) was hard won.

New Zealand men liked their liquor. The leading causes of death were said to be “drink, drowning, and drowning while drunk.” With alcoholism taking a toll on family life, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union — fiercely opposed by the liquor industry — spearheaded the suffrage effort, hoping that enfranchised women could get alcohol banned. (They could not.)

Kate Sheppard, New Zealand’s most famous suffragist, above, noted wryly when the Electoral Act passed that “it does not seem a great thing to be thankful for” that the government has “declared us to be ‘persons.’ ”

Other countries gradually followed suit: the U.S. in 1920, China and India in 1947, Switzerland in 1971.

The latest country to enfranchise women? Saudi Arabia in 2011.

Nancy Wartik wrote today’s Back Story.

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Correction: Tuesday’s briefing misspelled the author of the Back Story on The New York Times anniversary. Her name is Adriana Lacy, not Arianna.

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