FirstFT: China’s Zero-Covid Policy Under Strain As New Cases Spread – Todayuknews

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China’s efforts to eliminate Covid-19 are coming under increasing pressure, with officials warning of a “grave challenge” in the months ahead and dozens of new cases reported over the weekend.

China’s National Health Commission on Sunday confirmed 74 new infections for the previous day, of which 50 were locally transmitted. The current wave of cases has reached the majority of the country’s 31 provinces, in the broadest outbreak since the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.

The figures were released a day after officials at a press conference in Beijing said China would continue to adhere to its strict prevention measures even as other countries in the region abandoned their zero-Covid policies.

In China, which is hosting the Winter Olympics for the first time in February next year, new cases slowed to a trickle in mid-2020 and authorities have since then reacted swiftly to any prospect of a big outbreak.

Despite being the epicentre of the pandemic, China’s strict lockdowns and tough border controls have helped keep a tight lid on the virus. More than 2.3bn vaccine doses have been administered — by far the highest in the world — according to the FT’s Covid-19 vaccine tracker.

Five more stories in the news

1. Elon Musk urged to sell 10% of Tesla stake after Twitter poll The electric-car chief asked Twitter users to decide whether he should sell $20bn worth of his Tesla shares and pay tax — and the online crowd responded with a resounding “yes”. Musk’s promised sale follows a proposal in the US that billionaires should pay tax on their unrealised capital gain.

2. Iraqi prime minister survives assassination attempt by drone The attempted assassination has escalated tensions as political parties seek to form a new government following last month’s election. Iran-backed political factions, who view Iraq’s prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi as pro-US, have contested the election results.

3. US and China urged to collaborate on cancer drugs A coalition will be launched in Singapore later this month for the US and China to collaborate on cancer research, despite division between the superpowers during the pandemic. The coalition aims to reduce the time needed to collect enough data to prove a new drug is safe and effective.

4. Cricket defeat reveals India’s religious divide India’s loss to arch-rival Pakistan at the T20 cricket World Cup exposes the deepening polarisation between India’s Hindu majority and Muslim minority. Accused of celebrating Pakistan’s victory, several Indian Muslim students have been jailed and charged with sedition for cheering for Pakistan.

5. Vatican to lose £100m in London property sale The Holy See is about to sell a London building to private equity group Bain Capital, a sale that is expected to confirm a loss of about £100m for the Catholic Church. The building is at the heart of an international criminal probe that has forced the Vatican to overhaul the way it manages its finances.

The Vatican is in the last stages of selling 60 Sloane Avenue, a building in the Knightsbridge district of London, for about £200m © Tolga Akmen/FT

COP26 digest

  • Colombia’s president has hit out at cocaine users in the west who preach environmentalism while consuming a drug whose production is one of the biggest causes of Amazon deforestation.

  • For young climate campaigners, discontent with action on carbon emissions is spreading into broader activism for social justice.

  • Despite pledges from world leaders, enforcement officials working in the Amazon say they lack resources and political support to fight deforestation.

  • US Democrats arrive for the final days of the environment conference in Glasgow having yet to pass their promised measures.

The day ahead

Travel After 21 months of travel restrictions, the US reopens its borders to vaccinated passengers arriving from China, India, the UK and many other European countries.

China The central committee of the Chinese Communist party gathers in Beijing to set China’s agenda at their sixth plenum. The meeting will clear the way for President Xi Jinping to secure an unprecedented third term at the party’s 20th congress next year.

Apec Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ministerial summit opens today. Although officially hosted by New Zealand, the gathering will be held entirely online.

Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen appears before MEPs in the European Parliament to discuss the negative impact on users of big tech companies’ products and business models.

What else we’re reading

Global shoppers feel the pinch of rising food prices From France to Brazil and Moscow to Brooklyn’s Eighth Avenue, food prices have surged. In real terms global food commodity prices are now higher than their 2008 and 2011 peaks, just before the Arab spring protests. Here’s why.

Line chart of Nominal, 2014-2016=100 showing The FAO food index has surged

How China’s tech bosses cashed out at the right time When Xi Jinping complained that relentless home-schooling was putting too much pressure on Chinese children, the heads of at least two Chinese tutoring companies started selling their shares in New York. Documents reviewed by the FT show dozens of other well-timed sales by Chinese executives.

Bankrupt Lebanon left to rue criticism of Saudi Arabia Comments about the Yemen war has caused a diplomatic firestorm between Lebanon and the Gulf states. Saudi Arabia responded by banning all Lebanese imports, expelling Lebanon’s ambassador and recalling its envoy in Beirut, in a blow to a country already in crisis.

Scroll through TikTok to see the real stars of the workplace Social media has rewritten the rules. Employees may now promote themselves as much as the brand, and short videos help reach students left cold by recruitment fairs, at a time when so many workers are quitting their jobs in what’s been dubbed The Great Resignation.

Want to get a pay rise? Grace Lordan provides six pay-enhancing life hacks and tells us how to spot the biases holding us back from asking for more money.


Just off the coast of Zanzibar, Chumbe Island is a small but successful model of how tourism and conservation can work together. With just seven cottages, a ban on single-use plastic and efforts to hire local, Chumbe provides a positive model for marine rewilding in Africa.

The island’s cottages were built with sustainability in mind
The island’s cottages were built with sustainability in mind © Sophy Roberts

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