Your Tuesday Briefing: China Engages as Its Economy Sputters

China extends a hand as its economy sputters

China’s economy slowed this spring, according to official numbers released yesterday, dashing hopes of a speedy post-pandemic recovery. Analysts said growth was hampered by high levels of debt, a real estate crisis, weak exports and ebbing foreign investment.

The faltering economy appears to have helped prompt a shift in the willingness of senior Chinese officials to engage in diplomatic talks with geopolitical rivals abroad, and to show more openness on economic policy at home.

This week, Xie Zhenhua, the country’s top climate official, is negotiating in Beijing with John Kerry, his American counterpart, for the first time in almost a year. Discussions got underway as China was sweltering under a heat wave. In recent days, temperatures have soared above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (about 38 Celsius) in Beijing, and hit a record of 126 Fahrenheit in the western region of Xinjiang.

Kerry warned that the U.S. and China were running out of time to avert a climate catastrophe. The U.S. has tried to isolate the climate talks from other geopolitical disagreements like the fate of Taiwan, but with limited success.

“If the U.S. continues its crackdown on China, escalating tensions and hostility between the two sides, it is unlikely to be conducive to any kind of cooperation, including on climate change,” one newspaper controlled by the Communist Party wrote.

Analysis: Listen to “The Daily,” which goes into the history of China’s economic challenges.

In other China news:

Qin Gang, China’s foreign minister, has not been seen publicly in three weeks, fueling global speculation over his absence.

A U.S. congressional panel focused on national security said it had “grave concerns” about a research partnership between U.C. Berkeley and Chinese entities.

A bridge explosion rocks Russia’s military

The Kerch Strait Bridge, which links the occupied Crimean Peninsula to mainland Russia, was attacked yesterday morning. Two people were killed and the bridge was temporarily closed.

Rail service over the bridge has resumed, but the damage will complicate Russia’s efforts to resupply its troops in southern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials celebrated the assault, which Russia said was carried out by maritime drones, but declined to officially take credit.

Initial reports suggested that today’s explosions were far less severe than those of a similar attack in October. But following last month’s failed mutiny by the Wagner mercenary group, the attack was cited by prominent Russian bloggers as more evidence of the failures of Russia’s military command.

Grain deal: Hours after the explosions were reported, Moscow announced that it was pulling out of the Black Sea grain agreement, which has helped keep global food prices stable. The risk of renewed volatility rattled wheat markets, exposing vulnerable countries to the prospect of a new round of food insecurity.

Biden invites Netanyahu to visit

President Biden invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to a meeting in the U.S., easing months of tension between the two leaders. Biden decided in March to avoid meeting Netanyahu “in the near term,” and had recently described his coalition as “one of the most extremist” in Israel since the 1970s.

Biden had also voiced opposition to the Israeli leader’s planned overhaul of the judicial system, which is expected to lead to a mass demonstration today. Netanyahu’s right-wing government could vote on parts of its contentious plan to reduce the power of the Supreme Court as soon as this weekend.

Biden’s invitation came a day before he was set to meet with Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, at the White House, which had been widely seen as a slight to Netanyahu. No date has been set for the Netanyahu meeting, and it’s unclear whether the invitation was to the White House.

The opposition: Israeli politicians who oppose the overhaul do not have the numbers to vote down the plan. But Israelis have repeatedly protested, and powerful groups — including military reservists, technology leaders, academics, senior doctors and trade union leaders — are trying to persuade the government to back down.


Around the World

Iran is again deploying police to force women to wear the hijab, an effort that was quietly suspended last year amid anti-government protests.

Taylor Swift now has more No. 1 albums than any other woman in history.

Treating Alzheimer’s patients early with an experimental drug provides a better chance of slowing cognitive decline, according to a new study.

A large metallic mystery object was found on a remote beach north of Perth, Australia, the police said.


Extreme heat continues to stress Europe. A wildfire in the Canary Islands has forced evacuations.

Smoke from Canada’s wildfires is again drifting over parts of the U.S., blanketing dozens of cities with unhealthy air.

The U.S. South and West are facing another week of high temperatures.

A Morning Read

Each year, tens of thousands of Irish Travellers and Gypsies, as many still refer to themselves, gather in rural England for the Appleby Horse Fair. There, they find a place to celebrate their seminomadic culture without facing discrimination.

“It gives a sense of place, a sense of belonging, a sense of ancestry,” one organizer said. “We feel for that week that we are actually home.” See photos from the festival.


Translating Manga for America

Since manga was first introduced to the U.S. in the 1980s, American companies have wrestled with how to adapt the popular genre of comics — which, in their native Japanese, read from right to left — for American readers.

To an English-reader, native-language manga seem to read from the back to the front. Some publishers solved that issue by flipping the page order, or even creating mirror images of each page so that the panels would read from left to right. That was costly and controversial, making many characters left-handed, for example.

Words posed a challenge, too: The lettering is meant to be part of the art, but few Americans can read it. And sound effects are hard to render, as Japanese brims with onomatopoetic words that don’t exist in English.

Now, after decades of experiments, adapted manga is much closer to the original form. There are captions, translations and instructions on how to read the panels. “What we’re trying to do is mimic a Japanese reader’s experience,” one letterer said.

Here’s the visual article, which shows the adaptations better than I can explain in words.


What to Cook

Make butter chicken at home.

What to Watch

Friendship and jealousy collide in “Afire,” a moody German film about a sour young writer and the woman he desires.

What to Read

In “The Anniversary,” an unreliable narrator tells the story of her marriage after her husband falls overboard on a cruise.


Here’s how to build a marathon training plan.

Now Time to Play

Take our news quiz. Or, play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Gone up (five letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Amelia

P.S. Damien Cave, our Sydney bureau chief, wrote about a long-delayed, snag-filled family R.V. trip to Western Australia.

You can reach us at [email protected].

Amelia Nierenberg writes the Asia Pacific Morning Briefing for The Times. More about Amelia Nierenberg

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