U.S.-China ties in a free fall
Sanctions over Hong Kong and Xinjiang. A campaign against Huawei. Challenges to Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea.
For a long time, historians dismissed the idea of a Cold War between the U.S. and China. But the relationship between the superpowers is increasingly imbued with deep distrust and animosity.
The disagreements span cyberspace and outer space, the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, and even the Persian Gulf. Beijing and Washington are pushing other countries to take sides. The coronavirus pandemic has turned existing fissures into chasms that could be difficult to overcome, no matter the outcome of this year’s U.S. presidential election, our correspondents write.
Quotable: U.S. policy toward China is “fraught with emotions and whims and McCarthyist bigotry,” China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, said last week. “It seems as if every Chinese investment is politically driven, every Chinese student is a spy and every cooperation initiative is a scheme with a hidden agenda.”
Go deeper: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that China’s expansive maritime claims across most of the South China Sea were “completely unlawful,” setting the stage for potential American military confrontations with Beijing.
Britain bars Huawei from 5G network
In a major reversal, Britain announced that it would ban the use of equipment from the Chinese telecommunications giant in the country’s high-speed wireless network. The decision was a big victory for the Trump administration, which had blacklisted Huawei.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had faced growing political pressure at home to take a hard line against Beijing, and the move signals a new willingness among Western countries to confront China.
The announcement came as President Trump’s national security adviser was in Paris for meetings about China with representatives from Britain, France, Germany and Italy.
Response: Huawei has long rejected claims that the Chinese government could use the equipment for espionage. The company described the announcement on Tuesday as “bad news for anyone in the U.K. with a mobile phone.”
A fuller picture of Covid’s economic toll
Reopenings have happened in fits and starts, and the U.S. earnings season, which kicked off on Tuesday, is a first chance for investors to hear from businesses about how the coronavirus pandemic has hurt profits.
The reports showed struggles: Banks and airlines reported losses. More shutdowns are likely to come in the next months amid a recent surge in coronavirus cases across the U.S.
In Britain, new data showed that the economy did not grow as much as expected in May, which was supposed to be the first month of the country’s economic recovery. Some economists had predicted the economy would grow by 5.5 percent, but the data showed just a 1.8 percent increase from the month before. The outlook for the rest of the year is bleak.
Details: JPMorgan reported that its earnings had halved in the second quarter, while Wells Fargo had its first quarterly loss since 2008, and Delta Air Lines said revenue plunged by 88 percent.
But some good news: Consumers in Europe are going on a shopping spree as their economies reopen, offering hope that a recovery may be taking hold. Investors were initially worried that people would be too shaken to spend, as happened with consumers in China. Imports in China also rose for the first time since the virus took hold, another good sign.
In other virus developments:
If you have 6 minutes, this is worth it
A new way of seeing race in France
The killing of George Floyd by the police in Minneapolis is leading more people to think differently about race in France. Discussion of race and religion there has taken a back seat to a colorblind ideal that all people share the same universal rights.
With an eye on the U.S., children of immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean are bringing race into the public discourse. “Here, they want us to melt into a single body and put aside our cultural diversity,” said Almamy Kanouté, above, who is leading protests against police violence in France. “With us, that’s not possible. We’re French, but we don’t forget what makes us whole.”
Snapshot: Above, French Air Force jets fly over the Arc de Triomphe during a Bastille Day celebration in Paris on Tuesday. The traditional parade was canceled because of the pandemic, but public health workers were honored as heroes and will soon receive pay raises.
What we’re reading: This Interview magazine Q. and A. with the writer Jia Tolentino. “What really struck me about this interview is Jia’s ability to synthesize such broad, weighty topics and current events into crystal clear, thoughtful responses,” says Sanam Yar, from the team at The Morning briefing.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: This eggplant and zucchini pasta with feta and dill is packed with vegetables for a simple yet hearty weeknight meal.
Listen: “Richard II,” a four-part audio play rises to the challenge of telling a story solely through speech and sound effects.
Read: In “Blue Ticket,” Sophie Mackintosh presents us with a dystopian tale of a woman desperate to have a child in a place that affords only certain women that privilege.
Staying safe at home is easier when you have plenty of things to read, cook, watch and do. At Home has our full collection of ideas.
And now for the Back Story on …
When the virus strikes at home
Edgar Sandoval, a reporter on our Metro desk, wrote about the calamitous sweep of the coronavirus through New York City before volunteering to cover the outbreak in his hometown on the Texas-Mexico border. In that outbreak, it turns out, his family became part of the story. Here’s what he wrote.
The day before I boarded a plane from New York, my youngest sister sent me a text message that froze me in place. “Brother, it looks like all of the Sandovales have Covid,” it read in Spanish.
Five in my family, including my mother, Arcelia; my father, Filiberto; two sisters; and a nephew all had symptoms, she said. By the time my plane landed the next day, that number had doubled.
I did not worry much for myself — I had come down with the virus earlier in New York, and had antibodies that might fend it off.
On July 1, I hurried to my parents’ home and found my mother — I usually call her “Ama” — in the living room, gasping for air.
By the time my sister and I got her into the emergency room at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in McAllen, her blood oxygen level had reached a paltry 80 percent, and a nurse quickly connected her to an oxygen supply. X-ray images showed her lungs nearly covered in what resembled pale spider webs.
Less than an hour after a nurse administered a coronavirus test, he announced that she was positive. “No surprise there,” Ama said.
Two attendants arrived with a stretcher to transport her into a Covid wing at another location, where she would not be allowed to have visitors, I knew. My throat tightened.
I fought the urge to reach for her and say something profound. Should I say I love you? Was it time for a heartfelt farewell? What if this was the last time I would see her alive?
I decided that if I said something poignant, she might interpret it as a final goodbye and give up. Instead, I decided to act as casual as possible.
Nearly a week after I had dropped her at the emergency room, her mood and breathing had significantly improved. She was able to sit upright and hold a phone conversation for five minutes. We began talking about preparations for her eventual return home.
I wanted to say I loved her. But again I choked. Don’t make it sound like you’re saying goodbye, I told myself.
After we hung up, I sent her a GIF of a white bunny that shoots hearts every time it hugs.
“I love you,” the message flashed, over and over.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh wrote the break from the news. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode includes an interview with a doctor in Italy who reflects on triaging care at the peak of the pandemic.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Cool and distant (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• “Father Soldier Son,” The Times’s first feature documentary on Netflix, debuted its trailer last week and will premiere this Friday, July 17. It follows a single father injured in combat and his sons as they try to heal.