FirstFT: US warns China not to supply lethal aid to Russia

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The US has said it is “very concerned” that China will soon supply Russia with lethal arms to help in its war against Ukraine after a fraught meeting between the two sides’ top diplomats on Saturday that addressed multiple Sino-American tensions.

The frank exchanges between US secretary of state Antony Blinken and China’s top foreign policy official Wang Yi were the first face-to-face interactions between top Washington and Beijing officials since the US shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that floated over North America earlier this month.

During the meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Blinken demanded China cease the use of spy balloons over the US while stressing that any material support from Beijing for Russia’s military would have “serious consequences” for US-China relations.

China’s foreign ministry issued a firm statement following the exchanges, stressing that Wang had only met Blinken at the request of the US.

Beijing said it would never accept US attempts to “dictate” the terms of its relations with Moscow. Wang also reiterated China’s position on the balloon incident, saying its shooting down violated international conventions.

He told the US to “change course” and fix the damage done to the bilateral relationship by its “abuse of force”.

Both sides’ accounts of the meeting suggested little sign of tensions easing two weeks after the incident prompted Blinken to abruptly cancel a planned trip to China.

1. Sweden warns against decoupling its Nato bid from Finland’s The prime minister of Sweden, Ulf Kristersson, said that for strategic reasons, Sweden and Finland should be ratified at the same time, as a result of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s objections that Sweden take a clearer stance against Kurdish activists he considers to be terrorists.

Ulf Kristersson, the Swedish prime minster, wants Sweden and Finland to be ratified at the same time © Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

2. Meta to launch subscription service Facebook and Instagram users will be able to verify their accounts for up to $14.99 a month and “get a blue badge, get extra impersonation protection against accounts claiming to be you, and get direct access to customer support”, according to a Facebook post by Mark Zuckerberg. Meta Verified will be rolled out first in Australia and New Zealand this week.

3. First official Chinese visit to Taiwan in three years underscores strained ties Li Xiaodong, deputy head of Shanghai’s Taiwan Affairs Office, and five other officials hid from the public eye at the weekend, illustrating how pandemic border closures and rising military tensions have exacerbated the breakdown in communication with Beijing.

4. Deutsche Bank criticised by regulators over forex mis-selling probe
The European Central Bank and German watchdog BaFin have told Deutsche Bank they are “not satisfied” with its probe into the mis-selling of risky foreign exchange derivatives in Spain, people briefed on the matter told the Financial Times. The investigation found that Deutsche Bank staff acted disingenuously, exploited flaws in the bank’s controls and broke EU rules to sell highly complex foreign exchange derivatives to small and medium-sized Spanish companies, the FT reported this month.

5. Chinese peace proposal on Ukraine provokes western scepticism China’s top diplomat Wang Yi told the Munich Security Conference on Saturday that China “was not directly concerned in the conflict, but was not standing idly by” and would soon publish a position paper on how to find a political solution.

The day ahead

China holds maritime exercises with Russia and South Africa The People’s Daily tweeted on Sunday that China would hold maritime exercises with Russian and South Africa off the east coast of the African nation starting on Monday, in the latest illustration of Beijing’s close ties with Moscow.

EU’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting Monday’s meeting will focus on the war in Ukraine. It will also be the keynote item at the UN Security Council meeting later in the week in New York.

Knesset holds reading of legal reform bill Israel’s government will hold the first reading of its contentious legal reform bill.

What else we’re reading

Western pleas over Ukraine fail to sway global south Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, senior US and European officials made the case that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine posed a threat not just to Europe but to the whole world. There was little evidence their message got through as some leaders from Africa and South America said the war was consuming the time, money and attention of the west at the expense of other pressing problems.

Kamala Harris, US vice-president
Kamala Harris told the Munich Security Conference that ‘no nation is safe’ in a world where ‘one country can violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another’ © Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

The curious case of Japan’s crime rate Japan’s crime figures, say criminologists, involve equal measures of complexity and paradox. After peaking in 2002 at 2.85mn, numbers fell every year until last year. In 2022, crime in Japan jumped 5.9 per cent following its pandemic reopening. On its former trajectory and without the 2022 blip upwards, recorded crime in Japan would have theoretically hit zero in about 10 years, which is surely the stuff of fantasy, writes Leo Lewis.

Early bidders pitch competing visions for Manchester United Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire founder of UK chemicals group Ineos, and Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, the son of Qatar’s former prime minister, announced their bids and distinct visions for one of the world’s most valuable sporting teams Friday evening.

How have Ukrainian photographers captured a year of conflict? The Information Front is a series of publications showcasing photographs of the war in Ukraine, taken by photographers from the country. It was founded on the belief that photography can act as a “countermeasure to false truths and propaganda”, bearing witness to the experience of ordinary civilians in conflict zones. Here is the work of 10 artists, made since the start of the war in 2022.

Nigeria’s ‘democracy generation’ makes its voice heard Next weekend, Nigeria will vote in an election analysts say is the hardest to predict since the country returned to democracy in 1999. The largest cohort of eligible voters consists of 37mn Nigerians aged 18 to 34. Their endorsement will go a long way to deciding who triumphs in the presidential and parliamentary polls.

Take a break from the news

In this week’s Travel section, here are five reasons to retreat to Morocco.

Views of the peaks at Olinto Atlas Mountain Retreat
Views of the peaks at Olinto Atlas Mountain Retreat © Ebony Siovhan

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This post is originally appeared on FT

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