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Good morning. President Xi Jinping’s unabashed defiance, K-pop’s unintended impact on air travel and Huawei’s aggressive corporate culture.
• Xi Jinping doubles down.
In a speech on the 40th anniversary of China’s economic liberalization efforts, President Xi, depicted above, delivered an unabashed defense of his economic policies.
The Communist Party has been solely responsible for the country’s stunning growth, he argued, and its policies of control have been “totally correct.”
He only obliquely referred to the elephant in the room: the trade war with the U.S. “No one is in a position to dictate to the Chinese people what should not be done,” he said.
• Trump Foundation to shut down.
Adding to President Trump’s growing legal problems, his charity — the Donald J. Trump Foundation — will close amid a lawsuit accusing the Trump family of using its funds for personal and political gains. Above, Trump Tower in New York.
The New York attorney general, Barbara Underwood, announced the news. She said the suit filed by her office had detailed “a shocking pattern of illegality,” including coordinating with Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and even buying a $10,000 portrait of the president.
However, a lawyer for the foundation portrayed the closure as one sought by the organization itself — and delayed by the attorney general.
→ Speaking of legal trouble: A judge postponed sentencing Michael Flynn, the president’s first national security adviser, but harshly rebuked him for lying to federal investigators about his contacts with Russians and hiding his lobbying role for Turkey.
• Tech giants withheld Russia data.
Amid the many troubling facts in two reports the U.S. Senate published this week on Russia’s election interference: Social media companies withheld crucial information from investigators.
The reports, by two cybersecurity firms the Senate hired to trace Russian influence, said the companies “evaded” and “misrepresented” the extent of the Russian activity, and when they did hand over data, they often did so in formats that made them difficult to analyze.
The reports renewed criticism of social media companies and raised fresh concerns about their willingness to address the issue.
→ Instagram’s role: Here’s a look at posts that exemplify Russia’s tactics.
• Air travel’s latest nuisance: K-pop fans.
Frenzied K-pop fans, pictured above, have found a new way to get a little closer to their favorite stars: They book first class seats, board planes to get a selfie or an autograph and then disembark and cancel their tickets just before the gates close.
But these fans have angered passengers and airline officials alike, because their departures activate regulations that mean all passengers have to leave the plane and undergo another security check.
Korean Air announced increased financial penalties in an effort to tamp down on the new and unusual chaos.
→ North Korea fears K-pop: A state-run newspaper cited circulation of the wildly popular music genre as one of the disruptive influences of smartphones that have started to trickle into the hermetically sealed country.
• Huawei employees have a name for the company’s aggressive corporate spirit: “wolf culture.” It helped propel the company ahead of competitors — but has also landed it in trouble.
• Self-driving cars carrying passengers are slow to become a reality, so some start-ups are looking for other uses for the technology, like grocery deliveries.
• Walt Mossberg, a leading tech journalist who has spent decades following Silicon Valley, quit Facebook. “My own values and the policies and actions of Facebook have diverged to the point where I’m no longer comfortable here,” he wrote in a post.
In the News
• In Kashmir, a disputed region between India and Pakistan, 240 militants were killed by Indian security forces this year, the most in more than a decade. The civilian toll is growing, too. Above, protestors clashing with Indian security forces. [The New York Times]
• The White House signaled that President Trump might be backing down on his demand for border wall funding from Congress, easing fears of a government shutdown. [The New York Times]
• The British Parliament said it would ramp up contingency plans for a chaotic departure from the E.U., including putting thousands of troops on standby. But some speculated that the unusually public announcement was a scare tactic to persuade Parliament to endorse Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans. [The New York Times]
• The Trump administration banned bump stocks, the attachments that enable semiautomatic rifles to fire in sustained bursts that a gunman used to massacre 58 people in Las Vegas last year. [The New York Times]
• Detainees at a Chinese internment camp in Xinjiang have been manufacturing clothes for a U.S. sportswear brand, highlighting the difficulty of stopping items made with forced labor from entering the global supply chain. [A.P.]
• New Zealand will hold a referendum in 2020 on legalizing recreational marijuana, officials said, apparently making it the first country to put the issue to a nationwide vote. [The New York Times]
• Drones are delivering children’s vaccines in the remote South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, part of a new government program supported by Unicef and Australia. [The New York Times]
• Tong Ren Tang, the world’s largest producer of traditional Chinese medicine, is being investigated after a TV documentary reported it was using expired honey in its products. [The Straits Times]
Tips for a more fulfilling life.
• Our 52 Places Traveler, low on energy after nearly a year on the road, found beauty and respite in Bhutan, where black-necked cranes from heaven dot the landscape and flags guide the soul. Above, a landmark in Bhutan.
China and the U.S. may have declared a truce in their trade war, but it’s far from over.
This gives us the opportunity for a language lesson.
The English word “trade” is Germanic, originally meaning “track” or “path.” Its modern usage evolved from a Dutch word referring to “means of living,” as in the carpentry trade. Over time, the trade of buying and selling goods came to be called simply “trade.”
In Mandarin Chinese, the word for trade is “màoyì” (“trade war” is “màoyì zhàn,” pronounced MAU-ee-jahn).
Yì also has the meaning “easy,” and the character appears in the Chinese word for “easy,” which is “róngyì” (容易).
Of course, these days trade between China and the U.S. is anything but.
Jennifer Jett, an editor in our Hong Kong office, wrote today’s Back Story.
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