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Good morning. China has signalled that it is willing to attend further international talks on resolving the conflict in Ukraine, according to European officials who hailed its “constructive” participation in a Saudi Arabian forum that excluded Moscow.
The weekend talks in Jeddah, which were attended by dozens of countries and focused on a 10-point peace plan proposed by Kyiv, were expected to conclude on Sunday without concrete developments. But the presence of Beijing, which weeks earlier declined to attend similar talks in Copenhagen, was seen as a coup for Kyiv and became the focus of the event among participants.
China unveiled a “no limits” partnership with Russia before Moscow’s February 2022 full-scale invasion of its neighbour — which Beijing has not condemned — and its release of a peace plan earlier this year had overlapped with the Kremlin’s talking points.
But at the forum, China “appeared constructive” and “keen to show that [it] is not Russia”, said one European diplomat. The “mere presence of China shows Russia is more and more isolated”, the person said, adding that China had indicated it would attend the next such meeting. Read the full story.
Related: Europe’s biggest companies have suffered at least €100bn in direct losses from their operations in Russia since President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, according to analysis by the FT.
The Big Read: Kyiv’s desire for EU membership has raised profound questions about the bloc’s capacity to accept new members — and the future of the European project.
Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:
Economic data: Germany publishes June industrial production figures, and the Halifax House Price Index is due in the UK.
Pakistan: Over the weekend, popular opposition leader Imran Khan was taken into custody following an Islamabad high court’s decision to sentence him to three years in jail on corruption charges. Meanwhile, Pakistani officials approved a plan to redraw the country’s electoral boundaries, probably delaying this year’s election by several months and further fuelling political tensions.
Women’s World Cup: The tournament is up for grabs, with back-to-back defending champion US now eliminated. England and Nigeria face off today, followed by host country Australia vs Denmark.
Five more top stories
1. US government scientists have achieved net energy gain in a fusion reaction for the second time, a result that is set to fuel optimism that progress is being made towards the dream of limitless, zero-carbon power. Researchers at a federal laboratory in California repeated the fusion ignition breakthrough in an experiment that produced a higher energy output than last year’s landmark test. Read more about the achievement.
2. The Philippines and the US have accused China of illegally targeting two Philippine supply ships in the South China Sea with water cannon, in a further escalation of Beijing’s pressure campaign around a Philippine-occupied shoal in the disputed waters. Here’s more on the stand-off at the Second Thomas Shoal sandbank.
3. Rising fuel prices are triggering alarm in Washington just as President Joe Biden steps up his bid for re-election by touting lower inflation and the strength of the US economy. “The White House is in full-blown panic mode,” said Bob McNally, head of Washington-based consultancy Rapidan Energy Group. Read more on the petrol price surge.
More US news: Donald Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election were merely “aspirational” requests and protected “free speech”, one of his lawyers said on Sunday.
4. An influential South Korean legislator has strongly criticised Washington’s interventions in the global semiconductor industry, warning that other countries “could form an alliance against the US” if it continued with its “America First” and anti-China policies. Yang Hyang-ja’s comments were a sign of the disquiet in Seoul over US efforts to corral Asian allies into its economic security agenda. Read the full interview.
5. Italy is allowing the unnamed owner of an impounded $700mn superyacht linked to Vladimir Putin to pay not just for its staff and maintenance, but also for it to be refitted. The 140 metre-long Scheherazade is being refurbished by the Milan-listed Italian Sea Group, which confirmed that a “refit” of the ship had continued after the asset was frozen by authorities. Read the full story.
Chinese authorities are putting pressure on prominent local economists to avoid discussing negative trends such as deflation, as concerns mount about Beijing’s ability to boost its flagging economic recovery. Seven well-regarded economists told the FT that their employers had told them some topics were off-limits for public discussion. Here’s what they said in private.
We’re also reading . . .
Cyber crime: Russian-speaking hackers hold global businesses to ransom and seem to act with impunity — but behind them lies a tangled geopolitical web.
Devaluing the rupee: Indian elites bemoan every infinitesimal decline in the rupee’s value as a national humiliation, to the detriment of the nation.
Protecting Japan’s elderly: Categorising over-65s as incompetent in order to stop ATM fraud is a recipe for disaster, writes Leo Lewis.
Chart of the day
Asian energy companies are flocking to London in response to the surge in demand in Europe for liquefied natural gas after Russia slashed the region’s gas supplies. Japanese, South Korean and Chinese companies are now eyeing the UK capital because of its position as a leading gas trading hub.
Take a break from the news
Talking Heads frontman David Byrne is back in the spotlight with a disco musical about Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines. How did he come up with that?
And listen to Byrne talk about how he makes creative choices on the FT Weekend podcast.