FirstFT: Biden considers diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics


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US president Joe Biden said he was considering a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, in a move that would inject fresh tension into the US-China relationship just days after his first meeting with the Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Speaking in the Oval Office on Thursday alongside Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, Biden said a diplomatic boycott was “something we are considering” when asked whether he was contemplating the move.

Earlier this year, the Biden administration issued several strong statements about China’s persecution of Uyghurs. Antony Blinken, secretary of state, has accused Beijing of committing “genocide” in Xinjiang, where the regime has detained more than 1m Muslim Uyghurs and other minority ethnic groups.

Biden’s statement came after several months during which his administration had been less vocal about Xinjiang, sparking concern from human rights groups that the US president was muting his criticism ahead of last Monday’s virtual meeting with his Chinese counterpart.

Do you think the Biden should pose a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games? Email me at firstft@ft.com and let me know your thoughts. Thanks for reading FirstFT Asia — Emily

1. Turkey defies warnings and cuts interest rates Turkey slashed interest rates yesterday, sending the lira tumbling as much as 6 per cent to a new record low and heightening concerns that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s fixation on low borrowing costs will worsen already acute inflation.

Line chart of Lira per US dollar showing Turkey's lira tumbles

2. Alibaba warns of consumer spending slowdown Alibaba’s US-listed shares fell more than 10 per cent after the ecommerce group cut its sales forecasts sharply, citing slower growth in Chinese consumer spending. In quarterly results, Alibaba said it now expected 20-23 per cent sales growth in 2022 compared with an earlier forecast of 30 per cent growth.

3. US states investigate Instagram’s targeting of younger users At least nine states are examining whether Facebook violated state consumer protection laws and “put the public at risk” by promoting Instagram to children and young adults, “despite knowing that such use is associated with physical and mental health harms”, according to Maura Healey, Massachusetts attorney-general.

4. ‘Course correction’ needed in Asia, says US trade rep America needs to make a “course correction” in the Asia-Pacific region, Katherine Tai said in an exclusive FT interview, as Washington attempts to re-establish its economic superpower credentials following its withdrawal from a trade pact under Donald Trump.

5. Paytm shares fall 27% on trading debut Shares in Indian financial technology company Paytm fell by more than a quarter on its stock market debut, wiping $5bn off its valuation in a rout that underscored investor unease about India’s largest ever IPO.

  • More markets news: Emerging market equities were under pressure for the second consecutive session as concerns over elevated global inflation added to nerves about a Chinese slowdown and tighter financing conditions rippling out from the US.

Coronavirus digest

  • The FT goes inside Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust to see how the UK health service learnt to work in new ways during the pandemic.

  • The number of new coronavirus infections in the UK is falling but a leading scientist has predicted the effects of the disease will last another five years.

  • Germany is one of several European countries that are introducing new restrictions to battle a fourth wave of infections.

  • Two studies showing high levels of Covid-19 infection among wild deer in the US have renewed concerns about the virus spreading through animal populations.

Read today’s Delivering Healthcare special report on how the coronavirus pandemic has overturned the world’s health systems, including a video on how hospitals learned to work in new ways.

The days ahead

Japanese economic package unveiled Prime minister Fumio Kishida is preparing a direct cash distribution of ¥100,000 ($872) to households with children younger than 18 as part of a huge economic package to be unveiled today.

Adele releases new album The singer’s fourth album is set to be released today. Rich in musical detail, the emotional album sees her delivering another blockbuster turn, says FT arts writer and pop critic Ludovic Hunter-Tilney.

Frankfurt European Banking Congress 2021 European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde addresses the 31st Frankfurt Banking Conference today.

Chile general election Voters will go to the polls on Sunday to decide the nation’s new leader. In the final pre-election opinion poll conservative candidate Jose Antonio Kast remains the frontrunner, followed by leftwing candidate Gabriel Boric. (Reuters)

Join us December 7-9 at the Global Boardroom, for discussions on the challenge of building sustainable growth in a world transformed by crisis. Hear from over 100 influential leaders including Faryar Shirzad, chief policy officer of Coinbase. Register free here today.

What else we’re reading

Open-source investigators seek justice in Myanmar Since the military coup, social media has filled up with images of people who have been beaten or fatally shot. In response, online outlets are using pioneering digital forensics to assemble criminal evidence, laying the groundwork for future crimes-against-humanity trials.

Protesters use Molotov cocktails and slingshots to defend themselves against security forces
Protesters use Molotov cocktails and slingshots to defend themselves against security forces © Myay Ni Gone/Sacca/Redux/eyevine

How the valuation chasm in markets can be bridged To understand why there is a divergence in views on how market participants view young growth-driven companies, it is instructive to look at what they have in common, writes Aswath Damodaran, professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University.

How empty boxes worsened stress on the US supply chain A chronic shortage of truck drivers is bedevilling US supply chains, leaving businesses struggling to secure the products they need. But there is another factor in the nation’s goods delivery problems: empty shipping containers.

Boris Johnson’s Christmas truce The UK prime minister wants a quiet festive season this year. Economic and political difficulties at home have led his government to pull back from a trade confrontation with Brussels over the so-called Northern Ireland protocol. But does this mark a shift in approach?

Can guilt help bankers change for the better? Should financiers feel guilt? If they did, would that make the world of money safer? These questions and many others have cropped up in the years since the 2008 Financial Crisis, and now the New York Federal Reserve is exploring the issue in a forward-facing — and geeky — way.

House & home

Enterprising buyers from across Asia are employing local architects and building companies to construct homes in Niseko, Japan’s most popular international ski resort. They join a growing pool of permanent residents working in the ski industry for whom building provides a cheaper, more suitable home than buying one second hand.

A wood frame house
A wood frame house can be built in nine months, costing $2,000-$3,500 per sq m; high-spec concrete homes, favoured by affluent buyers, cost $5,000-$7,000 per sq m ©  Scott Barclay/Alamy

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