Plus Chinese markets react to a stronger Xi Jinping and young Chinese pursue quiet dissent.
Rishi Sunak to lead Britain
Rishi Sunak, who lost to Liz Truss just under seven weeks ago in the contest to lead Britain, will become prime minister today.
Sunak, 42, prevailed in a chaotic Conservative Party leadership race yesterday after Penny Mordaunt, his remaining rival, withdrew. Sunak, the former chancellor of the Exchequer and the son of Indian immigrants, will be the first person of color to lead Britain.
His immediate challenge: reunite his deeply divided party and rebuild its reputation. Some Tories view Sunak as Boris Johnson’s political assassin — his resignation from Johnson’s cabinet in July led to his boss’s fall and Britain’s political upheaval. And Conservatives lag behind the opposition Labour Party by more than 30 percentage points in polls.
Sunak faces profound economic challenges, especially a cost of living crisis. Britain is also reeling from the self-inflicted damage of Brexit and of Truss, whose free-market economic agenda, featuring sweeping tax cuts, upended markets and sunk the pound.
What’s next: While Sunak’s warnings about inflation and his fiscal conservatism may have cost him the post in September, his accurate assessments may help undo the damage left by his predecessor.
India: Indian news media celebrated his historic ascension, but people were more focused on celebrating Diwali.
Reaction: Calls are growing for a broader political reassessment. “I think we should have had a general election because of all the mistakes the previous two prime ministers made,” one woman told The New York Times.
Markets react to Xi’s consolidation
Investors unnerved by Xi Jinping’s power grab — and the state-heavy agenda of China’s top leader — sent Chinese shares tumbling yesterday.
In Hong Kong, share prices plummeted more than 6 percent, reaching 13-year lows as traders dumped huge numbers of shares. In mainland China, markets fell nearly 3 percent, even though Beijing puts heavy pressure on institutional investors not to sell during politically fraught moments. And the renminbi dropped to a 14-year low against the dollar.
The heavy selling was particularly striking given that the Chinese government said the economy grew 3.9 percent in the three months that ended in September, from the same period a year earlier. The data, released yesterday, was stronger than expected but still fell short of Beijing’s target of 5.5 percent for this year.
Analysis: Xi has put a premium on politics and security — and a stringent “zero Covid” policy — even at the cost of slowing economic growth and employment.
Details: The nosedive in financial markets was particularly focused on the shares of Chinese internet companies, which have been a key target of Xi’s campaign to strengthen the Communist Party’s economic control.
Background: During last week’s Communist Party congress, Xi pushed out longtime economic policymakers like Premier Li Keqiang and Wang Yang, an architect of the free-market economic boom in southeastern China.
Young Chinese quietly dissent
This month, a demonstrator unfurled two banners on a highway overpass in Beijing, denouncing Xi Jinping as a “despotic traitor.”
China’s censors went to great lengths to scrub the internet of any reference to the act of dissent, prohibiting all discussion and shutting down many offending social media accounts.
But the slogans didn’t go away, my colleague Li Yuan writes. Instead, young Chinese, frustrated with censorship, repression and Xi’s “zero Covid” policies, have used creative ways to amplify and spread his message. They graffitied the slogans in public toilets and used Apple’s AirDrop feature to send fellow subway passengers photos of the messages, even though they’re forced to remain anonymous — often from one another.
In doing so, members of a generation known for toeing the government line are overcoming their fear of the repressive government, their political depression and their loneliness as political heretics in a society that espouses one leader, one party and one ideology.
Context: The protester, who is now viewed as a hero, was last seen being detained by the police. He’s being called the “Bridge Man,” a reference to the “Tank Man,” who stood in front of tanks during the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing in 1989.
THE LATEST NEWS
Australia’s government will release its budget today, Reuters reports. Growth is expected to slow as inflation cuts into consumer spending.
North Korea and South Korea exchanged warning shots along a disputed sea boundary, The Associated Press reports.
Around the World
There are growing signs that Russia’s occupation government in Kherson is preparing the city for fighting ahead of a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Math scores fell in nearly every U.S. state, a sign of the pandemic’s toll.
Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president, and conservative lawmakers are trying to criminalize incorrect election forecasts after polls underestimated his support. The presidential runoff is on Sunday.
Other Big Stories
The first formal peace talks between Ethiopia’s government and Tigrayan rebels are scheduled to begin today in South Africa.
Top U.S. executives are heading to a major business conference in Saudi Arabia, despite the Biden administration’s misgivings.
In a short documentary, Maria Fredriksson asks: Should Sweden’s tax agency let an Indigenous Sami woman deduct her reindeer-herding dog?
Ellen R. Wald, the author of “Saudi, Inc.: The Arabian Kingdom’s Pursuit of Profit and Power,” explains why OPEC is cutting oil production.
Noam Shuster Eliassi, a comedian who lives in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, lived through a terrorist attack. She realized that not everything can be funny.
A Morning Read
In the U.S., the white majority is shrinking disproportionately fast in districts represented by Republican lawmakers who refused to accept Donald Trump’s defeat.
Their constituents also lagged behind in income and education. Rates of so-called deaths of despair, like suicide, drug overdose and alcohol-related liver failure, were notably higher as well.
Lives lived: Ngo Vinh Long was the most prominent Vietnamese in the U.S. to campaign against the war in Vietnam. He died at 78.
Why attack a painting?
On Sunday, climate activists in Germany threw mashed potatoes on a painting by Claude Monet, “Grainstacks.” The action came just days after activists in London threw tomato soup on “Sunflowers,” a painting by Vincent van Gogh.
The attacks on art, intended to draw attention to climate change, have drawn widespread reaction online. Neither painting was harmed — an intentional choice by the activists. Still, many worried about the paintings’ safety and described the form of protest as misguided.
But the dramatic tactic may have a lasting impact, Andreas Malm, the author of “How to Blow Up a Pipeline: Learning to Fight in a World on Fire,” argues in a guest essay for the Opinion section. The tactic has historical precedent, he says: Even though paintings are hardly responsible for the climate crisis, the point is to “create enough disorder to make it impossible to ignore the ongoing climate breakdown.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
If you can boil water, slice an onion and use a strainer, you can make niku udon, a Japanese beef noodle soup. It’s Kenji López-Alt’s go-to weeknight dinner.
What to Read
“The Pachinko Parlor” is a powerful story of dislocation and self-discovery set in Tokyo.
A solar eclipse will be visible today across Europe and Asia. Here’s how to watch.
Now Time to Play
Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Tall and thin (five letters).
Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia
P.S. Vox named Zeynep Tufekci, a Times Opinion columnist, to its inaugural list of 50 people working to make the future better.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is on election denial in the U.S.
You can reach Amelia and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.