Your Thursday Briefing: Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping Likely to Meet

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Putin and Xi are expected to meet

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s leader, said yesterday that he expected to meet next week with Xi Jinping, his counterpart in China.

Putin will attend a gathering of Asian leaders in Uzbekistan on Sept. 15 and 16. Chinese officials did not immediately confirm that Xi would attend; he has not left China since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. But Russia’s ambassador to China described the session as the leaders’ “first full-fledged summit during the pandemic.”

An in-person conversation could help the Kremlin expand its strengthening partnership with China. Russia reoriented its economy toward Asia after European and American countries severed economic ties with Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine.

Context: Putin said he also hoped to have a joint meeting with the president of Mongolia, where Russia is considering building a natural gas pipeline that would reach China.

Diplomacy: Beijing has not endorsed the invasion, but it has echoed Kremlin talking points in describing the U.S. as the “main instigator” of the conflict and provided Russia with much-needed economic support. Russia has offered geopolitical backing to China, including in the escalating tensions around Taiwan.

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The rapid expansion partly reflects the depths to which the economy had fallen during the most devastating shocks of the pandemic, which forced an exodus of laborers from cities. It also reflects the nature of India’s economy, which is partially insulated from global trends because it is driven more by local demand than exports.

Many also credit a suite of government policies — including increased public investment, relief to debtors and credit guarantees — which have helped keep inflation relatively in check and cushion the public from economic shocks. And discounted oil from Russia, against the wishes of Western allies, have helped buffer rising energy prices.

Data: India’s economy is now the fifth largest economy in the world. It surpassed Britain, its former colonizer.

Challenges: India’s economy remains unable to create enough jobs for the waves of educated young people who enter the labor force each year, and its growth remains top-heavy, analysts said. Growth is projected to slow next year to about 6 percent.

China’s “zero Covid” bind

Almost every country in the world has moved past Covid restrictions. But tens of millions of people in China are again under some form of lockdown as the country continues its total commitment to fighting the coronavirus.

It has repeatedly prioritized politics over science: China has been relying only on homegrown vaccines, which are less effective than foreign ones. And buoyed by its early success at containment, Beijing was slow to encourage shots, leaving a disproportionate number of older people unvaccinated.

Updated 

Sept. 9, 2022, 5:28 p.m. ET

Since few Chinese people have natural immunity, the risks of loosening controls may be even higher. “That sort of makes the zero-Covid policy self-sustaining,” a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations said.

Politics: Xi Jinping, the country’s leader, has tied support for the “zero Covid” policy to support for the Communist Party, ahead of a meeting in October where he is all but assured to extend his rule.

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Six novels have been named finalists for this year’s Booker Prize. Several of them use humor to address painful chapters of history: In “Glory,” the Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo writes about the fall of an African dictator from the perspective of talking animals. Percival Everett’s story of Black detectives, “The Trees,” lampoons the inescapable nature of American racism.

The authors come from four continents and have a wide range of styles — from quiet, introspective fiction to fantasy. “The prize is a moment for everyone to pause and to marvel at what English as a language can actually do,” Neil MacGregor, the chair of this year’s judges, said.

Read more about the finalists.

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