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FirstFT: How the Ukraine war could influence China’s stance on Taiwan

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Good morning. US intelligence chiefs on Tuesday said they were monitoring how China was interpreting the war in Ukraine and said the swift western reaction would probably influence Beijing’s calculus over its goal of securing control of Taiwan.

Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, said China had noted the sanctions the US and its allies have imposed on Russia and understood the implications for how Washington might respond to an attack on Taiwan.

“It is likely to reinforce China’s perspective on the seriousness with which we would approach an infringement on Taiwan and in the unity that they’ve seen between Europe and the US,” Haines told the House Intelligence Committee when asked if the western response to Russia’s invasion would make Beijing more reluctant to take military action.

Bill Burns, director of the CIA, said he agreed that the US response to the Russian invasion had created “an impact on the Chinese calculus” over Taiwan. But he said it was important not to assume that President Xi Jinping had less resolve as a result.

More on Ukraine

  • The latest: Ukraine has accused Russia of breaching a ceasefire and destroying a hospital in Mariupol, as aid agencies warned of a humanitarian disaster. Track Russia’s invasion using our maps.

  • Business news: Huawei and Xiaomi, China’s biggest smartphone makers, are slashing Russian shipments because of sanctions and the rouble’s collapse.

  • Nuclear threat: Ukraine has raised the alarm over the impact of Russia’s invasion on nuclear facilities after fighting near Chernobyl.

  • Sanctions: The EU has added 14 more Russian business people with close links to the Kremlin and 146 lawmakers to its sanctions list.

  • Energy explainer: What does banning Russian oil mean for global energy markets? Our energy team breaks it down. Sign up here for our Energy Source newsletter.

  • Opinion: China has modelled part of its military structure on the Russian example, and the performance of Russian troops in Ukraine may come to as an unwelcome surprise to China’s People’s Liberation Army, writes Kathrin Hille.

Follow our live blog for the latest developments.

1. Conservative Yoon Suk-yeol elected as South Korean president Opposition candidate Yoon Suk-yeol has narrowly won South Korea’s presidential election, marking a turning point for the world’s tenth-largest economy after a bitter and closely-fought campaign marred by allegations of corruption and sleaze.

2. US probes Diller and Geffen over Activision trades US media tycoon Barry Diller and music mogul David Geffen are under investigation for potential insider trading connected to the purchase of Activision Blizzard options days before the video game maker agreed to be acquired by Microsoft, said people briefed about the matter.

3. Binance plots M&A spree The company is planning an acquisition spree to push in to new markets as its massive digital assets trading unit comes under sustained regulatory scrutiny. Binance, one of the biggest companies in the digital asset industry, is looking to scoop up businesses that operate in traditional markets, chief executive Changpeng Zhao told the FT.

4. SMBC Nikko complained to regulators over trader’s death Japan’s third largest brokerage lodged a complaint with financial regulators last year after a senior trader died following intensive questioning during a probe into alleged market manipulation. SMBC Nikko’s complaint has come to light after four of its senior executives were arrested last Friday.

5. Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ shipwreck found Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance has been discovered in deep water off the Antarctic coast more than a century after it was abandoned on his doomed expedition to traverse the continent via the South Pole.

The stern of the Endurance shipwreck
The stern of the Endurance shipwreck. The vessel has been discovered more than 100 years after it sank during an expedition to traverse Antarctica via the South Pole © Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust/PA

Coronavirus digest

  • Prudential has warned that Hong Kong’s Covid-19 measures continue to make trading “difficult” in its core market, but the life insurer still plans to increase the share of head office staff.

  • Cathay Pacific’s chief executive said the airline expected to burn up to HK$1.5bn ($192mn) a month for as long as Hong Kong upheld severe pandemic restrictions in response to its worst coronavirus outbreak.

The day ahead

Turkey hosts Russia officials Russia’s Sergei Lavrov, Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba and Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkish foreign minister, will meet in the southern Turkish city of Antalya on the sidelines of an international diplomatic forum.

Indian assembly election results Votes are set to be tallied in the five states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. Results will be available online. According to exit polls, Narendra Modi’s BJP is expected to hold on to power in the country’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. (Indian Express, The Quint)

European Council summit French president Emmanuel Macron will host a gathering of EU leaders in Versailles for an informal summit. On the agenda is a wave of applications from former Soviet states to be fast-tracked into EU membership, a complex move that is unlikely to be fulfilled.

Join us at 1pm GMT/9pm HKT for an hour of empowering talk about money with a panel of female experts convened by the FT and its new charity, the Financial Literacy and Inclusion Campaign (FT FLIC). We will share practical tips and answer your questions about the money issues that matter most to women. Register for free.

What else we’re reading

Will the Baltics become the ‘new West Berlin’? Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania could potentially be encircled by Russian expansion, but their leaders insist they have never been so secure. Richard Milne, the FT’s Nordic and Baltic bureau chief, reports from the region for today’s big read.

Why gamers are sceptical of Zuckerberg’s metaverse Every company is trying to shape the metaverse according to their strengths and strategies, each using the same word to articulate different visions. As it stands, “metaverse” is little more than a lure for investors.

Horizon Worlds, a new metaverse launched by Meta © Meta

What Google knows about the future of war The world’s attention is focused on the bloody tragedy of the physical war in Ukraine. But, as the Alphabet team has noted, a second fight has long taken place in cyber space. And there the Ukrainians appear to have triumphed in a way that has astonished many outsiders

  • Related read: Last year, the US led a secret mission to bolster Ukraine’s cyber defences ahead of a potential Russian invasion.

Jean Arnault on watchmaking’s Gen Z appeal Last summer, 23-year-old Jean Arnault joined Louis Vuitton’s watchmaking division as director of marketing and development. His smartphone-addicted, potentially post-wristwatch generation has been of concern to the traditional watch industry, but if Arnault is to be believed, the industry can relax a little.

My phone was controlling me, so I went on a digital diet For two weeks I tried to build a new healthier relationship with technology, writes technology correspondent Madhumita Murgia, with mixed results.

Thanks to readers who took our poll. Thirty-seven per cent of respondents changed their career during the pandemic.


From a solar-powered villa on the edge of Lake Como to a Nassau beach house with its own rainwater treatment system, here are five exclusive homes for sale with sustainable features.

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