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FirstFT: Russia and China vow to strengthen ties

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Vladimir Putin and Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, vowed to strengthen ties between their two countries despite “pressure from the international community” ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Wang’s visit to Moscow, the first by a senior Chinese official since Putin ordered the invasion last year, highlights the deepening relationship between the Russian president and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as the war drags into its second year.

“We are prepared to maintain our strategic focus and determination alongside Russia,” Wang said as he met Putin on Wednesday. He added that the two sides would deepen “political mutual trust and strategic co-operation”.

Beijing has provided an economic lifeline to Moscow as western sanctions bite, stepping up its purchase of Russian energy exports. It has also increased its supply of technical components that Russia can no longer import from western countries because of sanctions.

1. Missing Chinese banker planned Singapore family office Missing Chinese dealmaker and billionaire Bao Fan, who founded investment bank China Renaissance, was preparing to move some of his fortune from China and Hong Kong to a family office in Singapore in the months leading up to his disappearance, according to sources. Many Chinese executives view Singapore as a haven to park their money after crackdowns at home.

2. Imran Khan supporters arrested in Pakistan protests Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan’s party said yesterday that up to 700 of its activists and leaders had been arrested during protests designed to destabilise the government, which is urgently seeking an IMF bailout to avert a default. Khan and his allies said last week that they wanted their supporters to be detained en masse to force early elections.

3. Toyota raises Japanese wages by most in two decades Toyota has granted 68,000 unionised workers in Japan their highest pay rises in about 20 years, giving a boost to prime minister Fumio Kishida’s campaign for wage increases to address rising living costs. The move by Japan’s largest carmaker, a bellwether of its manufacturing sector, is expected to put pressure on other companies to follow suit.

4. Google claims breakthrough in quantum computer error correction
The company’s latest research marks an early but potentially significant step in overcoming the biggest technical barrier to a revolutionary new form of computing. The internet company’s findings, published in the journal Nature, mark a “milestone on our journey to build a useful quantum computer”, said Hartmut Neven, head of Google’s quantum efforts.

5. Most Fed officials backed quarter-point rate rise The vast majority of Federal Reserve officials supported slowing the pace of US interest rate rises to 0.25 percentage points last month, according to an account of their most recent meeting that showed the central bank is still determined to bring inflation back to target.

The day ahead

Japanese Emperor’s birthday The Japanese stock market will be closed today for the public holiday marking Emperor Naruhito’s birthday.

Turkey interest rate decision Turkey’s central bank is set to announce interest rates today. Economists expect policymakers to revive a rate-cutting cycle in a bid to boost economic activity after this month’s devastating earthquakes.

Earnings Companies reporting results today include Alibaba Group, Deutsche Telekom, Intuit, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Budweiser, Warner Bros Discovery, BAE Systems, Telefónica, Live Nation, Qantas and Anglo American.

What else we’re reading and listening to

Iran’s supreme leader takes centre stage Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has embraced a more active role in public life as he seeks to shore up the authority of the Iranian regime after the most intense demonstrations since the Islamic revolution. But rather than being a sign of change within the theocratic regime, it shows an attempt to manage his image.

???? The costs of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine One year since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, our latest episode of the Behind the Money podcast examines the costs of this war: How individuals’ lives have been uprooted, how the country’s economy has been turned upside down, and how global markets such as food and energy have been transformed.

Newcomer disrupts Nigerian presidential race A few months ago, most Nigerians assumed Saturday’s election would come down to two wealthy and seasoned septuagenarian politicians. But Peter Obi, a businessman and former governor with a carefully crafted reputation for shunning the accoutrements of power, has electrified young voters and made the outcome of the election much more unpredictable.

Peter Obi waves to supporters
Nigeria’s Labour party presidential candidate Peter Obi © Sunday Alamba/AP

Illiberal democracy comes to Israel The programme of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest government is of evident importance for the future of Israel. But it is also of wider significance, argues Martin Wolf, and raises questions about how a democracy can turn into an autocracy via unbridled majoritarianism.

Women at the centre of a new Bengaluru museum In India, goddesses are ubiquitous and worshipped widely in the country’s mythology. But reporting shows it is also the most dangerous nation for women across a range of parameters. It’s this paradox that’s at the centre of the inaugural exhibition of Bengaluru’s new Museum of Art and Photography.

Take a break from the news

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A cartoon by Amy Hwang

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