From the difficulty of reopening Hong Kong’s border with China to Saudi Arabia’s planned “cognitive city" – Here’s your June 1 news briefing
To start off, we’re looking into:
Reopening the China border will be difficult
As Hong Kong gradually learns to live with COVID, reopening the China border has remained one of its major goals, especially for the city’s next leader, John Lee, who vowed to put easing border controls at the highest priority in his campaign.
But when Lee recently visited Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reportedly told Lee that Hong Kong should “do the best we can to control the pandemic.” In response, Lee told him that the city would have to overcome “a lot of challenges and difficulties” before travel with China could resume.
With that, Lee will likely be facing pressure on a number of topics from both China and the business community in managing the city’s COVID rules after he officially takes office on July 1 – the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule.
Biden meets with Powell
US President Joe Biden met with Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday to discuss how to tackle the decade-high levels of inflation in the US, a problem that’s also being seen around the world.
Some background here, central banks typically want to keep inflation around 2-3%, but right now, it’s about 5.4% in Singapore, 7.9% in Germany and 8.3% in the US.
So Biden says he’s trying to bring that rate down, but here’s the catch – he isn’t technically able to interfere with the Fed. So meetings like this with Powell are more about aligning common goals and interests than Biden instructing Powell on what to do. As polls show that inflation and rising prices weigh heavy on the minds of voters, it’s also to shift the burden back over to the Fed.
China and India may go from “laggards to leaders” by 2050
China and India could become the world’s largest and third-largest economies, respectively, in the next decade, and their stock markets could grow a whopping fourfold by 2050, according to Abrdn CEO Stephen Bird.
Previously, Asian countries were seen as “laggards,” meaning they were falling behind other fast-growing markets. Now, with the worrying impacts of climate change, they might turn into “leaders” in the global environmental transition. Even right now, the region’s global economic share stands eight times greater than it was back during the 1997 Asia Financial Crisis.
Meanwhile, Bird says that more countries should follow China’s lead and fuse their plans for economic development and the climate crisis while encouraging investment in low-carbon technologies and infrastructure.
To end, we’ll look into:
Saudi Arabia is working on the biggest buildings in the world
Have you ever heard the phrase, “it’s not the size that matters, it’s how you use it?” Well, Saudi Arabia respectfully disagrees.
For those of you with gutter minds, we’re talking about building sizes. Settle down.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is working on the largest buildings ever constructed. Yes, you read that right – buildings. According to anonymous project insiders, the country will soon boast two twin skyscrapers that are about 500 meters tall and stretch horizontally for dozens of miles.
The project is called Neom, and it’s the brainchild of bin Salman himself. The plan is for Neom to be the “first cognitive city” – a mix of residential, retail and office buildings essentially connected into one big community.
But if you were thinking that this sounds like an Elon Musk-sized project, you’d be wrong – this is even out of his price range. The project comes in at an estimated US$500 billion.
The broader thing going on here is that Saudi Arabia has been heavily reliant on its oil industry for income, but with the move away from fossil fuels in general, it’s looking for ways to diversify income and investment into its economy. So, to demonstrate the country’s viability for this kind of investment, it’s looking to build this car-free linear city to prove that the country is open to sectors like tech.
But, Saudi Arabia still has challenges to overcome if it wants significant investment – namely, its human rights concerns, which have caused problems for business leaders looking to do business there.
Whether businesses come or not, one thing is clear – this project is going to be huge.
In other news …
📉Stocks, oil and Bitcoin: As the EU passed a phased ban on Russian oil, crude oil prices reached new highs at US$124.64, the highest since March 9. Global stock markets dipped as investors worried more about what the oil prices would mean for the already decade-high inflation. The dollar strengthened, and Bitcoin climbed 1.39% to US$31,666.45.
🇺🇦War crimes in Ukraine: Ukraine’s chief prosecutor Iryna Venediktova has said that a suspected 15,000 war crimes, including the possible forced transfer of adults and children to Russia, torture and the killing of citizens, have been reported since the war began.
🌾Food crisis in Africa: According to some people familiar with the matter, the EU is considering sending about 500 million euros (US$535 million) to Africa to help with the continent’s food crisis, with the Russian-Ukraine war impacting global and vital food supplies.
💰Crypto company hunt: Every market dip poses an opportunity for cash-rich companies to go buy out other players in their space for a relatively cheaper price. With that, two top cryptocurrency companies, Ripple and FTX, are on the lookout for target acquisitions.
🇺🇸BTS in the White House: Since the start of COVID, anti-Asian hate crime has risen across the West. With that, Korean heartthrobs BTS visited the White House to talk about the problem and their own experiences with racial discrimination.
🇬🇧London, anyone? As a part of the country’s post-Brexit visa scheme, the UK will grant working visas to graduates from top universities around the world. Bachelor’s and master’s holders can apply for a two-year visa. Those with doctorates, three.
🎬Top Gun: Without opening in the Chinese market, “Top Gun: Maverick” broke box office records over Memorial Day weekend, bringing in US$156 million in four days.
Written and put together by Jake Shropshire, Christine Dulion, Julianna Barcela and Krystal Lai