From Russia becoming China’s biggest oil supplier to the world’s largest freshwater fish in Cambodia – Here’s your June 21 news briefing

From Russia becoming China’s biggest oil supplier to the world’s largest freshwater fish in Cambodia – Here’s your June 21 news briefing
FILE PHOTO: Oil and gas tanks are seen at an oil warehouse at a port in Zhuhai, China October 22, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song

To start off, we’re looking into:

Russia has become China’s biggest oil supplier

The Ukraine and Russia war is entering its fourth month, and while the West piles on sanctions against Russia, isolating its economy and deepening its ties with Ukraine, nations like India and China have snapped up the heavily discounted and “canceled” Russian oil. According to customs data, in May, China’s imports from Russia surged 80% year on year to US$10.27 billion.

The increase in Chinese demand also comes as virus controls have loosened, meaning that factories could somewhat resume operations. Crude imports increased 55% from a year earlier to 8.42 million tons. So with that, Russia has overtaken Saudi Arabia to become the world’s second-largest economy’s primary oil provider.

Beijing provides Lee a list of focuses

Hong Kong John Lee
Hong Kong Chief Executive-designate John Lee attends a news conference with his newly appointed cabinet, including Financial Secretary, Paul Chan Mo-po, incoming Chief Secretary for Administration Eric Chan Kwok-ki and incoming Secretary for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok in Hong Kong, China, June 19, 2022. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Hong Kong’s incoming leader John Lee has put together his cabinet, which has been given the green light by the Chinese government. Now, in a statement entitled, “New Team, New Atmosphere, New Chapter,” published by The Hong Kong & Macau Affairs Office on Sunday, Lee has also been told to focus on several key targets for the city’s upcoming new chapter. These include implementation and unswerving support for the “one country, two systems” policy, improving the city’s competitiveness on a global scale and fixing social issues such as the region’s unaffordable housing.

Israeli Parliament is set to dissolve

Israel Parliament
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks next to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (not pictured) as they give a statement at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem, June 20, 2022. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, is set to dissolve itself by the end of the month, which will trigger the fifth round of elections that the country has had over the past three years. In the meantime, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will stand in as prime minister.

See, a year ago, a coalition was put together between eight minority parties that essentially had one goal – to get Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu out of office. They managed to do that and in came Naftali Bennett. But because those parties had little ideological alignment, it seems they sort of fell apart in disagreement about some key votes, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and state and religious issues.

So now the question is whether or not Netanyahu, who has refused to leave politics despite facing corruption charges, will be able to run and win again or whether a new coalition will come to take this one’s place.

To end, we’ll look into:

Glaciers are melting, but polar bears are surviving

polar bears
A southeast Greenland polar bear on glacier, or freshwater, ice is seen in this handout photograph taken in September 2016. Thomas W. Johansen/NASA Oceans Melting Greenland/Handout via REUTERS

New research shows that two of the glaciers that are part of the West Antarctic ice sheet, the Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers, have experienced a dramatic loss in size over the last 5,500 years. The glaciers are from the mid-Holocene era, around 7,000 to 5,000 years ago. Scientists studying shells located at different points on islands near the glaciers have found no evidence that the glaciers have been smaller at any point over the last 5,500 years than they are now.

The reason scientists are studying this, though, is to understand why and how these glaciers are melting. They believe the cause is a series of deep, warm water currents underneath them. Future melting, they predict, could raise the ocean level as much as 3.4 meters (or about 11 feet) over the next few centuries.

But there’s possibly a small silver lining in this: the wildlife from melting ice biomes seem to be adapting to their new environments. A recent study found that polar bears are finding ways to survive despite the changing environment by hunting on chunks of ice coming off glaciers instead of off the frozen ocean layer they otherwise would hunt on.

“Our findings are hopeful,” said one researcher involved in the polar bear research. “I think they show us how some polar bears might persist under climate change.”

So as depressing as news of climate change may be, it’s nice to have hope that some species may make it through.

In other news …

📉Stocks, oil and Bitcoin: Markets in the US were closed on Monday for a holiday after the S&P had its worst week since 2020. In Asia, shares fell on Monday, with MSCI’s broadest index of APAC excluding Japan losing 0.1%. With there being some talk about Biden removing some of the tariffs on Chinese imports, though, Chinese blue chips gained 0.5%.

This week will probably be choppy again, with interest rates and inflation at the forefront of investors’ minds. British inflation figures are also being released this week, which many are also expecting to show alarmingly high inflation, leading to the Bank of England hiking rates faster.

After dipping under US$20,000 over the weekend, Bitcoin has settled at around US$20,573.

🛢Oil prices weakened with recession talks, again leading to a fear of decreased demand. With that, Brent fell 0.25% to US$112.84, and US crude 0.05% to US$109.5 per barrel.

🍙Nomura’s predictions: Economists at Nomura have said that the US economy will likely go into a mild recession at the end of this year. The company has also said that the worst is yet to come for inflation in Asia, with countries like Singapore, South Korea and the Philippines seeing the sharpest spike in prices.

🇨🇳The yuan’s opportunity: Morgan Stanley has said that the team sees the Chinese yuan getting stronger in the next few weeks after Biden said that he and his administration are in the process of possibly easing and removing some Trump-era tariffs on Chinese imports to try and ease inflationary pressures in the US.

🛩Cathay Pacific’s rebound: After announcing that the airline battered by COVID restrictions in Hong Kong would be going on a hiring spree last week, the airline’s CEO has now said that they are prepping to bring back more planes as the city’s travel rules ease.

🇯🇵Japan’s LGBTQ setback: On Monday, a Japanese court ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage wasn’t unconstitutional – a setback for LGBTQ activists. Japan is the only G7 country that hasn’t legalized same-sex marriage.

🐡The world’s biggest freshwater fish: Villagers on the Mekong river in Cambodia have apparently found the world’s biggest freshwater fish – a stingray that weighs 300 kilograms. Named Boramy, which means “full moon" in Khmer, the fish has now been tagged so scientists can track and understand her better.

🏃‍♂️World Athletics and trans athletes: After the swimming governing body FINA ruled that trans athletes wouldn’t be able to compete in women’s elite races if they’ve gone through any part of male puberty, the president of World Athletics, which is essentially in charge of all athletic sports around the world, has hinted that he may also follow suit, saying, “We have always believed that biology trumps gender … We will follow the science."

Written and put together by Jake Shropshire, Christine Dulion and Krystal Lai