No 10 staff will be able to give evidence confidentially to inquiry into whether PM lied over Partygate – UK politics live

From 1h ago No 10 staff will be able to give evidence confidentially to inquiry into whether PM lied over Partygate, committee says The Commons privileges committee has issued a statement after its first meeting to consider its inquiry into whether Boris Johnson lied to MPs about Partygate. It has issued a wide-ranging call for evidence, and it is inviting whistleblowers to give evidence anonymously if they want. This provision seems intended to encourage civil servants working in No 10, who may have heard Boris Johnson reveal in private that…

China insists Tonga loans come with ‘no political strings attached’

China’s ambassador to Tonga has denied engaging in “debt trap” diplomacy in the Pacific, saying in his first press conference in two years that if the heavily indebted country cannot repay its loans, “we can talk and negotiate in a friendly, diplomatic manner”. Cao Xiaolin told Tuesday’s gathering in Nuku’alofa – a rare opportunity for journalists to question Chinese officials – that preferential loans from China came with “no political strings attached” and that Beijing would never force countries to repay the loans. Tonga, which was hit by a volcanic…

Alarm in Beijing after announcement zero-Covid policy may last five years

Authorities in Beijing have sparked confusion and alarm after announcing the strict zero-Covid policy could be in place for the next five years, including mass mandatory testing and travel restrictions. The notice, published on Monday afternoon, was attributed to Cai Qi, the Beijing secretary of the Chinese Communist party. The original text said: “In the next five years, Beijing will unremittingly grasp the normalisation of epidemic prevention and control.” The notice was first posted by Beijing Daily and republished by other state media outlets. It spread widely across social media,…

‘Things aren’t going back’: Australia braces for step-up in China’s Pacific push

The Australian government is bracing for China to step up its push to expand influence in the Pacific, with a senior figure privately conceding Canberra has a lot of work to do to regain lost trust and strengthen regional unity. Despite initial relief at a decision by Pacific island countries to defer a sweeping 10-country security and economic pact proposed by China, the Australian government now believes this may be only a temporary reprieve. “Things aren’t going back to the way they were,” said a senior Australian government figure who…

How TikTok is turning a generation of video addicts into a data goldmine

Question: what do men and Excel have in common? Answer: they’re always automatically turning things into dates when they’re not. To younger people – that is, anyone under the age of 20 – Microsoft’s spreadsheet program, a tool as essential to accountants as saws are to carpenters, is the contemporary equivalent of mom jeans, handwritten thank-you notes and cravats: stuff that oldies care about. How come, then, that the hashtag #excel has had 3.4bn views on a certain social media platform and that one Excel expert on that platform has…

Shanghai reports no new Covid cases for first time since March

China has reported no new Covid-19 infections in Shanghai for the first time since March, as the country’s latest outbreak subsides after months of lockdowns and other restrictions. China is the last major economy committed to a zero-Covid strategy, stamping out all infections with a combination of targeted lockdowns, mass testing and long quarantine periods. The economic hub of Shanghai was forced into a months-long lockdown during a Covid surge this spring driven by the fast-spreading Omicron variant. Beijing also shuttered schools and offices for weeks over a separate outbreak.…

Xi Jinping to visit Hong Kong on 25th anniversary of British handover

The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, will visit Hong Kong for the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover to mainland China, the state news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday. The trip will be Xi’s first known visit outside mainland China since January 2020 after the Covid-19 outbreak. He will also attend the inaugural ceremony of the sixth-term government of Hong Kong, Xinhua said. John Lee will become the city’s new leader on 1 July, replacing Carrie Lam, who oversaw some of the territory’s most tumultuous times with anti-government protests and Covid.…

Our global food supply is at risk when high gas prices limit the creation of fertiliser | Andrew Whitelaw

If water is the source of life, fertiliser is the source of scaleable food production. The increasing cost of fertiliser is one of the largest contributors to a “cost-price” squeeze affecting the farmers of major agricultural products in Australia and globally. The cost of food is increasing in step with the cost of producing that food and, in the past quarter in Australia, we have seen food inflation increase by 2.8% – the fourth-highest quarter since the turn of the century. The price of wheat, the main staple for much…

Chinese premier calls for more coal production as electricity demand soars

China’s premier has called for increased production of coal to stave off mass blackouts, as early summer heatwaves have prompted record electricity usage. On Friday authorities again issued high temperature warnings for about a dozen provinces across the central and northern provinces, after consecutive days in the high 30s. As people sought to escape the heat this week, state media reported that electricity demand was up 8.8% in north-west China compared with last year, and 3.2% in northern China, citing the State Grid Corp of China. Records for maximum electricity…

Two killed after Chinese electric car falls from third floor of company’s offices

A leading Chinese electric car company has said two people were killed when one of its vehicles fell from the third floor of its Shanghai headquarters. Nio, a homegrown brand sometimes seen as a potential rival to Tesla, said the incident happened at about 5.20pm on Wednesday. One of the victims was its employee and the other from a partner company. They were both inside the vehicle when it fell. “After the incident we immediately began to work with the public security department to find the cause of the accident,”…

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