FirstFT: Covid cases in China are heading towards a record high

good morning. This article is an on-site version of our FirstFT newsletter. Subscribe to our Asia, Europe/Africa or Americas edition to have it sent straight to your inbox every morning of the week

Cases of Covid-19 in China are surging toward record levels, forcing officials to lock down swathes of the country once again.

The world’s second-largest economy reported nearly 28,000 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday, with outbreaks continuing to hit Beijing, the southern manufacturing hub of Guangzhou, and the southwestern city of Chongqing.

The country’s battle to suppress the virus has decimated China’s economy, disrupted global supply chains and threatened global growth. Nearly three years after Covid first hit Wuhan, vaccination rates among China’s vulnerable population lag behind those of many rich countries, while its continued use of lockdowns as the primary means of disease control has left it a world apart. .

Officials in Beijing closed most non-essential businesses in Chaoyang, the city’s largest district, with a population of 3.4 million, and shut down restaurants and other entertainment venues in much of the city, while asking residents to work from home.

  • Related reading: Hong Kong has lost its crown for having the world’s most expensive retail district by renting to New York, after the city’s economy was hit by visitor restrictions and strict Covid measures as part of its slow recovery from the pandemic.

1. Bankman-Fried ran FTX as a personal fiefdom, court heard FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fred ran the cryptocurrency exchange as his “personal fiefdom” before it collapsed, according to a bankruptcy attorney working on the case, with “large sums of money” spent on things unrelated to business like vacation homes in the Bahamas.

“We have witnessed one of the most sudden and difficult collapses in American corporate history,” James Bromley of Sullivan & Cromwell told a US court.

2. Iran to expand its nuclear enrichment program Iran has announced the expansion of its nuclear enrichment programme, in a provocative response to a rebuke by the United Nations watchdog over allegations of undeclared nuclear sites. The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said Tuesday it had added the underground Fordo facility to the list of sites where it was enriching uranium to a purity level of 60 percent, just below weapons grade.

3. Russia threatens to restrict the flow of gas to Western Europe Gazprom, the monopoly on Russia’s state-backed gas pipeline, yesterday accused Ukraine of taking gas intended for Moldova from lines that pass through the country, and warned that it could cut supplies from November 28.

4. Chinese children’s gaming addiction is ‘solution’, industry body says The Game Industry Association of China, which is linked to the state games regulator, has announced that the issue of children’s video game addiction has been “solved”, the clearest sign yet that Beijing will ease its restrictions on approving new titles.

5. The United States strengthens security relations in Manila with the visit of the Vice President US Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Philippine island of Palawan on the edge of the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday, in a bold display of the way Washington and Manila are reinvigorating their security alliance while guarding against an increasingly assertive Beijing.

US Vice President Kamala Harris has become the most senior US official to visit the Philippine island of Palawan, located on the edge of the disputed South China Sea. © Haiyun Jiang / The New York Times / AP

next day

Pricing meeting in New Zealand With an inflation rate of 7.2 percent, New Zealand policymakers are expected to deliver the largest ever rate hike at today’s MPC meeting. (Reuters)

PMI data S&P’s global manufacturing and services PMI data will be published in Australia, the European Union, France, the United Kingdom and the United States. Analysts also expect the Eurozone PMI to contract even as its economy expanded in the third quarter.

US Federal Reserve meeting minutes The minutes of the November central bank meeting, due for release today, may provide more clues about the outlook for monetary policy.

UK Supreme Court decision on the Scottish referendum A ruling is due today on whether the Scottish parliament can call a second referendum on independence without the consent of Britain’s Westminster government.

world cup match The Japanese men’s team will start against Germany at 4pm local time in Doha.

What else do we read

Clothes are piling up in warehouses in Bangladesh Orders at the world’s second largest clothing exporter have slowed amid the war in Ukraine and rising inflation. The decline in global demand for garments comes as Bangladesh grapples with soaring prices for imported gas, which has led to power outages that have hurt some garment producers.

There is a growing slump in mental health Employee assistance programs are facing a swelling tide of complex mental health problems brought on by people who have nowhere else to turn. What is behind the increase? Sarah O’Connor explores.

Column chart of patients prescribed antidepressants showing more than 8 million received at least one prescription for antidepressant medication last year

Vietnam leads the technological growth market index Vietnam’s digital economy is set to grow at a compound annual rate of 8.9 percent between 2022 and 2026, the fastest among the 51 countries surveyed in the FT-Omdia Index of Digital Economies.

Saudi Arabia’s Green Agenda The world’s largest exporter of crude oil has for decades happily burned billions of barrels of oil to fuel power plants, desalination plants and industries at heavily subsidized prices. Now, investing in solar and wind power may help the kingdom meet its emissions targets — and pump more crude oil to sell.

Sam Bankman-Fried and the Power of Bad Dressing The clothes are always a costume and a mask. As Robert Armstrong wrote, there is no uniform or more groveling, for those with power, than the costume of indifference.

Sam Bankman-Fried, co-founder and CEO of FTX, in his signature appearance in 2021 © Bloomberg

Try our crossword puzzles

Try our crossword puzzles. If you want a real challenge, go with the cryptic crossword. You can find this useful Roger Blitz guide here.

Thank you for reading and remember you can add FirstFT to myFT. You can also choose to receive a FirstFT push notification every morning on the app. Send your recommendations and feedback to firstft@ft.com

Climate chart: an explanation – Learn about the most important weather data for the week. Register here

Long story short – The biggest and best-read stories in one smart email. Register here