Hard Numbers: Vietnam on the rise, China delays developing countries' debt, Americans wary of Chinese power, European woes

5: At a time when most national economies are reeling, one country is faring very well. After responding to the pandemic early and quickly, Vietnam, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, has recorded no deaths from COVID-19 and even is slated to grow by 5 percent this year. Meanwhile, large economies like the US, Japan, and Australia have officially entered recessions.


77: The Chinese government has agreed to temporarily delay debt repayment for at least 77 developing countries as part of a Group of 20 nations initiative aimed at alleviating low-income countries' economic pain amid the pandemic. This is on top of an earlier commitment by President Xi Jinping to give low-income countries around $2 billion to help fight the pandemic and recover afterwards. Details about the allocation of that money, however, are still murky.

50: Exactly half of Americans – 50 percent – believe that China's international standing will wane after the pandemic as a result of its dodgy handling of the initial outbreak, according to a new Pew study. Many Americans (62 percent) now agree with the statement that Chinese power is a major threat to US interests, a 14 point increase since the question was last posed in 2018.

14: The pandemic's impact on growth will be biggest in Europe, according to the OECD, a group of advanced countries. Spain, France, Italy and the UK will suffer most, with GDP in each contracting by at least 14 percent from the previous year. That's a collapse nearly twice as big as the projection for the global economy, which is set to shrink by 7.6 percent this year.

In Italy, stacks of plastic boxes in supermarkets and stores are not garbage - they are collected and reused, thanks to a consortium that specializes in recycling them for food storage. How do these "circular" plastic boxes help reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions?

Learn more in this episode of Eni's Energy SUPERFACTS series.

Over the past few years, we've seen three major emerging powers take bold action to right what they say are historical wrongs.

First came Crimea. When the Kremlin decided in 2014 that Western powers were working against Russian interests in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to seize the Crimean Peninsula, which was then part of Ukraine. Moscow claimed that Crimea and its ethnic Russian majority had been part of the Russian Empire for centuries until a shameful deal in 1954 made Crimea part of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Americans and Europeans imposed sanctions on Russia. But Ukraine is not part of NATO or the EU, and no further action was taken.

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Jon Lieber, managing director for the United States at Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics:

How is coronavirus jeopardizing the legitimacy of a 2020 presidential election?

Well, what coronavirus is doing is a lot of states are worrying about people who aren't going to want to come to the polling places in the fall, and they're worried about a shortage of polling workers who are going to want to come out and volunteer to get sick by interacting with a bunch people in person. So, what they're doing is they're looking at making a shift to vote-by-mail. Most states allow some form of absentee balloting today. Five states just automatically mail you a ballot and they don't do any in-person voting. But the challenge here is that a lot of states are unprepared for the sharp increase that's expected. In the last election, 25% of ballots were cast by mail. You may see 50, 60 or even more percent of ballots cast by mail this time, which could overwhelm election administration, which happens at the state level.

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The United States and the European Union have comparable population sizes, but their COVID-19 death toll trajectories have diverged. As of July 8, the average number of new deaths every three days in the EU had fallen 97 percent since peaking at the beginning of April. The US number, however, has fallen only 67 percent over the same period. That means that although both regions' death tolls peaked with only two weeks difference, the EU has flattened its COVID-19 fatality curve faster than America. Some experts attribute the difference to EU countries' more robust public health systems and better compliance with mask-wearing and other social distancing measures.

For those who follow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict closely, July 1 has long been a date to watch. After the Trump administration presented a blueprint for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians earlier this year, Israel's emboldened Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would start the process of annexing parts of the West Bank starting on July 1. That day has now come and gone, but...nothing happened. Why?

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