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China's President Xi Jinping

China’s leaders head for the beach

Elite-level politics in China almost always remains hidden, but the Communist Party’s annual summer gathering at the seaside resort at Beidaihe, 175 miles east of Beijing, is so secretive it’s hard to know even when the event begins and ends. In the past, it has been billed as an opportunity for China’s leaders to hear the ideas of retired officials and experts in various fields.
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A police officer stands at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Koki Kataoka/The Yomiuri Shimbun via Reuters Connect

China wants ChatCCP, not ChatGPT

China is not immune to fears about the power of artificial intelligence that the launch of ChatGPT sparked around the world. The Chinese Communist Party, in turn, is drafting regulations to enforce AI censorship rules to ensure chatbots don’t undermine its power.

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Ukrainian service members fire a mortar towards Russian troops outside the frontline town of Bakhmut, in Donetsk region, Ukraine March 6, 2023.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: Battle for Bakhmut, Xi’s diplomatic muscle, AUKUS sub deal

The Bakhmut killing field

Bakhmut, home to about 75,000 people before the war, has become an urban killing field. Western intelligence agencies say up to 30,000 Russians have died or been seriously injured in the fight to take this town. Ukrainian casualties, harder to estimate, are also running high.

Russians appear to be fighting mainly to achieve some victory following months of setbacks followed by stalemate. They also hope the eventual capture of this town can boost their chances of advancing on larger cities in other parts of Donetsk province, though some analysts say they won’t have the manpower or firepower to advance beyond Bakhmut anytime soon. Adding to Russia’s complications, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War argues that the country’s defense ministry has likely pushed large numbers of Wagner Group mercenaries to the deadliest sites of fighting in Bakhmut to reduce the Kremlin influence of Wagner chief and frequent critic of the Russian military Yevgeny Prigozhin by thinning out his force.

Though badly outnumbered, Ukrainian forces have been slow to surrender Bakhmut because they want to inflict as much damage as possible on Russian forces ahead of an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive in the coming weeks. For now, the killing continues.

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U.S. President Joe Biden shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping as they meet on the sidelines of the G20 leaders' summit in Bali.

Reuters

Biden and Xi’s Bali face-off: Agenda, forecast, and sticking points

On Monday, US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met for their first face-to-face meeting since Biden was elected in 2020. “I look forward to working with you, Mr. President, to bring China-U.S. relations back to the track of health and stable development for the benefit of our two countries and the world as a whole,” Xi told Biden.

What’s at stake: Stopping the Russia-Ukraine war, Taiwan’s sovereignty and defense, North Korea’s increased weapons testing, battling COVID, resumption of global supply chains, and tackling climate change.

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The Graphic Truth: China's "Paramount Leaders"

While two-party and/or multi-party democracies thrive on differing policies being pushed by fresh leadership in regular elections, what happens in the case of one-party rule? In China, the Communist Party changes hands through a selection of its “paramount leader'' who also espouses their own philosophy that evolves along with the Communist party. Still, the essential idea is consistent: preserve the party above all else. We explore the basic tenets of political theories of China’s five “Paramount Leaders.”

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Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the opening ceremony of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: China’s Communist Party Congress kickoff, fire at notorious Iranian prison

Xi’s security signaling

The long-anticipated 20th Chinese Communist Party Congress kicked off Sunday with a two-hour speech by President Xi Jinping, who is all but assured to secure a norm-defying third term that could see him lead the party and the military until at least 2027. At the conclusion of the plenum on Oct. 22, the party will tap a new 200-member central committee, a politburo, and a seven-member Politburo Standing Committee. Xi, who for years placed China’s economic agenda at the heart of public pronouncements, focused much of his address on China’s security standing. Indeed, he doubled down on commitments to reunify Taiwan with the mainland, saying that “resolving the Taiwan issue is the Chinese people’s own matter,” adding that Beijing wouldn’t tolerate “protectionism and bullying” by other nations – widely seen as a nod to Washington. What’s more, Xi called on the Chinese to “be ready to withstand high winds, choppy waters and even dangerous storms,” a reference, some analysts say, to Xi’s anticipation of an eventual military confrontation with Washington over Taiwan. Crucially, Xi also said that he’ll keep in place – at least for now – the zero-COVID policy, which is partly responsible for sending the global economy into a tailspin. Decisions made during the event will tell the world what signal Xi wants to send about his future plans for the country.

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Gasoline pump out of gas following the strike of the employees of the oil refineries in France.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: French fuel fury, China’s next premier, Putin's offer

France’s striking oil workers

Two weeks into strikes by French oil refinery workers over a pay dispute, the government has ordered some striking employees back to work to get petrol flowing. Workers are demanding wage increases to offset rising inflation, and the strikes have taken more than 60% of the country’s oil capacity offline. While ExxonMobil workers reportedly struck a deal for a 6.5% wage increase plus bonuses, unions representing Total Energies employees are demanding a 10% wage increase. On Wednesday, the unions voted to continue striking, defying the summons. The right to strike is protected in France, but a minimum number of workers needed to maintain a public service can be ordered to return to work … or risk a whopping 10,000 euro fine ($9,700) and time behind bars. Although Macron is keen to avoid further disruptions to the energy sector, he must tread carefully. The price of gas is a sensitive issue in France – fuel costs and economic inequality sparked the Yellow Vest movement that brought the country to a standstill in 2018. The last thing he wants to do is fuel more demonstrations, and there are already protests planned for Sunday in Paris over inflation and proposed pension reforms. Given the global energy crisis, heads of state worldwide will be watching carefully to see how Macron navigates the situation.

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Beating China at AI
Beating China at AI | GZERO World

Beating China at AI

The US and China compete on many fronts, and one of them is artificial intelligence.

But China has a different set of values, which former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is not a big fan of — especially when those values shape the AI on apps his children use.

"You may not care where your kids are, and TikTok may know where your teenagers are, and that may not bother you," he says. "But you certainly don't want them to be affected by algorithms that are inspired by the Chinese and not by Western values."

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