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People in Hong Kong hold sheets of paper in protest over coronavirus disease restrictions in mainland China.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: China's zero-COVID shift, Russia's fertilizer deal, Ramaphosa's corruption probe, EU's oil wrangling

China hints zero-COVID shift, censors online protesters

Chinese people who can't wait to ditch zero-COVID — basically everyone except the government — got a glimmer of hope Thursday, when the senior official overseeing the policy said that China was entering a "new stage" in taming the virus. Although what that means is unclear, his comments follow moves by several big cities to relax lockdown rules. Meanwhile, now that most COVID protesters are off the streets, Xi Jinping's censors have taken the fight to cyberspace. They'll have to get creative because Chinese netizens are now ranting about zero-COVID with the online equivalent of the now-verboten blank sheets of paper: sarcastic memes or words that sound similar to Xi or resign. Interestingly, the government outsources content moderation to social media companies that use a mix of humans and artificial intelligence. Exhaustion with zero-COVID might be the biggest test to date of a system that’s not designed to be perfect but rather effective enough at wiping out critical voices.

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The Perils of Depending on Food Imports | Global Stage | GZERO Media

The perils of depending on food imports: UN Foundation chief

We all know there's a global food crisis due to the impact of shortages of Russian and Ukrainian grain, fertilizers, and fuel. But UN Foundation chief Elizabeth Cousens thinks high prices are hurting some countries even more.

Take for instance Yemen, which imports 90% of its food and is thus highly vulnerable to any external shocks.

While addressing famine is the top priority, Cousens says in a Global Stage livestream conversation that the long-term plan should be "laying the foundation for a much more resilient, equitable food system."

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David Malpass: I’m Not a Climate Denier | GZERO World

David Malpass: I'm not a climate denier

World Bank President David Malpass has come under a political firestorm over his views on climate change science. But is he a climate denier?

No way, he tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World when asked about the elephant in the room. Meanwhile, the institution Malpass leads has, among many priorities, two big crises to deal with: energy and food.

Malpass laments how Russia's war in Ukraine has hurt climate progress by creating more appetite for fossil fuels. Why? Countries are hungry for energy, and even Europe is scouring the world for more coal and natural gas.

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Laborer carries food at the main market in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Akila Jayawardana via Reuters

Is the global food crisis here to stay?

The mood surrounding the annual UN General Assembly kickoff this week has been grim. Russia is pounding Ukraine and climate-related disasters are devastating places as far-flung as Pakistan, Portugal, and Puerto Rico.

In 2022, with total war returned to Europe and the global pandemic having scrambled supply chains, the food crisis is where the conversation is at.

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We Won’t Have Enough Food Next Year if We Don’t Get Russian Fertilizer Out | GZERO World

António Guterres: the world won’t have enough food in 2023 without Russian fertilizer

The UN- and Turkey-brokered deal with Russia to unblock Ukrainian grain exports stuck at Black Sea ports was a big success for the United Nations — and for Secretary-General António Guterres.

Look, he recalls he told Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky: this is a dramatic situation caused by the war because it is threatening the living conditions of most of the world.

The UN chief tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World that we need to find a way for Ukraine to ship its grain; and the UN hopes to negotiate with the US, the EU, and others to get some exemptions from Western sanctions against Russia so Moscow is able to export the food and fertilizer that the world needs right now.

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Ukrainian troops in the midst of the conflict to take back control of Kharkiv province from Russian forces.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: Ukraine's gains, Democrats' midterm odds, IMF to offer food aid

Jubilant Ukrainians continue to advance

Ukraine’s military gains of the past few days have emboldened its fighters and leaders. An attack meant to test Russian strength at various points along the front in northeast Kharkiv province became a major counteroffensive when many Russians simply abandoned their equipment and ran. As of Monday, Ukraine has grabbed more territory in five days than the Russian military captured in the past five months. To demonstrate it can still inflict punishment, Russia responded with an artillery blitz aimed at knocking out electricity and water, initially causing widespread outages across Ukraine. But President Volodymyr Zelensky captured the Ukrainian mood on social media with a response aimed at Moscow: “We will be without gas, lights, water and food … and WITHOUT you!” Ukraine’s defense minister has warned his forces to brace for a Russian counterattack, though it appears Russia lacks the manpower and the weapons for an effective near-term military response in Kharkiv province. Russia’s war effort is not collapsing. Its forces remain dug in across much of the Donbas region and along the Black Sea coast. Though Ukraine has seized momentum, this war is far from finished. But Ukrainian forces have again demonstrated that, whatever the Kremlin claims, Putin’s war is not going to plan.

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Ian Bremmer: Global Middle Class Erosion Making People Hungrier — And Angrier | GZERO Media

Ian Bremmer: Global middle class erosion making people hungrier — and angrier

Until recently, global development had been defined by globalization, especially when it comes to a growing middle class and poverty reduction.

Not anymore, Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer said during a livestream conversation about the global food crisis hosted by GZERO Media in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Can we still meet the SDGs? | GZERO Media

Shocks making it harder to meet Sustainable Development Goals

After the pandemic and now the global food crisis, meeting the UN's Sustainable Goals by the 2030 deadline will be a tall order.

But actually it's previous systemic challenges aggravated by those crises that are undermining the push to achieve the SDGs, Kathryn Hollifield, from the World Bank's Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, explained during a livestream discussion on the global food crisis hosted by GZERO Media in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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