FirstFT: Hong Kong citizens facing Chinese repression can remain in US

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Good morning. US president Joe Biden has extended a programme that allows Hong Kong citizens facing potential political repression from China to remain in the US following pressure from progressive lawmakers and human rights groups.

Biden declared that Hong Kong citizens residing in the US could remain in the country for two more years as he extended the Deferred Enforced Departure programme. The US president took the move — ahead of the programme expiring on February 5 — because China had “continued to erode” the human rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents.

“The People’s Republic of China has continued its assault on Hong Kong’s autonomy, undermining its remaining democratic processes and institutions, imposing limits on academic freedom, and cracking down on the press,” Biden said in a memorandum.

The US allowed Hong Kong citizens to take advantage of the programme after China imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in June 2020 that has accelerated the erosion of freedom in the territory. Biden said 120 opposition politicians and activists had been detained since the law took effect and that more than 1,200 political prisoners were “now behind bars”.

Thank you to readers who took our quiz yesterday. More than three-quarters of readers polled said west should send modern tanks to Ukraine.

1. IMF warns of market impact of abrupt BoJ policy change Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s first deputy managing director, told the FT that a sudden change in Japan’s ultra-loose monetary regime would have “meaningful spillover” effects on global financial markets, underscoring the need for the Bank of Japan to clearly communicate about its future policy.

2. Kyiv rocked by explosions Russia conducted its latest barrage of missile strikes in Kyiv and other cities nearly one year into its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Though officials said most strikes were repelled by Ukraine’s air defence system, the nationwide attacks came one day after the US and Germany announced they would send modern battle tanks to Ukraine, some of the most sophisticated weaponry provided by Kyiv’s allies.

3. Philippines records strongest economic growth in over 40 years The south-east Asian economy grew at an annual rate of 7.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2022, beating economist expectations of about 6.5 per cent growth, according to Philippine Statistics Authority data. Full-year gross domestic product increased by 7.6 per cent, its strongest growth since 1976.

  • Economic growth around the globe: The US economy also logged better than expected growth in the final quarter of 2022, even as the Federal Reserve’s aggressive campaign to raise borrowing costs began to weigh more heavily on business activity.

4. Turkey announces scheme to prop up lira Turkey has unveiled a new scheme to push exporters to hold less foreign currency as the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan steps up its battle to defend the lira ahead of this year’s elections. The country said yesterday it would offer companies new incentives to swap money they earn abroad into lira in return for a vow not to purchase foreign currencies.

5. Tesla shares jump Tesla’s stock rose as much as 11.8 per cent after markets opened on Thursday, following Elon Musk’s comments that the electric-vehicle maker could deliver as many as 2mn cars this year. Musk, the company’s chief executive, sought to allay investor worries that demand is waning as Tesla faces rising competition from other big carmakers and tougher economic conditions.

  • Related read: Akio Toyoda is stepping down as president of Toyota as the world’s largest carmaker battles to maintain its lead in a world shifting to electric vehicles, autonomous driving and other disruptive technologies.

How well did you keep up with the news this week? Take our quiz.

The days ahead

Australia inflation data Producer Price Index inflation rate data is due to be published today.

Chevron earnings The US oil major kicks off Big Oil’s earnings season today, followed by ExxonMobil on Tuesday and Europe-based Shell, BP and TotalEnergies in early February.

Australian Open finals Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina will play Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka in the women’s final on Saturday The men’s final is on Sunday.

Trump unveils South Carolina team Former president Donald Trump is expected to make his first public appearance for the 2024 presidential campaign on Saturday, unveiling his South Carolina leadership team.

What else we’re reading

Who will be the next governor of the Bank of Japan? With less than three months until Haruhiko Kuroda steps down after a decade at the top of Japan’s central bank it is still unclear who will replace him. There is a shortlist of candidates, but a lack of enthusiasm to replace the outgoing governor as Japan emerges from three decades of low inflation.

How Scholz made Biden shift on tanks for Ukraine The planned deliveries of US-made M1 Abrams tanks and German-made Leopards were met with jubilation in Kyiv and relief in western capitals. But the breakthrough involved tense negotiations and policy U-turns. Our correspondents have the details on the whirlwind talks.

  • Opinion: Will Leopard 2 tanks actually boost Ukraine’s chances? It depends on training and the flow of western arms and ammunition, writes Franz-Stefan Gady of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Franklin Templeton tries to reinvent itself In 2020, Jenny Johnson, the fourth member of her family to run the California-based fund, had taken the reins of a business regarded as outdated and stodgy. Now, she is pushing the group quickly into new asset classes and technology to prove that an old-school, family-run stockpicker can still prove itself against industry behemoths such as BlackRock and State Street.

How will Google solve its AI conundrum? Microsoft threw down a direct challenge to the search giant with its multibillion-dollar investment in OpenAI this week. In the AI arms race, Google should be well-positioned, but with politicians and regulators breathing down its neck — and a hugely profitable business model to defend — the company may be hesitant to wield many of the weapons at its disposal.

Explainer: How Biden’s climate law provokes Europe The US president’s $369bn Inflation Reduction Act has delivered a big green bonus for climate experts and US business while infuriating Europe. EU governments have launched a litany of complaints, claiming it violates trade rules and distorts competition. Here’s why companies are excited — and America’s trading partners less so.

Take a break from the news

Through the sensual and alluring medium of paint, women artists are delivering complex, individual narratives in a way that somehow also feels universal. HTSI explores how female artists are reinventing the nude.

A painting entitled Sundials and Sonnets by Wangari Mathenge shows a woman reclining on a yellow sofa
Sundials and Sonnets, 2019, by Wangari Mathenge © Robert Wedemeyer. Courtesy Wangari Mathenge and Roberts Projects Los Angeles, California

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