Friday's world stories

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jul 10, 2020 - World

Turkey again converts Hagia Sophia into a mosque

Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

A Turkish court has ruled that Istanbul's Hagia Sophia must be converted back into a mosque.

The big picture: The giant domed structure was constructed beginning in 532, and it served as the home of Eastern Orthodox Christianity for nine centuries before becoming a mosque following the Ottoman conquest in 1453. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan led a campaign to reverse its conversion into a museum in 1934 despite international opposition, including from the U.S.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jul 10, 2020 - Economy & Business

ByteDance rethinks corporate structures for TikTok after political backlash

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

ByteDance is considering new corporate structures for its TikTok business, as it comes under political pressure in the U.S. and other countries for ties to China's government, per the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: The Beijing-based firm is the world's most valuable privately held tech company, estimated to be worth upwards of $110 billion by direct investors and $150 billion in recent secondary market trades.

Jul 10, 2020 - World

Notre Dame to be restored as closely to original structure as possible

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

France announced Thursday plans to restore the Notre Dame Cathedral exactly as it was before the 2019 fire that consumed the building's roof and spire, The Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Debate has surrounding the cathedral's rebuilding as scholars and political conservatives argued against any design that would modernize Notre Dame, per the Post. Nearly $1 billion was donated for the restoration effort in the weeks and months following the fire.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jul 9, 2020 - World

Countries grapple with whether to lock back down as hotspots emerge

Tokyo in the time of coronavirus. Photo: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty

Many politicians and public health officials sounded a similar lockdown refrain in the spring: let’s do this right so we only have to do it once.

Reality check: While some countries have thus far managed to keep cases under control after opening up, dozens of countries that had initially turned a corner are now seeing a worrying rebound. They have to decide if and how to return to lockdown — and whether their populations will stand for it.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jul 9, 2020 - World

Confidence in government is rising in China, surveys show

Confidence in local officials has been dramatically increasing in China, while support for the central government remains high, according to surveys conducted between 2003-2016 by Harvard's Kennedy School.

Why it matters: The findings run counter to theories that rising expectations and growing inequality may be spawning dissatisfaction with the Chinese Communist Party.

Jul 9, 2020 - World

Bolivia's interim president tests positive for coronavirus

Bolivian interim President Jeanine Anez. Photo: Aizar Radles/AFP via Getty Images

Bolivia's interim President Jeanine Añez tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: She's the latest world leader known to have contracted the virus, joining Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Monaco's Prince Albert II. All have survived, though Johnson was hospitalized and in intensive care for a period in March.

Jul 9, 2020 - World

First coronavirus case reported in northwestern Syria

A doctor wearing full protective gear adjusts a face cover to his colleague at a hospital in Idlib, Syria. Photo: Anas Alkharboutli/picture alliance via Getty Images

A 39-year-old doctor tested positive for the coronavirus in northwestern Syria, making him the first confirmed case in the region, according to the aid group Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations.

Why it matters: The spread of COVID-19 in Syria, particularly in Aleppo, could have a devastating impact on people already displaced by the Syrian Civil War.

U.S. sanctions Chinese officials over Uighur human rights abuses

Photo: Xinhua/Liu Jie via Getty Images

The Treasury Department announced Thursday that the U.S. has sanctioned four Chinese Communist Party officials and the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau for human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.

Why it matters: The sanctions designations, pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Act passed by Congress in 2016, mark a significant escalation in the Trump administration's response to the Chinese government's detainment of over 1 million Uighurs in internment camps.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Jul 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

Sovereign debt restructuring grows up

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Argentina and Ecuador are going to restructure their debts, and they're going to do so with surprisingly little drama.

Why it matters: Both countries are repeat players at this game, and it would be very easy for 2020 to resemble previous acrimonious fights. Wonderfully, however, it looks like that's not going to happen this time around.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Jul 9, 2020 - World

China's extraterritorial threat

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

All multinational companies and executives need to worry about breaking U.S. law, no matter where they're based or doing business. Now, they need to worry about Chinese law, too.

Why it matters: The projection of U.S. norms and laws around the world has been an integral (and much resented) part of America's "soft power" since 1945. As China positions itself to replace the USA as global hegemon, expect it to become increasingly assertive along similar lines.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jul 9, 2020 - World

Mayor of Seoul found dead

Park at a conference in 2017. Photo: Aurelien Morissard/IP3/Getty Images

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon has been found dead hours after his daughter reported him missing, prompting a massive manhunt, Yonhap news agency reports.

What we know: Park's disappearance came a day after allegations of sexual harassment against him were published in local media, according to the FT, which also reports that his daughter had found a "will-like message."