Wednesday's world stories

Between the lines on Chinese strategy: "Using the pandemic to plot independence"

People are seen holding up a Taiwan National Flag in Hong Kong on October 10, 2019. Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In this recurring feature from the Axios China newsletter, I highlight a Chinese Communist Party phrase that sheds light on the current news cycle.

The phrase: "yi yi mou du" (以疫謀獨), which means "using the pandemic to plot independence."

What's happening: China's handling of the coronavirus has favorably highlighted the capability and transparency of Taiwan, which like China is also seeking to assist other countries in fighting the pandemic.

Go deeperArrowApr 8, 2020 - World

Saudi Arabia announces Yemen ceasefire

Houthi fighters take cover. Photo: Stringer/Getty Images

The Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen has announced a two-week ceasefire in support of a UN-led peace initiative, AP reports.

Why it matters: There's little to show for five years of war in Yemen beyond one of the world's most dire humanitarian crises, which would only deepen in the event of a coronavirus outbreak. Sources told Reuters the virus was a driving factor behind the ceasefire, which could pave the war for peace talks in the coming days.

Go deeperArrowApr 8, 2020 - World

Citing coronavirus, lawmakers call for a ban on wildlife markets

A wet market in Hong Kong. Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

A rare bipartisan group of lawmakers is calling on global health organizations to permanently ban the buying and selling of live wildlife, which is likely the root cause of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Driving the news: Nearly 70 Democrats and Republicans from both chambers of Congress are sending a letter on Wednesday calling on top officials at the World Health Organization, UN and World Organization for Animal Health to do just that.

Go deeperArrowApr 8, 2020 - Science

Venezuelan regime looks to China as coronavirus crisis approaches

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

In the depths of an economic crisis, with few well-equipped hospitals and spotty access to running water and electricity in some places, Venezuela will struggle to cope with its coronavirus outbreak without international aid.

Why it matters: While the U.S. is attempting to oust Nicolás Maduro's government, and most in the region and around the world treat Maduro as a pariah, China is extending a helping hand. The Venezuelan opposition, meanwhile, fears Maduro will use the crisis to enhance his international legitimacy.

Go deeperArrowApr 8, 2020 - World

Indians look to Taiwan amid China's coronavirus missteps

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Many Indians are angry at China and the World Health Organization for their perceived mishandling of the coronavirus. The efficiency and transparency of Taiwan's response to the epidemic, in contrast, has made it a topic of renewed sympathy and interest in India.

Why it matters: The coronavirus crisis is showcasing Taiwan's democratic system of governance on an international stage, the biggest soft power win for the country in years.

Go deeperArrowApr 8, 2020 - World

The Russia-U.S. divide in oil production negotiations

Photos: Jim Watson and Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

Russia is balking at the idea that market-driven declines in U.S. oil output could represent a significant contribution to a new global production-cutting deal, Bloomberg and Reuters reported this morning.

Why it matters: The Russian posture comes ahead of OPEC+ talks Thursday and a meeting of G20 energy ministers Friday.

Go deeperArrowApr 8, 2020 - World

Poll: Desire in China for U.S.-style democracy plunges

Chinese views of the U.S. have soured dramatically over the past year, according to polling from the Eurasia Group Foundation.

Go deeperArrowApr 7, 2020 - World

China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown

People wearing facemasks stand near Yangtze River in Wuhan. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

China has lifted its lockdown of Wuhan, the city in Hubei province where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in December, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: As cases surged in January, China took the draconian step of sealing off the city of 11 million and shutting down its economy — a response that was viewed at the time as only possible in an authoritarian system, but which has since been adopted by governments around the world.

Go deeperArrowApr 7, 2020 - Health

Boris Johnson in intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen

Photo: Peter Summers/Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being treated in the intensive care unit of St. Thomas' Hospital in London due to increasingly severe coronavirus symptoms.

What they're saying: Cabinet minister Michael Gove told LBC radio on Tuesday morning Johnson was not on a ventilator. "The prime minister has received some oxygen support and he is kept under, of course, close supervision," he said.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Apr 7, 2020 - World

Former Vatican treasurer George Pell's sexual abuse convictions overturned

Cardinal George Pell at the County Court in Melbourne, Australia, in 2019. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

George Pell, the former Vatican treasurer, has won his appeal and had his child sexual abuse convictions overturned by Australia's highest court.

Why it matters: The Australian cardinal was the highest-ranking Catholic Church official to go to trial and be convicted for sex abuse. The High Court's unanimous ruling means he can be immediately released from prison, where he was serving a six-year sentence.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Apr 7, 2020 - World