Friday's world stories

Jul 31, 2020 - Technology

Chinese facial recognition developer nears $1.5 billion funding round

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

SenseTime, a Chinese developer of facial recognition technologies, is wrapping up a $1.5 billion funding round at a $10 billion valuation and is in talks to list on China’s STAR market, per Reuters.

Why it matters: This is the company’s first fundraise since being placed on a U.S. blacklist for alleged involvement in human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in China. It previously raised nearly $3 billion, including from U.S.-based firms like Fidelity, Glade Brook, Qualcomm Ventures, and Silver Lake Partners.

U.S. sanctions China's paramilitary in Xinjiang

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The Trump administration has announced it will sanction the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), a paramilitary organization operating in Xinjiang, where Chinese authorities, aided by the XPCC, are perpetrating a cultural and demographic genocide against ethnic minorities.

Why it matters: XPCC controls vast swaths of the economy in Xinjiang. Depending on how rigorously the sanctions are enforced, they could hobble the region's economy and blunt China's plans for further economic development of the region.

Jul 31, 2020 - World

Hong Kong postpones legislative elections over coronavirus concerns

Photo: Qin Louyue/China News Service via Getty Images

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Friday that she is postponing the city's legislative elections for a year due to rising coronavirus concerns, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters, via Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: The move is the latest in a rapid-fire series of measures dismantling Hong Kong's democratic traditions.

Jul 31, 2020 - World

Boris Johnson pauses England's coronavirus reopening

Photo: Charlotte Graham/WPA Pool/Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday postponed easing some portions of England's coronavirus lockdown due to rising cases, the BBC reports.

Why it matters: The decision, which comes after a move to reimpose far more stringent lockdown measures across some cities in northern England, highlights the difficult balance countries across the world face between reopening their economies and keeping their caseloads in check.

Jul 30, 2020 - World

Coronavirus bounces back where it had been knocked out

A glum harbor ride in Hong Kong. Photo: Anthony Wallace. AFP via Getty.

This week has seen a number of worrying headlines from countries initially viewed as major pandemic success stories.

Why it matters: After enormous sacrifices made to prevent or contain widespread outbreaks, countries are grappling with the challenge of preserving that success without daily life, and the economy, grinding to a halt once again.

Jul 30, 2020 - World

Vietnam faces fresh threat after 99 days free of coronavirus

My Khe beach in Danang on Tuesday, a day after Vietnam suspended all flights and public transport into and out of the city due to the detection of the country's first cases of COVID-19 novel coronavirus in months. Photo: Hoang Khanh/AFP via Getty Images

Vietnam reported on Thursday nine more people had tested positive for COVID-19, taking the total number of locally transmitted cases to 43 since the outbreak resurfaced over the weekend.

Why it matters: The country's efforts in combating the novel coronavirus had been widely credited. It had gone 99 days without a locally transmitted case before a 57-year-old man tested positive last Saturday, per a Vietnamese government statement. Nobody has died from the virus in Vietnam.

Jul 30, 2020 - World

Australia records deadliest coronavirus day

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media in Australia's capital, Canberra, on Thursday. Photo: Sean Davey/Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters Thursday the pandemic will be around "for some time" as he noted Victoria's strict measures hadn't had the desired effect. The state reported 723 new cases and 13 more deaths — a national daily record.

The big picture: In May, Australia looked set to suppress COVID-19. Victorian officials found sick people not getting tested quickly enough or leaving isolation led to the spike. State Premier Dan Andrews said at a briefing if anyone has symptoms, "you just can't go to work, because all you'll be doing is spreading the virus." Victoria will make wearing face coverings outside mandatory statewide from late Sunday. The states of New South Wales and Queensland reported Thursday 18 and three new cases, respectively.