FirstFT: China conducted two hypersonic weapons tests

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The Chinese military conducted two hypersonic weapons tests over the summer, raising US concerns that Beijing is gaining ground in the race to develop a new generation of arms.

The Chinese military on July 27 launched a rocket that used a “fractional orbital bombardment” system to propel a nuclear-capable “hypersonic glide vehicle” around the earth for the first time, according to four people familiar with US intelligence assessments.

The Financial Times this week reported that the first test was in August, rather than at the end of July. China subsequently conducted a second hypersonic test on August 13, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Three people familiar with the first test in July said it stunned the Pentagon and US intelligence because China managed to demonstrate a new weapons capability, although they declined to elaborate on the details.

What do you think this means for the balance of power between the US and China? Write to me at [email protected] and tell me what you think. Thanks for reading FirstFT Asia. Here is the rest of today’s news — Angelica

Five more stories in the news

1. US Federal Reserve bans officials from trading shares The Federal Reserve has adopted new rules banning its policymakers and senior staff from buying individual shares and a string of other investments after questionable financial trades last year led to the resignations of the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and the president of Dallas Fed in September.

2. WeWork makes its Wall Street debut Shares in WeWork jumped yesterday as the company made its long-awaited public market debut at the New York Stock Exchange, while across town company co-founder Adam Neumann partied with early employees and celebrated a $1bn windfall from the listing.

3. Evergrande shares tumble after services unit sale collapses Shares in China Evergrande fell sharply as the company’s stock resumed trading yesterday after the Chinese real estate developer disclosed that a plan to sell its property services division had collapsed.

4. Beijing targets top financial news outlet China’s internet watchdog has said Caixin, one of the most prominent and trusted Chinese business publications, can no longer be republished by online news services, in the latest blow to journalism and free speech in the country.

5. Donald Trump to launch social media platform The new platform, called Truth Social, will go public via a merger with a blank-cheque company. The move comes after months of speculation about whether Trump would launch a media company to compete with Twitter and Facebook, both of which have blocked the former president, and set the stage for another presidential run in 2024.

Coronavirus digest

  • A booster shot of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine is 95.6 per cent effective against Covid-19, the companies announced on Thursday.

  • More than a fifth of India’s 1.3bn citizens are now fully vaccinated after the country today administered its billionth Covid vaccine.

  • The US is facing a shortage of rapid Covid-19 antigen tests ahead of next month’s deadline when unvaccinated workers must prove they are vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.

  • The UK’s largest wealth manager, St James’s Place, said its funds under management are up 14 per cent since the beginning of the year, boosted by the flow of pandemic savings into investments and improved consumer confidence.

For the latest data on the spread of the virus go to our Covid tracker.

The day ahead

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting Ministers from the Asia-Pacific trade group APEC will meet virtually today to discuss pressing topics such as the pandemic recovery and climate change. (Reuters)

Court hearing following the death of UK MP Sir David Amess Ali Harbi Ali, 25, will appear in court for a second day today to face charges of murder and a terrorism offence. At a briefing hearing yesterday he entered no plea to the charges.

What else we’re reading

The World Bank needs a new age of transparency A little-known 2015 saga in which World Bank leaders asked a law firm to investigate a controversial episode involving China takes on new meaning today. Among its lessons: the Bank would benefit from having (and upholding) more consistent, cohesive and transparent rules around financial flows, writes Gillian Tett.

How Netflix became ‘Hateflix’ A culture war is raging at the world’s largest video streaming company. Activists are condemning Netflix for carrying programming they say could encourage discrimination against transgender people, resulting in one of the platform’s worst public relations crises.

Trans activists at a rally outside Netflix’s offices in Los Angeles as the company’s employees who staged a walkout look on © Getty Images

Crypto glossary Want to speak crypto? Our guide tells you all you need to know, from alt coins to yield farming. In other crypto news, more than 100,000 people have had their eyes scanned in return for a cryptocurrency called Worldcoin, as a project to distribute digital money more widely around the world accelerates.

Workers take to picket lines for ‘Striketober’ Labour shortages across the US were supposed to give low-wage workers newfound bargaining power, but that leverage has been tough to wield against bosses who are not used to negotiating, writes FT labour and equality correspondent Taylor Nicole Rogers.

The revenge of the old economy It is tempting to blame today’s shortages on temporary disruptions driven by the pandemic. But the roots of these bottlenecks can be traced back to the aftermath of the financial crisis, writes Jeff Currie, global head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs.

Meet our journalists: Robin Harding

Robin Harding is the FT’s Asia editor and an assistant editor
Robin Harding is the FT’s Asia editor and an assistant editor

Robin Harding took up the role of the FT’s Asia editor in mid-August. An economist by training, he has served in a variety of posts in London, Washington and Tokyo, where he was bureau chief from 2015.

What story are you particularly interested in at the moment?

The potential default of Chinese property company Evergrande, less in itself than for what it says about the Chinese growth model. One of the big questions for this century is whether China can keep growing until it’s as rich as Japan, or even the United States. How China tackles Evergrande will offer clues to the answer.

You’ve lived in Japan for almost 12 years. What about the country continues to fascinate you?

Japan is different. I think one reason for Japan’s tourism boom, pre-Covid-19, is because it’s a rich, industrialised country that still feels alien to Europeans or Americans. I’m constantly learning from how Japan does things, and the comparison sheds light on the rest of the world, whether the subject is monetary policy, urban planning or railways.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year?

I went back through my Kindle and I reread Pride and Prejudice this year, so that’s the real answer. The best newish non-fiction was The WEIRDest People in the World, which basically argues that the Catholic church created the modern world by banning cousin marriage in Europe. I’ll leave out the sci-fi and fantasy recommendations here but feel free to email!

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