Your Friday Briefing: Biden and Xi’s wake-up call

We cover the telephone marathon between Chinese Presidents Biden and Xi Jinping and US recession fears.

President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping talked on the phone for two hours and 17 minutes, their time. first direct conversation in four months during which relations between their countries deteriorated.

China and the US disagree over Russia’s war in Ukraine, tariffs, and China’s aggressive actions in the Asia-Pacific region. The future of Taiwan, the self-governing island that China covets and that Biden says it will defend by force, has become a particularly contentious issueespecially since Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is reportedly planning to visit the country.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the call was productive, but issued a stern warning against what it considers to be US provocations, without directly mentioning Ms. K. Pelosi.

“Playing with fire will result in a fire,” the ministry said in a statement.

Analysis: Some U.S. officials believe Xi is taking a tougher stance on the U.S. to distract the Chinese from domestic troubles, a “tried trick of leaders around the world.” colleague Peter Baker writes.

Inflation-adjusted gross domestic product fell 0.2% in the second quarter, after contracting 0.4% in the first three months of the year, according to the Commerce Department. The rate of decline in GDP by 2022 means that, by one common but unofficial definition, the US economy entered recession just two years after it emerged from the last one.

A judge in Australia has ruled that a Chinese-Australian accused of plotting an act of foreign interference will stand trial provided that first judicial test of sweeping law that raises concerns about abuse of power.

The man, Di Sanh Duong, was indicted in 2020 after he raised money for a Melbourne hospital, which authorities say was used to develop a relationship with a federal minister to influence policy for China. According to the law on foreign influence – entered into force in 2018 amid worries about China’s influence, he could face a maximum sentence of 10 years.

The evidence against Duong is mostly circumstantial. His lawyers argue that the prosecution is relying on weak evidence to draw conclusions in future cases and that it “stretches every tendon in criminal law.” They said the $26,000 donation was just a way to fight anti-Chinese racism.

But the judge agreed with the Australian authorities, allowing the prosecution to proceed without evidence that Duong planned to intervene.

Legal type: Sarah Kendall, a law researcher at the University of Queensland, said the case reflects the broad scope of the law. Under it, she said, conduct that might be harmless in itself could be considered a crime if the police could show that there was a necessary intention behind the conduct to prepare for foreign intervention.

For millennia, Europeans have been consuming dairy products. despite the lack of an enzyme needed to prevent gastrointestinal discomfort. In a new report, scientists argue that the lactase mutation only became important for survival when Europeans began to suffer from epidemics and famine.

Lives lived: YOU Fio Zeya TauThe Burmese hip-hop star turned pro-democracy activist and politician was executed by Myanmar’s military junta on Saturday.

The Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, chose Arthur Hughes, who has radial dysplasia, which means he has a shorter right hand and is missing a thumb. The company said it was the first time it had cast a disabled actor to play a character who describes himself as “deformed” in the opening scene.

The Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada, went the other way: Colm Feore, who is not disabled, was cast as Richard with a deformed spine. And in New York City, the Public Theater production of Free Shakespeare in the Park went in another direction, casting Danai Gurira, a non-disabled black woman.

Their different approaches came at a time when intense rethinking of cultural norms regarding identity, representation, diversity, opportunity, imagination, and artistic freedom led to a passionate debate about casting.