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The Chinese Dream, Nissan, Picasso: Your Tuesday Briefing

Category: Asia,World

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Good morning. The Chinese dream, the disgraced Nissan chairman and the forward-thinking malls of Asia. Here’s what you need to know:

The Chinese dream.

Imagine two 18-year-olds, one in China, one in the U.S. Who has a better chance at upward mobility?

Not too long ago, the answer might have been the teenager in the U.S. But China has risen so quickly that, today, a young person’s chances of improving their living situation vastly exceeds those in the U.S.

Here’s why, by the numbers:

800 million: The number of people in China that have been lifted out of poverty since 1990. That’s two and a half times the U.S. population.

500 percent: The average per capita income growth in China between 1980 and 2014.

$12,000: China’s economic output per capita. A decade ago, it was $3,500.

1/4: The share of the world’s middle class that was in China in 2016.

29: China’s score on the Gini coefficient, a worldwide measure of inequality, where a lower score represents a more equal economy. The U.S. scores 37.

Despite that progress, 40 percent of China’s population still lives on less than $5.50 a day.

We also have a deep dive into how China’s walled-off internet, widely predicted to fail, has instead thrived.


Nissan’s chairman arrested.

An internal investigation found that Carlos Ghosn, one of the auto industry’s most high-profile executives, underreported his compensation to Japanese financial authorities for several years.

Mr. Ghosn, above, arrived at the company in 1999 after the French carmaker Renault bought a large stake in the Japanese company. He has been credited with saving the carmaker from collapse, and even celebrated in a country where foreign leadership of Japanese companies is rare.

A director at the company, Greg Kelly, was also accused of financial misconduct and arrested.

Stocks in both Nissan and Renault plunged on the news.


Inside the U.S.-China clash at APEC.

The U.S. wanted to emphasize free trade at the end of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Papua New Guinea. China objected.

So, casting decorum aside, Chinese officials barged into the office of the host country’s foreign minister and demanded changes to a joint statement being prepared for the meeting.

That dispute — part of an increasingly heated trade war between the two powers — was the reason the meeting wrapped without a consensus for the first time in almost 30 years.

It also marks a new, more aggressive phase in U.S.-China relations that is reminiscent of the Cold War era, analysts said. Above, President Xi Jinping and Vice President Mike Pence appeared cordial at the summit meeting.

Saudi king stands by the crown prince.

King Salman, above right, in his first speech since Saudi agents killed the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, avoided any mention of the international outrage over the killing.

Intense scrutiny of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman led to speculation in some quarters that he might be pushed aside. But the king showed no intention of sidelining his chosen successor, who U.S. intelligence agents believe ordered the brutal assassination in Turkey.

The king’s remarks came even as the global fallout continued. Germany announced sanctions on 18 Saudis suspected of involvement and froze arms exports to the country.

And the Turkish defense minister suggested that Mr. Khashoggi’s killers left the country with his body.


• Luxury malls in Asia, decked out with exquisite artwork, gardens and even libraries, embody a new way of thinking about retail, writes our chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman. Above, an ornate bathroom at a mall in Shanghai.

• Chinese regulators approved Walt Disney Company’s $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox, bringing the deal closer to completion— though it still needs the green light from a handful of other countries.

• Farmers in the U.S. were promised a $12 billion bailout to cushion the blow of President Trump’s trade war. So far, just $838 million has been paid out because of red tape and long waiting periods.

• Uber is trying to make a comeback in Germany, after run-ins with regulators forced it to retreat in 2015.

• Asian airlines suffer from too much competition, our business columnist writes, but consolidation could help the industry stem its losses.

• U.S. stocks were down. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

• Hong Kong’s Occupy movement leaders pleaded not guilty to public nuisance charges stemming from the pro-democracy protests that brought parts of the city to a standstill in 2014. Above, demonstrations outside a Hong Kong court on Monday. [The New York Times]

• “Lady Tianyi,” a Chinese writer of erotic novels, faces more than 10 years in prison for “producing and selling pornography,” a punishment that many Chinese citizens denounced as too harsh. [The New York Times]

• President Xi Jinping lands in the Philippines today for the first state visit by a Chinese president in 13 years. [Rappler]

• In India, two men on motorcycles threw a grenade into a Sikh religious gathering in the northern city of Amritsar, killing three people and injuring more than a dozen others. [The Times of India]

• The world’s malaria rate has been roughly the same since 2013, with an estimated 220 million cases last year, indicating that efforts to contain the disease have stalled, according to the World Health Organization. [The New York Times]

• A new peanut allergy drug has shown the potential to be the first to reduce the risks of life-threatening reactions in children. [The New York Times]

Global warming could cause as many as six simultaneous climate-related disasters in some parts of the world by the end of the century, a new study said. [The New York Times]

British authorities are investigating the credentials of thousands of foreign physicians after one was exposed for using a false qualification for decades. [The New York Times]

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

• The holiday season is full of social obligations. Here’s how to get out of them without having your life explode in a fiery ball of chaos.

• An author received a tip: A Picasso painting that was stolen from a Dutch museum in 2012 was buried under a rock in Romania. So she went to dig it up. But no one knows yet if it’s the real deal or just “a bad joke,” said the author.

• Standing desks are overrated, a medical professor writes: They don’t make up for the negative effects of sitting for long hours and, in some cases, they can increase the risk of needing surgery for varicose veins.

The top end of the art market is booming.

At auctions last week, masterworks by Edward Hopper and David Hockney sold for more than $90 million each.

But these kinds of numbers aren’t so new, taking inflation into account.

Twenty years ago today, van Gogh’s “Portrait of the Artist Without His Beard” sold at Christie’s for $71.5 million — almost three times the high estimate.

At that time, it was the third highest price for any artwork at auction.

The most expensive of all was van Gogh’s “Portrait of Dr. Gachet,” bought in 1990 by the Japanese industrialist Ryoei Saito for $82.5 million.

With inflation, “Dr. Gachet” held that auction record for many years, the high point of the Japanese-driven Impressionist boom.

That was until last November, when “Salvator Mundi,” pictured above, a painting cataloged by Christie’s as a long-lost Leonardo da Vinci, sold for $450.3 million.

Compared to that stratospheric price, last week’s sales were relatively — very relatively — down to earth.

Scott Reyburn, our art market columnist in London, wrote today’s Back Story.


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