Monday Briefing: How China Is Walling Off the Sea

A Chinese People’s Liberation Army ship in May off Mischief Reef.Credit…Jes Aznar for The New York Times

How Chinese ships wall off the sea

This is what it looks like when a Chinese naval vessel bears down on your boat, as experienced firsthand by our reporters, who were on board a Philippine-flagged fishing vessel. They were reporting on how Beijing was imposing its territorial ambitions on the South China Sea.

More than 900 miles from the Chinese mainland, near the Philippine island of Palawan, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, or P.L.A., has fortified an archipelago of forward operating bases. Beijing has branded these waters as China’s despite having no international legal grounding.

Over the radio, our reporters and the ship’s crew were told that they had intruded into Chinese territorial waters. The P.L.A. tugboat then repeatedly blasted its horn so loudly they could feel it in their bodies. With its floodlights nearly blinding them, the tugboat rushed their vessel, swiping within 20 meters of the much smaller boat in what maritime experts called a clear breach of international protocol.

These actions, though aggressive, stopped short of more extreme moves by Chinese naval craft in the region. Chinese coast guard and militia vessels have rammed, doused with water cannons and sunk civilian boats.

Context: The mounting Chinese military presence in waters that were long dominated by the U.S. fleet is sharpening the possibility of a showdown between superpowers at a moment when relations between them have greatly worsened. And as Beijing challenges a Western-driven security order that stood for nearly eight decades, regional countries are increasingly questioning the strength of the American commitment to the Pacific.

Demonstrators outside the Consulate General of India in Vancouver in June.Credit…Ethan Cairns/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

U.S. assisted Canada with investigating a Sikh leader’s killing

In the aftermath of the killing in June of the Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, U.S. intelligence agencies offered their Canadian counterparts context that helped Canada conclude that India had been involved.

Yet what appears to be the “smoking gun” — intercepted communications of Indian diplomats in Canada indicating involvement in the plot — was gathered by Canadian officials, Western allied officials said.

Uncertainty is “killing us,” said an Indian farmer who had hoped to explore business opportunities in Canada. Similar frustrations have been expressed by many Punjabis about the diplomatic war with Canada, which is home to the largest Sikh population outside India. Dreams have plunged into limbo as the Indian government has put visas to Canadian citizens on hold.

Grain stored in Moloha, in the Odesa region. Credit…Emile Ducke for The New York Times

Ukraine steps up Black Sea shipping

Ukraine has increased its use of a new shipping route that has allowed it to begin reviving grain exports to circumvent a de facto Russian blockade of its Black Sea ports.

Two ships used the new route last week without incident, and three more cargo vessels have entered Ukrainian waters in recent days, according to officials.

Cash, mules and paid protests: The war in Ukraine has intensified longstanding frictions in the Russian-speaking Moldovan region of Gagauzia. Ilan Shor, a Moldovan fugitive convicted of plundering nearly $1 billion from his country’s central bank, has somehow seized control of the entire region.


Asia Pacific

Rahile Dawut, center, interviewing people at a wedding in 2005 in the Xinjiang region of China.Credit…Lisa Ross
  • Rahile Dawut, a star Uyghur scholar, disappeared in 2017. New evidence suggests that China sentenced her to life in prison.

  • After two years in detention, a Chinese journalist who spoke up against sexual harassment stood trial on subversion charges.

  • A string of scandals has left Qantas Airways reviled in Australia.

  • The Biden administration issued final rules to prevent chip makers from using new U.S. subsidies to benefit China, while the two countries agreed to regular economic talks.

Around the World

The first refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh entered Armenia on Sunday.Credit…Alain Jocard/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • More than 1,000 refugees crossed into Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh yesterday, days after a military offensive returned the breakaway republic to Azerbaijan’s control.

  • A loud air-conditioner atop Bhutan’s permanent mission to the U.N. in New York City has vexed neighbors. Diplomatic immunity may protect it.

  • Derna, which paid the heaviest price in the recent floods in Libya, is known as the country’s city of poets.

  • Recent studies suggest coffee has supplanted tea as Britons’ favorite drink.

Other Big Stories

  • Karen Rodriguez was kidnapped by the Zeta cartel in Mexico. Her mother would stop at nothing to find out exactly what had happened to her.

  • Anand Malligavad turned to centuries-old knowledge to reclaim dozens of lakes in the high-tech capital of Bengaluru. Now, he is in demand across India.

  • Subway fare is free for South Koreans older than 65, and some retired people spend their days riding the rails.

A Morning Read

Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira, center, in “energy saving” fashion in 1979.Credit…The Asahi Shimbun, via Getty Images

Where did all the dark-suited Japanese salarymen go? Every summer, the suits are packed away in favor of short-sleeved shirts as part of a Japanese government initiative known as “Cool Biz,” in which offices are kept above 27 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit) to save energy.


From left, Prin, SEN and jiGook of QI.X in July on a rooftop in Seoul.Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Seeking K-pop stardom while out and proud

Like many other South Korean singers, jiGook — who considers himself gender-fluid, transmale and nonbinary — wants to be a K-pop star. So do Prin and SEN, his bandmates in QI.X, a fledgling group that has released two singles.

What makes them unusual is that they are public about who they are in a conservative nation where many entertainers see coming out as L.G.B.T.Q. as a potential career killer. The members of QI.X call themselves one of the first openly queer, transgender K-pop acts, and their mission has as much to do with changing South Korean society as with making music.


Credit…Armando Rafael for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Cyd Raftus McDowell.

Cook this classic Cantonese whole fish recipe for an easy, impressive dinner.

Drink the best teas with this Wirecutter guide.

Prepare forthe fourth season of Netflix’s “Sex Education” with this refresher.

Read Isle McElroy’s novel “People Collide,” about a bored husband and wife who swap bodies.

Play Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku. Find all our games here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Justin

P.S. Think you’re a travel expert? Prove it by taking our quiz.

We welcome your feedback. Send us your suggestions at [email protected].

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