An outbreak in the capital rattles China
Some residential compounds in Beijing were under lockdown on Monday and tens of thousands were tested for the coronavirus as the government rushed to contain a new cluster of infections.
The outbreak has jolted China, after President Xi Jinping had said that Beijing should be a fortress against the pandemic.
Details: City officials said Monday they had tracked down 79 infections in Beijing over the previous four days, including 36 confirmed on Sunday. They appeared traceable to the Xinfadi food market, which was shut down over the weekend.
Disease experts said limited bursts of infections were likely to become part of the “new normal” for China. Still, it led to the firing of two local officials and the manager of the food market.
Pakistan’s hospitals are overwhelmed
A month after Pakistan’s lockdown ended, people who have the coronavirus are being turned away from hospitals that have simply closed their gates and put up signs reading “full house.”
Doctors and nurses are getting sick at alarming rates, and are also coming under physical assault from desperate and angry families. It’s prompting intense criticism about whether the government should have been more careful in its response.
Medical professionals now expect the virus to peak in July or August and infect up to 900,000, adding further strain to a shaky health care system that some warn may collapse.
Details: Before reopening, Pakistan had recorded about 25,000 infections. A month later, the country recorded an additional 100,000 cases — almost certainly an undercount — and the pandemic shows no signs of abating. At least 2,356 people have died of Covid-19, according to official figures released Thursday.
Quotable: The government “did not listen to what doctors were saying,” the Pakistan Medical Association said in a statement. “Now the result of this negligence is obvious.”
Breaking up with China is hard to do
The coronavirus pandemic has reminded many countries how deeply reliant on Chinese business they are, and some are trying to reduce their exposure.
That’s not always as easy as it sounds — especially during an economic crisis. We looked at three companies in three countries heavily reliant on China to understand what businesses are facing.
Australia’s lobster: Before the pandemic, 95 percent of Australia’s spiny lobsters were being shipped to Chinese partners. One third-generation fisherman in Western Australia said he tried quickly to diversify, but found that his only hope was rebuilding ties with China.
A German lighting company: The last time German industry faced a severe downturn, relief came from China. Olaf Berlien, chief executive of Osram, one of the world’s largest lighting companies, said that since then he has become more skeptical and worked to rethink logistics and supply chains.
Luxury bathroom fixtures from Japan: Toto, Japan’s largest toilet maker, makes what China’s nouveau riche really want: electronic bidet toilets with heated seats, warm water jets, pleasingly shaped ceramic bowls and automated lids.
China accounts for more than half of its overseas sales. And for Toto, the huge market and skilled workers are too good to pass up.
If you have 5 minutes, this is worth it
In Russia, migrant workers come last
As the coronavirus batters Russia, migrant workers from Central Asia have been hit especially hard — first losing their jobs, then often refused medical care if they become ill, and now unable to return home because of fewer flights. Above, migrants from Central Asia in cramped housing in Moscow.
The coronavirus crisis has magnified the inferior status of migrant workers. Desperate to get home, migrants have been banging on the doors of their embassies in Moscow. “Migrantophobia is real in Russia,” said one lawyer.
Here’s what else is happening
Philippines: The journalist Maria Ressa and a former colleague at the news site Rappler, which Ms. Ressa founded, were convicted of cyber libel by a court in Manila. It was another blow to press freedoms in a country where journalists have been threatened and bullied.
U.S. rights: In a stunning victory for the L.G.B.T.Q. movement, the Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, applies to gay and transgender workers and protects them from workplace discrimination.
U.S.-Russia spying: A court in Moscow sentenced an American, Paul Whelan, to 16 years in prison on espionage charges. The former Marine was arrested in 2018 after being handed a flash drive that he says he thought contained pictures of churches but was instead loaded with classified information.
Snapshot: Above, a barbershop in Rajkot, in India’s Gujarat state. From our series “The World Through a Lens” comes a collection of portraits from Gujarat, a place that defies easy generalizations, says photographer Michael Benanav.
What we’re reading: This list from Vox on habits that people want to keep post-lockdowns. More working from home is an obvious one on that list, but there are also some thoughts about less consumerism and slowing down.
Now, a break from the news
Watch: Comic Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special “8:46” addresses police brutality, the death of George Floyd and protests. There aren’t really any jokes, writes our culture reporter, but instead “a raw accounting.”
Read: Take a look, or perhaps a second look, at Robert Frank’s eye-opening book of 83 photographs, “The Americans,” published in 1959. He had crossed America by car, seeing it as an outsider, a Swiss who left Zurich in 1947 in search of broader horizons.
At Home has our full collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch, and do while staying safe at home.
And now for the Back Story on …
Confronting South Korea’s beauty standards
Frances Cha’s novel “If I Had Your Face” is an unflinching look at how four young women pursue their dreams and ambitions in Seoul. Ms. Cha confronts South Korea’s social norms, including its impossibly high beauty standards. Here’s what she told our In Her Words newsletter:
What inspired you to write a book about contemporary South Korea?
I wanted to write about the people I encountered every day in Korea. I have read “The Joy Luck Club” so many times that both my covers have fallen off. And reading it, I realized it was possible to have an Asian protagonist and explore themes like filial piety. I wanted to write a story about young women that is very specific to modern Korea.
Explain the connection between filial piety and elective plastic surgery.
Filial piety — “hyo” in Korean — is the age-old historical and traditional virtue of deep respect and support and love toward one’s parents and elders. To say “he is a hyo-ja” or “she is a hyo-nyeo” means someone is a good son or daughter, exhibiting and living by respect that is born of gratitude to your parents. I know many friends of my parents have lived with their in-laws for many decades, supporting and providing for them, despite the fact that these relationships are often strained.
The cosmetic surgery industry is practically its own character in your book. Can you help us understand more about the obsession with plastic surgery in South Korea?
When I tell people I’m Korean, people always ask if I’ve had plastic surgery. Plastic surgery runs very counter to American and Western ideas about remaining true to yourself — that you shouldn’t have to change anything about yourself because of anyone’s judgment.
But in South Korea, there are very real and practical reasons people have plastic surgery. I ask readers to reserve their judgment on that. The reality in 21st-century South Korea is how you look does matter, especially if you don’t come from wealth and status. Until recently, job applicants had to submit a photo with their job application.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
Carole Landry helped write this briefing. Melissa Clark provided the recipe, and Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh wrote the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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