January 7, 2019 / 1:41 PM / a month ago

Monday Morning Briefing

U.S. Navy ship sails in disputed South China Sea, Trump holds firm on border wall and UK stages a rehearsal for the upheaval of a no-deal Brexit. Catch up on the latest headlines.

U.S. President Donald Trump confers with Vice President Mike Pence and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) as they faced to reporters in the Rose Garden after the president met with U.S. Congressional leaders about the government shutdown and border security at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 4, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

U.S.-China Relations

A U.S. guided-missile destroyer sailed near disputed islands in the South China Sea in what China called a “provocation”. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that the conduct of the U.S. ship had violated China’s and international law, and China had lodged “stern representations”. The statement came as trade talks between China and the United States were under way in Beijing, the first round of face-to-face discussions since both sides agreed to a 90-day truce in a trade war. China's foreign ministry said it has the “good faith” to work with the United States to resolve frictions.

New Trump administration policies aimed at curbing China’s access to American innovation have all but halted Chinese investment in U.S. technology startups. Chinese venture funding in U.S. startups crested to a record $3 billion last year, according to New York economic research firm Rhodium Group, spurred by a rush of investors and tech companies scrambling to complete deals before a new regulatory regime was approved in August. Since then, Chinese venture funding in U.S. startups has slowed to a trickle.

Politics

“This is a very important battle to win from the standpoint of safety, number one, (and) defining our country and who we are,” President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House before leaving for a short trip to the Camp David presidential retreat. Trump pledged not to bend in his demand for a wall along the southern border with Mexico but said the barrier could be made of steel instead of concrete as a potential compromise with Democrats who refuse to fund it.

Democrat Gavin Newsom will be sworn in as California’s 40th governor on Monday, cementing the dominance of his party’s progressive wing and ushering in a leftward shift that could give the most populous U.S. state an even greater role as a counterweight to the policies of Republican President Donald Trump.

World

Briefing of lorries drivers and personnel is seen in front of the convoy of lorries before a test drive to the Port of Dover during a trial of how road will cope in case of a "no-deal" Brexit, Kent, Britain January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Britain’s government sent a convoy of 87 trucks on a test-run from a little-used airport to the country’s main trading gateway to continental Europe on Monday — a rehearsal for the upheaval of a no-deal Brexit that was mocked as a clumsy waste of money. Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to force her Brexit deal through parliament. If it is rejected as expected, however, business chiefs and investors fear the world’s fifth-largest economy will leave the European Union without an agreement on their future relationship. Follow the latest Brexit developments.

Thailand halted plans on Monday to expel an 18-year-old Saudi woman fleeing her family after she barricaded herself inside an airport hotel to prevent immigration officials putting her on a flight to Kuwait. Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun has been at Bangkok’s international airport since Saturday. She has said she fears she will be killed if she is returned to her family, who could not be reached for comment on her accusations of abuse.

Gabon foiled an attempted military coup, arresting several plotters just hours after they took over state radio in a bid to end 50 years of rule by President Ali Bongo’s family. Government spokesman Guy-Bertrand Mapangou told Reuters that four of the five officers who had taken over the state radio in the capital Libreville were arrested. A fifth officer fled and is being pursued, he said.

Commentary: 2019 will be the year of more state control.

Around the world, 2019 is set to be a big year for state surveillance. China and India have already rolled out new nationwide digital monitoring systems while, in many Western democracies, security services have been granted the legal power to monitor their citizens’ communications. According to columnist John Lloyd, “These developments grow in importance and scope at the same time as the authoritarian world increases its size and becomes more restrictive.”

Business

Eli Lilly and Co said it would buy Loxo Oncology for about $8 billion in cash, buying into a portfolio of targeted medicines to treat cancers caused by rare gene mutations.

Tesla broke ground on Monday for its Shanghai Gigafactory where it plans to begin making its Model 3 electric vehicles (EV) by year-end, a first step in localizing production in the world’s largest auto market.

Activist investor Starboard Value LP said it had acquired a 1.7 percent stake in discount store operator Dollar Tree and urged it to explore a sale of its underperforming Family Dollar business.

Reuters TV

Queen musical “Bohemian Rhapsody” and U.S. segregation-era comedy “Green Book” take home the top Golden Globes on Sunday during a night of upsets. Presumed favorite “A Star is Born” wound up largely shut out, and Netflix won big.

Bohemian Rhapsody' leads upsets at Golden Globes
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