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China’s Workers, Hong Kong Protests, SpaceX Launch: Your Wednesday Briefing

2020-05-27 03:15:28

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Good morning.

We’re covering China’s push to help its young struggling workers, protests in Hong Kong and a milestone on Wall Street for the U.S. reopening.

Beijing’s major focus is getting the economy off the ground after a weekslong deep freeze. Young people are feeling the pressure as they enter perhaps China’s toughest job market in the modern era.

They are reducing their expectations, taking pay cuts and in many cases waiting on the sidelines until things get better. Amid the trade war with the U.S. and tensions with Hong Kong, their future looks uncertain.

Finding jobs for young workers has become a major priority for Chinese leaders, who have long promised a better life in exchange for limits on political freedom.

Details: The jobless rate for people ages 16 to 24 totaled nearly 14 percent, more than twice the official figure for the nation as a whole.

Quotable: “I can’t just keep waiting,” said one recent graduate of a prestigious drama school whose job prospects were gutted in the shutdown.

The result: Only 200 cases were found, mostly people who showed no symptoms.

The blanket testing cost hundreds of millions of dollars and mobilized thousands of medical and other workers.

But this did not deter the government, which saw the testing as critical to restoring the public confidence needed to help restart the economy and return to some level of normalcy, our correspondents write.

Supporters of the testing drive said the true value of the campaign was not so much medical as psychological.

Quotable: “If there is no testing, everyone will still be scared,” said Guo Guangchang, head of Fosun, a Chinese conglomerate. “Many companies will have no way to resume production, and the service industry will have no customers.”

The remarks on Tuesday were made on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress, and they came as Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, defended the central government’s contentious plan to draft new national security laws to punish acts of subversion.

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists are preparing to hold new protests today, though turnout is expected to be smaller than the throngs of hundreds of thousands we saw last year. The Congress is set to vote on the laws on Thursday.

Analysis: Steven Lee Myers, our Beijing bureau chief, said the mainland government’s move amounted to “rattling the saber,” but added that it was “certainly a chilling message.”

The Taliban are on the verge of realizing their biggest desire: U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan. And the group has managed to do so without changing much of its extremist ideology.

What we’re reading: This GQ profile of Steve Buscemi, who opens up about anxiety and loss. The writer’s interview with Buscemi was also her last restaurant meal before the pandemic shut down New York City, and it’s everything you need right now.

Cook: Adding English peas to this green pea guacamole “is one of those radical moves that is also completely obvious after you taste it,” says Melissa Clark.

Pan Am is long out of business, and we’re still a long way away from someone being able to buy a ticket to the moon, but the SpaceX launch is the first real step toward that dream. Although NASA has been involved in working with SpaceX, this is SpaceX’s operation. In the future, NASA will simply pay the going rate for a ticket to the space station and not be involved with running its own space transportation system to low-Earth orbit.

SpaceX has been somewhat insulated, because although Elon is the visionary (Mars! Internet satellites!) and cheerleader for the company, people look to Gwynne Shotwell, the president and chief operating officer, to keep an even keel for the company’s day-to-day work. Tesla probably needs someone like that.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Melina and Carole

Thank you
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at
[email protected].

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