Asia and Australia Edition: Xi Jinping, Catalonia, Islamic State: Your Friday Briefing

Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:

President Xi Jinping’s dominance has made it difficult to forecast who will be elevated to the Politburo at the culmination of the Chinese Communist Party congress. One likely candidate is Wang Yang, a Guangzhou official credited with fostering greener economic growth.

He may also be a sign of a turn toward economic reform. China’s G.D.P. expanded by 6.8 percent in the third quarter, but debt has soared.

We charted how Mr. Xi used key terms in his marathon opening address at the congress. And WeChat came up with an app to applaud him that’s been clapped a billion times so far.

Graphic | Local Weather See the forecast for your area.


Myanmar’s once-celebrated transition toward democracy is hardening into a democratic-authoritarian hybrid, our Interpreter columnists report, and governance often resembles mob rule.

The country’s crackdown on Rohingya Muslims, meanwhile, continues to draw global condemnation.

For our South Asia bureau chief, the story of the Rohingya mother above was as painful to cover as genocide in Sudan and children being blown apart in Iraq.


The liberation of Syrian and Iraqi cities from the Islamic State came at a terrible cost.

Drone footage and satellite images reveal mile after mile of damaged buildings, rubble-filled streets and destroyed landmarks. Above, what victory over ISIS looks like in Kobani, Syria.

Our podcast “The Daily” examines whether the Islamic State losing its war, or starting a new one.


In Washington, Senator John McCain and two Democratic colleagues moved to force Facebook, Google and other internet companies to disclose who buys online political advertising, the kind Russian-linked operatives used to sway the 2016 presidential election.

A far more emotional battle is playing out over President Trump’s handling of military deaths. In the latest twist, John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, defended Mr. Trump’s call to the widow of a slain soldier, drawing the trauma of his own son’s death in Afghanistan.


The Spanish government said it would convene an urgent cabinet meeting on Saturday and take emergency measures to halt Catalonia’s secessionist drive, after its leader made new warnings of independence.

Above, a pro-independence protest in Barcelona.


New Zealand’s youngest prime minister in more than 150 years is preparing to take office.

Jacinda Ardern, 37, will take over next week from Bill English, reversing the Labour Party’s long-flagging fortunes.

Unconventional and intensely focused, she says she wants to build an economy that works “for all New Zealanders” while protecting the environment.


And a book battle is brewing in Australia.

Amazon, the mammoth online retailer, is moving in, and domestic booksellers are nervous. But disrupting Australians’ reading habits might not be so easy to do — they rejected Borders right into bankruptcy.

And our latest Australia newsletter takes a look at live journalism, history and Taylor Mac, above, the celebrated American performance artist, who performed at the Melbourne Festival.

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• Kobe Steel stocks rebounded after Toyota, Honda and Mazda called its aluminum products safe, despite the scandal over its fabricated quality data.

Nissan suspended production at all six of its domestic factories, acknowledging that uncertified technicians had conducted inspections even after a previous disclosure of the practice led to a recall of 1.2 million vehicles.

• Qudian, an Alibaba-backed online lender, held up in trading a day after its $900 million Wall Street opening, the biggest I.P.O. in a new wave of Chinese fintech firms.

HNA Group, the Hainan-based giant that has drawn the scrutiny of Western regulators, is investing $7.5 billion to bring together its hospitality, aviation and financial sectors on a digital platform, HiApp, by the end of the year.

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

Graphic | What the Markets Are Doing

In the News

Diwali, the annual festival of light for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, has been marked by a fierce debate over the Indian Supreme Court’s fireworks ban for air quality. Outraged critics compare it to banning Christmas trees. [BBC]

“I knew enough to do more than I did”: The Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino said was ashamed that he’d known for decades about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged misconduct toward women but continued to work with him. [The New York Times]

• Pakistan’s ousted prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, was indicted on corruption charges stemming from revelations in the Panama Papers related to luxury property holdings in London. [The New York Times]

President Rodrigo Duterte said that Mahmud Ahmad, a high-level Islamic State operative who funneled money and fighters to the Philippines, was “taken” during a gunfight. [The New York Times]

Typhoon Lan is gathering force east of the Philippines and could threaten Okinawa this weekend and more of Japan early next week. [The Weather Channel]

• An entire Afghan Army unit was nearly wiped out in a Taliban attack that used an increasingly common tactic: ramming bomb-packed, captured vehicles into security compounds. [The New York Times]

• The Malaysian government picked a U.S. company that offered no-find, no-fee terms to start a new search for MH370. [ABC]

Smarter Living

Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.

• Recipe of the day: Lemon-spice cake is perfect for guests.

• Here’s everything you need to know about having a microwedding.

• Exercise isn’t just good for your body, a new study suggests. It also protects your brain against dementia.


• “M. Butterfly,” a play inspired by the historical story of a long affair between a French Embassy employee and a male Beijing opera singer who was also a spy, is being revived on Broadway. Five Asian-American actors and playwrights describe how David Henry Hwang’s play, rich with the complications of gender identities, geopolitics and race, changed them.

Our sister briefing, New York Today, interviewed two of the only 20 North Korean refugees to legally resettle in New York since 2001.

And our crossword editor, Will Shortz, reports from the 12th World Sudoku Championship, in Bangalore, India, where the Chinese team won and Japan took second. Full results and sample puzzles are here.

Back Story

“When something outrages you,” he wrote, “as Nazism did me, that is when you become a militant, strong and engaged.”

Born on this day in 1917, Stéphane Hessel, a French Resistance hero and Holocaust survivor, became an unlikely publishing phenomenon in 2011 at the age of 93, topping best-seller lists with “Indignez-Vous!”

At only about 4,000 words, “Indignez-Vous!” (“Time for Outrage!”) was more of a pamphlet. But it resonated with French readers who were gearing up for a presidential election, and those abroad who were protesting the eurozone crisis, participating in the Arab Spring uprisings and occupying Wall Street.

Mr. Hessel, above, urged young people to revive the spirit of the resistance by peacefully protesting the financial markets, France’s treatment of illegal immigrants, the influence of the rich on the news media and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

“Indignez-Vous!” sold more than three million copies in Europe in less than a year and was translated into more than a dozen languages. (The Nation magazine published the full text in English.)

Mr. Hessel died in 2013, but his call to outrage endures: “You join the movement of history,” he wrote, “and the great current of history continues to flow only thanks to each and every one of us.”

Inyoung Kang contributed reporting.


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