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E.U.-China Talks, Sweden, Working From Home: Your Tuesday Briefing

NYT > World > Europe
Isabella Kwai
2020-06-23 05:03:54

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Good morning.

We’re covering slow progress in European Union trade talks with China, Sweden’s new pariah status as Europe reopens, and Thailand’s favorite fruits.

The meeting, postponed from March, was a first for new European leaders. The talks were intended to break the impasse on issues from state subsidies and technology transfer to climate change and equal opportunities for European companies.

But agreement has been more difficult as China has tightened control over its domestic economy and turned more combative in relations with Western powers, our diplomatic correspondent in Brussels writes.

Context: The European Union is China’s largest trading partner, and China is the second-largest for the bloc. China promised last year to create a more “level playing field” with Europe but “implementation has been lagging,” one senior European official said.

Also: European leaders said they had registered their concerns about China’s crackdown against the Uighurs and its proposed security law in Hong Kong. But among the bloc’s members, only Sweden has proposed European sanctions on China if it proceeds with the security law.

Norway, Denmark and Finland have all closed their borders to Swedes this summer, fearing visitors would bring new coronavirus infections with them — a break in Scandinavia’s usual sense of mutual identity.

While those countries went into strict lockdowns, Sweden famously refused. It now has roughly twice as many infections and five times as many deaths as the other three nations combined, according to figures compiled by The Times.

Swedish officials are not amused by the country’s new pariah status, saying they have been stigmatized by an international campaign to prove them wrong. A second wave in the fall, the Swedish officials warn, might find their neighbors more vulnerable.

What it means: Long considered the holders of the best passports in the world for global travel, Swedes cannot move as easily now in the European Union. Only France, Italy, Spain and Croatia are welcoming them without restrictions. But the behavior of Sweden’s closest neighbors has been most painful, the country’s foreign minister said. “That will take time to heal, it was too harsh,” she said.

In other news:


The sustained outcry over George Floyd’s death has compelled many white Americans to acknowledge the anti-black racism that is prevalent in the U.S. — and even examine their own culpability for it. Some have attended racial justice demonstrations and purchased books about racial inequality. Others are covering up their tattoos of Confederate flags and swastikas.

Anti-racism activists say the concerns aren’t just symbols or slurs but entire systems governing how Americans live. Some of the same communities where white liberals have protested have also seen resistance to efforts to integrate public schools and neighborhoods. While some consider the questioning of white supremacy profound, others think it’s unconscionably late.

Research: There is little interpersonal contact between white and black Americans. One in five white respondents to a poll from the Public Religion Research Institute last year said that they rarely or never had an interaction with someone of a different race.

Quote of note: “What kind of nation is this, that can be comfortable with a police officer kneeling on someone’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds?” a professor of African-American studies said. “And when you start asking that question, then all of the kinds of narratives and shibboleths begin to quake.”

Read the latest updates on the U.S. protests.

Southeast Asia’s fruits are like no other. There is a fruit that emits a sticky sap when peeled and another that stains fingernails mauve for those craving its succulent flesh. And there is the rambutan, which means “hairy thing” in Malay. Above, jackfruit at a market in Bangkok.

Our Bangkok correspondent looked at some of Thailand’s favorites: lychees, mangos, mangosteens, durians and dragon fruits, among others. Fruit producers are predicting an increase in overseas shipments this year, despite the coronavirus.

Serbian elections: President Aleksandar Vucic’s nationalist party won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections on Sunday, bolstering his control of the state despite boycotts from the opposition. The result could drive peace talks with Kosovo.

U.S. election campaign: Former Vice President Joe Biden is narrowing the list of candidates to be his running mate in the presidential election. Here are the 12 women being considered.

U.S.-China tension: The Trump administration designated four more Chinese news agencies as foreign missions — China Central Television, China News Service, People’s Daily and Global Times. The new round of restrictions is likely to lead to some form of retaliation from China.

Syrian doctor arrested: Alaa Mousa has been arrested in Germany on accusations that he tortured a detainee in his home country, where he worked in a secret military prison in 2011. He is the third former Syrian official who entered Germany as a refugee to be arrested on charges of crimes against humanity.

What we’re reading: This Los Angeles Times feature about the California roots of the Black Lives Matter movement and its founders. It’s a helpful look at where the global movement came from.

Cook: These pork kebabs are loaded with whole spices, green chile and garlic. The marinade can also work on just about anything.

Watch: In movies, a locked-down set is often an artistic choice (or sometimes the result of a strapped budget). Here’s a look at six movies that take place mostly in a single location.

Listen: As black Americans fought for equal rights in the 1960s, music reflected their calls to action. This playlist features 15 essential black liberation jazz tracks that push the boundaries and celebrate blackness.

Read: Ottessa Moshfegh’s new novel, “Death in Her Hands,” is a murder mystery with no body. Our critic writes that he enjoyed the book more after it was over. “It has an afterlife in your mind,” he writes.

At Home has our full collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

Being productive in an office job is harder when your office is your home. But three months into the work-from-home era, some best practices are emerging. Our Smarter Living team came up with these suggestions.

Shift your mind-set. More than ever you will be measured on output, not on how many hours you sat at your desk. Creating chunks of time to turn off notifications and focus deeply on your own projects, called “time-boxing,” can lift the quality of your work.

Speak up quickly if something isn’t working. It’s harder now for managers to see that you are spinning your wheels and aren’t making progress. Let them know if you are experiencing problems.

Remove distractions. Without the boss periodically peeking over your shoulder, it’s easy to take a quick break, and then realize an hour later you’re still on that unending Twitter or Instagram scroll. Take social media off your work machine. Leave your phone in another room.

Don’t forget career advancement. Keep thinking and talking about the areas you want to improve, the parts of the company you want to explore and how you may get there.

Overcommunicate. If you’re a manager, provide additional context. Explain the “whys” of decisions and their possible effects to replace the information picked up organically in the office.


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

— Isabella


Thank you
Melissa Clark provided the recipe. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about how Facebook is undermining Black Lives Matter.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: N.Y.C. airport (Three letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
Jessica Grose, the editor of our Parenting section, was named one of Glamour magazine’s game changers. Glamour spoke with her about getting real with parenting advice


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