The Guardian 2024-07-11 16:13:06


China a ‘decisive enabler’ of Russia’s war in Ukraine, says Nato in stern rebuke

Nato’s communique highlights concerns over Beijing’s nuclear arsenal and its capabilities in space, with Jens Stoltenberg calling it an important message

  • Ukraine war briefing: Path to Nato membership ‘irreversible’

Nato leaders have labelled China a “decisive enabler” of Russia’s war against Ukraine and called its deepening ties with Moscow a cause of “deep concern”, in what’s been seen as the most serious rebuke against Beijing from the alliance.

The final communique, approved by the 32 Nato members at the summit in Washington, also highlights concerns about Beijing’s nuclear arsenal and its capabilities in space.

“I think the message sent from Nato from this summit is very strong and very clear, and we are clearly defining China’s responsibility when it comes to enabling Russia’s war,” Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg said, calling the statement an important message.

Nato leaders have urged China “to cease all material and political support to Russia’s war effort,” adding that Beijing has become a large-scale supporter of Russia’s “defence industrial base”.

“This includes the transfer of dual-use materials, such as weapons components, equipment, and raw materials that serve as inputs for Russia’s defence sector,” the declaration said.

Beijing insists that it does not provide direct military aid to Russia, but has maintained strong trade ties with its neighbour throughout the conflict.

China’s foreign ministry expressed displeasure at Nato’s growing interest in Asia and demanded the alliance stay out of the Asia-Pacific region and not incite confrontation. Beijing’s mission to the EU said the summit was “filled with cold war mentality and belligerent rhetoric.”

“The China-related paragraphs are provocative with obvious lies and smears,” the mission said in a statement.

The Nato statement came as leaders from Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea were set to attend summit talks on Thursday. It will be the third year in a row that leaders from the four Asia-Pacific partners have met at the summit.

The final communique also accused China of being behind sustained, malicious cyber and hybrid activities, including disinformation. It also raised alarms that China is rapidly expanding and diversifying its nuclear arsenal with more warheads and a larger number of sophisticated delivery systems.

Danny Russel, the former US assistant secretary of state for Asia, called the new wording by Nato “an extraordinary step”.

“It is a mark of how badly Beijing’s attempt to straddle Russia and western Europe has failed and how hollow its claim of neutrality rings,” said Russel, who is vice-president for international security and diplomacy at the Asia Society Policy Institute. “China’s attempts at divide-and-conquer have instead produced remarkable solidarity between key nations of the Euro-Atlantic and the Asia-Pacific regions.”

This week Chinese troops have been conducting joint military drills in Belarus, to which neighbouring Poland says it is paying close attention. China and Belarus are allies of Russia, while Poland is a Nato member and supporter of Kyiv.

“The defence ministry is well aware of the risk of the operations in question being used for disinformation and propaganda purposes,” Poland’s defence ministry told Agence France-Presse on Wednesday.

China has previously held joint drills with Belarus, though these are the first since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. The “Falcon Assault” drills started on Monday and are set to run until mid-July, with China’s defence ministry saying it hoped to deepen cooperation with Minsk.

Reuters, Agence France-Presse and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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First F-16 jets heading to Ukraine after months of training and negotiations

Dutch and Danish leaders say Ukraine will be ‘flying operational F-16s this summer’ as Kyiv seeks battlefield wins

The first F-16 fighter jets are on their way to Ukraine and will be flying sorties this summer, according to a statement from the Dutch and Danish governments that was released by the White House at the Nato summit.

Dick Schoof, the prime minister of the Netherlands, and Mette Frederiksen, his counterpart from Denmark, said the “transfer process” of F-16s to Kyiv was under way after months of pilot training and political negotiations.

The two leaders said that “Ukraine will be flying operational F-16s this summer” – the first of about 85 of the combat aircraft that have been committed to Kyiv to turn around its fortunes on the battlefield, and Ukraine signalled more may be to come.

The long-awaited supply of F-16s is part of what Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said would be “a substantial package” of support for Ukraine, which includes the donation of four Patriot air defence systems, Nato-led training for Ukraine’s troops – and a commitment that Kyiv’s eventual path to Nato membership is “irreversible”.

Allies also criticised China, with stronger language than used before, for assisting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling it a “decisive enabler” of the war by supporting Moscow in its “no limits” partnership, and supplying components for military equipment and chemicals for explosives. “This increases the threat Russia poses to its neighbours and to Euro-Atlantic security,” they declared in the summit communique.

An announcement on F-16s had been expected at the same time as the summit, and the hope is that the fighters will be able to stifle Russian glide bomb attacks launched from warplanes operating up to 43 miles (70km) away that have been devastating frontline positions.

But it remains unclear how far Ukraine will be able to use F-16s to attack targets in Russian territory or airspace. The US had previously been concerned about the potential for escalation but partially relaxed its position to allow the bombing of targets inside Russia by long-range artillery.

Keir Starmer, the UK’s prime minister, said he was happy to see Ukraine use Storm Shadow missiles to attack targets inside Russia as long as they were used to defend itself, reconfirming existing UK policy. “It is for defensive purposes, but it is for Ukraine to decide how to deploy it for those defensive purposes,” he said.

It ends a lengthy wait for Ukraine, whose president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has been lobbying for at least 18 months for western jets to complement its small and ageing Soviet standard air force, which is no match for Russia’s.

Zelenskiy said he was grateful to Denmark, the Netherlands and the US for taking what he described as practical steps of assistance – and indicated that he was hopeful of more donations to boost numbers to a target of 130.

“F-16s will also be used to bolster Ukraine’s air defence. I am confident that they will assist us in better protecting Ukrainians from brutal Russian attacks, such as this week’s strike on the Okhmatdyt children’s hospital in Kyiv,” the president said.

Norway and Belgium have also committed to supplying F-16s in the future, but Zelenskiy went further and said: “I anticipate that our air force capability coalition will be strengthened even further through the joining of new participants.”

It remains unclear how effective the F-16s, a combat jet designed in the 1970s, will be in the war against Russia. Particularly important will be how they are concealed and protected when on the ground, at a time when Ukraine’s air defences have been stretched.

This month, Russia said it had destroyed five Ukrainian Su-27 jets in an Iskander missile attack on an airbase in Myrhorod. Ukraine acknowledged some losses amid criticism that the planes were lined up on the tarmac in daylight within range of Russian missiles.

On Tuesday night, Joe Biden, the US president, announced that Nato members would supply four Patriot anti-missile batteries, while Italy would supply a similar Samp-t, which could be used to protect airbases from Russian attacks.

Confirming the development, Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, said: “As we speak, the transfer of F-16 jets is under way, coming from Denmark, coming from the Netherlands”.” It should, he added, “concentrate Vladimir Putin’s mind on the fact that he will not outlast Ukraine”.

Ukraine is not expected to become a member of Nato until the end of its war with Russia, as several countries, led by the US, believe that immediate membership would in effect lead to a war between Moscow and the military alliance.

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Biden under renewed pressure to step aside as top Democrats make agonized appeals

Senator Michael Bennet said Trump may win ‘by a landslide’ while two more senators echoed his concerns

Joe Biden came under renewed moral pressure on Wednesday to abandon his presidential candidacy amid agonised appeals by a succession of senior Democrats for him to consider the broader picture.

Those calls came as the US president dug in his heels to make it hard to supplant him as the nominee.

With the backlash over his 27 June TV debate fiasco refusing to abate, Nancy Pelosi, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, became the most senior party member yet to subtly float the possibility of Biden stepping down while stopping short of explicitly telling him to do so.

Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, gleefully sought to further tighten the screw by summoning three White House aides to testify about Biden’s mental fitness.

The summons came in the form of a subpoena from James Comer, the GOP chair of the House oversight committee, who demanded testimony from Anthony Bernal, the top aide to the first lady Jill Biden; the deputy White House chief of staff Annie Tomasini, and the president’s senior adviser Ashley Williams, Axios reported.

Pelosi, 84, who was speaker until Republicans regained control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections, told MSNBC’s Morning Joe that “it’s up to the president to decide if he is going to run”, adding: “We’re all encouraging him to make that decision. Because time is running short.”

That remark came as the president seemed intent on running down the clock until next month’s Democratic national convention in Chicago, to make it practically impossible to replace him. Pelosi later qualified her comments, claiming they had been subject to “misrepresentations”, while adding: “The president is great.”

But they prefaced further critical interventions from Senate Democrats, who followed the lead of Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado in voicing doubts over whether Biden could beat Donald Trump in November.

Bennet told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Tuesday evening that Trump was likely to win November’s poll in a landslide because of the widespread concerns over Biden’s age and mental acuity.

“This race is on a trajectory that is very worrisome if you care about the future of this country,” he said in an impassioned interview. “Donald Trump is on track, I think, to win this election and maybe win it by a landslide, and take with him the Senate and the House. It’s not a question about politics, it’s a moral question about the future of our country.”

He added: “I have not seen anything remotely approaching the kind of plan we need to see out of the White House that can demonstrate that he can actually beat Donald Trump, which is not going to be about the accomplishments that we all had, you know, three and four years ago. This is something for the president to consider.”

Bennet’s comments stopped short of a full-blown appeal for Biden’s withdrawal, in contrast to Democrats in the House – where seven members have explicitly made such calls in the wake of the debate, where the president repeatedly appeared confused, mangled his words and allowed Trump to lie without effective contradiction.

Soon after, Pete Welch of Vermont became the first senator to call on Biden to withdraw from the election. Welch said he was worried about the race because “the stakes could not be higher”.

“I understand why President Biden wants to run,” Welch wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. “He saved us from Donald Trump once and wants to do it again. But he needs to reassess whether he is the best candidate to do so. In my view, he is not.

“For the good of the country, I’m calling on President Biden to withdraw from the race.”

Richard Blumenthal, a senator from Connecticut, also voiced concerns.

“I am deeply concerned about Joe Biden winning this November,” Blumenthal told reporters, adding that the party “had to reach a conclusion as soon as possible” and that Biden still retained his support.

A similarly circumspect call to reconsider came from Katie Hobbs, the Democratic governor of Arizona, a battleground state that was one of six moved by the Cook Political Report – a non-partisan election forecaster – in Trump’s direction following the president’s post-debate poll slide.

“I want the president to look at the evidence and make a hard decision,” Hobbs told reporters, adding that Biden had “a lot to do to assure Americans and Arizonans”.

And on Wednesday evening, Representative Earl Blumenauer, the longest-serving Democrat in Oregon’s House delegation, put it bluntly: “President Biden should not be the Democratic presidential nominee.”

“The question before the country is whether the president should continue his candidacy for re-election. This is not just about extending his presidency but protecting democracy,” he said in an emailed statement.

“It is a painful and difficult conclusion but there is no question in my mind that we will all be better served if the president steps aside as the Democratic nominee and manages a transition under his terms.”

There were even signs of slippage within the staunchly loyal Congressional Black Caucus, which had pledged its support on Monday night. On Wednesday one of its members, Marc Veasey of Texas, became the first to break ranks by telling CNN that Democrats running in tight races should “distance themselves” from Biden in an effort to “do whatever it is they need to do” to win.

The public agonising illustrated how Biden’s debate failure has plunged the Democrats into paralysis as the campaign approaches a key phase.

Yet there seemed little imminent sign of Biden – who has already written to the party’s congressional group en masse telling doubters to challenge him at the convention – yielding to pressure to bow out.

He retains the support – at least in public – of key party figures such as the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer; the Democratic minority leader in the House, Hakeem Jeffries; and Gavin Newsom, the California governor who has been touted as a potential replacement candidate but who has acted as a loyal surrogate.

Far from Biden retreating, plans were announced for a second primetime television interview – this time with NBC’s Lester Holt next Monday in the symbolic setting of the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas – to follow last Friday’s with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

The latest interview, coming on the heels of Biden’s hosting of Nato’s 75th anniversary summit in Washington this week – where he has been meeting a succession of world leaders – appeared designed to reinforce the message that he intends to stay the course.

On Wednesday, the president visited the Washington headquarters of the main US trade union body, the AFL-CIO, an important Democrat constituency.

The trade union visit followed a virtual meeting from the White House on Tuesday evening with about 200 Democratic mayors, in which he restated his determination to remain and reportedly won their support.

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Ollie Watkins’ bolt from blue stuns Netherlands and sends England to final

The more rabbits England pull out of the hat, the more it feels as if this is their time. They survived more jeopardy during this absorbing semi-final triumph over a decent but hardly awe-inspiring Netherlands, and there were moments when the game seemed to be slipping away from them. With Ronald Koeman adjusting his tactics midway through the first half and the Dutch pushing as extra time beckoned, the fear was that this was going to be another night of questions about Gareth Southgate’s touchline decisions.

But there is something magical about a team that can keep taking blows but somehow find ways to clamber off the canvas. For here, after the wonder of Jude Bellingham’s overhead kick against Slovakia and the nerveless penalty shootout against Switzerland, was a moment that will go stand the test of time – and, thanks to Ollie Watkins and Cole Palmer, will forever serve as the perfect riposte to those who have pinned the blame for every disappointment on on Southgate’s in-game management.

England’s manager has been derided, mocked and even showered with empty cups of beer. His tactics have been questioned and he has been told that he always get easy draws But when Southgate turned to his bench with 10 minutes left here, how satisfying it must have been for the two players he introduced for a tiring Harry Kane and Phil Foden to be the architects of the goal that carried England into their first ever final overseas.

There could be no better exhibition of the spirit instilled by Southgate when Watkins took a pass from Palmer in the 90th minute, held off Stefan de Vrij and then turned sharply before making it 2-1 with an angled shot into the far corner.

In a different environment, Watkins would never have been in the right frame of mind to make such a stunning impact. The Aston Villa striker has not played since England’s second game, the dispiriting draw with Denmark that heaped pressure on Southgate, and knows that few jobs in football are more thankless than being Kane’s back-up.

Yet there have been various positive contributions from Southgate’s substitutes during these Euros. This team, while far from perfect, has developed priceless resilience. It can be glimpsed in the defending from Marc Guéhi, who returned from suspension to make a huge block on Wout Weghorst in the second half, and the response after the Netherlands went ahead with a special goal from Xavi Simons.

Behind for a third successive game, England refused to panic. Driven on by the 19-year-old Kobbie Mainoo, once again full of magnificent little touches in midfield, they were level when Kane equalised from the spot after a foul by Denzel Demfries. And at times, with Bukayo Saka irrepressible on the right and Foden having his best game of the tournament, there were moments in the first half when it seemed England would run away with it. That they failed to kill the game there and then, though, will be a source of concern for Southgate. There cannot be a similar generosity against Spain in Sunday’s final in Berlin.

But thoughts of dealing with Lamine Yamal, Nico Williams and Rodri can wait. For now, England can revel in the way that they responded to a bright start from the Dutch.

There were structural issues down England’s left early on. They paid after seven minutes, when Guéhi’s clearing header fell to Declan Rice, who was slow to move his feet and quickly dispossessed by Simons.

In a tournament of great goals by wonderkids, here was another one. Simons advanced with one thought in his mind, any doubt banished by John Stones backing off. A few yards outside the area, the midfielder laced a right-footed effort into the far corner, the velocity stunning Jordan Pickford, who was beaten by power despite getting a hand to the ball.

Over on the left, Kieran Trippier called for calm and Rice regained his composure. England, again in a 3-4-2-1, took belief from Kane moving with greater freedom.

The captain had a point to prove about his fitness. Kane looked stronger, holding defenders off, and he led the fightback. England sensed a way back when their No 9, having pulled away from Virgil van Dijk, tested Bart Verbruggen from 25 yards.

Saka was next to drive forward, wriggling away from Nathan Aké, who was having a torrid time. Desperation taking over the Dutch defence, they panicked when the ball reached Kane, who shot over a split second before being caught by Dumfries.

It was a clear foul, albeit one that needed a VAR review, and Kane stood over his first penalty in a tournament since his miss against France. Any nerves? No chance. Verbruggen guessed correctly, diving to his right, but Kane’s shot was too hard and too close to the corner.

England poured forward, Kyle Walker supporting Saka with a stream of overlapping runs. Foden was untouchable for a while. One curling shot hit the woodwork; another was cleared off the line by Dumfries.

The Netherlands right-back was having quite the half. There was a warning for England when Dumfries headed a corner against the bar. But the Dutch were hanging on. Mainoo, who took the breath away with one delightful mid-air turn, was running midfield.

Koeman responded, the hamstrung Memphis Depay replaced by Joey Veerman, who stiffened midfield. It made a difference. Koeman also changed the complexion of his attack at half-time, Donyell Malen making way for Weghorst.

Despite bringing Luke Shaw on for Trippier, England struggled to regain their flow. They were no longer working the ball to Saka and Jude Bellingham was blunted. Pickford denied Aké after a poorly defended free-kick.

The Dutch had Tijani Reijnders, Jerdy Schouten and Veerman dictating the tempo. Southgate reacted after Saka had a goal disallowed for offside against Walker, Watkins and Palmer coming on.

The game hung in the balance. Cody Gakpo had stirred on the left for the Netherlands. Palmer sliced over but he kept his head up. England attacked again and Palmer cleverly found Watkins, whose unerring finish gave Verbruggen no chance.

There was no time left. Kane was on the touchline, shouting instructions alongside Southgate. Nobody could doubt England’s togetherness. They will not be favourites against Spain, but they should not be underestimated.

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‘Wat a finish!’: what the papers say as England go through to the Euro 2024 final

A last-minute goal from Ollie Watkins was enough for England to triumph over the Netherlands and set up a final against Spain in Berlin on Sunday

  • ‘So good, so good’: England fans in Germany revel in special night

After a night of high drama in Dortmund, England are through to the European Championship final and will face Spain in Berlin. The 2-1 win against the Netherlands – thanks to a last-minute genius strike from substitute Ollie Watkins – is celebrated across Thursday’s UK newspapers.

An image of Watkins – with his arm around Marc Guéhi – dominates the Guardian front page. “Holland-daze. Watkins puts England in dreamland” is the headline, with chief sports writer Barney Ronay noting that as the ball was hammered home, the stadium “just exploded, a huge wave of noise barrelling down from the England end”.

The final seconds of the nail-biting match are captured in all their glory across the Guardian’s back page. England celebrate, assured of victory, while the Netherlands look on despondently. “Olé, Olé, Ollie!” is the headline.

“Here we go again!” is the i’s assessment. Above an image of Harry Kane embracing Watkins – who was subbed on to replace the England captain in the 80th minute – the paper states “Southgate vindicated as his substitutions win England the game”.

The view is shared on the Times back page as well, with the headline “Southgate roars again”.

The paper quotes Watkins speaking after the match as saying “I swear on my life, I said to Cole we’re coming on today and you’re setting me up”, in reference to fellow substitute Cole Palmer.

The Telegraph has “Oh, Wat a night!” next to a jubilant Watkins, with an inset image featuring a fiercely jubilant Southgate.

“Wat a finish!”, says the Express sports pages. The paper says the team were “deserved winners” and that the winning goal sparked “ecstatic scenes of celebration amongst England fans”.

The mood is decidedly dampened on the front page of AD Sportwereld, a Netherlands sporting newspaper.

“This hurts”, reads the headline, alongside a full page picture of midfielder Xavi Simons – who scored the first goal of the match – commiserating as the final whistle is blown.

The celebrations are in full flow in the Metro however, with “Nether in doubt!”. The paper notes that England is now through its second consecutive Euros final.

“Wat a night!”, says the Star. Reporter Jerry Layton applauds Watkins last-minute goal and looks ahead to the final, saying “be very, very afraid, Spain.”

Spain’s daily tabloid, Marca, appears prepared to take up that challenge. Under a full-page picture of England midfielder Jude Bellingham celebrating, the paper’s headline reads: “Hey Jude, see you in Berlin”.

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‘So good, so good’: England fans in Germany revel in special night

Fans from Westfalenstadion to Keir Starmer in Washington celebrate hard-won but worthy semi-final win over Netherlands

Phil Foden is finally on fire – and England are heading to Berlin for their first major tournament final outside Wembley.

A 2-1 win against the Netherlands, and a performance that in large parts of the game finally lived up to the nation’s inflated expectations, will mean England play Spain in what will be back-to-back European Championship finals for Gareth Southgate and his team.

The prime minister, Keir Starmer, led the tributes from England fans. “What a game England and what a winner,” he wrote on X, as he attended the Nato summit in Washington DC.

“Berlin here we come!” he added. No 10 confirmed Starmer and the culture secretary, Lisa Nandy, will be in attendance on Sunday.

The Killers, playing at the O2 Arena in London, paused their gig to show the end of the match on a big screen and let off confetti at the final whistle, as music and football fans celebrated wildly.

To date, there had perhaps been an ironic edge to England supporters’ own musical tribute to Foden in their rehashed version of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark (“Can’t start a fire, can’t start a fire without a spark, Phil Foden is on fire”).

But the Manchester City midfielder’s conducting of his team’s talents on a humid night in Dortmund, at least in the first half, offered reason for glorious extra gusto from England’s travelling support in the Westfalenstadion.

Rather than sit back, as has been the complaint about Southgate’s team, England piled on the pressure.

“This is more like it,” said Ryan Shaw, 32, a roofer from Macclesfield who had come to Dortmund for the game without a ticket.

Southgate, perhaps uncharacteristically, made a bold change, deciding to substitute Kane and Foden 10 minutes before full-time. It was a night on which everything seemed to be paying off.

It was Kane’s replacement, Ollie Watkins, with his back to goal and Stefan De Vrij right behind him, who turned on a penny to rifle a stunning low shot into the far corner.

“Unbelievable, I’ve been waiting for that moment for weeks,” said Watkins. “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get where I am today. I swear on my kids’ lives that I told Cole [Palmer]: ‘We are going to come on today, and you are going to set me up.’ We are in the final and that is all that matters. We are ready for Spain.”

England now have the potential to lift a trophy for the first time since 1966, with fresh evidence that they can play the sort of football that will make Spain notice.

There had certainly been plenty of doubters after a series of poor performances in the group stage, and a near-death experience against Slovakia in the round of 16 followed by a win on penalties against Switzerland.

But as the victorious England players joined the crowd in a raucous rendition of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline, and about 25 million people at home cheered the final whistle, there was belief in the air.

Jude Bellingham, a former Borussia Dortmund player, admitted that England had tired over the 90 minutes but that he was pleased the team had put on the sort of performance the fans had hoped for.

“To be back here at the club that has helped me turn into the man and player I am is special,” he said. “The most important thing is we have come out with the win. I am really grateful to Ollie because I am not sure I had another half an hour in me.”

The Dutch fans left the Westfalenstadion with little to be ashamed about. Their good-natured support had lit up the west German city, with more than 75,000 turning Dortmund orange.

There were some scuffles between supporters earlier in they day. Five England supporters were said to have sustained minor injuries after being attacked by rival Dutch fans during an altercation over a Saint George’s flag.

The UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU) had also indicated that some groups of supporters who had travelled from the Netherlands were known to the authorities but there was no major incident reported.

England fans can enjoy a few wondrous days contemplating whether they will see modern-day equivalents of Geoff Hurst, Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore lift a trophy on Sunday evening.

“So good, so good, so good,” chorused the fans in the bars of Dortmund as they offered yet up another rendition of Sweet Caroline. It would be difficult to argue.

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China building twice as much wind and solar power as rest of world – report

Country on track reach 1,200GW of installed wind and solar capacity by end of 2024 – six years ahead of Beijing’s target

The amount of wind and solar power under construction in China is now nearly twice as much as the rest of the world combined, a report has found.

Research published on Thursday by Global Energy Monitor (GEM), an NGO, found that China has 180 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar power under construction and 15GW of wind power. That brings the total of wind and solar power under construction to 339GW, well ahead of the 40GW under construction in the US.

The researchers only looked at solar farms with a capacity of 20MW or more, which feed directly into the grid. That means that the total volume of solar power in China could be much higher, as small scale solar farms account for about 40% of China’s solar capacity.

The findings underscore China’s leading position in global renewable energy production at a time when the US is increasingly worried about Chinese overcapacity and dumping, particularly in the solar industry.

China has experienced a boom in renewables in recent years, encouraged by strong government support. Xi Jinping, China’s president, has stressed the need for “new quality productive forces”, a slogan which signifies a desire to pivot China’s economy towards technology and innovation. Xi has said that “new quality productive forces” includes strengthening green manufacturing.

Between March 2023 and March 2024, China installed more solar than it had in the previous three years combined, and more than the rest of the world combined for 2023, the GEM analysts found. China is on track to reach 1,200GW of installed wind and solar capacity by the end of 2024, six years ahead of the government’s target.

“The unabated wave of construction guarantees that China will continue leading in wind and solar installation in the near future, far ahead of the rest of the world,” the report said.

However, analysts have cautioned that still more renewable capacity will be needed if China is to meet its target of reducing the carbon intensity of the economy by 18%, which is an important factor in reducing emissions. Carbon intensity refers to how many grams of CO2 are released to produce a kilowatt hour of electricity.

Earlier analysis suggests that China will need to install between 1,600GW and 1,800GW of wind and solar energy by 2030 to meet its target of producing 25% of all energy from non-fossil sources.

Between 2020 and 2023, only 30% of the growth in energy consumption was met by renewable sources, compared with the target of 50%.

“It is obviously important for China to keep on adding more renewable energy to meet its targets,” said Li Shuo, the director of the China Climate Hub at the Asia Policy Institute in Washington DC. “But it’s not as simple as you just keep building and it will be solved … [because] there is no sign that the country is trying to steer away from its coal consumption.”

Previous analysis by GEM and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, a thinktank, found that approvals of new coal power plants increased fourfold in 2022-2023, compared with the previous five-year period of 2016-2020, despite a pledge in 2021 to “strictly control” new coal power. Growth in total coal consumption increased from an average of 0.5% a year to 3.8% a year between the two time periods.

Geopolitical tensions such as the war in Ukraine, which focused many countries’ attention on energy supplies, and major power cuts in parts of China in recent years, have increased Chinese officials’ concerns about energy security.

China’s power grid remains reliant on coal, which officials see as necessary to mitigate the intermittency of renewable energy. And officials often see the coal industry as being a safe way to boost local GDP figures, although clean energy sectors are now the biggest driver of China’s economic growth, accounting for 40% of GDP expansion in 2023.

Analysts say that better storage and grid flexibility is necessary to efficiently use the increasing volume of clean energy being generated on China’s wind and solar farms.

The Chinese government is aware of this challenge, naming lithium-ion batteries as one of the “new three” technologies important for creating high-quality growth, along with electric vehicles and solar panels. Last year, $11bn was invested in grid-connected batteries, an increase of 364% on 2022.

The GEM report also highlighted China’s lead in actually building planned renewable energy infrastructure. The 339GW of wind and solar that has reached the construction stage represents one-third of proposed projects, far surpassing the global construction rate of 7%.

“China’s renewable energy pipeline is two times larger than the rest of the world,” Li said. “But the question we should increasingly ask ourselves is, how come the rest of the world is so slow?”

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In case you missed it, the Israeli military has told all Palestinian civilians to leave Gaza City and head south after stepping up a military offensive in the territory that has killed dozens of people over the past 48 hours.

The evacuation order, carried out by dropping leaflets urging “all those in Gaza City” to take two “safe routes” south to the area around the central town of Deir al-Balah, came after a series of deadly strikes over the past two days in other parts of Gaza.

On Tuesday, an airstrike on the entrance of a school turned shelter in southern Gaza killed at least 31 people, including eight children, according to officials at the nearby Nasser hospital. Footage broadcast by Al Jazeera showed children playing football in the school’s yard when a sudden boom shook the area, prompting shouts of “a strike, a strike!”

The Israeli military said it was reviewing reports that civilians were harmed. It said the incident occurred when it struck with “precise munition” a Hamas fighter who had taken part in the 7 October raid on Israel that precipitated the Israeli assault on Gaza.

In case you missed it, the Israeli military has told all Palestinian civilians to leave Gaza City and head south after stepping up a military offensive in the territory that has killed dozens of people over the past 48 hours.

The evacuation order, carried out by dropping leaflets urging “all those in Gaza City” to take two “safe routes” south to the area around the central town of Deir al-Balah, came after a series of deadly strikes over the past two days in other parts of Gaza.

On Tuesday, an airstrike on the entrance of a school turned shelter in southern Gaza killed at least 31 people, including eight children, according to officials at the nearby Nasser hospital. Footage broadcast by Al Jazeera showed children playing football in the school’s yard when a sudden boom shook the area, prompting shouts of “a strike, a strike!”

The Israeli military said it was reviewing reports that civilians were harmed. It said the incident occurred when it struck with “precise munition” a Hamas fighter who had taken part in the 7 October raid on Israel that precipitated the Israeli assault on Gaza.

Europeans are experiencing a ‘wave of antisemitism’, survey finds

EU agency says 96% of respondents reported anti-Jewish behaviour, with conflict in Middle East one of the causes

Europe is experiencing “a wave of antisemitism” caused partly by the conflict in the Middle East, the EU’s leading rights agency has said, as it published a survey finding that nearly all respondents reported recent anti-Jewish prejudice.

The survey by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights found that 96% of respondents had experienced antisemitism in the year before the survey, which was carried out between January and June 2023. A total of 84% considered antisemitism to be a “very big” or “fairly big problem” in their country, while fewer than one in five (18%) thought governments were handling it effectively.

Although the survey – of 8,000 Jewish people aged over 16 – was completed before the 7 October Hamas attacks on Israel that led to ferocious reprisals on Gaza, the Vienna-based agency also collected data from 12 Jewish umbrella organisations. Some of these organisations have reported a 400% increase in antisemitic attacks since October 2023.

“Europe is witnessing a wave of antisemitism, partly driven by the conflict in the Middle East,” the agency’s director, Sirpa Rautio, said. “This severely limits Jewish people’s ability to live in safety and with dignity. We need to build on existing laws and strategies to protect communities from all forms of hate and intolerance, online as well as offline.”

The survey was the third of its kind carried out by the agency since 2013 and found only marginal signs of progress in some areas.

Four in five people (80%) told the agency that antisemitism had increased over the past five years in their country, while 64% of respondents who encountered antisemitism said they experienced it “all the time”. More than nine in 10 described antisemitism on the internet and social media as a “very big” problem.

Six in 10 people said they worried about their family’s safety, while a similar number (62%) said the Arab-Israeli conflict affected their feeling of safety.

The survey covered 13 EU countries, where 96% of the EU’s Jewish population live, including France, Germany, Poland and Spain.

In France – home to the largest Jewish population in Europe – Jewish communities reported feeling torn before Sunday’s second-round election.

In the first month after the 7 October attacks antisemitic acts “exploded” in France, the interior minister, Gérard Darmanin, said last year, reporting 1,000 such incidents.

Since 7 October, Germany has also seen an increase in anti-Jewish violence, with the country’s antisemitism commissioner warning that it risked transporting the country “back to its most horrific times”.

The EU agency is urging governments to fund the security and protection needs of Jewish communities, including schools, synagogues and community centres. It also calls for making full use of EU legislation regulating the internet, the Digital Services Act, to remove antisemitic content online, as well as intensifying efforts to prosecute antisemitic hate crimes.

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Tributes paid to three women killed in ‘devastating’ Bushey crossbow attack

Neighbours of Carol Hunt and her daughters express shock as racing community sends John Hunt sympathy

  • Suspect found with injuries after triple crossbow killings in Bushey

Tributes have been paid to three women killed in an “utterly devastating” crossbow attack.

Carol Hunt and her two daughters, beautician Hannah Hunt, 28, and dog groomer Louise Hunt, 25, were found injured at a home in Bushey, Hertfordshire on Tuesday and died shortly after at the scene.

It emerged on Wednesday that they were the family of John Hunt, the BBC racing commentator.

Glyn Nicholas, 77, retired, who has lived on the same road as the victims for 50 years, said: “They were a private family, all very nice, a private family. They all did their own things. Louise started a business a couple of years ago, and it was a thriving business – we all took our dogs there to be groomed.”

He added: “A very close-knit family and they used to love the street.”

Su Kehinde, 60, who lives nearby, spoke after laying some flowers at a makeshift tribute at the end of the police cordon.

Kehinde said: “They were the loveliest, gentlest family. They were the meekest human beings. They did not deserve this. They were beautiful souls.”

Her daughter April, 32, said that Hannah “always had a smile”.

She added: “She was hard-working, a hard grafter and really gentle.”

As tearful residents around the scene in Ashlyn Close started to lay flowers, Hunt’s colleagues offered their love and thoughts.

A note sent to staff at BBC Radio 5 Live on Wednesday said the organisation would provide the commentator with “all the support we can”.

It read: “The news today about John Hunt’s family is utterly devastating. Our thoughts are with John and his family at this incredibly difficult time and we will provide him with all the support we can.”

The BBC racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght said: “There are no words. Like everyone else I feel numb and sick on John’s behalf at such incomprehensible evil.

“Everyone who knows John knows he is the absolute archetypal family man, so proud of them, so it’s impossible to know what he can be going through.

“But I know I’m speaking for the whole racing community and the whole wider sports media community as well, both of which he’s been part of for so long, when I say everyone is sending sympathy, love and support to him. It’s just awful.”

The ITV and Sky Sports racing commentator Matt Chapman said: “News like this is shocking enough but on a personal level even more so when it involves a friend and colleague you totally respect.

“There are no words here. Just the wish to let John know we love him and racing loves him. There are loads of us who he can talk to should he need or want to.

“John is an outstanding commentator and broadcaster – but he’s also just a lovely bloke.”

A statement from Sky Sports Racing read: “Everyone at Sky Sports Racing is deeply saddened by the tragic deaths in Hertfordshire and our thoughts are with our colleague John Hunt, his family and friends at this awful time.”

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Night owls’ cognitive function ‘superior’ to early risers, study suggests

Research on 26,000 people found those who stay up late scored better on intelligence, reasoning and memory tests

The idea that night owls who don’t go to bed until the early hours struggle to get anything done during the day may have to be revised.

It turns out that staying up late could be good for our brain power as research suggests that people who identify as night owls could be sharper than those who go to bed early.

Researchers led by academics at Imperial College London studied data from the UK Biobank study on more than 26,000 people who had completed intelligence, reasoning, reaction time and memory tests.

They then examined how participants’ sleep duration, quality, and chronotype (which determines what time of day we feel most alert and productive) affected brain performance.

They found that those who stay up late and those classed as “intermediate” had “superior cognitive function”, while morning larks had the lowest scores.

Going to bed late is strongly associated with creative types. Artists, authors and musicians known to be night owls include Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, James Joyce, Kanye West and Lady Gaga.

But while politicians such as Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill and Barack Obama famously seemed to thrive on little sleep, the study found that sleep duration is important for brain function, with those getting between seven and nine hours of shut-eye each night performing best in cognitive tests.

Dr Raha West, lead author and clinical research fellow at the department of surgery and cancer at Imperial College London, said: “While understanding and working with your natural sleep tendencies is essential, it’s equally important to remember to get just enough sleep, not too long or too short. This is crucial for keeping your brain healthy and functioning at its best.”

Prof Daqing Ma, the co-leader of the study who is also from Imperial’s department of surgery and cancer, added: “We found that sleep duration has a direct effect on brain function, and we believe that proactively managing sleep patterns is really important for boosting, and safeguarding, the way our brains work.

“We’d ideally like to see policy interventions to help sleep patterns improve in the general population.”

But some experts urged caution in interpreting the findings. Jacqui Hanley, head of research funding at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Without a detailed picture of what is going on in the brain, we don’t know if being a ‘morning’ or ‘evening’ person affects memory and thinking, or if a decline in cognition is causing changes to sleeping patterns.”

Jessica Chelekis, a senior lecturer in sustainability global value chains and sleep expert at Brunel University London, said there were “important limitations” to the study as the research did not account for education attainment, or include the time of day the cognitive tests were conducted in the results. The main value of the study was challenging stereotypes around sleep, she added.

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Swimmer rescued 80km off Japan coast, 36 hours after being swept out to sea

Twenty-one year old spent two nights in the ocean before being spotted by a cargo ship

A woman who was swept out to sea while swimming at a beach in Japan has been rescued about 80km (50 miles) off the coast, 36 hours after she went missing, officials have said.

The 21-year-old Chinese national, buoyed by a rubber ring, had been swimming at Shirahama Ohama beach at about 7.30pm on Monday with a friend, the coast guard said on Thursday.

Authorities launched a search and rescue operation after her friend raised the alarm at the beach in the central Shizuoka region that same evening.

“It was around 7.55pm on July 8 when we received the information after the woman’s friend reported to a nearby convenience store that she was missing,” a local Japan coast guard official said.

The woman, who was not named, told rescuers that she was swept out to sea and could not return to the beach as she was swimming with a rubber ring.

She was finally spotted floating off the southern tip of Chiba’s Boso peninsula by a cargo ship at 7.48am on Wednesday, the official said.

Two crew members of a smaller nearby tanker were contacted by radio and jumped into the sea to rescue her.

“There are 80km in a straight line [between the beach and rescue spot] … but it is assumed she drifted for an even greater distance,” the official said.

The woman was taken to hospital after the rescue but did not need to be admitted as she was clear-headed and her dehydration was not life-threatening.

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‘Africa’s most resilient lion’ and his brother filmed making 1.5km swim across dangerous African river

A team led by an Australian researcher captured the pair making the ‘record- breaking’ swim after two failed attempts

A record-breaking swim by two lion brothers across a predator-filled African river has been documented by a team led by a researcher from an Australian university.

The two-male lion coalition was filmed crossing the Kazinga Channel in Uganda at night using high-definition heat detection cameras on drones.

After two failed attempts, the pair swam about 1.5km to make it across the channel.

One half of the duo was a 10-year-old local icon known as Jacob, who has survived several life-threatening incidents including the severing of one of his hind legs in a poacher’s snare.

Griffith University’s Dr Alexander Braczkowski, who led the research, said Jacob “really is a cat with nine lives”.

“I’d bet all my belongings that we are looking at Africa’s most resilient lion: he has been gored by a buffalo, his family was poisoned for lion body part trade, he was caught in a poacher’s snare, and finally lost his leg in another attempted poaching incident where he was caught in a steel trap,” he said.

Braczkowski said the fact Jacob and his brother Tibu had managed to survive as long as they have in a national park under significant human pressures – including from high poaching rates – was a feat in itself.

Braczkowski’s research has found the population in the park has halved in the past five years due to a range of factors. They include several human-caused catastrophes – poisoning by poachers and electrocution on a fence in the park among them.

He said the impact had been particularly severe for the park’s female lions.

“This population is skewing two males to one female and that’s the reason we suspect these lions have swum across the Kazinga Channel – because they’re searching for females,” he said.

He said it was “just sad” the animals were being pushed in this way by pressures created by humans.

Braczkowski’s team included South African film-maker Luke Ochse and field coordinators Bosco Atukwatse, from Uganda, and Orin Cornille, from Belgium. Scientists from Griffith University and Northern Arizona University worked on the research.

“Competition for lionesses in the park is fierce and they lost a fight for female affection in the hours leading up to the swim, so it’s likely the duo mounted the risky journey to get to the females on the other side of the channel,” Braczkowski said.

“There is a small connecting bridge to the other side but the presence of people was probably a deterrent for them.”

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