Huawei, Naomi Osaka, the Oscars: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning.

Huawei comes under the microscope in Europe, a rogue mascot creates trouble in a Japanese city and Netflix cracks the Academy Awards. Here’s the latest:

In Britain, the Chinese telecom giant Huawei donated to top schools, held parties for political leaders and sponsored a charity founded by Prince Charles. In Germany, it sponsored the recent convention of the country’s governing political party, the Christian Democratic Union.

Europe is now Huawei’s biggest market outside of China, generating $20 billion in revenue in 2017 — about a quarter of its total business. And that’s the result of a 15-year campaign to cultivate closer ties with European governments.

Why it matters: Europe, like the U.S., is now beginning to turn on Huawei over concerns that its technology is being used for espionage. Officials there are considering restrictions, companies are reassessing deals and organizations are returning donations.

But untangling from Huawei may be difficult, as its equipment plays a crucial role in the continent’s wireless infrastructure. Severing ties could delay hyperfast 5G networks.

Huawei’s response: The company has consistently denied wrongdoing. But as criticism mounts, it is working to ease concerns, including by allowing German officials to inspect its engineering and code.


A proposed law making its way through the country’s Congress would reduce the minimum age for criminal liability to 9 from 15 — a measure drawing fierce criticism from rights activists.

Context: President Rodrigo Duterte, who has waged a deadly antidrug campaign since he came to power in 2016, has long criticized the current law for restricting crackdowns on gangs that use children for their criminal activities.

But critics have denounced the measure as misguided. “We urge the government to address conditions that push children to such circumstances,” said a spokeswoman for the country’s human rights commission, “rather than placing the burden on a child for failures of institutions meant to protect them.”

What next? Since Mr. Duterte has allies in both houses of Congress, the proposed law will probably get the green light soon. It was quickly approved by a justice panel in the House of Representatives, and the Senate is likely to pass its own version of the bill.

As Ms. Osaka, the half-Haitian, half-Japanese tennis champion, prepares for her quarterfinal match at the Australian Open today, an image of her is stirring up controversy in Japan.

An anime-style ad for Nissin, the world’s largest instant-noodle brand, features Ms. Osaka with lighter skin and a different hair style — a depiction fans found deeply disappointing.

Context: Ms. Osaka’s rise has challenged a longstanding sense of cultural and racial homogeneity in Japan and has been particularly exciting for biracial people in Japan, known as “hafus.” The ad revived discussions around the issue.

In other Japan news: A rogue, mischievous mascot, which looks like a deceivingly cute otter but has been staging dangerous stunts, is causing headaches for officials in the southern city of Susaki.


Netflix got its first best picture nod for “Roma,” which had 10 nominations today, including for direction, cinematography and original screenplay. It will compete against “The Favourite” (also with 10 nominations), “A Star Is Born” and “Black Panther,” the first superhero film to get a best picture nomination.

The best picture selections were remarkably diverse compared to past years. But the acting categories were less inclusive, with one black actor and one black actress among the 20 nominees. All of the directing and cinematography nominees were men.

Go deeper: Here’s a complete list of nominees and a look at all the snubs and surprises.


Russia-Japan relations: President Vladimir Putin, after a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, dashed hopes that Russia would return two small islands north of Hokkaido that the Soviet Union seized at the end of World War II, leaving a decades-long territorial dispute unresolved.

Carlos Ghosn: A Japanese court rejected a bail request by the former Nissan chairman, who has been in a Tokyo jail for two months and charged with financial misconduct.

U.S. Shutdown: President Trump’s proposal to trade legal protections for some immigrants for border wall funding contains severe restrictions for asylum seekers, drawing fierce criticism from rights groups. The measure could go to a vote in the Senate on Thursday but its prospects are dim.

Climate change: A record number of Americans now believe that global warming is a real threat, according to a new survey, and they are increasingly worried about its impact on their lives. The increase is attributed to extreme weather events, U.N. reports and President Trump’s environmental policies.

Wall Street: Stocks are up 25 percent since President Trump was elected in 2016 — but it hasn’t always been a smooth ride. Here’s a look at the wild swings of the last two years.

U.S. Supreme Court: The justices allowed President Trump’s policy barring transgender people from serving in the military to go into effect temporarily while court challenges proceeded.

Russia: A Trump administration deal to lift sanctions on companies controlled by a prominent Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, may have freed him from hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, according to confidential documents.

Germany and France: Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron renewed a friendship pact signed after World War II — and their commitment to a united Europe — at a time when internal and external forces threaten to fracture the E.U.

Chris Brown: The R&B singer was being questioned in Paris over accusations of rape, according to the authorities there. Mr. Brown has been involved in a string of violent episodes over the past few years.

#MeToo: As Australia’s entertainment industry grapples with a culture of sexual harassment, it is turning to “intimacy coordinators” to try to make sex scenes nonthreatening for actors.

New Zealand: The unruly behavior of an English family touring the country — from refusing to pick up garbage left on a beach to throwing food on a cafe floor — captured locals’ unease about a boom in tourism.


Tips for a more fulfilling life.

We asked Pamela Paul, the editor of the Book Review, what today’s readers should know about the book, which follows a wealthy young German through seven years in a tuberculosis sanitarium just ahead of World War I.

“Many people read it as a metaphor for the sickness of Europe on the brink of war,” she answered. “Well-heeled invalids gather indefinitely, for a cure that doesn’t necessarily come — perhaps deliberately. The longer they stay, the greater the owner’s profits.

“They spend their days gossiping, pursuing love affairs and having abstract arguments that never reach any decisive resolution.”


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