FirstFT: US and Japan run war games as China-Taiwan tensions rise

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The US and Japan have been conducting war games and joint military exercises in the event of a conflict with China over Taiwan, amid escalating concerns about the Chinese military’s assertive activity.

US and Japanese military officials began serious planning for a possible conflict in the final year of the Trump administration, according to six people who requested anonymity. The activity includes top-secret tabletop war games and joint exercises in the South China and East China seas.

Shinzo Abe, then-Japan’s prime minister, decided in 2019 to significantly expand military planning because of China’s threat to Taiwan and the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. This work has continued under the administrations of Joe Biden and Abe’s successor, Yoshihide Suga, according to three of the people with knowledge of the matter.

  • More on US defence: Donald Rumsfeld, a two-time defence secretary and architect of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, has died at the age of 88.

Five stories in the news

1. Financial services set for global tax carve-out The UK is poised to secure an exemption for financial services from new rules on taxing multinationals that are being brokered at the Paris-based OECD, a move that would ensure the City of London’s largest banks do not pay more tax on their profits in other countries.

  • Rishi Sunak’s ‘ambitious vision’ for the City: The UK chancellor will outline his blueprint for the world’s “most advanced” financial sector in the annual Manion House speech today. (FT, Reuters)

2. Private equity breaks 40-year record Private equity firms have had their busiest six months since records began four decades ago, striking 6,298 deals worth more than $500bn and helping propel global mergers and acquisitions activity to an all-time high.

3. Economists predict at least two US interest rate rises by end of 2023 Elevated inflation will compel the Federal Reserve to raise US interest rates at least twice by the end of 2023, according to a new poll of leading academic economists for the Financial Times and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

4. Greensill insurers claim they were misled The insurers claimed the collapsed finance company misled them, threatening to complicate efforts by investors to recover losses stemming from the scandal. The allegations were summarised in a report from the administrator of Greensill’s German banking subsidiary.

5. Robinhood ordered to pay $70m penalty The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a Wall Street regulator, has ordered the retail trading platform to pay more than $70m in penalties for causing what it described as “widespread and significant” harm to its customers.

Coronavirus digest

  • Kim Jong Un has warned of a “grave incident” linked to the pandemic, stoking fears of an outbreak in North Korea.

  • Digital nomad lifestyles seem enviable — but what is it really like to be “location independent” in a pandemic?

For the latest coronavirus news, follow our live blog and sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter.

The day ahead

Batley and Spen by-election Voters of the northern England constituency could determine the future of Keir Starmer, Labour party leader, today after the party lost hundreds of local council seats last month.

EU travel certificate The EU is due to launch its digital vaccination certificate to make it easier for residents who are fully vaccinated, have a negative test result or have recovered from Covid-19 to travel within the 27-country bloc.

Opec meeting The oil cartel will discuss whether to increase supply. Even with oil prices at record highs, producers have held off on opening the taps. Tuesday’s edition of Energy Source explains why. Subscribe here.

Chinese Communist party turns 100 China’s economic transformation over the past four decades is the landmark achievement of the party, which celebrates its centenary with a keynote address by President Xi Jinping in Tiananmen Square. The FT View is that under Xi, Beijing has morphed into an uncompromising authoritarian regime.

Bidens to visit collapsed Miami condo President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will visit the partially collapsed condominium in Surfside, Florida. The official death toll rose to 18 with more than 140 people still missing. These are the people missing and confirmed dead, floor by floor. (NPR, NYT)

What else we’re reading

The EU’s biomass dilemma A review of the bloc’s climate legislation is a not-too-subtle reminder that if the status of biomass, combustible pellets burnt for energy, is changed, it may be impossible for the EU to meet its target for renewables to provide a third of its energy usage by 2030 — and force it to confront the question: can burning trees ever be green?

Why N Ireland’s teens take to the streets This year marks the centenary of the partition of Ireland, a cause for celebration in one community and condemnation in the other. With Northern Ireland beginning another marching season, when unionists celebrate with parades and bonfires, the region is bracing once again for unrest.

Traders’ quest for cryptocurrency returns Traders are garnering juicy returns by lending out cryptocurrencies as the fast-growing field of decentralised finance throws up new and risky opportunities. Madison Darbyshire looks into consumers’ protections in crypto trading. The short answer: not many.

  • Related: Digital collectors have deemed the original source code for the internet more valuable than the first tweet but less desirable than a pixelated punk. A “non-fungible token” representing Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s invention of the web sold for $5.4m at auction yesterday.

The search for ET has lessons for us all Even if we never find extraterrestrial life, the search for it helps foster a debate about what it is that enables us to communicate with other “alien” humans, across time and space, on our own planet, writes Gillian Tett. Right now, that is badly needed — with or without UFOs.

Fighting for the right to party Lockdown has raised the question of who can access public spaces. In London’s Primrose Hill and New York’s Washington Square Park, there have been clashes between police, revellers and residents as people claim the right to congregate, and those who live nearby complain of drug use, noise and crime, writes Caroline Binham. (FT, NYT)

Travel

After “the worst year for property sales in a decade”, the Greek island of Mykonos is getting back to the business of hedonism. DJs have returned to the bars, umbrellas are back on beaches and the serpentine, whitewashed alleyways of the old port are again thrumming with tourists.

Mykonos town
A curfew has been lifted in Mykonos, nightclubs are open and private gatherings of up to 100 people are allowed © Getty Images

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