Your Wednesday Briefing: Putin, Xi, Modi Meet in Virtual Summit

The leaders of Russia, China and India — the three biggest powers bidding to reshape a global order dominated by the U.S. — convened over video at a virtual summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and each focused on their own driving issues.

The annual meeting — which was established by China and Russia in 2001 and includes Pakistan and Central Asian countries — offered no dramatic statement of changing alliances. But it did give a glimpse of how a regional bloc formed to counter Western influence might coalesce and navigate their competing priorities.

China and India: There was no mention of the mounting friction between Beijing and New Delhi over border disputes and India’s membership in the Quad, a security-focused coalition with the U.S. that China views as a tool to contain it. 

Xi Jinping, China’s president, instead reiterated long-held grievances against the U.S. by calling for an end to “hegemonism” and “power politics.” Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, urged the forum to condemn countries that “use terrorism as an instrument of their policy” — a veiled reference to Pakistan, which India accuses of sponsoring militants in the disputed Kashmir region.

Russia: President Vladimir Putin called for a new “multipolar” world, trying to project solidarity with powers unaligned with the West. He tried to display strength and domestic stability in the aftermath of the uprising by the Wagner mercenary group.

Eight people were wounded in a car-ramming and stabbing attack in Tel Aviv, raising fears of tit-for-tat violence as Israel’s military carried out a second day of operations in the West Bank city of Jenin. The Palestinian militant group Hamas praised the assault, which the Israeli authorities called an act of terrorism.

The Palestinian death toll in the Jenin operation, the biggest that Israel has mounted in the area in many years, rose to 12, according to Palestinian health officials. At least 120 people were injured, including 20 in serious condition, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

A day after Israel launched the operation, which is an effort to root out Palestinian armed groups, about 1,000 troops continued searching the camp yesterday. Although gunfire and explosions could still occasionally be heard, the situation in the refugee camp was “calmer today than yesterday,” the deputy governor of Jenin said.

Civilians: Up to 3,000 of the camp’s roughly 17,000 residents have sought shelter in schools and other public buildings, or with families elsewhere. One Jenin official said that neither electricity nor running water was available in the camp because of the destruction caused by the operation.

Background: Jenin, long a militant stronghold, has been at the center of escalating tensions and violence in the year leading up to the incursion.

When the pandemic started, India had only five space-tech start-ups. Now, there are at least 140. The new companies are giving the country a competitive edge in the global space industry and stand to transform the planet’s connection to the final frontier.

Space-tech is one of the most sought-after sectors in India for venture capital investors: Last year, start-ups raked in $120 million in new funding, at a rate that is doubling or tripling annually. And there’s a big global market, specifically for launches.

The “workhorse” rocket of the Indian Space Research Organization, the local version of NASA, is one of the world’s most reliable for heavy loads. With a success rate of almost 95 percent, it has halved the cost of insurance for a satellite — making India one of the most competitive launch sites in the world.

Geopolitics: The U.S. is calling for enhanced collaboration between American and Indian companies in the space economy. Both countries see space as an arena in which India can emerge as a counterweight to China. Russia is no longer globally competitive since it invaded Ukraine.

Vietnam has banned “Barbie,” Greta Gerwig’s upcoming film, over its use of a map depicting territory in the South China Sea. The scene in question includes the so-called nine-dash line, a U-shaped dotted line on a map showing territory that both China and Vietnam claim as their own.

In 1998, when Helen Fielding’s ditsy heroine Bridget Jones was introduced to American audiences in the novel “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” she became an instant sensation. The book follows a year in the life of a single, 30-something London woman navigating personal and professional turmoil.

Back then, The Times said “people will be passing around copies of ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ for a reason: It captures neatly the way modern women teeter between ‘I am woman’ independence and a pathetic girlie desire to be all things to all men.”

On the 25th anniversary of its publication, my colleague Elisabeth Egan reassessed Bridget, who compulsively tracked her weight and endured sexual harassment. Bridget is witty, sure. But she deserved better, Elizabeth writes. All women did.

Dress this watermelon chaat with cumin and mango powder.

Beth Nguyen explores how her childhood as a Vietnamese refugee has influenced her own parenting in “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”

“Every Body,” a documentary, is a candid look at the lives of three openly intersex people.

Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Capital of Egypt (five letters).

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