Plus the controversy over seabed mining and the geopolitical drama surrounding Taiwan’s microchips
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In June, four women in the Chinese city of Tangshan were beaten with chairs, kicked and dragged at a restaurant after one woman appeared to rebuff a man who had approached and touched her. Security camera footage of the event unleashed a torrent of outrage over violence against women in China.
On Monday, authorities said they had charged 28 people as part of a wider investigation into the criminal activities of a local gang in the city. But the government has emphasized that the episode was related to broader “evil forces” involving gang activity and has played down the gender-based aspect of the attack.
Charges: Authorities said that the men were involved in 11 crimes dating back to 2012 that ranged from robbery, assault and the operation of illegal casinos to what’s known as “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” In their statement, the authorities mentioned the beating in June but did not say which charges were related to it.
Background: After footage of the beating circulated online, it sparked conversations about underlying misogyny in Chinese society. These conversations were soon censored, and the narrative shifted from the politically divisive topic of sexual violence to gangs.
Corruption: A separate investigation is looking into more than a dozen officials and police officers for evidence of corruption. So far, the authorities said they had detained eight civil servants, including the head of one district police station in Tangshan, on suspicion of offering protection to the defendants and accepting bribes.
As demand grows for metals needed to make batteries for electric vehicles, companies are looking to rich, untapped sources beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
Seabed metals are meant to be shared by everyone, not just the most powerful nations. But an examination by The Times shows that the International Seabed Authority, an agency affiliated with the U.N., gave a Canadian firm, the Metals Company, priority access to prized sites packed with cobalt, copper and nickel.
A remote section of the seabed, about 1,500 miles southwest of San Diego, could soon become the world’s first industrial-scale mining site in international waters. The exclusive access would yield enough cobalt, copper and nickel, the company says, to power 280 million electric vehicles, equivalent to the entire fleet of cars in the U.S. The Metals Company calculates that it will clear $31 billion in earnings over the 25-year life of the project.
Backlash: The sharing of information with the Metals Company angered employees at the Seabed Authority, who said some of the data was meant to help developing countries. The exploration deal has also raised concerns among environmentalists about the perpetually underfunded agency’s commitment to life on the ocean floor.
Context: The historic climate legislation that the U.S. Congress passed this month extended tax credits for buyers of electric cars, which will accelerate the need for raw materials, as automakers push to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles.
The conflict over Taiwan is threatening the world’s electronic supply chains.
Taiwan is the biggest producer of the world’s most advanced chips, and a blockade there could halt shipments of the microchips that companies need to make phones and drones, set up supercomputers and cellular networks, and even build new weapons.
Tech companies around the world rely heavily on advanced chips from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Taiwan’s biggest chip maker, turning it into a vital strategic asset for both Washington and Beijing. A military conflagration would damage the world’s digital infrastructure.
Context: A web of dependencies helps keep the peace. China’s reliance on TSMC and other Taiwanese chip companies deters the Communist Party from invading the island. The U.S. dependence on the same know-how lends additional credibility to Washington’s military support for Taiwan. Not for nothing do people in Taiwan call TSMC their “sacred mountain, protector of the nation.”
Analysis: Despite China’s heavy national investment in semiconductors to break a dependence on global chips, the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, seems unhappy with the results.
More than 100,000 have been evacuated, as heavy rains in drought-stricken areas of China are bringing the risk of floods, The Associated Press reports.
Officials said recent flooding in Pakistan has caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, Reuters reports.
The Ukrainian military announced that it had launched offensive operations in southern Ukraine, perhaps signaling the start of a long anticipated counteroffensive aimed at retaking territory seized by Russia.
After the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said that he was retiring from Iraqi politics, his followers breached the so-called Green Zone, the site of Parliament. At least 12 of his supporters were killed by government security forces, officials said.
A new report found that dozens of QAnon-boosting accounts moved to Truth Social, a social media platform created by Donald Trump, who amplified some of the accounts.
What Else Is Happening
Low water levels due to drought are disrupting European river cruises.
As droughts become more frequent, a British official said that people need to be “less squeamish” about drinking recycled wastewater.
Could a solution to Rome’s perpetual trash crisis be in sight? Mayor Roberto Gualtieri would like to think so.
A Morning Read
Entrepreneurs are developing tools that use artificial intelligence in an attempt to translate animal communication into plain English. A Times reporter explored some of the tools and tested one with her cat.
When Serena Williams revealed her plans to end her tennis career, she made the announcement not via ESPN or Sports Illustrated or Tennis Week but in the September issue of Vogue. That choice should have surprised no one.
Since she turned professional in 1995, Williams has wielded self-presentation as effectively as any athlete as a weapon of change, the Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman writes. She smashed barriers of race, age and background, and she smashed the old dress codes of tennis, which for decades had been stuck in the mire of tradition.
That trajectory began when Williams and her sister took to the court in their beads and braids and continued through the years, becoming evermore deliberate and political. If at first Williams was simply expressing a certain joy in dressing up — in dipping into streetwear trends with denim and studs and into runway trends with snakeskin and mesh — she ultimately embraced becoming a woman of power and having the profile to call out perceived injustice and inequality.
As the rare Black woman in tennis, and one with a back story and a body that didn’t conform to the sport’s favored mythology, Williams knew she was drawing focus. And if, said Gerald Marzorati, the author of the 2021 book “Seeing Serena,” “attention was going to be paid, her attitude was: I’m going to be a subject of that attention, rather than an object.”
What to Cook
This recipe for silken tofu with spicy soy dressing is perfect for warm days, when the desire to cook is nonexistent.
What to Read
“A Visible Man,” the memoir by the British Vogue editor, Edward Enninful, is the first in-depth telling of his life story.
A new book collects six decades’ worth of the artist Maurice Sendak’s work.
Now Time to Play
Play today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Have the courage (four letters).
Here are today’s Wordle and today’s Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Jonathan
P.S. The word “nanosubstance” appeared for the first time in The Times yesterday.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is about an investigation into Trump’s election interference.
You can reach Jonathan and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.