Friday Briefing: A G20 Preview

India, and its governing party, are capitalizing on the moment.Credit…Harish Tyagi/EPA, via Shutterstock

What to watch at the G20 summit in India

The Group of 20 summit kicks off tomorrow in New Delhi, bringing together world leaders to coordinate policy for the global economy. President Biden is expected to attend, but China’s leader, Xi Jinping, and President Vladimir Putin of Russia will skip the event.

For some insight on what to expect, I turned to Katie Rogers, a White House correspondent, who is in New Delhi covering the summit.

What are the biggest issues on the agenda?

Katie: The G20 is an economic-focused summit, and the host country’s efforts to showcase the promise and potential of a juggernaut Indian economy can’t be overlooked. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has all but shut down the city of Delhi for this summit because he wants the focus to be intently on discussing shared economic opportunities and addressing climate issues.

What does the White House want to get out of it?

One initiative to look at is a push from the White House to encourage shoring up lines of credit for smaller countries by bolstering the World Bank’s lending power. The underlying effort here is part of the administration’s broad push to counter China, which has historically been a reliable creditor for poorer nations.

What does the absence of Xi and Putin mean for the gathering?

In short, it means that there will be little on the agenda that focuses, at least directly, on the war in Ukraine or providing economic aid. There are no hopes for any sort of binding joint statement, called a communiqué, among the leaders. Putin and Xi would need to sign on to such a document and they did not do so last year. Xi attended last year, of course, but analysts say domestic economic pressure and tensions with India have contributed to his absence this time around.

What will come out of the summit?

One thing I will be looking at is President Biden’s efforts to strengthen his relationship with Modi, a leader he sees as politically stable and one he believes is interested in deepening strategic and economic ties. With Modi straddling the line between East and West, it remains to be seen how much of a partner he could be in forcefully countering China’s rise. But I am interested to see what the two leaders identify as their biggest challenge or shared opportunity going forward.

Exports have become even more important in China as it confronts a sharp slowdown in its housing market.Credit…The New York Times

China’s exports fall for a fourth month

China’s exports to the world dropped 8.8 percent in August from a year earlier, the government said yesterday, marking the fourth month in a row of sliding overseas sales. Imports fell 7.3 percent in August from a year earlier.

Economists had expected the August trade numbers to be slightly worse. Since the spring, China’s growth has sagged and home prices have suffered, shaking consumer and investor confidence. The new data reflects continued weak demand in China and abroad.

Takeaway: The export data was the latest sign that overall demand for China’s goods may have begun to bottom out. However, its exports are coming down from a very high level, and the country remains an industrial powerhouse.

One bright spot: Even as China’s other exports falter, its carmakers are seeing big increases in overseas sales, mainly for gasoline-powered models.

News of Johnny Kitagawa’s death in Tokyo in 2019.Credit…Kimimasa Mayama/EPA, via Shutterstock

A Japanese talent agency admits its founder preyed on boys

The president of one of Japan’s most influential entertainment agencies resigned after an independent investigation confirmed that the company’s founder, Johnny Kitagawa, had sexually abused young men in his care since the 1970s. Kitagawa died in 2019 at age 87.

Allegations against Kitagawa have circulated for decades, but were largely ignored. However, the release of a BBC documentary in March featuring interviews with three of Kitagawa’s accusers prompted more men to come forward and put pressure on the company to respond.

At a news conference yesterday, Julie Keiko Fujishima, the president of Johnny & Associates and Kitagawa’s niece, acknowledged the results of the investigation, apologized on behalf of herself and the company and said she had resigned as the company’s president.


Around the World

The scene following a drone attack in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, yesterday.Credit…EPA, via Shutterstock
  • Russian officials said air defenses shot down two drones in and around Rostov-on-Don, home to Russia’s southern military headquarters.

  • Video has emerged of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, asserting that European Jews were persecuted by Hitler because of what he said were their predatory lending practices, rather than their religion.

  • Gabon’s military said the country’s deposed president, who was ousted last week, was no longer under house arrest and was free to leave the country.

Other Big Stories

  • The U.S. seized nearly one million barrels of Iranian crude oil that it says were being smuggled to China in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran, court papers show.

  • Five young housekeepers died last week in an elevator crash at a resort on the Indonesian island of Bali. Only one had a full-time contract.

  • Female soccer players in Spain are going on strike as a dispute over conduct by the head of the country’s soccer federation widened into a fight with the soccer clubs over pay.

  • Toyota, a hybrid pioneer, has been slow to sell all-electric vehicles, alienating some customers and hurting sales.

U.S. News

  • Peter Navarro, a trade adviser to Donald Trump, was convicted of two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from a House committee investigating the 2021 attack on the Capitol.

  • Surveillance video released by the police shows how a convicted killer escaped a prison in Pennsylvania by wedging himself between two opposing walls and propelling himself upward.

  • Mayor Eric Adams said that New York City was being destroyed by an influx of migrants from the southern border and that he did not see a way to fix the issue.

Culture News

  • France has given a warm reception to Woody Allen, Louis C.K. and Johnny Depp despite accusations of sexual abuse, sexual misconduct or domestic abuse against them.

  • Bruce Springsteen will postpone performances in the U.S. this month to be treated for symptoms of peptic ulcer disease.

  • Australian punters are putting a new spin on American football with the tricky curves and crafty bounces of their kicks.

A Morning Read

Credit…Erik Tanner for The New York Times

Peter Do moved to Philadelphia from Vietnam when he was 14. Now, as the new creative director at Helmut Lang, Do is trying to bring the cool minimalism of the 1990s back to American fashion.

Do will introduce his first Helmut Lang collection today, and it is the most anticipated show of New York Fashion Week.


Credit…Pablo Delcan

How Mattel made ‘Barbie’ a hit

“Barbie” is the top-grossing Warner Bros. film of all time, raking in close to $1.4 billion. My colleague James B. Stewart reported on how Mattel pulled off the feat of turning the classic doll into a cinematic hit — one that had eluded the company for years.

The company’s approach included pursuing Margot Robbie to play the lead role, and she in turn suggested Greta Gerwig as the director. Mattel’s surprising willingness to make fun of itself — including its new chief executive — also paid off. It was one of the elements that mostly delighted critics and added to the buzz that roped in moviegoers beyond the “Barbie” fan base.


Credit…James Ransom for The New York Times

Make this vegan green goddess dressing, using tahini instead of mayonnaise.

Read Naomi Klein’s “Doppelganger,” which investigates an online underworld of conspiracies and misinformation.

Watch “Rotting in the Sun,” Sebastián Silva’s satirical thriller on the blurred line between reality and illusion that fuels social media.

Save on travel by putting rewards points to work.

Wake up with this five-minute morning yoga routine.

Play the Spelling Bee. (If you’re stuck, the Bee Buddy can help.) Here’s the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Justin Porter will be back Monday. See you next time. — Jonathan

P.S. The Times won three Online Journalism Awards for work including investigative reporting and social media.

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