While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, July 29

A 2021 photo shows US President Joe Biden meeting virtually with President Xi Jinping of China. PHOTO: NYTIMES

Xi tells Biden US must abide by 'one-China' principle

In a “candid” phone conversation on Thursday night, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his American counterpart Joe Biden against supporting Taiwanese independence, saying those who play with fire will be burned, state media reported. 

The scheduled phone call - their fifth since Mr Biden took office last year - touched on a range of issues including strategic competition, global security and Ukraine. 

Lasting over two hours, the call comes amid heightened tensions between China and the United States as concerns mount over a possible visit to Taiwan by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Repeating China’s position of “firmly opposing” any independence, Mr Xi said it is the “firm will” of the Chinese people to safeguard the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. 


Ukraine steps up drive to retake Russian-controlled south

Ukraine stepped up its drive to retake its Russian-controlled south by trying to bomb and isolate Russian troops in hard-to-resupply areas, but it said on Thursday it saw evidence that Moscow was redeploying its forces to defend the territory.

In messages to mark the annual Day of Ukrainian Statehood, President Volodymyr Zelensky congratulated Ukrainians and sounded defiant."We will not give up. We will not be intimidated. Ukraine is an independent, free, indivisible state. And it will always be so," he wrote on Telegram.

After Russia and Ukraine struck a deal last week to unblock grain exports from Black Sea ports, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said he was hopeful the first shipment of grain from a Ukrainian Black Sea port could take place as early as Friday.


Bold and beautiful Commonwealth Games open in Birmingham

Just like the Be Bold, Be Birmingham branding that is splashed liberally across the English City, the 22nd Commonwealth Games officially opened on Thursday in spectacular fashion.

Unlike the muted Tokyo 2020 Olympics opening ceremony that took place in front of empty stands at Japan’s National Stadium, the Alexander Stadium was bursting with 30,000 fans who arrived hours before the 8pm start time to mingle feast on burgers, fries and beer sold from food trucks.

Another noticeable difference is how mask-wearing is now a minority in England, as the hosts showed they have moved on from the Covid-19 pandemic with bright smiles and a warm welcome for all comers.


HK boy band ends show after falling screen hits dancers

At least two Hong Kong dancers were injured on Thursday  night after being hit by a falling screen at a concert of the city's most popular boy band Mirror.

Footage of the incident circulated online showed a group of white-clad dancers performing onstage at the Hong Kong Coliseum when a giant overhead video screen fell and crushed a man.

The screen then toppled onto at least one other person before the remaining performers rushed to help.


Vettel's departure throws another seat into the F1 ring

Sebastian Vettel's retirement announcement sent Formula One's 'Who goes where?' guessing game into overdrive at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Thursday, with a fistful of names tipped as a possible replacement at Aston Martin.

The four times world champion leaves a team near the bottom of the standings but with big ambitions and Canadian billionaire owner Lawrence Stroll determined to turn them into title contenders.

Stroll's son Lance is one of the drivers and anyone joining the Mercedes-powered team will have to fit into a special dynamic.


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