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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Modi in China, turmoil in Burundi, coding for kids, wine bathing

By Hanna Kozlowska
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Modi visits China. The prime minister of India meets with his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, for a sit-down to discuss up to $10 billion in new deals. It’s part of Modi’s first to the country since he took office, as he seeks to bolster economic ties between the two mammoth economies (paywall).

A dangerous typhoon passes by Guam. The island itself might be spared a direct hit, but it will still experience extremely strong winds. An island of 3,000 inhabitants north of Guam is forecast to be at the center of the typhoon named Dolphin, whose winds could reach up to 125 mph.

McDonald’s turns 75. What started with one drive-in burger joint in California became an empire with 36,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries. Despite being the biggest buyer of beef, pork, potatoes, lettuce, and tomatoes in the world, its sales have been shrinking as customers opt for healthier choices.

The US pays Ukraine a visit. Just three days after her boss engaged in long, “frank” talks with Russia’s president and foreign minister, Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, goes to Kyiv to meet with senior government officials. Meanwhile, world powers are pushing to implement a peace deal in Eastern Ukraine.

The Petrobras report card. 

The Brazilian state-run oil giant is expected to report a

more than 50% drop

 in profit for its first quarter, thanks largely to a sharp decline in oil prices and a weak Brazilian real, following gains from an end to fuel subsidies.

While you were sleeping

Iran reportedly fired at a Singapore-flagged ship. Five gunboats, reportedly from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, ordered the tanker Alpine Eternity to stop as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz. When the crew did not stop, the gunboats fired warning shots, and then fired directly at the tanker, US officials told NBC. The tanker docked in an Emirati port, according to Reuters. It is unclear why the Iranians fired.

Burundi endured heavy fighting after a coup attempt. Pro-government troops and soldiers supporting an army general who claimed to have overthrown president Pierre Nkurunziza clashed in the country’s capital. The fighting, which left at least five soldiers dead, centered around the loyalist-held state broadcaster. The whereabouts of Nkurunziza, who was in Tanzania when the coup began, were unclear, as was who had control in the country.

Aid to Yemen started to flow amid a shaky truce. Aid agencies began distributing food, fuel, and medicine to millions of distressed Yemenis on the start of a five-day humanitarian truce in the war-torn country. After weeks of fighting between a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states back by the West and Houthi rebels, both sides accused each other of violating the truce hours after it began.

The Chinese stock that always goes up came down. The remarkable surge in Chinese stocks looks like it may be slowing. One company, Beijing Baofeng Technologies, has been rising at 10% every day since it launched in March, the maximum amount allowed by the Shanghai Composite Index. After rising only 5.89% last week, it closed down overnight, Bloomberg reports.

The US House of Representatives voted to end bulk data collection. The legislative body voted for the Freedom Act, which would require a court’s authorization for spy agencies to access Americans’ telephone data on suspicion of terrorist ties. That the bill passed with strong bipartisan support may add pressure to the Senate leadership to vote on the bill, rather than renewing the existing program under the Patriot Act (which expires on June 1).

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on China’s path to making the biggest reduction in coal use ever recorded. “Already, the People’s Republic’s sputtering coal consumption, which began last year, seems to have put a big dent in global CO2 emissions. Those generated from energy use stopped growing in 2014, according to the International Energy Agency. The only other times this happened was in the early 1980s, 1992, and 2009—when the global economy has floundered, in other words. For a drop like this to come in the absence of a widespread economic slump is unprecedented.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The “iron curtain” metaphor is back. And we need to retire it as soon as possible.

Yes, you can have too much vacation. Especially if you live in France and kids are involved.

China should reform its financial system. Or it will repeat the fate of Singapore in the 1990s.

America needs to teach its kids how to code in high school. If it wants to fill its programming jobs.

True “shade” is an art. It would be a shame if the skill of sidelong insults went mainstream (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

There are internships that pay $11,000 a month. Provided you go to school for a master’s in business administration.

The ’80s had the most boring music. According to science.

Who needs selfie sticks when you’ve got dexterous feet?  These self-portraits require agile toes and strong calf muscles.

In Japan, you can swim in a pool full of wine. Or green tea, coffee, or ramen soup.

This party-crasher got by the US Secret Service four times. It involved tears, asking out the White House photographer, and a lot of confidence.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, lessons in shade, and foot selfies to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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