World this week
Wang Yi was re-appointed as China's foreign minister to replace Qin Gang. The 69-year old was already China's top diplomat as head of the Communist Party's Central Foreign Affairs Commission. Unlike in many countries, China's foreign minister is not the most authoritative voice in its diplomatic affairs. Other individuals in the Chinese Communist Party's leadership, including the director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission - a post that Wang continues to hold - have more say over foreign policy formulation.
He now returns to a post he held for most of the past decade. One of the leading "wolf warrior" diplomats - who often engage in combative rhetoric against those who cross Beijing - Wang is well-known to the US. In a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in June, he said Washington's "misperceptions toward China" has led to misguided China policies. Wang joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the age of 29, and was appointed foreign minister for the first time in 2013.
US President Joe Biden dispatched his national security adviser Jake Sullivan to Saudi Arabia for talks with the kingdom's de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the White House pushes for a normalisation of relations between the country and Israel. The White House in a brief statement said that Sullivan arrived in Jeddah on Thursday for talks with the crown prince, who is often referred to by his initial MBS, and other Saudi officials.
The wide-ranging talks covered initiatives to "advance a common vision for a more peaceful, secure, prosperous, and stable Middle East," and efforts to find a permanent end to the years-long conflict between the Saudis and Iran-allied Houthis in Yemen, according to the White House. Sullivan and MBS also discussed the Biden administration's hopes to normalise relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, according to a White House National Security Council official familiar with the matter, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
Niger's president defiantly declared that democracy would prevail, a day after mutinous soldiers detained him and announced they had seized power in a coup because of the West African country's deteriorating security situation. While many people in the capital of Niamey went about their usual business, it remained unclear who was in control of the country and which side the majority might support. A statement tweeted by the army command's account declared that it would back the coup to avoid a "murderous confrontation" that could lead to a "bloodbath." It was not possible to confirm that the statement was genuine.
President Mohamed Bazoum - who was elected in 2021 in Niger's first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since its independence from France in 1960 - appeared to have the backing of several political parties. Bazoum is a key ally in the West's efforts to battle jihadists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group in Africa's Sahel region.
July has been so hot thus far that scientists calculate that this month will be the hottest globally on record and likely the warmest human civilization has seen, even though there are several days left to sweat through. The World Meteorological Organization and the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service proclaimed July's heat is beyond record-smashing. They said Earth's temperature has been temporarily passing over a key warming threshold: the internationally accepted goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
Temperatures were 1.5 degrees warmer than pre-industrial times for a record 16 days this month, but the Paris climate accord aims to keep the 20- or 30-year global temperature average to 1.5 degrees. A few days of temporarily beating that threshold have happened before, but never in July. July has been so off-the-charts hot with heat waves blistering three continents - North America, Europe and Asia - that researchers said a record was inevitable.
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