Your Monday Briefing

Good morning. We’re covering tensions between China and Taiwan, the upcoming retirement of President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and the grim fate of captured Yazidis.

Members of Taiwan’s air force armed missiles during a drill in January.Credit…Ritchie B Tongo/EPA, via Shutterstock

China tests Taiwanese airspace

For two straight days, China sent a record number of planes in its direction, Taiwan said, a display of strength that added muscle to Beijing’s warnings that it could ultimately use force to take hold of the self-ruled island.

Although the sorties by nearly 80 aircraft did not suggest an imminent threat of war, the planes reflect Beijing’s increasingly unabashed signaling that it wants to absorb Taiwan. Notably, China sent the flights out on a symbolic weekend: Oct. 1 is the country’s National Day holiday. Taiwan has been preparing to mark its own national holiday, on Oct. 10.

Chinese military planes now enter Taiwan’s “air identification zone” nearly every day, but these flights stood out because of the number and types of planes involved, including bombers and anti-submarine planes, and because China sent its planes at night.

Context: The flights did not cross into Taiwan’s sovereign airspace, which reaches 12 nautical miles from its coast. But they did cross into the island’s much larger identification zone, where Taiwanese authorities assert the right to tell entering planes to identify themselves and their purpose.

Response: Taiwan’s military responded by sending its own fighter jets to monitor, but not confront, the planes. The strain of responding to China’s regular intrusions is wearing on Taiwanese pilots and aircraft, and experts said it could be affecting the island’s overall vigilance.

U.S.: Taiwan’s security increasingly depends on the U.S., which provides most of its weapons and condemned the Chinese flights. Under a 1979 law, the U.S. could intervene in an attempted military takeover, but it is not obliged to do so.

President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his final State of the Nation address in July.Credit…Jam Sta Rosa/Associated Press

Rodrigo Duterte will retire

The Philippine president, whose term ends next year, said that he would retire rather than seek the vice presidency.

Duterte’s announcement was a surprise reversal of a plan meant to keep him in government after his single, constitutionally limited term ends next June.

But after opinion polls indicated public opposition to his vice-presidential candidacy, especially after his handling of the pandemic and its economic fallout, Duterte said he would not run, “in obedience to the will of the people.”

Future: Duterte, 76, may well retain strong influence, especially if his popular daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio, or his close ally, Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, wins the top spot in the election.

Context: Last month, the International Criminal Court authorized a full investigation into Duterte’s war on drugs, which has left thousands of people dead since he took office in 2016. Critics saw his earlier plan to seek the vice presidency — with Go as president — as a way to shield himself from prosecution.

Yazidi children playing in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.Credit…Hawre Khalid for The New York Times

ISIS still holds some Yazidis

Seven years after they were captured by the Islamic State, more than 3,000 members of the Iraqi religious minority are still missing.

Most are presumed dead. But hundreds more are thought to be alive and held captive in Syria or Turkey. In some cases, their families know where they are and have been in contact with them or their captors.

But financial support and interest from governments and private donors has dried up. Now, some of the captured children have forgotten that they are Yazidi.

Background: In 2014, when the Islamic State established a self-declared caliphate in Iraq and parts of Syria, fighters embarked on a campaign of genocide against the ancient sect. They killed more than 3,000 and captured 6,000, sexually enslaving many of the women and girls.

One family: Islamic State fighters captured Abbas Hussein’s teenage son from Iraq, and five other relatives. The boy is being forced to work in Syria for about $1 a day. The captors are demanding $9,000 for each of his relatives.


Asia and the Middle East

South Korea’s attempts to stem misinformation have raised questions about censorship and democratic backsliding.Credit…Yonhap/EPA, via Shutterstock
  • South Korea postponed a vote on a new law aimed to curb fake news after rights groups warned it would discourage reporting on powerful people.

  • North Korea is intentionally sending mixed signals, firing missiles while also trying to reopen communication with South Korea.

  • Princess Mako of Japan will renounce her royal heritage and forgo a dowry of around $1.4 million to marry her college boyfriend.

Virus News

More than 98 percent of the newly reported cases in Singapore have been mild or asymptomatic.Credit…Edgar Su/Reuters
  • Singapore hit a record daily number of Covid cases, despite its high vaccination rate.

  • Israel will only consider someone fully vaccinated if they have a booster shot.

  • The Alpha and Delta variants may be more efficient at airborne transmission than the original coronavirus.

  • Australia plans to lift its bans on international travel in November.

Afghanistan News

  • At least two people have died in an explosion outside a mosque in Kabul.

  • An estimated 53,000 Afghan evacuees remain on eight military bases in the U.S., and 14,000 more wait on American bases abroad.

  • Ben Roberts-Smith, Australia’s most decorated soldier, is suing three newspapers that accused him of unlawful killings in Afghanistan.

What Else Is Happening

  • A pipeline failure off the California coast on Saturday caused at least 126,000 gallons of oil to spill, creating a 13-mile slick that is already killing wildlife.

  • In Israel, killings of Arabs by Arabs have spiked, a sign of decades of neglect in those communities.

  • The Nobel Prizes will be announced beginning Monday.

A Morning Read

Jens Haaning’s “Take the Money and Run.”Credit…Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP, via Getty Images

A Danish museum gave an artist about $83,000 to reproduce a pair of his previous works, which reflect the nature of work in the modern world. Instead the artist delivered two blank canvases, which he called “Take the Money and Run.”


Credit…Julia Dufossé

Viral shopping on TikTok

Give any social media platform long enough, and it turns into a mall.

TikTok, so far, hasn’t had to try so hard. In just three short years, clothing, cosmetics, cleaning solutions, tech accessories, toys and life-hacky appliances have seen sales skyrocket after going viral on the app.

Successes can seem organic and very, very random. “CleanTok,” for instance, has sent sales skyrocketing for Pink Stuff, an abrasive cleaning paste. Annual sales have gone from $2.6 million three years ago to $34 million. On TikTok, any thing can be the next big thing.

Now, the app is expanding its scroll-and-buy outreach. Last week, the app promoted TikTok Shopping, intended to simplify and standardize in-app purchases. But it treads a fine line: Maybe the naked consumerism is only tolerable to the extent that it’s not trying too hard.


What to Cook

Mark Weinberg for The New York TimesCredit…Mark Weinberg for The New York Times

This buttery apple skillet cake has caramel inside and caramel on top.

What to Watch

“Britney vs Spears,” a Netflix documentary, offers a timely, vexing primer on the pop star’s legal battle.

What to Read

“Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters,” Steven Pinker’s new book, offers advice on how to reason well.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

And here is today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia

P.S. The Times won five Emmy Awards, including one for outstanding editing for the documentary “Father Soldier Son.”

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the new abortion law in Texas.

You can reach Amelia and the team at [email protected].

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