Japan's emperor wishes for 'peaceful' 2023 in first live New Year address since pandemic began


Japanese Emperor Naruhito greeted well-wishers at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo for the first time in three years on Monday, reviving an annual New Year tradition that was paused during the Covid pandemic.

“Even today, wars and conflicts frequently occur worldwide, and I feel a deep sadness that many people have lost their lives. I strongly feel the importance of repeated dialogue and cooperation with others in the international community to overcome differences in stances,” said the 62-year-old emperor, according to a statement released in advance by the Imperial Household Agency on Sunday.

Images show the emperor and the royal family standing behind a pane of glass at the palace and waving to the crowd below. Many members of the public waved Japanese flags.

In abridged remarks on Monday he wished everyone a “peaceful” 2023.

“I know that there will be many difficulties, but I hope that this year will be a peaceful and good one for all of you,” the emperor said. From 2020 to 2022, Naruhito delivered his New Year’s speech via video message.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako attend a reception to celebrate the New Year at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on January 1, 2023.

Naruhito was joined by Empress Masako, their daughter Princess Aiko, and other members of the family. Under Japan’s male-only succession law, Princess Aiko is forbidden from becoming empress.

On Sunday, Naruhito attended a New Year reception at the Imperial palace with foreign ambassadors.

For centuries, Japanese rulers were considered the living embodiment of gods – but after the postwar US occupation of Japan, the country introduced a new constitution that banned the Imperial family from engaging in politics. Naruhito’s grandfather, Emperor Hirohito, was the last divine Emperor.

Nowadays, Naruhito is a symbol of the state rather than the head of state and wields no political power. Despite this lower public profile, the emperor remains a revered figure within Japan.

Naruhito began his reign in 2019 after his father Akihito became the first emperor to abdicate in 200 years.


[World] Rescuers race to free Vietnamese boy trapped in shaft

BBC News world 

Image source, AFP

Image caption,

The rescue at the bridge construction site has been going on for two days

Rescuers in Vietnam are trying to free a 10-year-old boy trapped deep inside a narrow shaft at a building site.

Reports say Ly Hao Nam was searching for scrap metal when he fell into the hollow concrete pile in southern Dong Thap province on New Year’s Eve.

Teams have battled since then to free him, pumping oxygen into the 35m-deep support pillar to help him breathe.

He was heard crying for help two days ago but gave no response when a camera was lowered down the hole on Monday.

“We are trying our best. We cannot tell the boy’s condition yet,” one rescuer at the bridge construction site in the Mekong delta told AFP news agency.

Officials have been amazed that anyone could fall down the shaft in the pillar, which measures just 25cm (10in) in diameter.

Photos from the scene have shown the boy’s parents watching anxiously as rescuers try to reach their son.

Emergency teams have tried to lift the pile with cranes and excavators, but so far with no success.

They have also softened the soil around the pillar to try to free it, but that has made it tilt and complicated rescue efforts, Reuters news agency reported.


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Second quake in two weeks sends Northern California back to response mode


Northern California officials are back in clean-up mode after the second earthquake in two weeks struck the region Sunday morning, cracking walls and roads.

The 5.4 magnitude earthquake was shallow, striking at a depth of about 19 miles, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. It was centered about 30 miles south of Eureka and 9 miles southeast of Rio Dell, the USGS said.

A 6.4 earthquake also shook the area, about 125 miles south of the Oregon border, on December 20, resulting in two deaths.

Rio Dell Mayor Debra Garnes said the December quake also left 27 of the town’s homes red-tagged – meaning they were unsafe due to damage – and 73 homes yellow-tagged. Some of the buildings were further damaged Sunday and may need to be torn down, she said.

“We are kind of starting over – we had moved from our response to recovery, and now we are basically in both,” Garnes told CNN’s Pamela Brown Sunday. “We have to be back in response because the southern end of town really took it hard this time.”

Garnes said Sunday’s quake shook her house.

“It was crazy. The earthquake felt more violent this time,” Garnes told CNN. “It was shorter, but more violent. My refrigerator moved two feet. Things came out of the refrigerator. There’s a crack in my wall from the violence of it.”

Garnes said a neighbor’s house also had a crack in the wall from the quake.

The mayor said 30% of the town’s water is shut down and the town lost “pockets” of power. There is a 35-foot crack in one of the town’s main roads, she said.

But the mayor said there has been a “tremendous response from the community,” in the form of state and local agencies as well as aid from neighboring towns.

“Literally everyone is trying their best to help us get through this,” Garnes said.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that Sunday’s quake had cut power to an estimated 50% of Rio Dell’s residents. It said the Red Cross had opened an overnight shelter for quake-impacted residents.

The Office of the California Governor Gavin Newsom said that it was monitoring the quake’s impact.

“Stay safe – check gas and water lines for damages or leaks, prepare for aftershocks, and remember to drop, cover, and hold on,” the office said in a tweet.


Five political trends that could make 2023 a momentous year


Republicans’ take over of the House this week will usher in a two-year political era that threatens to bring governing showdowns and shutdowns as a GOP speaker and Democratic president try to wield power from opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

The unprecedented possibility that former President Donald Trump, who’s already launched another bid for the White House, could face indictment could tear the nation further apart at a moment when American democracy remains under grave strain. The already stirring 2024 presidential campaign, meanwhile, will stir more political toxins as both parties sense the White House and control of Congress are up for grabs after the closely fought midterms.

Abroad, the war in Ukraine brings the constant, alarming possibility of spillover into a NATO-Russia conflict and will test the willingness of American taxpayers to keep sending billions of dollars to sustain foreigners’ dreams of freedom. As he leads the West in this crisis, President Joe Biden faces ever more overt challenges from rising superpower China and alarming advances in the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea.

If 2022 was a tumultuous and dangerous year, 2023 could be just as fraught.

Washington is bracing for a sharp shock. Since November, the big story has been about the red wave that didn’t arrive. But the reality of divided government will finally dawn this week. A House Republican majority, in which radical conservatives now have disproportionate influence, will take over one half of Capitol Hill. Republicans will fling investigations, obstruction and possible impeachments at the White House, designed to throttle Biden’s presidency and ruin his reelection hopes.

Ironically, voters who disdained Trump-style circus politics and election denialism will get more of it since the smaller-than-expected GOP majority means acolytes of the ex-president, like expected House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, will have significant sway. The new Republican-run House represents, in effect, a return to power of Trumpism in a powerful corner of Washington. If House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy wins his desperate struggle against his party’s hardliners to secure the speakership, he’ll be at constant risk of walking the plank after making multiple concessions to extreme right-wingers.

A weak speaker and a nihilistic pro-Trump faction in the wider GOP threaten to produce a series of spending showdowns with the White House – most dangerously over the need to raise the government’s borrowing authority by the middle of the year, which could throw the US into default if it’s not done.

As Democrats head into the minority under a new generation of leaders, government shutdowns are more likely than bipartisanship. The GOP is vowing to investigate the business ties of the president’s son, Hunter Biden, and the crisis at the southern border. The GOP could suffer, however, if voters think they overreached – a factor Biden will use as he eyes a second term.

In the Senate, Democrats are still celebrating the expansion of their tiny majority in the midterms. (After two years split at 50-50, the chamber is now 51-49 in their favor). Wasting no time in seeking to carve out a reputation among voters as a force for bipartisanship and effective governance, the president will travel to Kentucky this week. He’ll take part in an event also featuring Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to highlight the infrastructure package that passed with bipartisan support in 2021.

Attorney General Merrick Garland could shortly face one of the most fateful decisions in modern politics: whether to indict Trump over his attempt to steal the 2020 election and over his hoarding of classified documents.

A criminal prosecution of an ex-president and current presidential candidate by the administration that succeeded him would subject the country’s political and judicial institutions to more extreme strain than even Trump has yet managed. The ex-president has already claimed persecution over investigations he faces – and an early declaration of his 2024 campaign has given him the chance to frame them as politicized.

If Trump were indicted, the uproar could be so corrosive that it’s fair to ask whether such an action would be truly in the national interest – assuming special counsel Jack Smith assembles a case that would have a reasonable chance of success in court.

Yet if Trump did indeed break the law – and given the strength of the evidence of insurrection against him presented in the House January 6 committee’s criminal referrals – his case also creates an even more profound dilemma. A failure to prosecute him would set a precedent that puts ex-presidents above the law.

“If a president can incite an insurrection and not be held accountable, then really there’s no limit to what a president can do or can’t do,” outgoing Illinois GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a member of the select committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.

“If he’s not guilty of a crime, then I, frankly, fear for the future of his country because now every future president can say, ‘Hey, here’s the bar.’ And the bar is, do everything you can to stay in power.”

Like it or not, with his November announcement, Trump has pitched America into the next presidential campaign. But unusual doubts cloud his future after seven years dominating the Republican Party. His limp campaign launch, bleating over his 2020 election loss and the poor track record of his hand-picked election-denying candidates in the midterms have dented Trump’s aura.

Potential alternative figureheads for his populist, nationalist culture war politics, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, are emerging who could test the ex-president’s bond with his adoring conservative base. Even as he fends off multiple investigations, Trump must urgently show he’s still the GOP top dog as more and more Republicans consider him a national liability.

Biden is edging closer to giving Americans a new piece of history – a reelection campaign from a president who is over 80. His success in staving off a Republican landslide in the midterms has quelled some anxiety among Democrats about a possible reelection run. And Biden’s strongest card is that he’s already beaten Trump once. Still, he wouldn’t be able to play that card if Trump fades and another potential GOP nominee emerges. DeSantis, for example, is roughly half the current president’s age.

As 2023 opens, a repeat White House duel between Trump and Biden – which polls show voters do not want – is the best bet. But shifting politics, the momentous events in the months to come and the vagaries of fate means there’s no guarantee this will be the case come the end of the year.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year showed how outside, global events can redefine a presidency. Biden’s leadership of the West against Moscow’s unprovoked aggression will be an impressive centerpiece of his legacy. But Russian President Vladimir Putin shows every sign of fighting on for years. Ukraine says it won’t stop until all his forces are driven out. So Biden’s capacity to stop the war from spilling over into a disastrous Russia-NATO clash will be constantly tested.

And who knows how long US and European voters will stomach high energy prices and sending billions of taxpayer cash to arm Ukraine if Western economies dip into recession this year.

Biden has his hands full elsewhere. An alarming airborne near miss between a Chinese jet and US military jet over the South China Sea over the holiday hints at how tensions in the region, especially over Taiwan, could trigger another superpower standoff. Biden also faces burgeoning nuclear crises with Iran and North Korea, which, along with Russia’s nuclear saber rattling, suggests the beginning of a dangerous new era of global conflict and risk.

Rarely has an economy been so hard to judge. In 2022, 40-year-high inflation and tumbling stock markets coincided with historically low unemployment rates, which created an odd simultaneous sensation of economic anxiety and wellbeing. The key question for 2023 will be whether the Federal Reserve’s harsh interest rate medicine – designed to bring down the cost of living – can bring about a soft landing without triggering a recession that many analysts believe is on the way.

Washington spending showdowns and potential government shutdowns could also pose new threats to growth. The economy will be outside any political leader’s capacity to control, but its state at the end of the year will play a vital role in an election that will define America, domestically and globally after 2024.


[Entertainment] Jeremy Renner: Avengers star ‘critical but stable’ in hospital after snow plough accident

BBC News world 

Image source, Getty Images

Marvel actor Jeremy Renner is in a critical but stable condition in hospital after an accident occurred while he was ploughing snow.

A spokesperson for the star told Deadline the 51-year-old was airlifted to hospital on Sunday after the incident at his home near Reno, Nevada.

They added that Renner was “receiving excellent care” following the “weather-related accident”.

Dozens of people have been killed across the US amid blizzard conditions.

The winter storm also caused power cuts and forced the cancellation of thousands of flights.

Local public information officer Kristin Vietti told The Hollywood Reporter that Renner was taken to a local hospital and that he was the only one involved in the accident.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Hailee Steinfeld stars opposite Renner in Hawkeye

The major accident investigation team at the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office is looking into the circumstances of the incident, she added.

The office said in a statement given to the Reuters news agency that it “responded to a traumatic injury in the area of Mt. Rose Highway in Reno, Nevada on Sunday morning at 09:00”.

Renner is probably best known for playing Hawkeye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

He has also starred in films such as The Hurt Locker – for which he received a best actor Oscar nomination – American Hustle and Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

Renner was also nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for his role in The Town.

He is currently starring in Paramount+ series The Mayor Of Kingstown and recently saw his fictional own-branded hot sauce make a cameo appearance in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.


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Kevin McCarthy's problem: historically unpopular with a historically small majority


House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy is hoping all’s well that ends well when it comes to becoming speaker of the chamber. The current minority leader and former majority leader may have thought he’d have the speakership locked up by now, but, ahead of the new Congress that begins on Tuesday, he doesn’t.

McCarthy’s problems in securing the top spot in the House are more easily understood when you realize the hand he’s been dealt. He has a historically small majority for a potential first-time speaker, and McCarthy, himself, is historically unpopular compared with other House members who have tried to become speaker.

McCarthy’s Republican Party secured only 222 seats in the 2022 midterms, leaving him little room for error to get to 218 votes – the number needed to achieve the speakership assuming all members vote. McCarthy can only afford to lose the support of four Republicans, and the list of GOP lawmakers who’ve said they will vote against him is longer than that.

No potential first-time House speaker has had such a small majority since Democrat John Nance Garner in 1931. The only first-time speaker in recent times who comes close to McCarthy’s current situation is former Illinois Rep. Dennis Hastert, whose Republican Party entered 1999 with 223 seats. Hastert had the advantage of being a compromise choice after Newt Gingrich stepped down after the 1998 midterms and his would-be successor Bob Livingston resigned following revelations of an extramarital affair.

Indeed, all other potential first-time House speakers in the last 90 years had at least 230 seats in their majority. Speakers whose party held fewer seats than that all had the power of incumbency (i.e., having been elected to the position at least once before).

Remember that McCarthy has been close to the speakership before. He was next in line to become speaker when Republican John Boehner resigned in 2015. But the California Republican couldn’t get his caucus to rally around him enough to win a majority of House votes, and Paul Ryan went on to become speaker instead.

McCarthy had a lot more votes to work with back then – 245 GOP-held seats, more than any potential first-time speaker in the past 30 years. If he couldn’t get the 218 votes then under much more favorable circumstances, one might wonder how he can get to 218 now?

Polling provides somewhat of an answer to this question and helps explain why McCarthy has been facing an uphill battle in the first place.

A CNN/SSRS poll last month found that his net favorable (i.e. favorable minus unfavorable) rating was +30 points among Republicans. That’s certainly not bad. (Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell has notoriously low ratings among Republicans.) But a net favorability rating of +30 points isn’t really good either.

Another way to frame it: McCarthy is liked by Republicans, but far from beloved. There’s no groundswell of support from the grassroots demanding he become speaker.

McCarthy has the second-lowest net favorability rating among his own party members of all first-time potential speakers in the last 28 years. Only Gingrich’s +24 points in late 1994 was lower. Others such as Boehner (in late 2010) and Nancy Pelosi (in late 2006) had net favorability ratings above +50 points among the party faithful.

The good news for McCarthy is that he’s much better liked now than he was in late 2015 when his net favorability among Republicans was just +2 points. Back then, Republicans had a much more politically attractive choice in Ryan.

The former vice presidential nominee had a net favorability rating of +48 points among Republicans.

The biggest problem Republican foes of McCarthy have right now is that there’s no Ryan. There isn’t a well-known and well-liked Republican waiting in the wings if McCarthy fails. It’s difficult to beat something with nothing.

Under such a circumstance, it’s not difficult to imagine another scenario playing out: McCarthy becoming speaker with less than 218 votes. He needs a majority of those House members who cast votes on the speakership. If enough members stay home or vote present, the threshold for a majority can drop.

Although no first-time speaker has gotten the job with less than 218 votes in at least 110 years, it’s happened a number of times for recent sitting speakers. Last Congress, Pelosi was reelected speaker with 216 votes. It was the same for Boehner in 2015. In fact, it appears that five speakers have been elected with less than 218 votes in the last century.

A number of Republicans may come to realize that while they can’t vote for McCarthy, there does not appear to be a viable Republican alternative to him becoming speaker at this time. They, therefore, may simply not vote “yes” or “no” on McCarthy at all. This would allow him to slip by assuming he still gets more votes for speaker than the new House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries.

Either way, all of this GOP angst is a pretty decent consolation prize for Democrats after losing the House majority. If nothing else, they’re watching a Republican Party that can’t seem to get its act together after a historically bad midterm for an opposition party.

And if McCarthy does become speaker, his net favorability rating of -19 points among all adults would by far be the worst for any first-time House speaker in the last 30 years. He’s far more unpopular than either Gingrich (-9 points) or Pelosi (+18 points) were among all Americans when they were first elected speaker. Both of them later became political targets for the minority party to exploit.


Four dead and several injured after two helicopters collide on Australia's Gold Coast


A midair collision between two helicopters in Australia has left four people dead and three others in critical condition, authorities said Monday.

The collision happened around 2 p.m. local time near the popular tourist strip of Main Beach on the Gold Coast, south of Brisbane.

“Those two aircraft, when collided, have crash landed on the sand bank just out from Sea World Resort,” Queensland Police Inspector Gary Worrell, a regional duty officer for the southeastern region, told reporters.

He added it had been difficult for emergency services to access the sand bank, located not far from the coast.

Thirteen people were on the two helicopters, according to Jayney Shearman, from the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS). Of those, four people died, three suffered serious injuries and six had minor injuries, including cuts from shattered glass.

An aerial view of the site where two helicopters collided midair in the Gold Coast on January 2.

All the injured had been taken to hospital, she said.

Photos from the site show debris lying on a strip of sand, with personnel gathered on land and numerous vessels in the surrounding waters.

Worrell said that though it’s too early to determine the exact cause of the accident, initial inquiries suggests one helicopter had been taking off and the other landing when they collided.

One helicopter “has its windscreen removed, and it’s landed safely on the island. The other (helicopter) has crashed, and it was upside down,” he said.

He added that after the crash, nearby police and members of the public rushed to the site, trying to remove and perform first aid on those inside the helicopter.

Debris of a helicopter that crashed near the Main Beach in Gold Coast, Australia, on January 2.

Angus Mitchell, Chief Commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), said in a statement that an investigation had been launched into the collision.

Investigators from the ATSB’s offices in Brisbane and Canberra will be deployed to the scene to gather evidence, examine the wreckage and map the site, as well as interview witnesses and involved parties, Mitchell added.

He asked people who witnessed the collision or saw the helicopters in flight to contact investigators. A preliminary report will come in the next six to eight weeks, with a final report after the investigation is complete, he said.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk expressed her “deepest sympathies” for the victims’ families and everybody affected. “What has happened on the Gold Coast today is an unthinkable tragedy,” she said.

Police say Sea World Drive has been closed to traffic and urged motorists and pedestrians to avoid the area.

Sea World Drive is the main access point for the marine park that’s popular with tourists on the heart of the Gold Coast. It’s peak tourist season in the region right now, with schools closed for the long summer break.

CNN has reached out to Sea World for comment.


America’s new B-21 Raider has 4 big secrets China wants to steal

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The Air Force’s new B-21 Raider stealth bomber that debuted Dec. 2 is safely back in its hangar in California, but you can bet China’s keyboard warriors are furiously clicking away trying to unravel its secrets via cyber-espionage. 

You, me and military officers in China and other bad guy countries all want to know four big secrets about the B-21. 

First, can the B-21 fly without pilots? Original acquisition documents called for the B-21 bomber to be “capable of manned and unmanned operations.” Military drones take the man or woman out to save weight and increase endurance flight time. No one doubts the Air Force pilots can stick it out for long missions. Back in 2001, two B-2 bomber pilots logged a 44-hour mission from Missouri to Afghanistan and back. Bomber pilots train in simulators for 72-hour missions (and you thought the center seat on Southwest Airlines was tough.)


However, it’s not hard to picture a B-21 in the future on an unmanned mission, high above enemy missile fields, deterring attack by spotting missiles as they come out of hiding. One day the B-21 may be the first warplane fully certified to operate with or without a crew.

Second, how do the hidden engines work? Notice you cannot even see the B-21’s engines. Experts think the B-21 flies with two highly advanced engines, but the glimpse of Raider on Dec. 2 revealed nothing. The technology to embed engines and muffle their heat flow is one of the most-prized secrets of the B-21 Raider. “This is a very, very different design as far as airflow, and there have been some design challenges there,” Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., told Defense News back in March 2018. Trust engine supplier Pratt & Whitney of Connecticut to have that all worked out, and keep it more closely guarded than the recipe for Coca-Cola.

Third, the Chinese, Russians and others are wondering about what type of missions the B-21 can carry out. Upholding the nuclear deterrence triad by training for nuclear weapons delivery will be one vital task. However, the B-21 with its advanced networking is also primed for a range of conventional missions.


Let me illustrate by way of the movie “Top Gun: Maverick” which, if you are reading this piece, you probably saw. Tom Cruise as Maverick trained Miles Teller’s character Rooster and the other Navy pilots to hit an undeclared nuclear site that was violating all sorts of treaties. (Might be you, Iran!) In the movie, the Navy jets reached their target by flying in low. Then they were jumped by enemy fighters from a nearby base. Gallantry ensued.


But in my opinion, that was actually a classic stealth bomber target set. A system like the B-21 can approach the target area at high altitude, avoiding detection, then use lots of precision direct attack and/or stand-off weapons, from a better release altitude, to destroy the nuclear site, the runway and any other hardened and buried aim points. Consider the B-21 for “Top Gun III – Maverick vs Xi Jinping,” if you ever produce it, Mr. Cruise.

So, can China crack the secrets of the B-21? We know China will try. At Plant 42 in California, the Air Force says people are found “walking their dogs” along the concertina wire fence at 4 a.m. and little drones “accidentally” crash in the compound. To be sure, the B-21 program is also a major stress test for cybersecurity since many companies supply the program. Still, I’m not worried. The immense secrecy surrounding the B-21 was baked into the program from the start.

Here’s the fourth item: the B-21 is not the only secret airplane out there. The Air Force flew a prototype of a new stealth fighter in 2020. No official pictures have been revealed, but concept art from the Air Force Research Lab showed an almost alien-looking design for the fighter emphasizing both stealth and high speed. Just as the P-51 Mustang pursuit planes paired with B-17s and B-24s in World War II, the Air Force will have both unmanned wingman drones and a new fighter to go to war with the B-21.

The new B-21 Raider may have enemies on the watch – but it also has friends.



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One third of world economy expected to be in recession in 2023, says IMF chief

New Delhi

This year is going to be tougher on the global economy than the one we have left behind, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva has warned.

“Why? Because the three big economies, US, EU, China, are all slowing down simultaneously,” she said in an interview that aired on CBS Sunday.

“We expect one third of the world economy to be in recession,” she said, adding that even for countries that are not in recession: “It would feel like recession for hundreds of millions of people.”

While the US may end up avoiding a recession, the situation looks more bleak in Europe, which has been hit hard by the war in Ukraine, she said. “Half of the European Union will be in recession,” Georgieva added.

The IMF currently projects global growth to be at 2.7% this year, slowing from 3.2% in 2022.

The deceleration in China will have a dire impact globally. The world’s second largest economy weakened dramatically in 2022 because of its rigid zero-Covid policy, which left China out of sync with the rest of the world, disrupting supply chains and damaging the flow of trade and investment.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping said this weekend that he expected China’s economy to have expanded by at least 4.4% last year, a figure much stronger than many economists had predicted but much lower than the 8.4% growth rate seen in 2021.

“For the first time in 40 years China’s growth in 2022 is likely to be at or below global growth,” Georgieva said. “Before Covid, China would deliver 34, 35, 40% of global growth. It is not doing it anymore,” she said, adding that it is “quite a stressful” period for Asian economies.

“When I talk to Asian leaders, all of them start with this question, ‘What is going to happen with China? Is China going to return to a higher level of growth?’ ” she said.

Beijing abandoned Covid restrictions in early December, and while its reopening may provide some much-needed relief to the global economy, the recovery is going to be erratic and painful.

China’s haphazard reopening has unleashed a wave of Covid cases that have overwhelmed the health care system, dampening consumption and production in the process.

The next couple of months will “be tough for China, and the impact on Chinese growth would be negative,” Georgieva said, adding that she expects the country to move gradually to a “higher level of economic performance, and finish the year better off than it is going to start the year.”