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SINA WEIBO (China), TEALEAF NATION (China), LE MONDE (France), ASAHI SHIMBUN (Japan), NPR (U.S.A.)

Worldcrunch

BEIJING - The Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Congress concluded with 59-year-old Xi Jinping being officially chosen as head of state.

The decision at the weeklong meeting was in no way a surprise but came as the culmination of the months of intense behind-the-scenes maneuvering between neo-Maoist and pro-reform factions. Xi’s party is considered to be one of moderate reform, and he was a compromise candidate. His rise to China’s top position was considerably aided by the fall of his neo-Maoist rival Bo Xilai, who is awaiting trial for abuse of power and whose wife was convicted of murdering a British businessman.

At a press conference for 200 members of the foreign and domestic media, Xi declared that the Party faced “problems of corruption, of loss of contact with the people, of bureaucracy. We must respond,” reports Le Monde.

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Xi Jinping’s appointment has been seen by many as a sign that the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party wants to move forward with at least some reforms. But the new party lineup, notes Asahi Shimbun, “is heavy on conservatives and leaves out reform-minded politicians” and is “another all-male cast of politicians whose instincts are to move cautiously.”

Another twist in Xi’s biography is his wife, Peng Liyuan, who was famous before he was, as she is a well-known singer in the People’s Liberation Army. (Here she sings “My expand=1] Motherland.”)

Xi, a Chinese “princeling” whose father was a revolutionary, grew up in luxury as “red nobility,” reports Le Monde, but was sent to a remote village to live in a cave during his father’s disgrace at the time of the Cultural Revolution.

A villager told an NPR reporter that once Xi accidentally ate a frog and a snake for supper (it was “an exceptionally good meal. They didn’t know why”). The young man was plagued by fleas and not used to climbing mountains; the villagers were impressed that someone from such an important family would be “close to the people.” The link to the story was removed from Twitter almost immediately.

During the weeklong meeting, which was intensively but carefully covered by Chinese media, much of Beijing’s normal life was affected by security measures. The microblogging site Sina Weibo was monitored by censors for any disrespectful posts, including mentions of “Sparta,” which was a web nickname for “18th Great.”

One compilation of the 18 different Politburo members, from 1949 till now, showing a progression from intense young revolutionaries in peasant clothes to plump middle-aged men in suits, was immediately deleted, along with a surreptitious series of photos showing former premier Jiang Zemin dozing off during the interminable speeches.

Jiang Zzzzzemin

Tealeaf Nation, a China-watching site, published a Beijing University student’s sardonic take on “taking my girlfriend shopping for the 18th time....The main focus of her shopping is cosmetics. She usually purchases seven or nine varieties there are seven to nine members of the Politburo. This time, she crossed the name of a very famous brand off her shopping list, because there have been some problems with this brand,” a reference to Bo Xilai.

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Economy

In Uganda, Having A "Rolex" Is About Not Going Hungry

Experts fear the higher food prices resulting from the conflict in Ukraine could jeopardize the health of many Ugandans. Take a look at this ritzy-named simple dish.

Zziwa Fred, a street vendor who runs two fast-food businesses in central Uganda, rolls a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex.

Nakisanze Segawa

WAKISO — Godfrey Kizito takes a break from his busy shoe repair shop every day so he can enjoy his favorite snack, a vegetable and egg omelet rolled in a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex. But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Kizito says this much-needed staple has shrunk in size.

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Most streets and markets in Uganda have at least one vendor firing up a hot plate ready to cook the Rolex, short for rolled eggs — which usually comes with tomatoes, cabbage and onion and is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings (28 to 57 cents). Street vendor Farouk Kiyaga says many of his customers share Kizito’s disappointment over the dwindling size of Uganda’s most popular street food, but Kiyaga is struggling with the rising cost of wheat and cooking oil.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted exports out of the two countries, which account for about 26% of wheat exports globally and about 80% of the world’s exports of sunflower oil, pushing prices to an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. Not only oil and wheat are affected. Prices of the most consumed foods worldwide, such as meat, grains and dairy products, hit their highest levels ever in March, making a nutritious meal even harder to buy for those who already struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.N. organization warns the conflict could lead to as many as 13.1 million more people going hungry between 2022 and 2026.

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