FirstFT: China warns of clash with the US

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Beijing has warned the US to “hit the brakes” over its attempts to contain China, highlighting the Chinese Communist party’s concerns over escalating tension between the rival superpowers.

Private credit groups are poised to write the largest direct loan ever, underscoring their growing power in the wake of the global financial crisis,

Scroll down for more on both stories. Meanwhile, I’ll be keeping tabs on:

  • US Federal Reserve: Chair Jay Powell testifies today before the Senate Banking Committee as fellow Fed officials hint at keeping interest rates higher for longer.

  • US defence: US defence secretary Lloyd Austin continues his Middle East trip and will return to Jordan tonight after a surprise stop in Baghdad.

  • SEC: The District of Columbia Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by digital currency asset manager Grayscale against the Securities and Exchange Commission after the regulator denied an application to convert the world’s largest cryptocurrency investment vehicle into an exchange traded fund. Separately, Grayscale is being sued by FTX trading affiliate Alameda over crypto investments.

Happy to hear any feedback on FirstFT at [email protected] Thank you for reading.

Today’s top news

1. China’s foreign minister Qin Gang sent a stark warning to the US over its containment of China today from the annual session of his country’s rubber-stamp legislature, saying: “If the US doesn’t hit the brakes and continues to barrel down the wrong track, no amount of guardrails can prevent the carriage from derailing and crashing, and there will surely be conflict and confrontation.” The FT had earlier revealed that US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy would meet Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen in California and not Taipei to avoid an aggressive Chinese military response. More on why the venue was changed.

2. The US defence secretary said Iran was doing the “unthinkable” in Ukraine by gaining experience through deploying drones for Russia. Here’s why Lloyd Austin thinks this “doesn’t bode well” for the Middle East.

3. EXCLUSIVE: Private credit groups are set to write the largest direct loan on record, with Apollo, Ares and Blackstone confident they can land a deal to help Carlyle acquire 50 per cent of healthcare analytics company Cotiviti, sources said. Read the full story.

4. Oil companies are lining up for billions of dollars in subsidies under Joe Biden’s US climate law, taking advantage of generous incentives to plough cash into projects to capture and lock away carbon dioxide, to retool refineries for making biofuels, and produce low-emission hydrogen. Read more here.

5. Chinese companies are choosing Switzerland to raise money, shunning the US due to geopolitical tensions and Britain over tougher audit standards. Find out how Chinese companies raised nearly seven times the capital in Zurich as in New York last year.

The Big Read

Disposable e-cigarettes at a recycling plant
Disposable e-cigarettes at a recycling plant © Amit Lennon/Material Focus/Recycle Your Electricals

Electronic cigarettes have cemented their status as a less harmful way of consuming nicotine — but at a big cost to the environment. Tonnes of electronic waste are being produced, with critical metals inside the disposable “vapes” more likely to be dumped than recycled.

We’re also reading and watching . . . 

Chart of the day

China’s political leadership announced an unambitious 5 per cent growth target this weekend, despite optimism following three years of closures. Why has Beijing set its lowest goal in decades? Read our analysis to find out.

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Take a break from the news

While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hems, haws and nervously assembles a crisis team ahead of awards night on March 12, FT readers can have their say now via our new Oscars voting tool. Cast your ballots below. (Ball gowns and black tie optional.)

Additional contributions by Tee Zhuo, Emily Goldberg and David Hindley

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