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Throngs of protesters joined a general strike against Myanmar’s military junta on Monday, closing businesses and flooding on to streets in what organisers said was the biggest day of defiance since the coup.

Large crowds brushed aside a growing threat of violence by the regime to assemble in cities across the country, including Yangon, Naypyidaw and Mandalay, where security forces shot dead two protesters and injured several others on Saturday.

Banks, supermarkets, local vendors and most other businesses were shut in Yangon, the country’s biggest city. The protest was labelled “22222” or “five twos” revolution in reference to the date 22/2/2021. The name was also meant to evoke the 8888 uprising, a popular revolt against the military regime of the time that began on August 8 1988 and was later crushed.

The protests came as the military government of General Min Aung Hlaing stepped up its verbal attacks on protesters and the western democracies that have condemned the coup. The US state department is considering further action against Myanmar amid the crack down. (FT, Reuters)

Coronavirus digest

The pandemic thrust unfamiliar practices on many workers but mediocrity open up fresh creative possibilities. Follow the latest Covid-19 news with our live blog.

In the news

China urges Biden to lift sanctions China’s foreign minister Wang Yi has urged Washington to lift sanctions and to stop interfering in the country’s internal affairs and suppressing its tech sector, in his first big speech on US-China relations since Joe Biden’s inauguration. (FT)

Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, urged Washington to abandon its ‘irrational suppression’ of China’s tech industry at a US-China forum in Beijing © AFP via Getty Images

Brazilian markets rattled by removal of Petrobras chief Shares in Petrobras tumbled 19 per cent and Brazil’s currency slid against the dollar after President Jair Bolsonaro moved to replace the oil producer’s chief executive following a dispute over fuel prices. (FT)

Iran inspection deal opens window for nuclear talks with US A last-minute deal between Iran and the UN atomic watchdog over snap inspections has opened a narrow diplomatic window to revive the landmark nuclear treaty between international powers and Tehran. (FT)

Path cleared for NY prosecutor to obtain Trump taxes The US Supreme Court has rejected Donald Trump’s efforts to block a New York prosecutor from obtaining his tax records, in a big blow to the former president as he grapples with several criminal probes. Here is what the decision could mean for the Manhattan district attorney’s pending criminal investigation against Trump. (FT, CNN)

UK to call for UN probe of Xinjiang’s Uighur camps The UK foreign secretary wants UN investigators to be given urgent access to Uighur camps in Xinjiang as he warned that human rights abuses in the Chinese province are taking place on an “industrial scale”. (FT)

McKinsey referendum on Sneader leadership McKinsey’s 650 senior partners have begun voting on whether Kevin Sneader should serve a second term at the helm of a consultancy that has faced a succession of crises since his appointment in 2018. The company has also become a magnet for criticism for its role in France’s vaccine distribution. (FT, NYT)

Texas deep freeze lifts profits at gas trader Macquarie The Australian company has emerged as a beneficiary of the deep freeze that led to blackouts and soaring energy prices in Texas and the central US last week, forecasting a A$300m boost to profits on a surge in demand for its natural gas shipping business. (FT)

Boeing 777 aircraft grounded Dozens of Boeing 777 widebody aircraft have been grounded across the world after an engine failure on a United Airlines flight caused the plane to shed debris across a Denver suburb. (FT)

In this image taken from video, the engine of United Airlines Flight 328 is on fire after after experiencing “a right-engine failure” shortly after takeoff
In this image taken from video, the engine of United Airlines Flight 328 is on fire after experiencing “a right-engine failure” shortly after take-off © AP

The days ahead

Malaysia to deport Myanmar nationals The Malaysian government plans to deport 1,200 Myanmar citizens on Tuesday, including some who are asylum seekers. Myanmar’s military has sent ships to retrieve the detainees. (Reuters)

Jay Powell on Capitol Hill Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell is scheduled to testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and the next day at the House Financial Services panel. Meanwhile, Wall Street is beginning to fret about the prospect of rising inflation. (FT)

GM200218_21X Fed inflation WEB V3

Earnings round-up Companies reporting results on Tuesday include Home Depot, HSBC, Intuit, Occidental Petroleum and InterContinental Hotels. (FT)

What else we’re reading

Australia’s fight with Big Tech previews other battles to come The country’s new law highlights how platforms are more interested in following their own rules than being held accountable, writes Stanford University’s Marietje Schaake. It previews additional fights that will ensue when other countries seek to curb the powers of big tech. (FT)

Russia’s rubber-stamp courts play starring role in crackdown The rush to prosecute the Kremlin’s political opponents has highlighted what experts say are longstanding problems in Russia’s court system. Convictions are all but guaranteed, and prosecutions become tools in business disputes. (FT)

Alexei Navalny in a Moscow court on Saturday. He urged his supporters to continue their fight © Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP
Alexei Navalny in a Moscow court on Saturday. He urged his supporters to continue their fight © Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

The boardroom’s futile pursuit of purpose For all the claims made by corporations, sceptics still believe shareholders — not stakeholders — will win out, writes Stefan Stern, author of How to Be a Better Leader. The real test of whether a corporate leadership’s message is getting through is if front-line employees understand it. (FT)

Workers bear the brunt of a sweatpants boom As employees working from home trade business casual for pajama chic (or just regular pyjamas), retailers selling sweatpants and leisurewear have emerged as the winners. However, garment workers — many of whom are located in south-east Asia — have not shared in the prosperity. (Vox)

Why once successful countries like the UK get left behind Since the global financial crisis, UK productivity has been virtually stagnant, writes Martin Wolf. The decline in productivity growth is not unique to the UK, but the country’s deterioration was the biggest out of all G7 leading high-income economies, and a lack of innovation could be the problem. (FT)

Five of Tokyo’s top spots for coffee Choosing the best coffee shops in Tokyo — a city awash with excellent Java — is nigh-on mission impossible. But here are five of the many that give our correspondent a real buzz. (FT)

© Yasuyuki Takagi | The Mosque Coffee
© Yasuyuki Takagi | The Mosque Coffee

Video of the day

Where does the Republican party go after Trump? The FT’s global business commentator Rana Foroohar and US finance editor Robert Armstrong discuss the struggle for the soul of the GOP after the departure of Donald Trump

Video: Where does the Republican party go after Trump?

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