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Good morning. A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi crashed yesterday in a mountainous area in the country’s north-west, according to Iranian officials who did not provide details of Raisi’s condition.

State media showed video footage of a convoy of ambulances struggling to make their way through thick fog up a mountain road. According to Tasnim news agency, the crash site has been located in Arasbaran Forest near the border with Azerbaijan.

Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was also on board the helicopter as part of Raisi’s entourage, returning from a visit to the country’s north-western province of East Azerbaijan, where they inaugurated a dam. Here’s what we know about the rescue effort.

And here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:

  • Taiwan inauguration: Incoming president Lai Ching-te will start his first term under pressure to tackle deepening economic inequality while at the same time meeting US demands to shore up defences against an increasingly assertive China.

  • Economic data: Hong Kong publishes April jobs figures, while Thailand reports first-quarter GDP.

  • Monetary policy: China makes its loan prime rate announcement.

  • India election: Financial markets are closed for the fifth phase of the country’s staggered seven-stage general election.

  • Japan-Saudi relations: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives in Tokyo for a four-day official visit.

Five more top stories

1. China has signalled it will retaliate against trade barriers introduced by the US and the EU as it launched an anti-dumping probe into chemical imports. Beijing’s move suggests it will take tit-for-tat action against foreign trade barriers, but the narrow investigation into chemicals also highlights the limits on its ability to respond.

2. The far-right Alternative for Germany’s lead candidate in next month’s EU elections has attacked the west’s “complete paranoia” about China. Maximilian Krah defended his controversial support for Beijing’s policies in an interview with the FT a month after his staffer Jian Guo was arrested on suspicion of spying for Beijing.

3. Washington’s G7 allies are warming to a US plan to rush tens of billions of dollars in funding to Ukraine before Donald Trump’s potential return to the White House. Trump has opposed US aid to Kyiv, but Washington’s plan seeks to front-load aid for Ukraine by using profits from Russia’s frozen assets as loan guarantees.

4. Efforts by US Republican lawmakers to ban lab-grown meat are an “own goal” that will give Asia a competitive advantage, just as with semiconductors, according to the chief executive of Australian producer Vow. The start-up won approval last month to sell cultured Japanese quail meat in Singapore, where its product is being marketed as a luxury item in expensive restaurants.

5. Defence and security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo said they had thwarted an “attempted coup” against the government of the mineral-rich nation yesterday in the capital Kinshasa. An army spokesperson said the alleged putsch involved “foreign nationals”, adding that those taking part had been “neutralised, including their leader”. 

Visual story

Taiwan occupies a strategically vital position for both China and the US. For Beijing, Taiwan and its islands are part of its territory, which it wants to unify with the mainland and in the process push US military power ever further away from eastern Asia. Three decades of investment means China’s military is now close to being able to fight a Taiwan war. The FT has identified five key military contests that would help define the outcome of a conflict.

We’re also reading . . . 

  • Singapore: What can other countries learn from Singapore? The island’s ultimate strength has been a lack of dogma, writes Janan Ganesh.

  • Private equity in Japan: Japanese chipmaker Kokusai Electric came to value its private equity backers KKR as a tool for change ahead of country’s biggest IPO in five years.

  • Taxing the super-rich: What once seemed like an impossibility is now being considered by G20 finance ministers, writes Martin Sandbu.

Chart of the day

China’s artificial intelligence groups are selling “AI-in-a-box” products for companies to run on their own premises, in a threat to the public AI cloud computing services offered by the country’s big tech groups such as Alibaba, Baidu and Tencents.

China’s deep pocketed SOEs and governments opt for the private cloud

Take a break from the news

How much fun do you have at work? There are serious reasons for having a laugh on the job, writes Pilita Clark, but jokes at work need to be deployed with skill and care.

© Kenneth Andersson

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