VE Day Commemorations and China Rate Cut

By Rowan Williams
  • Queen commemorates 70th anniversary of VE Day
  • – Hopes of ceasefire grow in Yemen
  • – China cuts interest rates to 5.1 percent


In London, the Queen has joined veterans and their families at a Sunday memorial service in Westminster Abbey to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day – the formal end of the Second World War in Europe. Also in attendance were the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, and the Prime Minister. After a military parade, commemorations were concluded with a fly-past over central London by the Red Arrows, as well as WW2 Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft.

Hopes of an end to the conflict in Yemen were buoyed on Sunday, after Houthi rebels signalled a willingness to cooperate with a ceasefire. Following a six-week bombing campaign of the country, Saudi Arabia on Friday offered a five-day humanitarian ceasefire with Houthi rebels beginning on Tuesday. Rebels said early on Sunday that they would “deal positively with any efforts, calls or measures that would help end the suffering”. The United Nations has expressed strong concerns over the civilian death toll from the conflict in Yemen, both from airstrikes and as a result of the Saudi air and sea blockade of the country, which has caused severe shortages of food, medicine and fuel. At least 1,400 people, mostly civilians, are thought to have died in the airstrikes of recent weeks.

China’s central bank has cut interest rates to 5.1 percent, with the cut to take effect from Monday. The cut is China’s third rate cut in six months, and marks further stimulus efforts from the government to spur on waning growth. China’s central bank says that it aims to boost development through the rate cut. China’s slowdown is expected to continue, with the International Monetary Fund last week predicting China’s growth would stabilise to 6 percent by 2017. Some economists have questioned the effectiveness of China’s rate cuts in stimulating growth.

The Papers

Continuing fallout from Thursday’s general election makes the headlines today. The Independent on Sunday writes that there will be “No Honeymoon for Cameron” in its headline, reporting that Conservative backbench MPs have demanded a “consultation on new laws”. Demands from the Scottish National party (SNP) for its own tax powers also make the front page. The Sunday Telegraph leads with news of the SNP’s “dramatic new push for independence”. SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon has played down claims of a second independence referendum for Scotland, the paper reports, adding that the Prime Minister is preparing to offer “key concessions”. The Prime Minister’s “blitz on Europe” makes the headlines in The Sunday Times, meanwhile, with the paper reporting that Cameron will take “Swift action” on an EU referendum and on the Human Rights Act. The Observer leads with advice from former Prime Minister Tony Blair to the Labour Party: “return to the centre ground to win again”. Only by occupying the political centre ground can Labour recover from its defeat, Blair said.

British Media on China

On the mass holiday of the Tiens Group: several UK media outlets reported on the Tiens Group, after it paid for 6,400 of its employees to go on a four-day holiday in France. The BBC reports that “The biggest tour group to visit the country” was welcomed in Nice on Saturday. The holidaymakers also broke the world record for making “the longest ‘human-made phrase’” visible from the sky, the BBC writes. The Guardian’s agency piece reports that the tourists are expected to spend €13 million euros in total during their visit. The Daily Telegraph calls the visit “The ultimate package holiday”.


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