One of China's most prominent "Wolf Warrior" diplomats was on July 28 announced as his nation's new ambassador to the United States.
The hawkish Qin Gang, a close confidante of President Xi Jinping, has arrived in the U.S. at a time of high tensions between Washington and Beijing, and is expected to deliver a combative message.
Beijing announced sanctions on seven American citizens and entities on July 23 in response to a U.S. advisory on deteriorating freedoms in Hong Kong, just days ahead of a visit from a senior Biden administration official.
Tensions between Beijing and Washington have soured on a number of fronts, including human rights, trade, cybersecurity and the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than half of all European adults are now fully vaccinated, the EU said on July 22, as countries across Europe and Asia battled fresh outbreaks blamed on the fast-spreading Delta variant.
The European Central Bank said uncertainty over the wave of infections meant it was keeping the cash taps open to ensure the nascent economic recovery isn't snuffed out.
Huan Huan, a giant panda on loan to France by Beijing since 2012, is pregnant again and could soon grace the country with her second cub, the Beauval zoo in central France said July 21.
"An ultrasound a few hours ago confirmed the presence of a panda embryo," a spokesman told AFP, adding that birth could occur late this month or in early August.