Tuesday 29 December 2015 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 29/12/2015

The Monocle Minute

Image: Pan Yu Feng

Sun salutation

Republic Day in Taiwan is 1 January, commemorating the founding of the Republic of China by Dr Sun Yat-sen. Both China and Taiwan revere Sun Yat-sen but this year’s celebrations in Taipei will begin a more testing time for cross-straits relations. Elections in January are expected to bring the opposition Democratic Progressive party into government, giving a cooler tone to ties with the mainland. Nonetheless, business and cultural links look to be more resilient. In November Taiwan-based bookseller Eslite opened a shop in Suzhou, a picturesque city close to Shanghai, and there are plans to launch two more mainland outlets in 2016. Taiwanese architect Kris Yao designed the Suzhou shop, which is housed in an apartment block co-developed by Eslite and Japanese property firm Mitsubishi Estate. The shops should do a roaring trade in books about Sun Yat-sen next year on the 150th anniversary of his birth, for which China has planned a series of events – a rare moment of cross-straits commonality.

Image: Getty Images

Snow let up in China’s ski lift

Chinese skiing statistics grow with each season. One hundred new ski resorts will open this year alone, catering to 10 million domestic skiers and counting – whizzing past the US. The newest addition, the Thaiwoo Four Season Destination Resort designed by Whistler-based Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners, is a three-hour drive from Beijing but more adventurous skiers will take to the slopes of Changbaishan on the border with North Korea. The resort is owned by China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin of Dalian Wanda, who is investing heavily in China’s domestic tourism – even hinting at a move into the airline industry as a way to improve connections to his leisure ventures. But the industry has a long way to go: President Xi Jinping promised to transform 300 million Chinese citizens into winter-sports enthusiasts in return for Beijing scooping the Winter Olympics in 2022.

Image: Getty Images

Wheel of misfortune

It’s Asia’s gambling mecca but Macau has been down on its luck of late as China’s anti-corruption crackdown continues to eat into gaming revenues. Famous Las Vegas casinos such as Wynn and Sands have delayed new openings in the city originally scheduled for next year, while the former Portuguese colony is under pressure from Chinese President Xi Jinping to diversify its economy. The big bet for 2016 – lifted from the Vegas playbook – will be on entertainment attracting new visitors: the newly opened Hollywood-themed Studio City, which hosts Madonna in February, dedicates just five per cent of its floor space to gaming.

Image: Getty Images

’Tis (still) the season to be jolly

Londoners know summer is around the corner when a huge, purple upside-down-cow tent pops up on the Southbank. Now the Udderbelly comedy festival, which originally began at the Edinburgh festival, is wintering in Hong Kong between Christmas and Chinese New Year. January sees UK comics Russell Howard and Milton Jones take to the stage and the British duo will have plenty of local material to draw upon. Howard can make light of the former British territory’s political tension ahead of key elections later in the year while Jones is a master of the pun. Word play featured prominently in Hong Kong’s umbrella protests in 2014 and homophones are a staple of the Chinese sense of humour. Hong Kongers, however, may be less amused at paying double the price of tickets in London.

Art in 2016: Ossian Ward and Jane Morris

Ossian Ward, head of content at the Lisson Gallery and Jane Morris, editor of The Art Newspaper join Robert Bound in the studio to discuss the artists, galleries, exhibitions and fairs around the world that they are most excited for in 2016.


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