Friday 8 July 2016 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 8/7/2016

The Monocle Minute

Image: Beibaoke/Shutterstock

Changing lanes

China’s One Belt, One Road policy seeks to remake the Silk Road, growing overland trade between Asia and Europe, and Kazakhstan aims to be the logistical core. Khorgos, a gritty Chinese city near the Kazakh border, is being transformed into a vast dry dock and its East Gate free zone, managed by the UAE’s DP World, is due to be in operation this year. As the scale of the project becomes clear, the rise of this new logistical giant is being closely watched by Kazakhstan’s neighbours in central Asia. China’s growing influence across the region can’t be denied but in the spirit of the original Silk Road, the question of who controls the trade routes is an ancient tussle.

Image: PA Images

Abe’s willing – but able?

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic party (LDP) looks to be in a strong position for Sunday’s upper house election and there is much at stake. In order to make Abe’s desired changes to Japan’s constitution, the ruling coalition and its allies will need to win more than two thirds of the seats in the upper house. According to the latest poll, support for the LDP is currently at 33.5 per cent, with the main opposition Democratic party pulling in 10.4 per cent. The LDP’s coalition party, Komeito, is at 5 per cent and the Japanese Communist party at 4 per cent. With only days to go, roughly a third of those asked didn’t support any party.

Image: Getty Images

New flight plans

Canada’s ageing fleet of CF-18 fighter jets has been in operation since the 1980s, and as the aircraft near their retirement age the government is no closer to a decision about what’s to come. The original and controversial plan by the former Conservative administration to replace them with Lockheed Martin’s F-35s has been shelved. The Liberal government, which has been one of the F-35s’ most vociferous critics, is commissioning the military to go back to the drawing board to come up with a model that best fits the country’s needs. One potential beneficiary from this decision is Boeing, which is hoping its Super Hornet fighter jets (pictured) might be able to cut through the bureaucratic red tape.

Confection perfection

The National Gallery Singapore is shaking off the notion that the country lacks cultural clout. Throughout July, visitors to its Gallery & Co gift shop can enjoy the fruits of its collaboration with Vietnam's bean-to-bar chocolate brand Marou and branding agency Rice Creative. The exhibition highlights the year-long process involved in creating three of its delicious chocolate bars, wrapped in papers hand-printed using natural ink from the likes of charred bamboo leaves and terracotta, using the ancient Vietnamese print-making technique of Dong Ho. The event comes after the government-funded National Gallery celebrated its millionth visitor last month, seven months after opening. Yet, wandering through the cavernous institution, its quiet galleries still feel slightly underappreciated by locals. Let's hope this exhibition, suited to the sweet teeth of Singaporeans, will lure some fresh faces through the door.

Image: Rowan Gillette-Fussell

Music Cities Convention 2016

As our cities continue to grow and develop into global melting pots, the impact that creative industries can have on aspects of urban-planning is becoming increasingly clear.

Monocle Films / Leipzig

Leipzig’s artist studios

Dubbed the new Berlin, Leipzig is home to an increasing number of galleries and project spaces – but the city still has lots of space for inexpensive artists’ ateliers.


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