Japan and China agree about something for once. Last week in Tokyo the two countries – joined by South Korea, Taiwan, Canada and Russia, as well as the US as an observer – convened at the second-ever North Pacific Fisheries Commission, an organisation formed last year to safeguard sustainable fishing practices and protect the ecosystem. This year’s meeting somewhat surprisingly ended in a pact: China would cap the number of its boats fishing for mackerel in the North Pacific Ocean. It was a compromise after Japan proposed more drastic steps to limit China’s mackerel catch, which had increased fivefold to 134,846 tonnes in 2015 from the previous year. Tokyo worries that a rising number of Chinese boats might deplete fishing stocks, a concern that Japan knows about firsthand: its own overfishing contributed to the drop in mackerel from three million tonnes in the 1970s to 150,000 in the early 2000s. Thanks to catch restrictions these have since partially recovered.
During Angela Merkel’s post-Brexit tour around Europe – in preparation for the Bratislava-held summit of 27 EU members to discuss the future of the union on 16 September – the German chancellor spent two days in Tallinn, where Estonia’s prime minister Taavi Rõivas presented her with her very own e-residency card. The Baltic nation, which joined the EU in 2004, has been a pioneer in incorporating technology into its state operations; since 2014 Estonia has offered an e-residency programme that allows non-Estonians to start businesses or open bank accounts there. Merkel also found another more compelling way to ensure Estonian loyalty to the EU project by noting that it was feasible for Germany to set up joint military units with the tiny nation, which has long been nervous about Russia’s proximity.
With a wider Panama Canal completed this summer, the Port of Houston is gearing up for big changes. Large ships that were once only able to dock at West Coast ports are now able to cruise down the canal all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. As a result the Port of Houston, which lies along the route, is projected to see an approximate 15 per cent uptick in activity within the next four years. It’s halfway through a billion-dollar upgrade to its infrastructure: nine new cranes have already been purchased at a whopping 28 storeys in height to accommodate bigger container ships coming in. Currently Houston primarily sees goods arriving and leaving its territory via trucks but as an important import-and-export hub, whose harbour is ranked second in the US for total tonnage, it will surely see a surge in ships dropping off and picking up tradable merchandise.
Hong Kong’s diplomatic corps is getting an injection of fresh blood just as the city gears up for a critical stage in its political cycle, starting with the legislative elections this Sunday. The US, Canada and the EU will all have appointed new representatives this year and Australia is expected to follow suit. However, the award for trickiest posting goes to the UK’s new consul-general Andrew Heyn. Come September the former ambassador to Burma will be fielding local calls for the UK to take back control of its former Chinese territory. What started as colonial flag waving at anti-mainland China street protests has morphed into a manifesto pledge for at least one nativist party. During a live Q&A this month with Heyn’s departing predecessor the first question was: “Will the UK take back Hong Kong?”. Sunday’s election result is sure to cause him an early diplomatic headache, whatever the outcome.
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