The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 5 September 2016

Image: Mark Schiefelbein/PA Images

Canada comes to China

Instead of attending the annual Arctic military exercises last week, Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau hopped on a plane and flew to China. Perhaps the most remarkable takeaway from the trip were the 56 trade deals worth more than $1.2bn (€1bn) that were signed despite disagreements over human rights. Upon meeting Chinese president Xi Jinping and premier Li Keqiang, Trudeau and Canadian ambassador Guy Saint-Jacques critically addressed China’s human-rights record, which resulted in the Chinese media calling Canada hypocritical for the latter’s treatment of indigenous people. Nonetheless the visit brought the two nations closer. “A robust relationship takes decades but I think this is a good start,” says Lynette Ong, associate professor at the University of Toronto, alluding to the chilly relationship the two countries had under the Harper administration. “Justin Trudeau clearly recognises the importance of economic engagement with China.”

Image: Li-Han Lin

Ports of call

Panama City, Liverpool, Marseille, Da Nang and Kaohsiung: no, we’re not talking about an alternative cruise itinerary for jaded 21st-century travellers. These less familiar world cities share something in common besides the ignominy of being overshadowed by more famous neighbours: a bustling harbour. Mayors and deputy mayors from these port cities will sail into Kaohsiung tomorrow for an inaugural three-day forum at the glistening waterside exhibition centre. Joining them in Taiwan’s second city will be tourist chiefs, cruise-industry professionals and urban-planners, representing nearly 50 harbour cities across the world. “We want to put Kaohsiung on the global map,” says Michael Tu, chairman of the organising committee, which plans to host the event every two years. Proceedings will close on Thursday with a joint declaration to establish a global network focusing on harbour-city development. 


Image: Andres Gonzalez

Bust a move

Many cities have modes of transport that are better suited to tourists than daily commuters, from Venice’s gondolas to Bangkok’s tuk-tuks. This is particularly true of New Orleans, where 10 years after Hurricane Katrina public transport and infrastructure still do not sufficiently cater to its residents. A new report by advocacy group Ride New Orleans has found that the majority of locals who use public transit as their main mode of transport are only able to reach 11 per cent of the region’s offices within 30 minutes, making commuting to work difficult for all but a fraction of citizens. Part of the problem, according to the report, is that the RTA’s ongoing efforts to rebuild after the devastating hurricane have prioritised tourist-friendly street cars over further-reaching bus routes. This is something that the citywide transit masterplan, set to be updated, is bound to take into account.

Setting up shop

Beach Road, between Singapore’s Downtown Core and Kallang neighbourhood, was so named because it faced the sea before the land to its south was reclaimed in the 1970s. Fast forward to September 2016 and there’s a similarly exciting reclamation of space at hand: the opening of three notable street-level retailers. Homegrown hospitality powerhouse The Lo & Behold – the talented souls behind Odette and The White Rabbit restaurants – rented three arches beneath its leafy headquarters to launch a series of comely shops. One of them is Looksee Looksee, a preened, pastel-coloured corridor of a space that offers free teas from A.muse Projects alongside a smattering of design-minded books to browse. Nextdoor, Supermama is chock full of Singaporean-designed and Japanese-made gems, including porcelain aplenty. Then there’s Scene Shang, a first-rate furniture firm that turns out wooden pieces – from stacking-drawers to footstools – that reference the excesses of Shanghai in the 1930s. This trio of retailers is an overdue antidote to Singapore’s love affair with malls and big-box shops.

From Monocle 24

Eureka #13: Hannah Russell

Presented by Monocle’s Daniel Giacopelli, Eureka is a weekly spotlight on business origins brought to you by the team behind The Entrepreneurs. Hannah Russell is the co-founder and CEO of Layer, a curated marketplace for pre-owned design and vintage furniture. In this episode she shares her early inspirations and the challenges she faced while launching the business.

From Monocle Films

Retail special: tea emporiums


The perfect hot drink is not always an espresso or a flat white: more and more specialty shops around the world are opening their doors to tea aficionados in search of the perfect brew. Monocle Films visits three emporiums in Berlin, New York and London dedicated to the heritage, ritual and taste of tea.

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