The Monocle Minute

In association with A. Lange & Söhne

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 15 March 2017

Defence

Image: Getty Images

Battle-ready Beijing

Do China’s military modifications point to a confident advance?

China’s military-modernisation programme, aimed at ensuring the security of the world’s second-largest economy, took another leap forward this month by releasing thousands of national defence patents for public use. This landmark disclosure – more than three decades after Beijing began registering patents such as vehicle and aircraft design – is seen as a much-needed boost to the civilian defence sector and comes just weeks after president Xi Jinping took charge of integrating state and civil military development. Encouraging public and private defence partnerships is the latest US approach to finding favour in China following Beijing’s implementation of a US-style command-and-control structure and a streamlined fighting force. The US has previously accused China of “borrowing” its military technology but this latest disclosure suggests Beijing is growing more confident in its own military innovation and indigenous intellectual property.

Aviation

Image: PA Images

Sky’s the limit

Amsterdam’s airport expo is exploring the future of flight – and dishing out awards.

“Who is really doing it right? That’s the question we’re asking,” says award-winning US architect Curtis W Fentress when asked why he’s attending this year’s Passenger Terminal Expo in Amsterdam. Fentress is one of numerous high-profile speakers discussing airport design, security and innovation at the three-day airport terminal conference, regarded as the most important of its kind. “The paradigm is constant change and that is the reason everyone is here, because they are trying to figure out what is happening next.” From Caiba, the cute robot concierge currently being trialled at Japan’s Haneda Airport, to sturdy new airport furniture from German company Kusch+Co, there is plenty of innovation for visitors to admire. Another highlight was yesterday’s Skytrax World Airport Awards ceremony, which recognised Singapore Changi Airport as the world’s best for the fifth year in a row, followed by Tokyo’s Haneda Airport in second and South Korea’s Incheon International Airport in third place.

Property

Image: HAUTIER - I&CO

Brave new world

Cannes event shows real-estate traditionalists are finally receptive to industry changes

The global real-estate business is a conservative and slow-moving beast; it takes years to break ground on a new project and then years thereafter to build it. So it should come as no surprise that the sector’s incumbents have been slow to fully recognise important societal and technological changes that affect their industry. This year at Mipim (Le Marché Internationale des Professionnels de l’Immobilier), the world’s biggest property event, held annually in Cannes, it feels as though the business has finally woken up. The 2017 programme, which kicked off yesterday, is packed with discussions unpicking the role of real estate in a world defined by ageing societies, antagonism towards elites, shifting work practices and consumption habits that are increasingly migrating online. In other sectors, these are already well-worn truths; in Cannes, they spell a brave new world.

Transport

Image: LTA

Revised route

Singapore is boosting its buses – will residents get on board?

Singapore continues to experiment with ways to make its buses, used by 3.9 million passengers daily, more appealing and efficient. The city-state has just launched a six-month trial of three-door double-decker buses, complete with USB ports. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) hopes the more accessible buses will reduce time spent at stops, while the new ports will mean added convenience. The LTA is also trialling quirkier measures with new advertisements in Singlish, the English-based creole common in Singapore, drawing attention to the buses’ new features. The green signs boast slogans such as “Here cannot go in!” and “Here can charge phone!”; the rest of the posters’ text is in standard English.

From Monocle 24

Image: Alamy

Design district: Antwerpen-Noord

Section D

We take you on a tour of Antwerp North, a hub for the city’s fast-growing creative community.

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