The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 25 April 2017

Defence

Image: Getty Images

Pushing the boat out

China’s warship launch is a show of power but the US is still captain.

Asia’s arms race will take to the water this week with the expected launch of China’s first homegrown aircraft carrier from the northern port city of Dalian. The People’s Liberation Army navy’s as yet unnamed battleship is expected to enter full service at the end of the decade, when it will join China’s only other aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. Beijing acquired the Liaoning from a Ukrainian shipyard in 1998 and the ex-Soviet hull has provided the model for China’s debut indigenous design. The country is expected to keep adding to its naval firepower as its ongoing military modernisation shifts focus from land to sea. A third carrier already under construction in Shanghai is expected to drop the Soviet ski-jump model of launching aircraft in favour of a modern US-style catapult system. China’s sea power is about to take off but for now the US still has clear blue water, both in terms of technology and raw tonnage.

Business

Image: Getty Images

Buying time

Why rumours of the death of global trade may be premature.

It was a bad few months for globalisation as two major trade deals – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and the EU – appeared to die a death. Yet there are now signs that both deals could be revived. US president Donald Trump’s commerce secretary Wilbur Ross met his EU counterpart Cecilia Malmström yesterday to discuss how TTIP might be revitalised in an effort to improve the US’s €134bn trade deficit with the bloc. Meanwhile, Japan took the initiative on TPP and suggested talks, excluding the US, could resume as early as May. Obstacles remain for both deals – Angela Merkel is unlikely to rush into TTIP with a national election looming, while the viability of TPP without the US is uncertain – but clearly there is still an appetite for global trade.

Politics

Image: Reuters

Screening process

Iran’s pre-election debate will now be televised. Reason to be cheerful?

The televised pre-election debate is a strange phenomenon: an opportunity for politicians to offer their best grandstanding and most vicious put-downs, with a live factor that brings an air of unpredictability. Iran, which goes to the polls next month, had previously stipulated that all upcoming debates would be pre-recorded, which is widely seen as an attempt to prevent any potential embarrassment for candidates if their opponents drag up misdemeanours from their track record. But the people have demanded otherwise and all broadcasts will now be live. It’s a little more transparency in Iranian politics at a time when voters are increasingly cynical about the election, which is billed as a tussle between so-called reformers and hardliners, yet is a diversion from the fact that so much power resides in the hands of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Environment

Image: Getty Images

Beast of burden

Although deer were once considered Japan’s holy animal, today they are destroying crops. Is a cull on the cards?

Deer in Japan have led a blessed life. Three centuries ago they were considered so holy that anyone who killed one in Nara, Japan’s former capital, could be sentenced to death. Today the 1,200 wild deer living in central Nara Park are protected by law but that’s about to change. Nara prefectural government has proposed a limited hunting season in restricted areas from July to November. The problem, officials say, is that the deer are eating rice and other crops on farms near the city’s eastern mountains and they have also been known to cause traffic jams and accidents. This marks a drastic step for a region whose wild deer appear on souvenirs, sweets and promotional material. To win approval for the culling, Nara needs Japan’s Cultural Affairs Agency to downgrade the status of the deer; a decision could come by June. It’s not clear how the public will react once Nara begins killing its most recognisable symbol.

From Monocle 24

Photo London

Culture

Monocle’s photo director, Matt Beaman, on why we should attend the third edition of the art fair this May.

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