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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 22 May 2017

Diplomacy

Image: Getty Images

Seeing red

Despite the Swiss backdrop, it will be an effort to maintain neutrality in the next bout of China vs Taiwan.

When member states of the World Health Organization gather in Geneva today for the 70th annual assembly the main order of business will be appointing a new director general. (Pakistan, Ethiopia and the UK all have candidates in the running.) However a diplomatic spat could overshadow the event. Taiwan has not received an invitation to attend as an observer – which it has been doing for nearly a decade – in what is seen as China’s latest attempt to freeze out the island from international gatherings. Ugly scenes erupted earlier this month when a Chinese delegation reacted angrily to Taiwanese representatives’ presence at a blood diamond conference in Australia. A week later Fiji shuttered its de facto embassy in Taipei. Taiwanese officials responded forcefully with a rare declaration of sovereignty and a delegation has still been sent to Geneva. Staying neutral in this David and Goliath battle could prove difficult – even in Switzerland.

Transport

Image: Alamy

Need for speed

Japan has three years to work out how to keep Tokyo moving when the Games descend.

The Tokyo Olympics is still three years away but Japanese officials are already looking to solve one likely problem during the event: traffic jams. Olympics minister Tamayo Marukawa, Tokyo Metropolitan Government bureaucrats, Olympics organisers and transport sector executives have now begun debating measures that would drastically reduce the number of commuters on the city’s roads and trains. With eight million visitors – including athletes, spectators and event staff – expected to converge on Tokyo for the Games, organisers might ask businesses to stagger office hours; encourage employees to work from home or take time off; and impose road restrictions in the city centre. Marukawa said the goal would be to prevent traffic congestion without hurting the world’s third-largest economy or making things inconvenient for Tokyo residents. The best ideas will be tested and honed during citywide trials held in summer 2018 and 2019.

Arts

Flair for design

Lebanon is showcasing its capital’s creative talents.

Entering its sixth year, Beirut Design Week (BDW) continues to prove that the Lebanese capital remains a creative force in the region. On until Friday, the event is expected to draw some 25,000 visitors to more than 150 events with a schedule that enlivens (and introduces visitors to) various parts of the Mediterranean city, from the up-and-coming creative neighbourhood Mar Mikhael to well-heeled Saifi Village shopping district. Be sure to check out the Starch Foundation, which helps talented design graduates enter the industry and is offering a range of events: today BURAU Architects has an installation commenting on urbanism. Starch Foundation is one of myriad organisations propelling what has always been a city of good taste and fine creative talent forward even further and, as visitors to BDW are discovering, there is plenty to stick around for.

Restoration

Image: Alamy

Spirit of generosity

A beer brand is helping to revive urban environments (while boosting its sales, of course).

Restoring monuments is an essential – and expensive – task for urban centres, which is why a beer brand has decided to help out. The Cities Project is an initiative from Heineken that aims to improve urban environments by partnering with non-profits to help fundraise for specific restoration schemes. While Cities has been around for a couple of years and has previously worked in New York, LA and Miami, Heineken will now spread its efforts to multiple projects across 10 cities. It will be raising money for initiatives including the restoration of the Waikiki Natatorium and an ocean-water swimming pool (pictured); commissioning a photographer to document the residents of Little Havana in Miami; and repairing the purple glass sidewalk tile in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square. Of course, the initiative certainly has some benefits for Heineken as well: the projects are sure to be well-publicised in their respective cities, each one full of beer drinkers.

From Monocle 24

Image: Flickr

Malaysia’s food ambassador

The Menu

How Christina Arokiasamy wants to bring Malaysian cooking to the mainstream in the US, a top dining tip in Venice and the week’s headlines from Toronto.

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