The Monocle Minute

In association with Brand Hong Kong

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 10 July 2017

Geopolitics

Image: Getty Images

Please don’t go

Taiwan needs all the friends it can get at the moment – hence the charm offensive.

Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen will get a rare chance to roll out the red carpet tomorrow when her Paraguayan counterpart arrives for a state visit. President Horacio Cartes is in town to commemorate 60 years of diplomatic ties between Asunción and Taipei. The landlocked South American country is now one of only 20 states that officially recognise Taiwan, following Panama’s switch of allegiance to China. President Tsai is expected to go on a tour of the South Pacific later this month to shore up support among the six tiny islands in the region that still have an embassy in Taipei. The increasingly isolated head of state is sure to arrive bearing some fine gifts for her hosts.

Security

Support network

Nato’s mandate in Ukraine seems to be back on track – for now.

Have the months of hand-wringing over Nato’s future been for nought? It seemed that way as Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg touched down in Ukraine yesterday for two days of meetings with the country’s leaders. The visit is evidence of the alliance’s continued commitment to security in Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, a message that’s been made all the more potent after US president Donald Trump gave a long-delayed endorsement of Article 5 last week and denounced Russia’s “destabilising activities in Ukraine”. Although Trump’s commitment to the cause is unpredictable, at least for now Stoltenberg’s mandate from all the Nato member countries is secure.

Affairs

Image: Getty Images

Keep the faith?

Hong Kong’s former governor is concerned that China will break its promise to stay away.

It’s been 20 years since the UK handed sovereignty of Hong Kong back to China after 156 years of colonial rule. Last week’s auspicious anniversary came at a moment when many in Hong Kong are anxious about political interference from the mainland and was marked by leading voices questioning the future of the "one country, two systems" policy. One of them was Lord Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong: “I’d like to see Britain pointing out at the UN and in other international forums that China is talking about breaking its word,” he said, talking to Monocle 24 for the latest edition of The Foreign Desk. “I’d like to hear the prime minister and the foreign secretary explicitly say that if you cannot trust China to keep its word on Hong Kong, where can you trust it?” Tune in to The Foreign Desk for more on this story.

F&B

Image: Alamy

Glass half full

Tax hikes on alcohol are set to leave several Estonian businesses drowning their sorrows.

The Estonian government is incrementally raising its tax on alcohol – so much so that by 2020, drinkers will be expected to pay up to 50 per cent more for it. The increase has sparked controversy on many fronts. Major Estonian beverage producers are mourning the negative effects on business and have condemned the rise in cross-border sales. Tarmo Nööp, board chairman of Estonian brewery A Le Coq, has predicted a substantial surge in cross-border sales from Latvia, resulting in national tax losses of over €150m and a likely drop in foreign investment. Meanwhile the party goes on in Latvia: shops with resounding names such as SuperAlko are opening in border towns. It means Finnish tourists, who used to visit Estonia on booze cruises due to liberal drinking laws and cheap pints, are thinking about rerouting to Latvia instead.

From Monocle 24

Racquet

The Stack

We meet the ace team behind Racquet magazine and the editor of M, le Magazine du Monde. Plus: highlights from Monocle’s third annual Quality of Life Conference.

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