The Monocle Minute

In association with Brand Hong Kong x Monocle logo

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 19 July 2017

Military

Image: PA Images

Sea of love?

Naval exercises highlight the deepening relationship between China and Russia – and their rocky relationship with everyone else.

A little over a month ago, a People’s Liberation Army Navy (Plan) fleet set sail from China heading for the Baltic Sea, where it will join the Russian Navy for Exercise Joint Sea 2017. Set to begin this week, the annual joint naval drills signal an increasingly close relationship between China and Russia. Plan and the Russian Navy have been carrying out the naval drills since 2012 but many observers saw last September’s joint exercise in the South China Sea – a major flashpoint – as a clear sign that the two nations weren’t above provocations. Likewise, Baltic countries Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia have a fractious relationship with Russia and this summer’s exercise in the Baltic Sea is sure to increase concerns.

Aviation

Image: Alamy

Spreading their wings

Airport officials are rising to the challenge as Portland continues to increase in popularity.

Portland International Airport has announced ambitious plans to modernise its terminal, which will enhance capacity from the 18 million passengers that traversed it last year up to 35 million people. The five-year project, which is expected to cost $1.3bn (€1.1bn) and slated to begin in 2020, marks the first major redevelopment of the core of the terminal building since it opened in 1956 (the airport has been redeveloped, incrementally, six times since then). The proposals, which require approval from the airlines stationed there (Alaska and Southwest are currently the largest tenants), mark a welcome response to the growth in traffic through PDX, which has increased steadily year on year since 2011.

Media

Image: Getty Images

Radio silence

Switching off Singapore’s treasured alternative station will upset fans but could introduce more mainstream listeners to homegrown talent.

National broadcaster Mediacorp will unplug its beloved Singaporean music radio station Lush 99.5FM at the end of August after a 13-year run. As a daring, genre-hopping player pitching alternative sounds for the discerning listener, Lush was an exciting option compared to Singapore’s five other English-language radio stations, which offer playlists from the 1980s and 1990s or overplayed chart-toppers. Lush’s small but loyal following was unable to sustain its continuation but the cult favourite’s legacy of championing lesser-known local acts endures through the broadcaster’s new initiative called Singapore Sounds, which will slip hits from homegrown artists into the shows of the nation’s more hit-loving channels. It’s an opportunity to harmonise outlying indie artists with a wider mainstream audience, getting more to tune in to local music.

Books

Image: Getty Images

Wish you were here?

As rain pelts Hong Kong, it’s the perfect time for visitors to nip into its travel-themed book fair – and plan their escape.

Hong Kong’s week-long annual book fair kicks off tomorrow and few will need an excuse to stay indoors browsing paperbacks as the city is drenched by a summer monsoon. More than one million visitors attended in 2016 and the organisers are optimistic about a similar footfall this year. “We are seeing a prevailing trend of people buying print and that will not be affected by e-books – nor the weather,” says Benjamin Chau, deputy executive director of Hong Kong Trade Development Council. This year’s travel theme is likely to do brisk trade: nine out of the top 10 Chinese non-fiction books borrowed from libraries last year were about travel (and seven solely on Japan).

From Monocle 24

Image: Alamy

Design at work

Section D

From cage lamps at Ikea to the Slovenian woods: how industrial designer Matali Crasset (pictured) is taking the indoors outdoors at this year’s Biennial of Design in Ljubljana.

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