The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 2 May 2018

Geopolitics

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Lonely island

Taiwan’s allies are switching allegiance in the face of China’s political and economic power.

China has dealt another geopolitical blow to Taiwan in what has become a one-sided drubbing on the world stage. Yesterday the Dominican Republic became the most recent of Taiwan’s dwindling allies to cut ties with the island, opting instead for the raft of diplomatic and economic benefits available through making nice with Beijing. The move cuts the number of countries that formally recognise Taiwan to just 19. China’s roaring economy and political clout have meant that it is increasingly hard for Taiwan to hang on to its pals: Paraguay and the Vatican remain its most powerful allies. Many view it not as a question of whether these countries will desert Taiwan – but when. The smart money is on the Vatican as the next ally to jump ship as a rapprochement between the Catholic Church and the Communist party appears to be in the works.

Politics

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Strong and stable?

Italy’s leading populist party looks to reopen the polls but is the country stable enough for another election?

The leader of Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement has called for a snap election to break the deadlock following the country’s hung parliament in March. In step with his party’s digital-first ethos, Luigi di Maio took to Facebook, saying: “At this point for me there is no other solution, we have to go back to the polls as soon as possible.” For Di Maio “as soon as possible” means June. For everyone else concerned, however, it is more likely to mean autumn. Constitutionally there must be 45 days between the elections being called and the country heading to the polls. Also in the interest of stability, the president of the republic Sergio Mattarella is likely to be keen for the country’s next budget to be announced before the country votes again. In the current political landscape, one has to grasp stability where one finds it.

Technology

Image: Stephen McCarthy

Press restart

What’s driving a digital get-together towards Toronto – and will it result in an upgrade for Canada’s economy?

The fastest-growing technology summit in North America is upping sticks from its home in New Orleans and making for cooler climes to the north. Collision, an annual occasion, has been running for five years but will be held in Toronto for the next three, starting in May 2019. Judging from a statement by the summit’s CEO, Paddy Cosgrave, it isn’t the bracing weather that forms Toronto’s main appeal but its open approach to business. “When some countries around the world seem to be shutting their borders, when intolerance is on the rise, Toronto stands for diversity and inclusion,” he says. Justin Trudeau appears to have welcomed the news, appearing in a promotional video for the conference as part of his efforts to woo the technology industry and encourage firms to set up in Canada.

Urbanism

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Ripple effect

Why plans for moveable swimming pools could make waves in the UK capital.

By and large, the presence of an articulated lorry does little for the wellbeing of a city and its residents – but that could be set to change if architect Chris Romer-Lee and artist Amy Sharrocks have their way. The pair are trying to secure funding for a so-called Swimmobile: a 12-wheel truck bearing a 12-metre swimming pool brimming with filtered water from the Thames. “It’s a direct way of connecting communities to the increasingly privatised areas around their river,” says Romer-Lee, whose passion for city swimming was inspired by a dip in Zürich a few years back. “It’s about tackling the issue of our separation from the water in London. The social return could be enormous.” If they get investment, Londoners could be sploshing in the streets as soon as this summer.

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