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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 26 June 2018

Diplomacy

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Pointed questions

Military discussions could prove prickly as China and the US get down to brass tacks.

Jim Mattis is in Beijing today on his first official visit to China as US secretary of defence – and discussions are likely to be choppy. The countries may have difficulty finding anything to agree upon. There is the looming trade war and the question of US relations with Taiwan. Then there is the ongoing row over China’s military installations in the South China Sea and, more recently, Beijing’s condemnation of the US plan to create a sixth branch of its military for outer space. Mattis’s plan to discuss military-to-military exchanges could prove particularly treacherous. China is notably absent from the Pacific Rim naval war games happening near Hawaii. The US blocked Beijing’s involvement in the 26-country exercise last month, citing the South China Sea fracas as its reason for uninviting the PLA Navy. Amid so much strife, regional bystanders will be hoping that North Korean denuclearisation makes it onto the agenda; a quiet peninsula is one objective the attendees can agree upon.

Politics

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You’re grounded

Obrador may be flying high in Mexico’s election polls but, if he wins, his plan to hold a vote on cancelling the capital’s airport upgrade could backfire.

Mexico has been under the spotlight as the country prepares for its election on 1 July. If the polls are to be believed, Andrés Manuel López Obrador is cruising to a landslide victory built on the appeal of fighting corruption and addressing the country’s lack of security. One of his opening gambits is to hold a vote on whether construction of the new Norman Foster-designed Mexico City airport should go ahead. This is a taste of things to come: Obrador is likely to abandon high-cost, flagship endeavours that project a new image of Mexico and focus more on basic needs. On some level this philosophy should be applauded – air hubs are important but basic safety more so – though Obrador ought to re-focus his attention. Mexico City’s current airport is in dire need of an update and cancelling the project could cost more than $6bn (€5bn).

Architecture

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Repeat booking?

Monocle wasn’t alone in mourning the loss of Hotel Okura Tokyo – but there’s hope that its replacement will respect its legacy.

In 2015 there was an outcry – not least from this magazine – when Hotel Okura Tokyo was demolished and it was announced that the attractive 1960s structure would be replaced by towers of glass and steel. Now detailed plans for the redesign have been announced and there is reason to be hopeful that the new build will retain something of the hotel’s history. Okura Tokyo has enlisted the talented Yoshio Taniguchi, the 80-year-old son of the man who envisaged the original building: Yoshiro Taniguchi. The plan is to recreate aspects of the much-loved lobby such as using original lanterns, lounge chairs and a Seiko world clock. While the younger Taniguchi already has Moma in New York and the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art to his name, recreating the panache of the original Hotel Okura Tokyo – and outdoing his father – might be his biggest achievement yet.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Weathering the storm

With Italy swaying to the right, Barcelona’s mayor offers migrants a safe port as the EU looks to steady the ship.

Italy has become the subject of deep opprobrium in the wake of interior minister Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigration agenda. Salvini’s callousness in refusing the migrant ship Aquarius the right to dock and his alarming desire to take a census of Italy’s Roma population have earned him many opponents. One such adversary has emerged as Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, who on Sunday declared her city a “safe port” for the thousands of migrants currently adrift on a handful of rescue ships in the Mediterranean. After the new Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez permitted the Aquarius to dock in Valencia, Colau is now calling on him to permit more migrants into the country. Sánchez, despite taking office following the tumultuous ejection of Mariano Rajoy, has proven himself an as-yet stable leader. Germany and France will look to his support at Thursday’s EU summit in facing down an increasingly right-leaning Italy.

From Monocle 24

Rote Fabrik

The Urbanist: Tall Stories

Originally built in 1892, this former factory was due for demolition in the 1970s but was saved by local campaigners. It now stands proudly next to Lake Zürich as a cultural hub.

From Monocle Films

Future cities – mobilising change

Monocle Films travels to Copenhagen and Mexico City with Audi to see how cities and their citizens are facing the challenge of building sustainable mobility in urban settings.

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