It seems that Donald Trump’s sanctions against Turkey are wreaking their desired effect on the country’s economy, with the lira plummeting to record lows. For most observers, the US has scored a win in the diplomatic spat that began when Turkish police forces arrested US pastor Andrew Brunson during the 2016 coup attempt. However, while the wheels come off the Turkish economy, it is clear that the US is playing the short game. The sanctions might put pressure on Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to release Brunson but it is likely that in the long term they will encourage the bullish leader to veer away from western interests, siding more with Russia and Iran on the world stage. With Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov arriving in Ankara today for two days of talks about Syria, US officials must realise that this ever-closer relationship leaves them out in the cold.
When South Korean president Moon Jae-in left the Blue House for a five-day holiday at the beginning of August, the intention was to inspire a nation of workaholics to take a break. Whether it was successful or not is anyone’s guess but some corners of the publishing industry will be glad: the books that Moon was reported to have been reading on holiday have been flying off the shelves at country’s leading book retailer, the Kyobo Bookstore. There Comes the Boy by Han Kang and Kooksu by Kim Seung-dong both saw surges in sales, increasing tenfold and twentyfold, respectively. But the title with the biggest increase might provide an insight into Moon’s desire to reconcile with the North: Seoul and Pyongyang Change Alike Over Time, a photography book by journalist Jin Cheon-gyu, increased from just seven books to more than 460 per day during Moon’s trip.
Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen is visiting Paraguay and Belize this week in a desperate attempt to shore up the support of her few diplomatic allies. Tsai has been pushing for independence since she came to power in 2016 and – because Beijing has been putting pressure on Taiwan’s allies to adhere to the “One China” diktat – she could do with all the friends she can muster. Although Paraguay and Belize are hardly international powerhouses, they have been loyal to Taipei and it is telling that half of the self-governed island’s diplomatic allies are in Latin America. Isabel Hilton, editor of China Dialogue, believes that that there are historical reasons for Taiwan’s relationship with countries in the region. “During the Cold War countries such as Paraguay were strongly anti-communist and Taiwan had a close relationship with right-wing military dictatorships in Latin America,” she says. “It’s perhaps why those alliances have persisted.”
Smartphones may be one of the biggest assailants to our quality of life. Scrolling through work emails, Instagram feeds and instant messages can make you stressed, envious and give you stiff case of “tech neck” from leaning towards your handheld screen. Most people don’t want life to be this way – at least that’s according to technology start-up Light. The company is partnering London’s City Airport to offer a smartphone amnesty for travellers looking to switch off when they leave the country. The idea is that people relinquish their smartphones on departure and are provided with Light Phones, an elegant no-frills substitute that doesn’t carry all the digital enticements of Apple, Android and Blackberry’s devices. Users then enjoy a break from the unceasing interruptions of mobile data until their return. Given that the intention of most apps, devices and technology companies is to become as compulsively used as possible, it’s refreshing to see a product trying to turn the tide.
Video didn’t kill the radio star and apartment-sharing apps haven’t scuppered our enduring need for hotels. It’s this sincere belief that proved to be the rallying cry for our latest book, which covers everything from hoteliers’ trade secrets to holiday recommendations.
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