The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 11 December 2018

Diplomacy

Image: ALAMY

Caught in the crossfire

Huawei CFO’s arrest by Canadian authorities on behalf of the US has caused a diplomatic storm.

The arrest in Vancouver of Huawei’s finance chief Meng Wanzhou (the daughter of the company’s founder), for allegedly breaching US-imposed sanctions on Iran, is roiling diplomatic relations between Washington, Beijing and Ottawa. China’s foreign ministry has warned Canada of “grave consequences” in response to the arrest, while Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau has insisted that there is no political motive in the case. But an unlikely twist has emerged in Ms Meng’s plight – her citizenship. She holds at least four Chinese passports, three Hong Kong passports and is a Canadian citizen too. Dual nationality for Chinese citizens is banned by Beijing so the next move by all three players in the furore brought about by Ms Meng’s incarceration may yet be dictated by the bureaucratic detail of which document she was travelling with at the time of her arrest.

Transport

Image: ALAMY

Above its station?

Italy is bolstering its transport links but people in the south may have missed the train.

Italy’s national rail service, Ferrovie dello Stato, has launched its first high-speed connection between Venice, Bologna, Florence and Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, the country’s largest air hub. Links to Milan’s Malpensa Airport will follow. Besides boosting both national and international tourism, the project will further integrate rail and air transport ahead of Ferrovie dello Stato’s likely acquisition of debt-burdened flag carrier Alitalia early next year. Unsurprisingly the new airport links will favour connectivity within Italy’s northern and central regions. But the development should take care not to leave southern Italy – where the infrastructure is less robust but which is home to some of the country’s most-visited areas – in the shadows.

Business

Perfect powder

For the residents of Nozawa Onsen in Japan, the success of its ski resort means the survival of their village.

After weeks of waiting for temperatures to drop and snow to fall (and settle), this week Japanese ski resorts are slowly starting to open for the season. It’s a relief for Nozawa Onsen, a small, boutique resort that depends on the ski economy to fill rooms at its small ryokans (traditional inns) and seats at its soba restaurants. By shunning big chains and major developers and instead focusing on staying small-scale, the resort has become a rare success story in a country where the ski industry has been in decline for more than four decades. To find out how they did it, pick up Issue 3 of Monocle’s Winter Weekly newspaper, available on newsstands from Thursday.

Food

Image: Getty Images

Smoke alarm

Montréal’s bagelries have been granted a lifeline after a wood-smoke ban threatened to leave them half baked.

Montréal may well be the centre of Canada’s food and drink offering but one of the city’s near-sacred culinary staples has been at the centre of a recent stand-off. The Montréal bagel, which is characterised by being slow-baked in a wood-fired oven, looked like it was to be the victim of a ban on wood-smoke pollution that’s been brought in to improve the city’s air quality. But a compromise appears to have been met: one local council in The Plateau neighbourhood, which is home to some of Montréal’s oldest and most recognisable bagelries, has stated that existing bagel shops will be protected. Technology is helping too: some bagel bakeries have incorporated smart-chimneys into their bakehouses, which filter the smoke produced by wood-burning ovens. The Montréal bagel has, thankfully, scored a hole in one.

From Monocle 24

Image: Trisha Ward

Christine and the Queens

The Big Interview

The French singer’s first album ‘Chaleur Humaine’ launched in 2015 and topped the charts in France and beyond. Since then, Christine and the Queens has travelled the world, performed with Elton John and famously got spanked on stage by Madonna in Paris. Her new release ‘Chris’ is a funk-filled record full of sexual references and plays on androgyny. Ahead of her tour, the singer sits down with Monocle’s Chiara Rimella to discuss her record, her evolving persona and gender boundaries.

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Guide to Hotels, Inns & Hideaways

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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