city diplomacy

In prosperous Hong Kong, arts and culture are commodities, with institutions increasingly blurring the lines between retail spaces and galleries. Yet despite being the third largest auction market in the world, the city is lambasted, often and loudly, for its lack of sophistication and cultural vacuity. Therein lies the cultural paradox: its focus on big hits and big profits doesn't always create fertile ground for homegrown talent.

January 6, 2014

Are China’s leaders destined to ask each other, “Who lost Hong Kong?” It’s a question worth pondering after a holiday week that offered a stark reminder of just how restless -- if not unhappy -- a sizable percentage of the former colony’s residents are under Chinese rule, 17 years after the end of British sovereignty. Of course, nobody seriously entertains the idea of a political schism between Hong Kong and China.

As the year comes to an end, it is only natural to ask what might lie ahead. But, instead of asking what may lie ahead in 2014, let us jump to mid-century. What will governance look like in 2050? That is what the World Economic Forum (WEF) asked at a recent meeting in Abu Dhabi that focused on the future of governance under three potential scenarios arising from the ongoing information revolution. With that revolution already marginalizing some countries and communities – and creating new opportunities for others – the question could hardly be more timely.

After a week or two in the South Korean capital of Seoul, newcomers often harbor extreme views on the city. They either love it or absolutely despise it. The first cohort can’t get enough of this Asian metropolis of almost 10 million people. They find endless fun in its pulsating nightlife, surfeit of palaces and temples, and cheap vodka-like booze called soju. Hiking up its peaks (yes, Seoul has peaks), they are mesmerized by its never-ending skyline.

Brazil's government tourism authority Embratur took advantage of today's live World Cup draw to start targeting online videos at potential visitors to Brazil from key tourism markets. The draw, eagerly awaited by soccer fans around the world, places the 32 national teams in 8 groups and determines which teams will play each other first, and in which of the 12 Brazilian cities that will host World Cup games starting in June 2014.

Rio de Janeiro's shanty towns, its favelas, long stricken by poverty and violence, have a new boogeyman: Gentrification. First, only academics were worried about whether gentrification might really be happening in the favelas. Those fears have since migrated from anxious blog entries to coverage in major newspapers.

Shanghai is a city that connotes modernity and rapid economic development. Its inhabitants are known both within and without its confines as upwardly mobile, career-oriented, and financially minded. Tourists come to see bright lights on East Nanjing road and the lavishness of the Bund, both symbols of recent industrialization. What the city lacks, it is commonly believed, is historical and artistic culture.