National Museum celebrates Chinese New Year

The National Museum of Scotland launched its new East Asian Exhibition today as part of a number of events across the Capital celebrating the Chinese New Year.

The exhibition follows Chinese New Year on Tuesday, and is part of a series of celebrations across Edinburgh which culminates with an official concert on Saturday 9th of February.

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The Exploring East Asia, Ancient Egypt Rediscovered and The Art of Ceramics open on the 8th of February, concluding the Museums 15 year long, £80 million redevelopment.

Bruce Minto, Chair of National Museums Scotland said:

“This is a truly historic moment in the life of a great museum. The transformation of this iconic Victorian building on time and on budget is an achievement of which the nation can be rightly proud.”

“Our outstanding collections help us to tell a vast range of diverse and fascinating stories from across the globe highlighting the many Scots involved in invention, innovation and discovery.  These stories have engaged our many supporters who have given generously to help us achieve our ambitions and to whom I am extremely grateful.”

The Celebrations aim to draw in more tourism from China. This comes as Edinburgh City Council decides to back a £2-a-night tourist tax.

Images credit: The National Museum of Scotland.

 

China bridges the 26 mile gap

After nine years of construction, Chinese President Xi JinPing has unveiled the world’s longest crossing bridge, linking Hong Kong to China’s mainland. 

The bridge, which cost an estimated US$20 billion to build, is set to be a life-changing invention for Chinese citizens who want to access Hong Kong and Macau from the mainland city of Zhuhai.

Spanning over 54km (26 miles) and covering 21,500 square miles of China, the bridge assists with a larger plan to expand 11 cities in the region, with the cities of Hong Kong and Macau home to 68 million people in total.

“I declare the Hong Kong – Macau – Zhuhai bridge officially open.” – President Xi JinPing, October 23, 2018

So far, the making of the now famous bridge hasn’t been easy, with 18 workers reported to have lost their lives during the construction process.

With 400,000 tonnes of steel to assemble, the new bridge has enough steel to build 60 Eiffel Towers, which in itself, weighs an impressive 10,000 tonnes. The design is also said to withstand an earthquake magnitude of eight and is also typhoon-proof, which are known natural disasters in the region.

The Hong Kong – Macau – Zhuhai bridge is expected to drastically decrease commuting time from four hours to just 30 minutes, meaning people can easily travel to and from Hong Kong’s international airport.

Originally set to be unveiled in 2016, the longest bridge in the world is now open for business, setting the tone for China’s futuristic vision.

International Insight

Joanna Hampson brings you the latest EN4 international news brief for Tuesday October 23.

Here are today’s top stories.

  • The killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was allegedly planned days in advance. The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed he has strong evidence to suggest Khashoggi was killed in a premeditated murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on the 2nd of October. In his address this Tuesday, to the MP’s of his ruling party, President Erdogan confirmed that 18 people had been arrested in Saudi Arabia over the case, but is yet to release further information regarding the details of the evidence. For live updates from the investment conference in Saudi Arabia head to the Guardian.

 

  • The world’s longest sea-crossing bridge has finally been opened in Zhuhai, China. Chinese President Xi Jinping has officially opened the bridge, which connects Hong Kong to Macau and the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai, spanning 55km (34 miles) of water. The $20 billion bridge took nine years to build while incurring major delays and cost overruns. To watch the video ‘flying over the world’s longest sea bridge’ head to the BBC.

 

  • Poland’s first openly gay politician has said progressive policies can win in the countries local elections. After the ruling Law and Justice party suffered setbacks in local elections at the weekend, Robert Biedroń who stepped down as mayor of Słupsk to launch his own pro-European, “pro-democratic” movement, has now said that progressives can win. Biedroń’s own political trajectory, as a young, former LGBT activist who was elected to the Sejm in 2011, strides towards a modern Poland, advancing on the common view of the Catholic country. The Guardian report on the advancements of the upcoming elections in more detail on their website.

 

  • Donald Trump has warned that the US will bolster its nuclear arsenal to put pressure on Russia and China. Speaking to reporters, the President repeated his belief that Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which he has threatened to leave. Russia continues to deny these allegations.

In Business

 

  • UK based vacuum cleaner manufacturer, Dyson, is set to build its new electric car in Singapore. The factory will break ground in Singapore later this year with the first car scheduled to roll off the production line in 2021. Dyson has said Singapore was chosen for the project based on the availability of engineering talent, regional supply chains and proximity to some key target markets. With a vast budget of £2 billion committed to the plant, Dyson will be focussing largely on research and development and test track facilities.

 

  • Co-founder of the Benetton clothing firm, Gilberto Benetton, has died at the age of 77. Benetton founded United Colors of Benetton in Italy, with brothers Luciano and Carlo and sister Giuliana, in the 1960s. Considered as one of the most powerful families in Italy, Benetton himself is credited with diversifying the clothing company into a multi-billion euro giant. United Colors of Benetton is known for its provocative advertising campaigns which have previously featured images of prisoners sentenced to death in America and, more recently, displayed images of migrants being rescued from the Mediterranean.

Profile: Peter Mathieson

It has been one of those weeks for Peter Mathieson. The incoming Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh has been thrown head first into the debate over greater independence for Hong Kong.

 

The row began in September when Mathieson, currently Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), put his name to a joint statement condemning activists advocating greater economic and cultural control for Hong Kong. The reason for the announcement is believed to be related to banners put up around the university’s campuses by students which called for the region to split from the mainland. The signatories of the statement claim this was a violation of Basic Law, the territory’s mini-constitution.

 

A banner which reads “Hong Kong Independence” is displayed at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Source: Reuters

 

The statement signed by 10 other universities said: “We treasure freedom of expression, but we condemn its recent abuses. Freedom of expression is not absolute, and like all freedoms it comes with responsibilities.”

 

The comments have led to widespread criticism against Mathieson who will likely take over at the University of Edinburgh in early 2018. HKU’s Academic Staff Association called on him to “take responsibilities for your action on this extremely serious matter”.

 

A leak to the Hong Kong Free Press showed how Mathieson feared “isolation” if he did not put HKU’s name to the document. It is thought the other universities involved were discussing publishing the statement without the vice-chancellor’s approval which would have left HKU in a position of supporting those who want less Chinese influence in the region.

 

In a statement to EN4 News, a University of Edinburgh spokesperson said:

“The University of Edinburgh has an absolute commitment to supporting freedom of speech on campus. Peter Mathieson has a wealth of experience at a senior level in Higher Education and wholly shares and supports our core values. We have every confidence that he is the person to lead the University of Edinburgh into an exciting new era.”

 

So, what can students in the University of Edinburgh expect from their new vice-chancellor? Peter Mathieson has, as one might presume, an illustrious academic career behind him. Having graduated from London Hospital Medical College in 1983 with a first class honours in medicine, he spent some time as a practitioner before going up to Cambridge as a Medical Research Council training fellow.

 

After Cambridge it was academia which kept his interest. He moved to Bristol in 1995, taking up a post as a professor of renal medicine at the city’s university as well as a job as honorary consultant nephrologist to North Bristol NHS Trust. From there, Mathieson continued his work in research, becoming the youngest ever elected president of the Renal Association in 2007.

 

It wasn’t all plain sailing and progress though. When he joined HKU in April 2014, after an unchallenged bid for the job, the British Professor was castigated by his colleagues for allegedly having little to no knowledge of the tensions between Hong Kong and Beijing. Speaking to the Financial Times just six months into his new role, Mathieson said: “The politics here is complicated and rapidly changing, so you’ve got to run to keep up. But I’m enjoying it and so far it seems to be going OK.”

 

The professor may reflect differently now that his tenure at the helm of the oldest higher education institution in Hong Kong is coming to an end. Throughout his time working in the Pokfulam region he has had to tread carefully as a political crisis unfolded around him. In 2014, the situation reached boiling point when one senior lecturer organised a 79-day occupy protest against China’s decision to reshape the way the region holds elections, sparking a wider protest which became known as the ‘Umbrella Revolution’.

 

Mathieson was also embroiled in further controversy when the Student Union protested a decision by the university’s selection committee to refuse the nomination of Johannes Chan to pro-vice-chancellor in 2014. HKU’s Student Union viewed the ruling as undemocratic as it was alleged the Hong Kong leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, had put pressure on committee members to vote against Chan. An act which alumni and union officials say curtailed pro-democratic scholars from entering academia.

 

In February this year, Peter Mathieson resigned from his post, two years before his contract was due to expire. In a couple of months he will start a new chapter in the city responsible for the birth of the Scottish Enlightenment and, coincidentally, where his father was born. Professor Mathieson will no doubt be hoping it will be less of a bumpy ride.

China told to stop land reclamation

storm crypt

Credit to Storm Crypt (Flickr)

President Barack Obama has spoken out against China, saying they must stop reclaiming land which they see as theirs in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Mr Obama spoke on the sidelines of an economic summit of Asia Pacific nations, also known as APEC, which opened in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. He pledged financial and naval assistance to the Philippines, which is in involved in a dispute with China over the ownership of the islands.

China has always maintained that its dredging work in the region is perfectly legal since it began back in 2013. Chinese activity in question involves China turning submerged reefs into islands, although the Philippines believe it is taking place in their territory.

The US Embassy in London was unable to comment on the matter.

 

 

Trump Slated in Presidential Debate

Trump was humiliated in last night's Republican debate. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Trump was humiliated in last night’s Republican debate. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Republican candidate Donald Trump was once again the laughing stock of last night’s live presidential TV debates in America. Rival candidates John Kasich and Jeb Bush mocked Trump’s plans to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, branding them impractical and divisive.

The billionaire businessman was met by a booing crowd as he set his stance on foreign policy, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and China’s “currency manipulation.” However what Mr Trump did not realise is that China is not actually a part of the TPP, which led to further humiliation.

Trump also set out his hard-line stance on immigration by saying he would build a wall on the US-Mexico border, referencing Israel as a good example with what he believes they have achieved with their border wall with Palestine.

However this was met with scorn from John Kasich, who said it was a “silly argument” and not “an adult one.” Jeb Bush also criticized Trump’s plans, saying it would only be playing into Hilary Clinton’s hands.

Trump had previously been ahead in opinion polls, although last night’s debate may see these results change.

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