North Korea: a vexing situation for the USA and China

North Korea’s Pukguksong-2 test increases the tension

Once again, North Korea, officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), has provoked international condemnation whilst developing its current ballistic missile and nuclear programme.

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North Korea: Pukguksong-2 missile test

On 12th February 2017, North Korea launched a Pukguksong-2 missile (North Star 2, 북극성 2), from a tracked mobile launch vehicle. The solid-fuel missile is believed to have reached an altitude of 340 miles (550km) and travelled downrange 310 miles (510km) into the East Sea. The missile fell into North Korean territorial waters of the East Sea (disputed by Japan, which it considers it to be the Sea of Japan), and did not pose any risk to Japan. This missile test was primarily of chief concern for the participating nations of the Six-Party talks.
Continue reading “North Korea: a vexing situation for the USA and China”

Soy Sauce Casks and a History of Shenyang, Northeast China (Dongbei)

Soy Sauce Casks and History of Shenyang, Northeast China (Dongbei)

On a recent visit to Shenyang, Liaoning province, Northeast China (Dongbei), I discovered an interesting earthenware container or cask. The blue-white cask had, I was told, been excavated at some time during the 1980s at Taiyuan Jie, near Shenyang Railway Station.

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Soy Sauce cask discovered at Taiyuan Jie, Shenyang, Liaoning province, China

At first sight, the rope-banded style cask seemed to be of Chinese origin. After further inspection, I considered that it might be a sake container or cask from the Japanese Meiji period (23 October 1868 – 30July 1912 ). Meiji period earthenware is generally characterised by blue and white decoration. Continue reading “Soy Sauce Casks and a History of Shenyang, Northeast China (Dongbei)”

36th London Wine Fair – 2016

36th London Wine Fair – 2016

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36th London Wine Fair, London

The 36th London Wine Fair turned out again to be one of the world’s leading wine and trade events. With an anticipated 700 exhibitors from across the globe, showing some 13,000 wines, there was much to see and expect.

This year’s wine fair was held two weeks earlier than usual, so as to ensure a better fit with UK and International buying schedules – a good move.

It was interesting to see a selection of Japanese sake at the Fair, so it was an easy decision to start with sake tastings! Continue reading “36th London Wine Fair – 2016”

2015 – A Year of Sake and Fujii Honke 藤居本家

Sake and Fujii Honke  藤居本家

This year has seen an increase in the popularity of Japanese food in London, and there are now nearly 500 Japanese restaurants in the Greater London area. However, and more importantly, there has been a surge of interest in Japanese sake ( Nihonshu日本酒 ).

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Sake tasting – Restaurant Show 2015

During 2015, there have been many interesting events and tastings to promote this marvellous drink. The IWC 2015 Award Winning Sake Tasting, held at the Embassy of Japan, and events by World Sake Imports: including a talk given by Philip Harper, the first non-Japanese sake master brewer( Toji 杜氏 ) in Japan, from the Kinoshita-Shuzou brewery, Kyoto. Continue reading “2015 – A Year of Sake and Fujii Honke 藤居本家”

35th London Wine Fair – 2015

35th London Wine Fair – 2015

The 35th London Wine Fair 2015, held at Kensington Olympia – one of the best international events for discerning wine buyers and aficionados.

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35th London Wine Fair, London

Over 10,000 wines from over 80 countries were available to taste, and which provided every opportunity to discover some real wine gems. As a regular event goer, and with so many wines available to sample, it is often difficult to know where to start on a new journey of wine discovery. But I did, and here are some of my discoveries and an old favourite! Continue reading “35th London Wine Fair – 2015”

Does the US Need a Reality Check?

‘US needs Reality Check’: A China View of US Foreign Policy

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China President Xi Jinping with US President Barak Obama

During my stay in Beijing last year, I came across a thought provoking editorial entitled ‘US needs reality check ‘ (China Daily newspaper, 30th May 2014). Alongside the editorial was another article: ‘Time for China to go it alone’, an interesting juxtaposition. One might interpret this juxtaposition, as the decline of the United States as global leader and the rise of China’s territorial ambitions! Continue reading “Does the US Need a Reality Check?”

IFE 2013 – International Food & Drink Event

IFE 2013 – Japan Pavilion

During March 2013, I attended the International Food & Drink Event (IFE 2013) at ExCel, London. As expected the event turned out to be one of the highlights of the year, showcasing new and innovative products from around the world.

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Japan Pavilion, 2013 IFE

IFE 2013 had over 50 countries represented on the trade stands, and over the four-day event received almost 30000 visitors from nearly 100 countries. In particular, the Japan pavilions and sake bar, sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan (MAFF) were noteworthy – one of the best ever presentations from Japan. Continue reading “IFE 2013 – International Food & Drink Event”

A Council By-Election and that David Cameron EU Speech

A Council By-Election, that David Cameron EU Speech: What’s the Message for Eastleigh?

During the first week of February, a council by-election was held in a little known ward in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF): the Wormholt and White City (WWC) ward. Many people will probably not know where WWC ward is located, or even care. They may also believe that the WWC ward result has no relevance whatsoever for any parliamentary by-election or other parliamentary elections, other than filling a vacant seat on LBHF Council!

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Wormholt Park, London W12

The WWC ward has traditionally been a Labour stronghold, and in recent years has always been a three horse race (no horsemeat implication intended), between Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties. Labour historically always edging out Conservative candidates. Well that week, for the first time, the by-election became a six-horse race, and the ward by-election result was interesting. Labour increased its share of the vote to 68% up 7%; Conservatives had 12%, down approx 50%; and Liberal Democrat 10%, down approx 40% of the vote. Continue reading “A Council By-Election and that David Cameron EU Speech”

At the James Freeman Gallery

‘The Islands Across the Sea’

Currently showing at the James Freeman Gallery, Islington, is an amazing exhibition of artworks by Claire Partington and Cornelia O’Donovan entitled ‘The Islands Across the Sea’. At a recent private viewing the renowned Upper Street art gallery was packed with art lovers and collectors of the artist’s works.

Claire Partington creates amazing narrative earthenware figures very much in the European tradition,  and her technical skills are a wonder. Claire was shortlisted for the Young Masters Art Prize, London 2012. Well, my personal choice for her best art in this exhibition is ‘Master of the Universe’ (below left).

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Claire Partington – ‘Master of the Universe’ (detail)
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Cornelia O’Donovan – ‘Beware of False Lambkin’

 

Images courtesy of James Freeman gallery.

 

 

Continue reading “At the James Freeman Gallery”

Dr Lyushun Shen, Taipei Representative Office (Taiwan) in the UK

Dr Lyushun Shen, Taipei Representative Office (Taiwan) in the UK

Last night, I had the privilege of meeting and hearing a presentation given by Dr Lyushun Shen, Taipei Representative Office (Taiwan) in the UK, at a Conservative Foreign and Commonwealth Council (CFCC) meeting in London (28th January 2013).

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Chiang Kai-shek President of Taiwan (ROC), 1950 – 1975

Dr Shen gave a thoroughly interesting talk on Taiwan history, which encompassed Britain’s former colonial involvement in China and South China Sea region.

It was interesting to discover that when, in 1949,  Chiang Kai-shek was forced to leave China and establish a government in Taiwan, many thousands of artefacts and China treaties were removed from the Forbidden City to Taiwan. Today, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry is the custodian of 173 original treaties and documents which are preserved in the Ministry archives. Continue reading “Dr Lyushun Shen, Taipei Representative Office (Taiwan) in the UK”

BBC Trust

*Original version published on Boris Johnson’s website 25/02/2011 – click here

BBC Trust

The BBC Trust Chairman Sir Michael Lyons has recently revealed he will not seek to be re-appointed in the role when his four-year term ends next May.

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BBC Broadcasting House

A few weeks ago, in a letter to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Sir Michael said the Trust was robust, workable and effective … with much remaining to be done. So what of the background that led to the formation of the BBC Trust and its future ?

The BBC Trust replaced the BBC’s Board of Governors in January 2007. The Government said it was intended to ensure an “unprecedented obligation to openness and transparency”. But one of its first announcements was that the BBC Trust would review the corporation’s UK news coverage, which, whilst seeming even-handed to some, was seen by others as an insidious first step to totalitarianism : more like a politburo flexing its muscles. Continue reading “BBC Trust”