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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly photoblogs about her trip to Berlin.

  • Dead Things reports on a recent study that unraveled the evolutionary history of the domestic cat.

  • James Nicoll notes that his niece and nephew will each be performing theatre in Toronto.

  • Language Hat has an interesting link to interviews of coders as if they were translators.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at Chinese video game competitions and Chinese tours to Soviet revolutionary sites.

  • Steve Munro shares photos of the old Kitchener trolleybus.

  • Roads and Kingdoms shares the story of the Ramadan drummer of Coney Island.

  • Savage Minds shares an essay arguing that photographers should get their subjects' consent and receive renumeration.

  • Torontoist shares photos of the Trans March.

  • Towleroad
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  • Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith talks about "cis", "trans", and the non-obvious meaning of this classification.
  • The Big Picture shares photos of a recent sailing festival in Boston.

  • blogTO reports on the trendy charcoal-black ice cream of a store across from Trinity Bellwoods.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the idea of a "runaway fusion" drive.Crooked Timber wonders how a bad Brexit agreement could possibly be worse than no Brexit agreement for the United Kingdom.
  • D-Brief warns of the possibility of sustained life-threatening heat waves in the tropics with global warming.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers how sociology majors are prepared, or not, for the workforce.

  • Language Hat links to a wonderful examination of the textual complexities of James Joyce's Ulysses.

  • The LRB Blog looks at how British big business is indebted to the Conservatives.

  • Marginal Revolution reports on China's emergent pop music machine.

  • Steve Munro reports on the latest on noise from the 514 Cherry streetcar.

  • The NYRB Daily has a fascinating exchange on consciousness and free will and where it all lies.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on a successful expedition to Argentina to examine Kuiper Belt object MU69 via occultation.

  • Peter Rukavina celebrates Charlottetown school crossing guard Dana Doyle.

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  • Yahoo News shares the story of a cat that visited every national park in the United States, with photos.

  • CBC's Mike Crawley takes a look at the impact of the Ontario $15 minimum wage, finding it should have little effect on the economy at large.

  • In The Globe and Mail, Tony Keller suggests that Donald Trump's actions do a great job of promoting China as a responsible superpower.

  • CBC notes research suggesting that global warming will make the heat island effect in cities much worse.

  • It is easy, editor David Shribman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes in The Globe and Mail, to mistake Pittsburgh for Paris.

  • The Toronto Star notes Ariana Grande's surprise visit to her fans in hospital before tomorrow benefit concert.

  • The Atlantic reports on the problems of post-Communist gentrification in Moscow.

  • The Georgia Straight shares one Vancouver artist's goodbye to her adopted city, beloved but now too expensive.

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  • The Atlantic notes the chance that China might manage to supplant the United States under Trump as a guarantor of the world order.

  • In an older article, The Atlantic noted Mexico's potential to be a spoiler for the United States. Being less wealthy and powerful than the US is not the same as not being wealthy and powerful.

  • DW notes that there is the possibility of an entente between China and the EU, to sustain the multilateral order.

  • Spiegel Online notes that the Turkey of Erdogan these days is starting to fall out with its NATO partners.

  • Open Democracy argues the alienation of Europeans of Turkish background from liberal democracy has roots in Europe.

  • Also at Open Democracy, Nick Mullens argues that negatively stereotyping Appalachians leads only to their doubling-down on coal.

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  • Bloomberg looks at the recent surge of Chinese investment in Southeast Asia.

  • Culture.pl looks at why Nietzsche falsely claimed Polish ancestry.

  • Foreign Policy suggests that this is a new age of German prominence in the West.

  • The New Yorker finds Amazon's new brick-and-mortar bookstores lacking.

  • The Toronto Star shares claims that learning a second language provides mental benefits.

  • Universe Today notes the discovery of potentially habitable super-Earth Gliese 625 b.

  • Vice's Motherboard notes how the popularization of ayahuasca-driven spirit quests has actually hurt traditional users.

  • Vox notes the latest Russia-Ukraine history fight on Twitter.

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  • Centauri Dreams looks at evidence that Ceres' Occator Crater, an apparent cryovolcano, may have been recently active.

  • Crooked Timber's John Quiggin wonders what would have happened had Kerensky accepted the German Reichstag's proposal in 1917.

  • Dangerous Minds looks at some fun that employees at a bookstore in France got up to with book covers.

  • Cody Delistraty describes F. Scott Fitzgerald's utter failure to fit into Hollywood.

  • A Fistful of Euros hosts Alex Harrowell's blog post taking a look at recent history from a perspective of rising populism.

  • io9 reports on a proposal from the Chinese city of Lanzhou to set up a water pipeline connecting it to Siberia's Lake Baikal.

  • Imageo notes a recent expedition by Norwegian scientists aiming at examining the winter ice.

  • Strange Maps links to an amazing graphic mapping the lexical distances between Europe's languages.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is on the verge of a new era of population decline, and shares a perhaps alarming perspective on the growth of Muslim populations in Russia.

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The National Post carries Ben Guarino's Washington Post article reporting on the exciting finds of mysterious hominid skulls in China. Could these actually be, as some speculate, remnants of the Denisovans, or of another still more obscure human population?

Modern humans outlasted the Neanderthals by about 40,000 years and counting. But don’t pat yourself on the back too firmly for outliving those troglodytes. Neanderthals crafted tools and tamed fire. They cared for their dead. Animal horns and blackened fire pits encircling the remains of a Neanderthal toddler suggest a 42,000-year-old funeral rite. If a Neanderthal indeed wore a talon necklace, as a collection of polished eagle claws indicate, they beat us to jewelry, too. Perhaps one of your ancient ancestors found the claw necklaces sexy: Some scientists theorize humans gave Neanderthals genital herpes and tapeworm parasites.

Their proportions, however, remained distinctly Neanderthal. Neanderthal bodies were shorter and stockier, more Gimli son of Gloin than Gigi Hadid. Their skulls were built differently, too, with a few features – like heavy brow ridges – particularly unlike ours.

Which makes a pair of newly-described skulls something of a wonder. The partial skulls have features up to this time unseen in the hominid fossil record, sharing both human and Neanderthal characteristics.

“It is a very exciting discovery,” as Katerina Harvati, an expert in Neanderthal evolution at the University of Tübingen in Germany who was not involved with the research, told The Washington Post. “Especially because the human fossil record from East Asia has been not only fragmentary but also difficult to date.”

Excavators dug up the skull cap fragments in 2007 and 2014, in Lingjing, located within China’s Henan province. The diggers discovered two partial skulls in a site thought to be inhabited 105,000 to 125,000 years ago, during an epoch called the Pleistocene. The owners of the skulls were good hunters, capable of fashioning stone blades from quartz. Ancient bones of horses and cattle, as well as extinct woolly rhinoceros and giant deer, were found strewn nearby the skull remains.
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  • blogTO shares media exploring how Toronto was marketed internationally in the 1980s. This decade apparently saw less concentration on landmarks and more on cultural activities.

  • The Map Room Blog links to a National Geographic collection of the childhood maps of cartographers.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that the loosening of China's one-child policy has not resulted in much change.

  • Justin Petrone wonders if Estonians are weird.

  • Steve Munro reports on the many, many problematic things coming out of Metrolinx, including fare-by-distance and the ongoing PRESTO disasters.

  • Supernova Condensate shares a thought-provoking set of statues on global warming, Follow the Leaders.

  • Torontoist's Kieran Delamont notes the astonishing thoughtlessness of new fashion brand Homeless Toronto.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at a Belarus in a state of political ferment that might--might--be pre-revolutionary, and wonders if disbanding Russia's ethnic republics could be profoundly destabilizing.

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  • Language Hat reports on the Wenzhounese of Italy.

  • Language Log writes about the tones of Cantonese.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money writes about the costs of law school. (They are significant, and escalating hugely.)

  • Marginal Revolution reports on the problems facing the Brazilian pension system, perhaps overgenerous for a relatively poor country facing rapid aging.

  • Neuroskeptic reports on the latest re: the crisis of scientists not being able to replicate evidence, now even their own work being problematic.

  • Personal Reflections considers the questions of how to preserve the dignity of people facing Alzheimer's.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes a Financial Times article looking at the impact of aging on global real estate.

  • Spacing Toronto talks about the campaign to name a school after Jean Earle Geeson, a teacher and activist who helped save Fort York.

  • At Wave Without A Shore, C.J. Cherryh shares photos of her goldfish.

  • Window on Eurasia notes growing instability in Daghestan, looks at the latest in Georgian historical memory, and shares an article arguing that Putin's actions have worsened Russia's reputation catastrophically.

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  • Centauri Dreams looks at the SPECULOOS red dwarf observation program.

  • The Crux examines VX nerve agent, the chemical apparently used to assassinate the half-brother of North Korea's ruler.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of the inhabitants of the Tokyo night, like gangsters and prostitutes and drag queens.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines Donald Trump's tepid and belated denunciation of anti-Semitism.

  • Language Log looks at the story of the Wenzhounese, a Chinese group notable for its diaspora in Italy.

  • The LRB Blog looks at the by-elections in the British ridings of Stoke and Copeland and notes the problems of labour.

  • The Map Room Blog shares a post-Brexit map of the European Union with an independent Scotland.

  • Marginal Revolution reports that a border tax would be a poor idea for the United States and Mexico.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at the art of the medieval Tibetan kingdom of Guge.

  • Otto Pohl notes the 73rd anniversary of Stalin's deportation of the Chechens and the Ingush.

  • Supernova Condensate points out that Venus is actually the most Earth-like planet we know of. Why do we not explore it more?

  • Towleroad notes Depeche Mode's denunciation of the alt-right and Richard Spencer.

  • Whatever's John Scalzi considers the question of feeling empathy for horrible people.

  • Window on Eurasia notes the thousands of Russian citizens involved with ISIS and examines the militarization of Kaliningrad.

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The Globe and Mail's Mike Hager notes how the lack of official statistics on foreign buyers of real estate in Toronto means, among other things, that less reliable data metrics like search engine hits need to be used. This just proves how modern societies need good data to address real problems.

‘Up! Up! Up!”

That’s where Toronto’s real estate market is heading, according to a Chinese-language promotional article posted last month on Fang.com, a Beijing-based web portal that lists thousands of homes for sale in countries around the world.

“You will really cry if you still don’t buy,” the same posting blares.

Toronto has become the “dark horse” of the Canadian real estate market, asserts Haifangbest.com, another site jammed with Canadian home listings. It contrasts Vancouver’s continuing drop in prices with a prediction that Toronto-area homes will rise 8 per cent in value this year.

In the months since British Columbia began taxing international buyers 15-per-cent extra on homes in and around Vancouver, those marketing Canadian real estate overseas have shifted their focus to Toronto. Last year, Toronto overtook Vancouver to become the most sought-after Canadian city for Chinese home buyers searching the property listing service Juwai.com, peaking in August just after British Columbia announced the tax aimed at curbing the public outrage over skyrocketing prices. Searches for properties in Toronto proper now surpass the total inquiries for Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa combined.

Richard Silver, a Sotheby’s realtor and past president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, estimates close to 20 per cent of his clients are international buyers – from China, India and the Middle East – interested in the luxury condos and houses he sells in and around the downtown core.
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Isaac Stone Fish's "Confronting Chairman Trump" looks at the many ways in which the People's Republic of China, as an apparently stable power capable of enacting non-zero-sum policies, could really benefit from the destabilization of the United States under Trump.

More than 40 years ago, Mao Zedong reportedly said, “All is chaos under heaven, and the situation is good.” It’s as good a description as any of Donald Trump’s governing strategy. In the 10 days he’s served as president, Trump has demonstrated, through his attacks on the media, his disregard for international and constitutional norms, and his pathological obsession with his own reality, that like the Communist revolutionaries of yesteryear, he is more interested in transforming America than running it. It’s a “shock to the system,” as spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway tweeted on Saturday. “And he’s just getting started.” Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that Trump adviser Steve Bannon once proudly described himself as a Leninist. “Lenin,” Bannon told the former Marxist intellectual Ronald Radosh in 2013, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

All this puts the People’s Republic of China in a strange position. Though the modern Chinese state may have been founded on revolutionary chaos, after Mao’s death in 1976, China moved away from a chaotic authoritarianism and toward one predicated on order, internationalism, and fealty to the state. In the years since taking office in November 2012, China’s Communist Party Secretary Xi Jinping has shown that he wants to preserve the system that brought him to power. “China took a brave step to embrace the global market,” Xi said in a well-regarded speech at Davos earlier in January—the first time a Chinese president attended the international elite gathering. “It has proved to be the right strategic choice,” he added. All the very recent debates over how China’s rise would disrupt the international system now seem positively quaint. In the age of Trump, it’s America that’s disrupting international norms while China positions itself as the defender of the status quo. This strange entwining of history—Trump adopting anarchic anti-establishment policies formerly associated with Communist leaders, while Xi burnishes his global liberal credentials—will benefit China’s international interests at the expense of the United States.

In the months since Trump’s election victory, there’s been a widespread assumption that Russia would be the big global winner in the Trump era. After all, the U.S. intelligence community has accused Russia of meddling on Trump’s behalf in the election, and the candidate has spoken openly about his skepticism of NATO, his desire to partner with Russia to fight ISIS, and his fondness for Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, Trump bashed China consistently on the campaign trail, saying, “What China is doing is beyond belief” and that its unfair trade policies “rape” the United States. Even before taking office, he enraged Beijing with his provocative December phone call with the president of Taiwan. Trump has also surrounded himself with outspoken China hawks. The director of his newly created National Trade Council, Peter Navarro, has long argued that China’s handling of its currency, the yuan, “is threatening to tear asunder the entire global economic fabric and free trade framework.” Trump’s nominee for the United States trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, has called for a “much more aggressive approach in dealing with China.”

But the events of Trump’s presidency so far, and many of the policies he’s laid out, serve to strengthen China and its place in the world. The new U.S. administration is—seemingly inadvertently—giving Beijing wide latitude to create policy in Asia and strengthening the global appeal of China’s political system.

The biggest win for China so far was Trump’s decision to cancel the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, gifting China a far freer hand to dictate trade policy in its backyard. The TPP—a proposed 12-nation trade pact representing roughly 40 percent of the world’s economic output—would have lowered tariffs, simplified international regulations, and cut red tape for cross-border trade and investment for American companies and companies from member states. Beijing understandably hated the TPP: Not only did the agreement pointedly exclude China and reportedly emphasized environmental regulations and intellectual property, but it competed with two Chinese-led trade strategies—One Belt, One Road, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The former is a grand global strategy meant to link China with the rest of Eurasia, while the latter is a 16-nation trading bloc that pointedly excludes the United States. China benefits from the RCEP in much the same way that the United States would have benefited from the TPP: lowering the price of goods for Chinese consumers and expanding the market reach for Chinese companies.
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  • blogTO notes the Distillery District's Toronto Light Festival.

  • Border Thinking Laura Agustín looks at migrants and refugees in James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia.

  • Centauri Dreams suggests that Perry's expedition to Japan could be taken as a metaphor for first contact.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a report about how brown dwarf EPIC 219388192 b.

  • The LRB Blog notes the use of torture as a technique of intimidation.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at China's very heavy investment in Laos.

  • The NYRB Daily examines violence and the surprising lack thereof in El Salvador.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw touches on the controversies surrounding Australia Day.

  • Transit Toronto reports the sentencing of some people who attacked TTC officers.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that a Putin running out of resources needs to make a deal.

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  • blogTO notes the rapid expansion of A&Ws across Toronto's neighbourhoods.

  • Centauri Dreams reports that none of the exoplanets of nearby Wolf 1061 are likely to support Earth-like environments, owing to their eccentric and occasionally overclose orbits.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper looking at high-temperature condensate clouds in hot Jupiter atmospheres.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on Trump's unsecured Android phone.

  • Language Log reports on Caucasian words relating to tea.

  • The LRB Blog notes the emerging close links connecting May's United Kingdom with Trump's United States and Netanyahu's Israel.

  • Marginal Revolution shares an interview with chef and researcher Mark Miller and reports on the massive scale of Chinese investment in Cambodia.

  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the idea of choosing between the Moon and Mars as particular targets of manned space exploration.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at the mechanics of imposing a 20% tax in the United States on Mexican imports. (It is doable.)

  • The Russian Demographics Blog reports Russian shortfalls in funding HIV/AIDS medication programs.

  • Supernova Condensate warns that Trump's hostility to the very idea of climate change threatens the world.

  • Towleroad shares the first gay kiss of (an) Iceman in Marvel's comics.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the constitutional problems with Trump's executive order against sanctuary cities.

  • Window on Eurasia argues Ukraine is willing to fight if need be, even if sold out by Trump.

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Bloomberg View's Michael Schuman notes that the end of the TPP leaves China in a stronger position relative to the United States, economically and geopolitically. Among other things, new China-centered trade arrangements seem like to fill the void left by Trump's protectionism.

A successful TPP would've bound important economies around the Pacific Rim, from Japan to Vietnam to Chile, more closely to the U.S., while solidifying America’s presence in the most vibrant and vital part of the global economy. Asian nations now have every reason to question U.S. commitment and staying power, not to mention the promises of its leaders. Several will focus their energies on China's own free-trade pact for the region, which will increase rather than decrease their dependence on the Chinese economy. If Trump asks for their backing to roll back Chinese expansionism, they're unlikely to answer the call.

By contrast, a successful TPP would've put pressure on China -- which isn't a signatory to the pact -- to respond. In theory, to compete, it would've had to open its markets further to foreign companies and begin abiding by rules of trade and business written in Washington. (Indeed, at least some reformers in China privately welcomed the deal as a means of encouraging liberalization at home.) Trump's threats of tariffs are unlikely to accomplish the same goal.

And if nothing else, why would a supposedly sly negotiator voluntarily give up one of his most powerful points of leverage? Even if Trump genuinely hated the TPP, he could've maintained an air of uncertainty about his intentions (this, at least, he seems to excel at). Instead he's shown his hand before any real bargaining with China has begun. So much for the art of the deal.

If you think none of this matters very much, then you’re dealing in “alternative facts.” The future of American business lies in Asia, where hundreds of millions of people are getting richer by the day. U.S. exporters need access to these markets. Businesses need clarity of rules across borders and the ability to build inexpensive and reliable supply chains. Bilateral free-trade agreements, which Trump claims to favor, won't suffice.

And what about the jobs threatened by the TPP? Well, the pact would indeed have killed off some jobs -- in China. By awarding preferential treatment to exports from China’s low-cost competition, especially Vietnam, the TPP would likely have greased the flow of manufacturing jobs out of the mainland. That would've placed extra strain on a Chinese economy already struggling with fading competitiveness, an aging workforce and slowing growth.
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The Toronto Star shares Mike Blanchfield's report about how the Canadian government wants to negotiate a free trade agreement with China. Especially now, given the uncertainty in our relationship with the United States, I'm strongly for this. Diversifying our options is almost always a good thing.

Canada and China are launching exploratory talks towards a free-trade agreement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday during a visit that saw the Chinese premier publicly defend his country’s use of the death penalty.

The ever-present clash of economic interests and human rights was on full display, as it always is in Sino-Canadian relations. But Li Keqiang displayed an easy familiarity with his host — one celebrated over a beer the night before at the prime minister’s Harrington Lake retreat — as the two leaders pushed forward their economic agenda.

Both leaders also acknowledged the thornier issues in their relationship, including ongoing political opposition in Canada to a potential extradition deal with China, which practices capital punishment and has a dubious human rights record.

As well, there is the spectre of China’s “Operation Fox Hunt” — its international pursuit and harassment of so-called economic fugitives and other dissidents.

Standing next to Trudeau in the foyer of the House of Commons, Li denied his country sends foreign agents abroad.

But he calmly addressed head-on the issue of capital punishment in his country, providing an elegant contrast to the tongue-lashing his foreign minister gave a reporter who asked him about human rights earlier this year in Ottawa.
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This Reuters report is potentially very significant. Does this mark the beginning of the Pax Sinica?

China does not want world leadership but could be forced to assume that role if others step back from that position, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Monday, after U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to put "America first" in his first speech.

Zhang Jun, director general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's international economics department, made the comments during a briefing with foreign journalists to discuss President Xi Jinping's visit to Switzerland last week.

Topping the bill at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Xi portrayed China as the leader of a globalised world where only international cooperation could solve the big problems.

Speaking days before Trump assumed the presidency, Xi also urged countries to resist isolationism, signalling Beijing's desire to play a bigger role on the global stage.

Elaborating on that theme, Zhang said China had no intention of seeking global leadership.

"If anyone were to say China is playing a leadership role in the world I would say it's not China rushing to the front but rather the front runners have stepped back leaving the place to China," Zhang said.

"If China is required to play that leadership role then China will assume its responsibilities," he added.
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  • Beyond the Beyond links to a US military science fiction contest.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly notes that journalism is meant to offer criticisms of the president.

  • Crooked Timber has an open forum about the inauguration.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos from seminal 1980-era London club Billy's.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper reporting on a superflare on brown dwarf EPIC 220186653.

  • A Fistful of Euros' features Doug Merrill's meditations on 2009 and 2017.

  • Language Log looks at the etymology of the Vietnamese name "Nguyen."

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at Donald Trump's desire for a military parade.

  • The LRB Blog looks at Donald Trump as a winner.

  • Marginal Revolution links to a book on the economics of skyscrapers and notes a skyscraper boom in China.

  • Steve Munro looks at buses and their distribution on TTC networks.

  • Transit Toronto looks at how Exhibition Place work will complicate multiple bus routes.

  • Window on Eurasia notes low levels of Russian productivity, shares a Russian argument as to why Russia and the United States can never be allies in the long term, looks at counterproductive Russian interference in Circassian diaspora institutions, and shares argument suggesting Trump's style of language explains why he wants to forego complicated multilateral negotiations for bilateral ones where he can dominate.

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That Donald Trump is set for a confrontation with China and that this was not a surprise is the dominant theme in Tom Phillips' article in The Guardian, which notes how the state media has muted criticism of Trump in an effort to prevent too bad a deterioration. Liu Zhen's South China Morning Post article looking at the reactions of netizens is also worth reading for a take on how ordinary Chinese once pro-Trump are changing their minds.

China has urged Donald Trump to be its friend not its enemy, amid fears the tycoon’s inauguration could set the world’s two largest economies on a calamitous collision course.

Since his shock election last November Trump has repeatedly put Beijing’s nose out of joint, challenging it over the militarisation of the South China Sea, alleged currency manipulation and North Korea and threatening to up-end relations by offering greater political recognition to Taiwan.

The billionaire has also handed jobs to several stridently anti-China voices including one academic who has described its rulers as a cabal of despicable, parasitic, brutal, brass-knuckled, crass, callous, amoral, ruthless totalitarians.

But on the eve of Trump’s swearing in, China’s government and state-run media struck a conciliatory tone with the man about to become the United States’ 45th president.

“Both sides should try to be friends and partners, rather than opponents or enemies,” Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, told reporters.
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This news comes from the end of 2016, but it's still quite good. May China continue to progress in space travel, for the benefit of us all.

China vowed Tuesday to speed up the development of its space industry as it set out its plans to become the first country to soft land a probe on the far side of the moon, around 2018, and launch its first Mars probe by 2020.

"To explore the vast cosmos, develop the space industry and build China into a space power is a dream we pursue unremittingly," read a white paper setting out the country's space strategy for the next five years. It says China aims to use space for peaceful purposes and to guarantee national security, and to carry out cutting edge scientific research.

The white paper released by the information office of China's Cabinet points to the growing ambitions of China's already rapidly advancing space program. Although the white paper doesn't mention it, China's eventual goal is the symbolic feat of landing an astronaut on the moon.

While Russia and the United States have more experience in manned space travel, China's military-backed program has made steady progress in a comparatively short time.

Since China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, it has staged a spacewalk and landed a rover on the moon in 2013 -- the first time humans had soft landed anything on the moon since the 1970s.

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