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I’m in Hong Kong this week for our annual meeting with New York Times editors and correspondents from all across Asia, and on the plane over I was reading Evan Osnos’s book, “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China.”
It’s a fascinating read, far more about people than geopolitics (read our 2014 review), making it a strong introduction to some of the themes that many of us will continue to inquire about as the world grapples with China’s growing impact.
Some of the questions are almost existential: Has China proved that centralized authoritarianism works better for economic growth than decentralized democracy?
Others are more particular: How is China using technology to maintain and expand its power? How will China respond to the growing backlash to its policies forming in Australia, the United States and elsewhere?
These reporting targets, we hope, will yield interesting journalism throughout the year.
But our discussions in Hong Kong also covered the region. We have correspondents throughout Asia, reporting on politics, culture, business and technology; here are a few of the topics that led to robust conversations about our future coverage.
This is far from a comprehensive list, but consider it a bit of a preview for 2019.
Elections: India, the Philippines, Thailand — and Australia of course — all have elections scheduled for this year. Voters will be given stark choices about not just domestic policy, but also foreign affairs.
Demographics: India has to create a million jobs each year to keep unemployment from rising; Japan is desperate for workers; China is desperate for babies. There are also intriguing stories about South Korea’s aging populace, Australia’s immigration debate and China’s broader population dynamics — especially its overabundance of men.
Women: The role of women in the work force and in life, in Japan, in China, in Australia — these were all of interest to the group. What are the structures that maintain the status quo, how do they differ from country to country, and to what extent are they changing?
Trump’s world: Ah, the Americans — what an unpredictable lot! What many of us in the Indo-Pacific wanted to know is what the broader shift toward “America first” means for the world. To what extent will the American relationship with South Korea and North Korea change? To what extent will the United States-China trade war undermine the global economy or create new relationships and alliances?
These are just a few of the subjects you’ll see explored in The New York Times this year — and of course, in this newsletter, which aims to add a bit of perspective on Australia and the topics Australians care about.
Sign up to get it in your inbox each week if you haven’t already, and join us in our NYT Australia Facebook group for additional discussion.
Now here are a few of the stories that stood out for me this week, from Australia, Vanuatu and beyond.
Where Do We Come From?
“A faint aura of destiny seems to hover over Teouma Bay,” writes Gideon Lewis-Kraus, in this ambitious magazine story told from Vanuatu about old bones that have led to sweeping claims about human history and settlement throughout the Pacific.
Gideon brilliantly explains both the controversial science that’s transforming archaeology — and the risks that come from the perception of scientific certainty about ancient history.
If you read just one long story this week, read this one.
For those seeking a shorter way in, here are 5 takeaways from his report.
The Brexit Fiasco
Following Brexit’s ups and downs can be exhausting. For context, read this news analysis piece that explains how the Brexit fiasco “seems to be forcing a tectonic shift in how Britain is governed, as Parliament flexes its muscles and the prime minister struggles to force through her agenda — a dynamic more characteristic of America’s gridlock-prone system.”
You might also want to check out our graphic on what happens next (or at least what might happen next; certaintly eludes us all).
Glaciers: Going, Going, Gone
Sometimes global failure can be so… visually stunning.
Seriously. Check out this stunning exploration of the world’s disappearing glaciers.
They cover about 200,000 square miles of the earth’s surface and over the last four decades they’ve lost the equivalent of a layer of ice 70 feet thick.
This great global melting contributes to sea level rise. It affects production of hydroelectricity. It leads to disasters like rapid, catastrophic floods and debris flows. It alters rivers and ecosystems, affecting the organisms that inhabit them.
We have several reporters at the Australian Open. You can follow day-to-day coverage on our tennis page, but for a few more thoughtful reads, don’t miss these features:
• Serena Williams Is Back at Australian Open, for Tennis and So Much More
• A Male Tennis Pro, a Female Coach and Shrugs for Anyone Who Thinks It Won’t Work
• John Isner (One of the Tallest Players in Tennis) Is Always Looking for Extra Leg Room
• 2019 Australian Open: Players to Watch
It’s not just tennis; we have a few other bits of summer fun to share as well:
• With Beaches, Wine and Buzz, Is This Australia’s Next Hot Place? The remote Margaret River region has beauty, vineyards and an annual food and wine festival called the Gourmet Escape that is increasingly putting it on the map.
• The Best Restaurants in Melbourne’s Little Italy Are on Opposite Sides of the Street: Besha Rodella contemplates the value and mystery of The Olive Jar and Capitano.
• An Australian Brings Americana to His New York Bar: Peppi’s Cellar is the first bar in the city from Jason Scott, whose enthusiasm for the United States shows in his Sydney bars.
• A Movie Star With a ‘Weird Relationship With Confidence:’ The Australian actor and director Joel Edgerton has carved his own path through Hollywood, with the help of a band of filmmaking brothers.
• The Gay Penguins of Australia: Two male penguins are raising a baby whose gender is unknown.
… And We Recommend: We Want Your Love
Tiny Love Stories, a new column from the New York Times Styles section, features reader-submitted “miniature Modern Love essays” of no more than 100 words.
And now, it’s expanding and going global. We hope to showcase voices and perspectives about love around the world in a series of special columns, starting with Australia.
So if you live here (or once did) and have a short personal story about the ties that bind — and sometimes break — go to nytimes.com/tinylovestories and write “AUSTRALIA” at the start of your entry.
The best submissions will be selected and published … and shared widely, we hope!
Damien Cave is the new Australia bureau chief for The New York Times. He’s covered more than a dozen countries for The Times, including Mexico, Cuba, Iraq and Lebanon. Follow him on Twitter: @damiencave.
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