Toeing the ten-dash line: China insists Hong Kong students use the correct map

In early March, a secondary school student from Hong Kong was stopped by a mainland Chinese customs officer who demanded to see their school text books. When the customs officer discovered that the map of China used in one textbook did not conform to the official version of the national map, they ripped out the offending page and reportedly finger printed the traumatised student.
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Does Camden really need a Highline when it already has a Lowline?

When I first heard about the Camden Highline, a £42 million project that hopes to transform a long-abandoned railway track in north London into a green space for pedestrians, I thought it would be a great addition to my old neighbourhood. The New York Highline that runs along the old elevated railroad through Chelsea has proved to be a great success, so why not attempt the same for Camden?

But then I looked more closely at the proposed route and realised that it follows basically the same course as the multi-purpose, and occasionally scenic, towpath that runs beside the Regent’s Canal.
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A celebration of all things analogue: What we can learn from a Tokyo toilet cleaner

One of my favourite summer jobs as a student in London in the early 1980s was cleaning the toilets at the Customs House office building on the banks of the Thames, next to the old Billingsgate Fish Market.

I would get up at dawn, cycle from my house in Peckham along near deserted streets to London Bridge, down Fish Street Hill and breathe in the heady aroma from the market. I would begin my shift at six o’clock, and although the building was quite extensive, I could usually get all my work done by nine, assuming there were no major blockages or spillages to deal with.
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Some thoughts inspired by a brief encounter with Yasser Arafat thirty years ago

A year after signing the ground-breaking Oslo Peace Accords in 1993, the President of the Palestine National Authority, Yasser Arafat, visited Beijing in a bid to further cement Chinese support for the Palestinian cause.

Following his meeting with then President Jiang Zemin, Arafat held a press conference at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. As the Beijing correspondent for the South China Morning Post, I was invited to attend.
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The Aldington Gang: A motley collection of colourful characters

For a small, isolated village on the fringes of Romney Marsh, the parish of Aldington has been home to a ridiculous number of famous residents, dating all the way back to the Roman occupation.

As I discussed earlier, in the 16th century it was the birthplace of Elizabeth Barton, the Holy Maid of Kent, who prophesized against King Henry VIII and was beheaded for her troubles. More recently, it has been home to influential writers and raconteurs such as Noël Coward, Joseph Conrad and Ford Maddox Ford. Until a few years ago, Noël Coward former residence, Goldenhurst Farm, was home to the comedian Julian Clary, who moved there at the suggestion of another fabulous villager Paul O’Grady – aka Lilly Savage – who lived in Aldington for 20 years before his sudden death last year.

However, it is another group of colourful characters, collectively known as The Blues, who are the subject of this article.
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A farewell to happiness? An Icelandic fishing village consumed by fire

About five years ago Iceland’s Directorate of Health conducted a survey to find the happiest place in Iceland. The town that came out on top was an outwardly unremarkable fishing village on the south coast of the Reykjanes Peninsula called Grindavik.

Since then, Grindavik has rocked by continual earthquakes and the threat of lava from fissures erupting in the nearby mountains. In December last year, the eruptions came even closer and on the morning of Sunday January 14, the lava finally arrived, engulfing houses on the periphery of town.
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A Scottish play fit for a king: How William Shakespeare secured his future at a time of treason, terror and retribution

England’s greatest playwright had made a comfortable living during the last years of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign by producing crowd pleasing blockbusters, and a series of historical plays that were basically propaganda for the Tudor regime.

When the old queen finally died and the Tudor dynasty came to an end in 1603, William Shakespeare, like everyone else dependent on royal patronage, faced an uncertain future. In a succession meticulously managed by Elizabeth’s closest advisor, Robert Cecil, the new monarch was to be a foreigner, James VI of Scotland.
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