Featured articles


Cindy Yu

Frozen: can China escape its zero-Covid trap?

To understand what Xi Jinping wants from the Winter Olympics, look at the man chosen to direct the opening ceremony. Zhang Yimou is one of China’s most famous film directors, but his hits (such as Hero and Raise the Red Lantern) are better loved by foreigners than by the Chinese. His job is to wow

70 years on: the making of Queen Elizabeth II

Princess Elizabeth was 25 when her father died. She was on the first leg of a Commonwealth tour and she spent the night of 5 February 1952 at Treetops Hotel, set in the branches of a large fig tree in Aberdare National Park in Kenya. ‘For the first time in the history of the world,’

Trudeau vs truckers: a head-on collision

Two-and-a-half centuries ago in 2015 I had a video call with a Canadian friend who lives in my hometown of Toronto. As we spoke, she was putting together a Middle Eastern spice box for the Syrian refugee family she’d sponsored through her daughter’s school, carefully printing the labels in Arabic. Canada had recently committed to

The day I was tapped up by Chinese intelligence

Nigel Inkster, a former director of MI6, has described China as an ‘intelligence state’. This was true even before the Chinese Communist party (CCP) passed laws that all individuals and organisations must help the security forces when asked. Chinese officials, party members and citizens have long been active across a broad front in advancing the

The CCP training programme at the heart of Cambridge

‘Use the past to serve the present,’ declares the website of the China Centre of Jesus College, Cambridge. It seems a sensible motto, until you know that it’s the first half of a maxim of Chairman Mao’s, and that the second half is ‘make the foreign serve China’. The China Centre is directed by Professor

Are wolves stalking us on the school run?

Dante’s Beach, Ravenna The other morning, my wife Carla was driving home after the school run in her battered old Renault Trafic people-carrier when through the fog she saw what looked like a wolf. It was ambling across the fields, which were covered in white ice. The wolf was only about 50 metres away, so

Notes on...

The cult of the daffodil

Spring is the season of supermarket daffodils. At a pound a bunch, you can deck out your home like Elton John and still have change from a fiver. From January until April, daffodils burst from village greens and quiet churchyards. The wild daffodil found across Britain is the Narcissus pseudonarcissus, known also as the ‘Lent