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[00:00:03]

Hello and welcome to the intelligence on Economist Radio. I'm your host, Jason Palmer. Every weekday, we provide a fresh perspective on the events shaping your world. covid-19 has crippled the restaurant industry, but would be diners have missed out, too. What is it that makes eating out so compelling, so transported? If there are more reasons than you've had hot dinners and we take a look at them. And it's 15000 kilometers between China and the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, yet having cleared out their own waters, Chinese fishing vessels just keep coming.

[00:00:44]

Threatening the archipelago's bounty of often endangered species. But first. In Mali this week, mutinous soldiers toppled the country's president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The coup came after weeks of protests against a disputed election and the government's handling of a violent Islamist insurgency in the capital heaving Independence Square. They chanted to step down and listen to your people.

[00:01:22]

On Tuesday, soldiers arrested Mr. Carter, who announced his resignation in a video later that day to show.

[00:01:31]

He asked, do I really have a choice?

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Explaining that he did not want blood to be shed in about one minute General Assembly.

[00:01:40]

The following day, the new hunter promised to restore stability and oversee a transition to elections. And it shows. When news of the ouster came, there were scenes of jubilation among opposition supporters, but outside Mali, condemnation of the coup has been swift. Such instability can tend to spread and neighboring countries are worried.

[00:02:07]

If you are going to pick a country likely to have a coup, I think Mali would have been a very obvious choice. I mean, one thing is that past coups predict future. Somalis had a series of the most recent in 2012. Daniel Noles is our international correspondent.

[00:02:20]

It's also have protests recently of last year. But it's got kind of bloody war going on that's been going on for several years now. The president's very unpopular. So there's all these sort of different factors combining at once and the protests that led up to it for the past few months. You say, what are those about?

[00:02:36]

Well, lots of things. I mean, the spark was the elections. They had parliamentary elections in March, which were long delayed. And when they happened afterwards, 31 seats were in the disputed. And in April, the constitutional court essentially sort of invalidated the results in 31 and handed a bunch of those seats to the party of the president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita IBK. And added to that, you have all the violence which has been escalating. You have pretty dire economic circumstances.

[00:03:06]

This has been concerns about the immorality of the government. This popular Islam has been sort of leading a lot of the protests with those sorts of concerns, too.

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And you mentioned an increasingly bloody war. What's behind that?

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The fighting really began in 2012, and there was a rebellion in the north of the country, just sort of accelerated after the last year. And an Islamist group, Tuareg rebellion, took over whole swathes of the north of the country, which is not very densely populated, mostly desert. And that precipitated France to send in troops and to push them out. But since the intervention, things have not really got better. There's a huge, um, contingent.

[00:03:43]

There's been a huge growth in the number of foreign soldiers, but the violence has only spread. And the trouble is that the government is kind of a disaster. It's not able to really protect its people. It doesn't control territory very effectively. It's mostly run by people in the south, which is where most of the population live and excludes an awful lot of people in the north and the center of the country. And many of them have been drawn into violence.

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And if you look at the numbers of people being killed, well, they've just accelerated. I mean, in the first half of this year, it's something like eighteen people killed, which is pretty much as many as were killed in the whole of last year. So it's just been this accelerating violence.

[00:04:21]

And what about those who actually carried the coup out?

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What what are their intentions, promises, threats that call themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People. They say that they just want to resolve the political crisis, bring about a new transitional government that sort of brings in all manner of the opposition and move towards a new constitutional settlement, the new new elections. So that's what they say. I guess we'll see an outside Mali. What has been the reaction to this coup?

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The African Union has opposed it. EQUASS, which is the sort of organization of West African states, has also condemned it. And they've promised sanctions. And the United Nations has condemned generally people don't like coups because they tend to lead to more coups. And if you look, you know, other countries in the region, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, we have elections coming quite soon. So the concern of diplomats in the region will absolutely be to try and tamp down this as much as possible and prevent military takeovers from spreading.

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And so what effect do you think the coup will have, for instance, on the jihadist violence, the underlying force here that that's made so many people unhappy?

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The coup in 2012 was followed by an acceleration of the rebellion there that led to the takeover of the north. So it's not obvious that the army are going to be able to carry on holding territory and fighting why there's so much instability in the capital in Bamako. And I think everybody probably fears the worst right now.

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So on balance, what what do you think happens next? How will this play out?

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Well, there are going to be lots of emergency meetings, lots of pressure by the various foreign countries, the neighbors around it. But also France and Britain and Germany have troops in Mali, you know, so there'll be a lot of pressure to try to undo or at least give the impression of not allowing this thing to happen. One of the big questions is going to be how the leaders of the coup work with the opposition. You know, it's still not clear whether there was any coordination between these street protests and the coup, but it seems like there's going to be some cooperation afterwards.

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The Malian opposition have sort of embraced the coup leaders. I think it will be quite difficult to bring back IBK to power. And I think the various international actors will just have to work with whatever settlement and maybe there'll be a move towards elections. Maybe there'll be some sort of new constitutional settlement.

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Should we take the mutineers promise of just looking for an orderly political transition at face value? Do you think that that is their actual intent and desire?

[00:06:46]

I don't think we should necessarily take it at face value. I don't think we should assume that that. Happy, lovely people just trying to solve a political crisis at the same time, there are lots of big incentives to hand over at least some power to civilians and military governments, very frowned upon. And Mali is a country very dependent on foreign aid. It's very dependent on security support from both its neighbors and from Western countries. So I think they won't just sort of run a military dictatorship.

[00:07:16]

I think they'll make some sort of moves towards trying to make some sort of civilian government settlement. But whatever happens is still going to be these enormous challenges. You know, there's there's the violence which has been escalating. There's an economic crisis. And people in Mali are desperately poor and going to get poorer with the global economic crisis. And there's a political crisis. And all of those factors are going to be incredibly difficult for whoever ends up in power and over this transitional government looks to solve these problems.

[00:07:48]

Daniel, thank you very much for joining us. Thank you for having me. Jason. Clezio is how e-commerce brands grown, Clavius specializes in smart targeting and using data from your online store to help you create memorable marketing moments that keep your customers coming back time and time again. That's why it's trusted by more than 40000 brands, including Living Proof, Tippex and Heist's starts your free trial now at Chaviano dot com slash acost. That's klfy wired.com slash acost.

[00:08:36]

Of all the industries hit hard by covid-19, restaurants were among the worst affected and now restaurateurs faced the question of whether customers will want to return to sharing plates and eating among strangers or if the smell of dining out has been broken across the street from the Ritz and London's Piccadilly. The Wolseley is the height of cosmopolitanism, although the space was once a bank and a car showroom. Now it's a grand cafe with marble floors, waist coated waiters and towering cake stands.

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On a recent Tuesday afternoon, even in the wake of the pandemic, it's bustling. The old menu offers diners everything from eggs and sandwiches to steak tartare and soufflé sweets. I like to think the way we've done it is that if somebody from 100 years ago in the restaurant business walked and they say, oh, good things haven't really changed, but I think the customer enjoys at times imagining another era and making the Wolseley.

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Jeremy King tried to give it what he calls heart and soul.

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It is the wonderful feeling that when you walk through the door of a restaurant that it is not just somebody selling food in a busy room, which has been decorated as a commercial activity, but you're stepping across the threshold into it, into another world. And that's the heart and soul with his partner, Chris Corbin. Mr King has created a string of other similar London establishments all to their exacting vision.

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If I was to describe a journey into a restaurant, I want to walk through the door that sense that the maitre dotel scoops you off of your feet almost, and the atmosphere of the restaurant lifts you and immediately you know you're happy to be there. The food is an incredibly important component. It's not the be all and end all. The danger of covid was that it was going to irreparably change the atmosphere. I felt very strongly that we should try and bring a certain amount of normality into the restaurants because the people are coming out.

[00:10:51]

Nobody needs to come out in order just to eat or anything. They're trying to escape and perhaps return to something which have been lost. I think restaurants are about a lot more than just the food, consuming food alongside other people makes us consider other things, makes us think about what we share tastes and customs and attitudes and the simple fact of sharing space. Henry Hitchings writes about arts and culture for The Economist and our sister magazine, 1843.

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Some of the great examples of of restaurants and cafes that have embodied the possibilities beyond food. I think a Viennese cafe Centrale, which has been around for nearly 150 years, and one of the best chroniclers of that Viennese cafe experience was Stefan Zweig, a native of Vienna who was driven far from home by the upheavals of the 20th century. And in his memoir, The World of Yesterday, he cast his mind back to the cafes of his youth, which he thought of as Democratic clubs, splendidly conducive to lively and intelligent discussion for which the price of admission was no more than the cost of a cup of coffee.

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And for people like Sigmund Freud and Robert Musial and Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Trotsky, when he lived in Vienna, those places were what the Athenian agora had once been for Socrates.

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And so the notion for some some slice of restaurant dining, as we now know it, is an attempt to to capture that that magic of the place.

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To make a success of a restaurant, you need to understand the psychology of the experience. And that is something that Chris Corbyn and Jeremy King have mastered. They perennially cast themselves in the role of customer. And that means, for instance, using acoustic engineers to ensure that those conversations aren't drowned out or muffled. And crucially, they understand the value of making a spectacle of people, not of the individual, but of the ensemble of cats and circular tables which allow customers to survey what's going on around them.

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And you could say that for them, design is a form of set dressing. It creates pockets of intimacy. Yet also an air of commonality and camaraderie in achieving that detail is paramount. So when I sat in on a design meeting for Corbyn in King's new Soho Fish restaurant manses, that was something that really struck me. There was this intense scrutiny, for instance, of the logo, which appears on the drip trays that sits on the bar.

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What shade of blue was it? What was going to be the profile of the logo? When you obsess over detail in the way that they do it, such a kind of empathy.

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You're seeing the restaurant from the floor, from the table, not from the boardroom and from the staff. For them, it was all about the people. The customer could order dishes they really wanted rather than being at the mercy of a chef's whims. One of the guiding principles of their menu is that the dishes shouldn't require, you know, effortful deconstruction by diners. The idea is that you can eat them with a fork so your eyes can always be on your companion.

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You've been musing on the restaurant experience since long before the covid-19 era. Do you think the kind of atmosphere you're describing is going to be possible in this age of covid-19?

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I think in the age of covid it's much harder. And, you know, during lockdown, the possibility of eating with strangers outside the home disappeared and became a kind of symbol or a symptom of what we'd lost. And I was struck the first time I went up post lockdown, it was to Corbyn and King's Restaurant Phishers and Marylebone in central London. There's a rigmarole now. When I arrived, my temperature was taken by the kind of machine that you might see it, I guess airport security and the tables were far more spaced out.

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And whenever a group of patrons left the space they'd occupy, it was thoroughly sanitized. You had your own little sanitiser on the table and so on and so forth. And there was a risk that those kind of antiseptic efforts dampen the obvious. But it seems to me that restauranteurs always have to be creative, and the challenges of our current and ongoing situation are also opportunities.

[00:15:21]

And I felt a bit jaded. We'd worked really hard in getting the restaurant into a situation where we felt that we could still give a really good experience. We accepted that we were going to lose money, but in truth, we've had much, much more support than we anticipated. There is something which I call the conviviality of community. I think people like to be with others. I think that conviviality of community is restorative and that ultimately is what restaurants about is restoration is about is restoring people.

[00:15:59]

Making them feel good. My job is to make people feel good. You can read the full story of the psychology behind dining out in the latest edition of 1843, The Economist's Sister magazine available at Economist Dotcom 1843. The waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands are home to a wealth of marine life, including endangered whale and hammerhead sharks. Just this week, scientists discovered 30 new marine species lurking in the depths around the archipelago. But the Galapagos is a delicate ecosystem is under threat.

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On July 16th, the Ecuadorian navy told the government that it had spotted a fleet of around two hundred and sixty fishing vessels, most of them Chinese.

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Mariana Palau writes for The Economist and is based in Bogota, and they were anchored in international waters just outside the Galapagos. Exclusive economic zone that easy. And that is an area where only Ecuador has the right to fish. And even though their fishing vessels, Ecuador, reacted as if it was getting ready for some sort of invasion, it increased the amount of boats patrolling the Galapagos. Easy to make sure that these vessels weren't going to intrude in some way.

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And the president's Lenine Moreno issued a formal complaint to China.

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And what's happened since has has it succeeded in getting the boats out of there?

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Well, no, there's not really much Ecuador can do about this. These vessels are being quite clever because they're anchored in international waters where there are basically no rules regulating how much or what you can fish there. It's like no man's land. So by standing right outside the easy, they're not breaking any rules or any laws, but they can still fish whatever they want. All they have to do is throw some bait into the water and the other the animals outside of the protected area.

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So what's going on here?

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Why is it that Chinese boats are going all the way to the Galapagos to to go fishing?

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Conservationists believe that because of overfishing, China has depleted its fisheries. So there's not much to fish within Chinese waters right now, but to satiate demand, they go abroad and they go to Galapagos because it is so rich in marine wildlife. There is tuna, there's squid, and there's other kinds of animals that are in high demand in China. China has said that it can't really do anything about this because this is a private company and it cannot control it.

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But the truth is, these vessels are likely to have state backing. China has the largest overseas fishing fleet in the world and it is heavily subsidized. So the government gives it tax breaks and things like fuel and even technology. And conservationists think that it is impossible for a fleet this big to make it all the way to Ecuador without Chinese state help.

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And what's at stake here? Ecuador is worried that the same kind of overfishing that's going on in China will happen in their waters.

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Overfishing by these kinds of vessels is the biggest threat to the conservation of the Galapagos marine wildlife.

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There's a specific concern about sharks and shark fin soup is in high demand in China and other Asian countries. It's considered a delicacy there. And shark fins can cost up to something like four hundred dollars per kilogram. These vessels are taking many sharks like these scalloped hammerhead shark, which is critically endangered. And in twenty seventeen, for example, there was also a fleet smaller than the one we see right now. But it was also fishing outside Galapagos and one of its vessels actually dare to go into the Galapagos easy.

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And when the Ecuadorians intercepted it, they found inside over three hundred tons of marine wildlife, most of it sharks like the scarlet hammerhead shark.

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But as you say, on the high seas, there really are no rules. Is there is there anything that can be done here?

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Yeah. So precisely because of threat to marine wildlife, the World Trade Organization is holding negotiations to curb subsidies to distant water fishing fleets. And China is not the only country with this kind of fleet. The US has one. Taiwan has one, Vanuatu has one. Spain, too. So these kinds of negotiations would help a lot. But more importantly, though, there's negotiations in the UN to sign the first treaty that would actually regulate fishing in international waters.

[00:20:26]

And Ecuador played a big role in kind of the step before the negotiations started. So getting countries to actually sit down and negotiate, to agree to do that.

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But since the negotiations started, it has kind of taken a back seat, and that's because it's given into pressure coming from its own fishing industry and they also fish in international waters.

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The good news, however, is that the government says that the size of this fleet has been a wake up call and it's made them reassess their position towards negotiations. A government source told me that they realize now there is more pros and cons to the negotiations.

[00:21:06]

And so where do you see this going? Is that the kind of thing that's going to sit in committee forever or be impossible to to enforce? Or is this really going to change?

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Well, the negotiations were supposed to conclude this year, but they've been postponed because of the pandemic. If those the. Nations drag on for too long, or if the UN is not able to come up with a treaty, then fleets like the one we are seeing outside of Galapagos now will keep coming and they will live the waters until there is nothing more to fish for Mariana. Thank you very much for joining us. Thank you. Jason. For a lot more analysis from our international network of correspondents subscribed to The Economist to find the best introductory offer.

[00:21:58]

Wherever you are, just go to economist dotcom slash intelligence offer. That's all for this episode. We'll see you back here on Monday. Clezio is how e-commerce brands grow, Clavius specializes in smart targeting and using data from your online store to help you create memorable marketing moments that keep your customers coming back time and time again. That's why it's trusted by more than 40000 brands, including Living Proof, Pigs and Heist's starts your free trial now at KBIO dot com slash acost.

[00:22:45]

That's KLA Wired.com slash acost.