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CHINA: NOT SO DOLCE FOR GABBANA

CHINA: NOT SO DOLCE FOR GABBANA

Here's a pro-tip for companies seeking to do business in China: Don't make fun of Chinese people eating with chopsticks. Not even if you are an irreverent Italian fashion house that has always loved controversy. Today's China is having none of it.


Luxury couture brand Dolce & Gabbana learned this lesson the hard way last week, when it was forced to cancel a major Shanghai show after a backlash against the event's marketing campaign.

It all began with a video ad that mocked, with a touch of sexual innuendo, a Chinese model's inability to eat various Italian foods with chopsticks. Chinese social media lit up with understandable complaints that the ad was condescending and offensive, prompting D&G to pull it from some local platforms. But when critics came at D&G's impetuous co-founder Stefano Gabbana on Instagram, things went haywire fast: after first defending the ad, Gabbana then appeared to let loose a barrage of demeaning and profane posts about Chinese people and culture.

He and D&G later apologized, claiming his account was hacked. But the damage was already done: the story (quite possibly with help from China's official internet influencers) quickly spread on line, and dozens of Chinese A-listers pulled out of the show. As a result, D&G cancelled the event just hours before it was set to begin.

On the one hand this is a story about an incredibly stupid and tin-eared marketing decision. But it's also a story about how an increasingly wealthy and powerful China is now able to set the conditions of engagement even with the West's biggest brands. The country's massive middle class – the world's largest – is an indispensable market for most global companies. Access to that market increasingly comes on China's own terms. In some cases that's about the government forcing foreign firms to hand over technology or recognize China's position on Taiwan. But in this case, it's about a public Chinese backlash against a case of cringe-worthy (and costly) Western arrogance. Capisci?

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

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