For Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, every one of his policies, foreign and domestic, have a unifying theme: preparing his country to cope with an increasingly powerful China. In this week’s column, Gideon Rachman explores the persistent worries in Tokyo about how to ease tensions with the superpower on Japan’s doorstep — also its largest trading partner — while building alliances with other democracies who might help it offer a competing set of values to those of Chinese president Xi Jinping.

There is, Gideon writes a “perception in Tokyo that most nations in the Indo-Pacific region have little desire to live in the shadow of an authoritarian China, and could jointly push back.” The terrible state of relations with South Korea is holding back the project, but these two important economies — and important Asia democracies — must find a way to work together to create some breathing space for the region caught between China and the US.

Robert Shrimsley on why the Brexit divide will be UK politics’ new cold war

Larry Summers argues that Washington may bluster but the US cannot hold China’s growth back

Amy Kazmin visits a temple in Kerala where Hindu protesters are unhappy at the admission of women of child-bearing age to worship

Martin Wolf reviews The Future of Capitalism by Paul Collier

Olivia Rossanese of Cancer Research argues that more flexibility in approving cancer drugs will foster innovation

Peter Ricketts believes a no deal Brexit would do severe damage to the UK’s national security

What you’ve been saying

Putin signed the very treaty he is now violating: letter from Bruce Couchman, Ottawa, ON, Canada

One of the most significant aspects of the Russia-Ukraine dispute is Russia’s apparent violation of the 2003 treaty guaranteeing mutual access to the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov. Vladimir Putin has sometimes been sceptical of agreements signed during the Soviet era or in Russia under Boris Yeltsin, but the 2003 treaty was signed during his first term as president. Perhaps the older, more mature Putin of 2018 is sceptical of the wisdom or negotiating skills of the younger, more impetuous Putin of the early 2000s.

In response to “Angry mobs in Paris represent a real threat to Emmanuel Macron”, CafeAdviser says:

Macron could achieve impressive things for France, but these protests are not a flash in the pan. He has to stop talking de haut en bas when it comes to French voters themselves. Give people policy initiatives which show some understanding of the pressures on ordinary people.

FT wobbles at the last moment over Brexit: letter from John Ure, University of Hong Kong

“Keep a-hold of nurse, for fear of finding something worse” sums up your Brexit editorial. It is underscored by two assumptions. First, that there is no realistic way to reverse the Brexit decision, when there clearly is. Second, that it would reunite the country, which clearly it wouldn’t. The Financial Times has been a solid opponent of Brexit, until this last moment of angst.

Today’s opinion

Lex: China/US trade war — floreat lux
If the truce lasts, luxury sector shares may be the first to rise out of the trenches

The Brexit divide will be politics’ new cold war
Remain and Leave have already become deeply entrenched aspects of UK political identity

How I felt being hugged by Ray Kelvin, hands-on head of Ted Baker
The larger-than-life retail boss was known to start meetings in an unusual fashion

Markets Insight: EU needs a bigger toolbox to safeguard bond market
Concept of sovereign insurance avoids burden of debt mutualisation and austerity regimes

Lex: RPC Group — bottling it
Shareholders hoping for a Christmas present may have to think again

The FT View: US-China trade ceasefire is welcome but fragile
The chance that Beijing will rapidly adopt wholesale changes is small

Lex: Qatar/Opec: Gulf handicap
US may harbour mixed feelings about ‘Qataxit’

Washington may bluster but cannot stifle the Chinese economy
Even trying to do so risks strengthening the most anti-American elements in Beijing

Lex: UK property websites — Right move v brave move
Rummage4Property, the latest challenger, has a tall task ahead

beyondbrics: Respect for teachers is highest in Asia while LatAm lags behind
In countries where pupils respect teachers, school achievement scores are highest

Japan’s struggle with a rising China
Shinzo Abe will reduce tensions if he can but the Asian superpower is a potent threat

India’s temple battles epitomise the struggle between faith and law
A ruling that allows women of child-bearing age to enter a holy site enrages traditionalists

Free Lunch: How to bring along the left behind
It is imperative to reconnect lagging regions with activity in the centre

Instant Insight: US-China trade war: truce shows who holds the upper hand
Beijing has agreed to many concessions but Trump has merely given up very little

fastFT: Opening Quote — Babcock fortunes rise down under

FT View

The FT View: US-China trade ceasefire is welcome but fragile
The chance that Beijing will rapidly adopt wholesale changes is small

The Big Read

The Big Read: Hong Kong — is ‘one country, two systems’ under threat?
The business community warns that Beijing’s steps to silence critics threaten the rule of law

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