The Week Unwrapped: Taiwan, solar engineering, and secret TikTok

How will China respond to Taiwan's election? Can we refreeze the Arctic sea ice? And why is TikTok hiding its data?

Taiwan elections
(Image credit: Annice Lyn/Getty Images)

Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters from the past seven days. With Julia Macfarlane, Suchandrika Chakrabarti and Jessica Hullinger

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Taiwan

Taiwan's presidential elections will shape the region's geo-political landscape until 2028, making it one of the most pivotal polls in 2024, the so-called "year of elections". China has long claimed sovereignty over the island and has vowed to reunify it with the rest of the mainland by 2027. The threat of annexation has grown in recent years, with China carrying out a number of aggressive military exercises close to the island, heightening tensions between Washington, a staunch ally of Taiwan, and Beijing. How will China respond to the results of the election?  

Solar engineering

British scientists are heading to the Arctic on a bold mission to explore whether engineering can be used to preserve the region's rapidly disappearing sea ice. Engineers are looking into "refreezing" Arctic waters as just one innovative solution which could halt the so-called "great melt". The experiment involves pumping seawater onto the ice to make it thicker and long-lasting. But how feasible is such a plan? 

Secret TikTok

TikTok recently made changes to one of its features designed to track the popularity of trends of the app. The tool, known as Creative Centre, was designed to help advertisers track the popular hashtags and trends on the social media site. But it appears to have been removed after researchers and lawmakers used the results to analyse content related to geopolitics and the Israel-Hamas war. What is the significance of the change? And why is TikTok hiding its data?  

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