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Madagascar and China

10 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 19 June 2012

Insight, wit and analysis from BBC correspondents, journalists and writers from around the world, introduced by Pascale Harter. In this edition:

Plink, plink, plink: the sound of child labour

As one of the world's largest islands, in one of the most heavily-travelled seas, Madagascar has been an economic hub for centuries. Once it was an essential stop-off on the sea routes of the international spice trade. People from other African nations still go there to buy everything from jewels to fertility spells.

Commerce is respected; a coup in 2009 unseated president Marc Ravalomanana, a man who had made his fortune selling homemade yogurt off the back of a bicycle.

But what does the current state of Madagascar's trade and industry tell us about the direction the country is going in now? Luke Freeman met some young workers who may be paying the price for a new construction boom.

Pleasure is Paramount on the decadent dancefloor

If “follow that cab!” is the top fantasy phrase to utter to a taxi driver, Fuchsia Dunlop recently got to utter a close runner-up: "Take me to the Gate of a Hundred Pleasures!"

The assignment wasn't quite as racy as it might sound. Her destination was a temple to one of the 20th century's more innocent pastimes: ballroom dancing, at the Paramount in Shanghai.

She finds that while today's bright young things may be elsewhere, this famous building still has its aficionados, as keen as ever to distinguish their foxtrot from their quickstep.

(Image: Two men work at the construction of a hotel in Anja, southern Madagascar. Credit: Andreea Campeanu / AFP / Getty Images)

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