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China's 'godfather of overseas study' now selling farm produce, regrets listing

For New Oriental Education and Technology Group Inc. founder Michael Yu Minhong, the year 2021 has been a rollercoaster ride of losses amid a crackdown on the off-campus tutoring sector. The company seems to be bouncing back with livestreaming farm sales, but is this all just bravado and a further move away from the company’s origins as an educatonal provider assisting those preparing to study overseas? Yu himself has lamented in the past that the minute the company listed on the NYSE, it went off course. In the aftermath of the chaos, will it be able to recentre itself, or will it continue being swept by the tide?

South China Sea dispute: Why can't Southeast Asian countries stand united against China's claims?

Amid the spectre of China's growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, Indonesia plans to convene a meeting with some of its ASEAN colleagues — including the Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore. If the meeting happens, Beijing may not dial down its activities in the disputed areas, but the point would have been made that Indonesia is prepared to take the lead in galvanising ASEAN on South China Sea matters. The idea of a meeting is not new, but this time it might just work.

[Comic] We live in the crevices of life

Chinese comic artist Bai Yi observes that most of us, the masses, are but tiny pawns fighting to survive in this immense and turbulent world. Lives are spent living in obscurity and dullness, often voiceless and unnoticed, coming and going in the crevices of life and society. No one really wants to live such a life forever, but before the crevices are exposed under the light, can we contemplate our lives in the safety of the shadows?

Chinese tech companies in chipmaking race to be self-reliant

The global chip shortage throughout 2021 prompted many tech companies to rely more on themselves. Coupled with the rise of artificial intelligence, demand for high-capacity chips has increased with tech companies and device makers racing to deliver smarter services and products. But the global semiconductor industry is also getting increasingly crowded, as more and more newcomers seek to gain a foothold in advanced chips to power new technologies.

China's local governments going bankrupt?

Local governments in China are facing a problem of not having enough in their coffers, leading to various measures such as a hiring freeze in Hegang city. Corruption also remains a problem, with some officials using their authority and influence to line their own pockets. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu notes that there is a danger of such debt issues becoming a risk to social stability.

China's zero-Covid era to end after Chinese New Year?

With the Omicron variant of the coronavirus spreading through China in a fresh wave of infections, is China’s current zero-Covid approach still feasible, given that strict measures did not stamp out the less transmissible Delta variant? To safeguard the economy and global supply chains, will a move towards a post-zero-Covid be inevitable, whether China likes it or not? Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong reports.

Why Xi Jinping ignores Washington's calls for cross-strait talks

Chen I-hsin asserts that the US is no longer in a position to facilitate cross-strait talks, given that China’s national strength has increased considerably and the US is no longer seen as a neutral arbiter. Moreover, the “two states” theory which Taiwan’s ruling party seems to support leaves little room for dialogue, rendering any pressure from the US futile.

If China strikes Taiwan, can it bear the punishment from the US and its allies? 

Cross-strait relations look set to remain tense, with mainland China increasing its military might and the US continuing to provide support to Taiwan, says Cambodian commentator Sokvy Rim. But despite the rhetoric, the mainland will be cautious. Even if Beijing can launch a first strike, the US and its allies will give a formidable response, not forgetting that they are in a position to choke off China’s energy supply route through the Indian Ocean and Strait of Malacca.

Painful retrenchments at China’s internet giants

Even as the pandemic created greater demand for internet companies like Kuaishou, Alibaba and Meituan, these companies are finding their large staff numbers unsustainable, leading to a wave of major retrenchments over the past year or so. This is not just due to overexpansion, but also operational pressures that come with new regulations to protect employment rights. Zaobao journalist Meng Dandan reports.

China’s ‘hegemony with Chinese characteristics’ in the South China Sea

Though in word it professes to never seek hegemony or bully smaller countries, in deed, China behaves unilaterally and flexes its economic and political muscles for dominance in the South China Sea, says Indian academic Amrita Jash.

Myanmar’s submarines: The race is on between China and Russia

Last month, Myanmar became the first Southeast Asian country to take delivery of a made-in-China submarine, the UMS Minye Kyaw Htin. Given that the EU will not sell arms to Myanmar, that leaves China and Russia as possible arms suppliers. The latest sale gives China an advantage over Russia to supply Myanmar with a new fleet of submarines, as both countries ignore US calls to ban arms sales to Myanmar. This means that price and geopolitics will decide which country wins.

5 nuclear-weapon states vow no arms race: A more peaceful world?

China has made no bones about its role in shepherding a first-ever P5 joint statement on preventing nuclear war and avoiding an arms race. While the release of the statement shows some rational thought and mutual respect among the five nuclear powers, is it of any significance in moderating conflicts between nation-states and preventing possible fights in hotspots such as the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait?

China and Russia’s shared interest in preventing a pro-US Kazakhstan

To help quell the current unrest in Kazakhstan, Russia sent troops while China gave only verbal support to Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Despite their different levels of commitment, Russia and China share a common desire not to see Kazakhstan developing closer ties with the US. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan analyses the situation.

Germany between the US and China

With a new chancellor in place, how Germany will adjust its approach to China amid growing rivalry between the two superpowers is an issue that is closely watched by many countries around the world. US academic Zhu Zhiqun examines the possibilities.

The Chinese ruling party needs a new pact with the people to forge a more humane and self-confident nation

Lance Gore notes the transitional nature of the third historical resolution passed by the Communist Party of China (CPC) recently. It kept Pandora’s box closed, leaving issues of history unresolved. Will the CPC use a fourth historical resolution to build a pact with the people to forge a vibrant, humane, self-confident nation on the world stage?

Did Lithuania do a U-turn on the ‘Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania’?

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda recently commented that it was "a mistake" to allow Taipei to open a representative office using the name Taiwan. Is this a climb-down by Lithuania following economic and political backlash from Beijing or more a reflection of policy rifts within the small Baltic state? And will the EU and the US pay more than lip service to stiffen Lithuania’s resolve?

Lessons from Xi’an: Why there is no one-size-fits-all solution to Covid-19

China’s insistence on a zero-Covid strategy puzzles many but Han Yong Hong believes that the country may have little choice. She explains China’s unique circumstances and the challenges it faces.