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China to prioritise economic stability ahead of CCP 20th Party Congress

While China’s economy grew about 8% in 2021, the GDP growth target for this year is expected to be a more modest “above 5%”, taking into consideration various easing measures by the central bank and political considerations heading into the 20th Party Congress in autumn this year. Zaobao’s associate editor Han Yong Hong gives her assessment.

Can the next Philippine president stand up to Chinese pressure in the South China Sea?

The winner of the 2022 Philippines presidential elections will determine how the Philippines will handle its legally recognised claims in the West Philippine Sea both domestically and in the regional arena. While current President Rodrigo Duterte has gone against public sentiment several times with his relatively friendly stance towards China, his successor will have to decide how to handle Chinese maritime actions that put pressure on smaller neighbours in Southeast Asia.

The uncertain future of NFTs in China

The non-fungible token (NFT) is a growing phenomenon in China, despite a cautious regulatory environment and official hostility to cryptocurrencies, which also use blockchain technology. But experts warn that as with every technology, particularly new ones, there is also a risk of misuse, such as in instances of fraud or compromised accounts.

Can Xi Jinping ride the tiger year with success?

A Chinese idiom says: If you ride a tiger, it’s hard to get off! Since being handed the reins by the Communist Party of China a decade ago, Xi Jinping hasn’t experienced “the year of the tiger” according to the Chinese zodiac. He will be riding into the tiger year this crucial year of 2022. Speculations are running high in China as everyone is asking: does Xi know how to get off a tiger?

Why India’s influence over South Asia will continue to weaken

India has long held dominance over South Asia, but recent developments show that the situation may be changing, says Chinese academic Guo Bingyun. China has been stepping up its engagement of the region while India has turned much of its attention on the US in its bid to counter China. In what was once its own backyard, India may have fallen too far back from leading contenders China and the US.

When China’s local governments ignore Xi Jinping’s instructions to demolish illegally built villas

Recent media reports have highlighted the issue of villas continuing to be illegally built in the mountains of southern Jinan even as those found are demolished. Shandong and Jinan authorities have swiftly launched investigations, including taking action against party cadres who might be involved, but will their persistence last? Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan reports.

Japan's increased funding for US forces in Japan: A true alliance in the making?

Japan recently agreed to increase its five-year budget for hosting US troops in Japan to 1.05 trillion yen, but this is not the usual "sympathy budget" the Japanese set aside for this purpose. This time round, it has made sure that a greater proportion of the funding will go towards enhancing its Self-Defence Forces and overall Japan-US security cooperation.

How China's corrupt ex-police official Sun Lijun gained clout in the CCP

The first episode of an anti-graft documentary highlighted the case of former Vice-Minister of Public Security Sun Lijun, who built a personal following in the Communist Party of China (CPC) by helping other officials with promotions, despite not being among the very top leadership himself. How did he build up his clique? Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan reports.

China and Russia compete for influence in Central Asia

China-Russia rivalry in the Central Asian region is intensifying, with the US's departure from Afghanistan and the two countries seeking to fill the power vacuum by working within their Central Asian spheres of dominance. Can the two powers work together to foster greater regional stability or will they let their competitiveness get the better of them?

China needs to break free of its zero-Covid policy. Here's how.

With its dogged implementation of the zero-Covid policy, China has painted itself into a corner and is now saddled with four shackles that prevent it from changing course. Lu Xi explains the factors involved and suggests how China may slowly begin to extricate itself from its predicament.

China's grand plans to further integrate Hong Kong and Macau. Will they work?

The Hengqin Plan and Qianhai Plan released by the Chinese central government aim to deepen economic cooperation and promote cross-border integration within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA). The Plans will involve greater integration of Hong Kong and Macau with the mainland. While Macau has always embraced this trajectory and the Hengqin Plan could bring greater dynamism to the SAR, Hong Kong’s fears of “mainlandisation” and the territorial instincts of mainland cities may present some obstacles to the Qianhai Plan. EAI academic Yu Hong tells us more.

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.