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The Opium Wars: When China’s ‘century of shame’ began

Pain. Humiliation. Injustice. These are the words that Chinese generally associate with the two Opium Wars, which resulted in the infamous unequal treaties that ultimately gave Hong Kong to the British for 100 years. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao sheds light on this defining period of China’s history.

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai: The ancients loved a good bowl of swamp eel noodle soup

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai enjoys a refreshing bowl of swamp eel noodle soup in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province. He reflects that this local dish continues to be made by nameless chefs in a simple shop frequented by unassuming diners. But there’s nothing simple about that broth — simmered down with generations of humble cooking, it’s nothing short of heavenly.

What if China and Russia join forces?

The US would not like to see China and Russia getting too close, knowing that their combined strengths would be formidable. But history shows that full cooperation between China and Russia is not a straightforward matter at all. US academic Han Dongping discusses the forces pushing these two giants closer together and the possible scenarios that could unfold if they join forces.

Chinese butting heads with Western media: Irrational nationalism or deeds of justice?

Yang Danxu observes that the Chinese are becoming more confident about refuting Western media reports they deem erroneous or biased. This stems from recent events such as growing US-China antagonism, China’s rise and even some goading on by the authorities. But if unleashed in a vacuum, nationalist sentiment can be a dangerous sword that ends up hurting the one who wields it.

Escalating China-US confrontation will accelerate RMB internationalisation

Peking University PhD student Xiong Lan believes that as US-China tensions ratchet up from competition to confrontation, it is likely that the process of internationalising the renminbi (RMB) will be accelerated. The next ten years will be crucial, if China is to reach targets such as for the RMB to exceed 10% market share of international currencies by 2029 and account for 30% of global reserves in the long run. What obstacles stand in the way?

If not the US, can the Chinese government provide better IPO choices for internet companies?

Analyst Zheng Weibin notes that the clampdown on Didi shows that the competitive relationship between China and the US has affected the global interactions of tech giants, and political factors will matter more in global investments of startups in China. In the aftermath, will technological innovations such as digital manufacturing through artificial intelligence be straitjacketed?

'Mini' Shangri-La Dialogue: The US needs to provide tangible deliverables in Southeast Asia

When Lloyd Austin, the US Secretary of Defense, speaks at the 40th Fullerton Lecture in Singapore tonight, he will need to go beyond speaking about esoteric concepts such as the “rules-based international order” and promise that Washington will provide tangible deliverables in the form of pandemic assistance, economic growth and trade.

Overcoming uneven growth in China's poorer western provinces: Potential and challenges

High-speed rail and other infrastructure development have been proceeding apace under China’s Western Region Development Strategy. However, in trying to catch up with the eastern region, the gap between provinces in the western region may have inadvertently been widened. Without an effective division of labour, wasted resources and unnecessary competition are likely.

China to impose strict measures on tuition centres to allay anxiety over education

In recent years, Chinese children have been sacrificing their playtime to shuttle through various tuition centres after school and during the holidays so that they can become more powerful “examination machines”. Now, China has released a set of guidelines that aims at easing such anxiety over education. It details requirements in reducing homework and improving the quality of education and after-class services provided by schools. It will also impose unprecedented strict measures on tuition centres and their activities. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan discusses the impetus behind these measures and the challenges of its implementation.

Cultural historian: Why do civilisations pass down their cultures?

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai remembers an email from a Hong Kong secondary student, who wanted a "substantial and authoritative" answer from him about the relationship between civilisations and their cultures. The 16-year-old had asked: What affects the passing down of cultural traditions? Should culture be passed on in its entirety? What role does commercialisation play?

China’s cloud war: Huawei leading the three-cornered fight? [Part 1]

In recent years and since the pandemic led to the surge in live streaming, e-learning and other online activities, the demand for cloud computing and related services has increased significantly. Chinese companies led by frontrunners Huawei, Tencent and Alibaba are launching into all-out competition in the cloud services sector. In particular, Huawei Cloud experienced a surge in year-on-year earnings of 168%, despite US sanctions. Huawei Cloud is also aiming to clinch the top spot in the sector, erstwhile occupied by Alibaba Cloud. Caixin journalist Zhang Erchi takes a deep dive into the issue to get a sense of who's really leading the fight. In part one of the story, he focuses on Huawei.

Why platform companies seek monopoly and what happens when governments rein them in

Leaked data from one platform company may not pose a major national security threat, but data from multiple platforms combined might, warns technology specialist Yin Ruizhi. As countries become more wary of internet security risks, it will be increasingly difficult for platform companies to get listed overseas. What is the alternative then?

Washington threatening Portugal to choose between China and the US?

Portugal has in the past decade developed very lucrative relations with China. Chinese investment significantly assisted its recovery from the 2008 global economic crisis. However, Lisbon’s increasingly close ties with Beijing have raised serious concerns in Washington.

Zhengzhou floods: Netizens berate local government and media for inadequate response

Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong notes that even as disaster relief continues after massive floods in Zhengzhou, people are pointing fingers at the authorities, saying that early alert systems and coordination between agencies can be improved. As natural disasters increase due to climate change, will governments be forced to pay greater attention to preparing for unforeseen events?

Japanese academic: Will Japan send troops to 'protect' Taiwan?

Japanese academic Shin Kawashima analyses Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso's recent comments where he made reference to a possible "Survival Threatening Situation" in Taiwan. How ready is Japan to step in?

Can China revive its poorer western provinces?

China has sought to rectify the imbalance in east-west regional development by improving connectivity and accelerating infrastructure-building in the western provinces through the Western Region Land-Sea Corridor and BRI projects. How successful they will be depends largely on continued capital injections, the region’s greater opening up and good cooperation with China’s neighbouring countries.

Chinese academic: Can China challenge the US’s standing in the Middle East?

Although China has made inroads into the Middle East as a major investor and economic partner, some are suspicious of its intentions in being all things to all countries in this fractious region. Thus, even if there is much hype about its ability to take over the US’s role in the region, China should remember that it still lacks the power and wherewithal to exert a major influence.