ThinkChina — Gold award for Best News Website or Mobile Service WAN-IFRA Asian Digital Media Awards 2020.

Towards responsible rural tourism in China: Getting local communities involved

In part 2 of his reflections on the Chinese countryside, Egyptian-American architect Hisham Youssef asserts that local communities must be involved in the nation’s drive for rural rejuvenation. These can be projects that promote local culture and craft, rather than tourism per se. Perhaps through such efforts, the soul of these communities can be preserved and these rural gems can truly live on for generations to come.

Cultural historian: Could we have eaten this elusive perch of Lake Tai?

Gathering with contemporaries in Nan Shi Pi Ji, a Chinese garden in Suzhou, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai is reminded of a rare perch found in the east side of Lake Tai called lugui (鲈鳜). This was the fish that Western Jin dynasty poet Zhang Han and other ancient literati craved when they were away from home. Served raw or in its modern rendition steamed, the delicacy is almost too good to eat. Did Cheng get a chance to taste it?

Will the Chinese government's crackdown on cross-border crime in Myanmar work?

In recent years, Chinese criminal gangs have moved to Southeast Asia including Myanmar, Laos and Thailand as China tightened its crackdown on telecom fraud at home. These gangs even have the support of local authorities in some cases. Now that the Chinese authorities are cracking down on cross-border crime, will the situation improve? Or will it be a never-ending merry-go-round?

Why US academics are protesting against the Department of Justice’s ‘China Initiative’

The former Trump administration launched the China Initiative in 2018, ostensibly to protect US national security interests. However, a recent open letter by US academics calling for an end to the initiative seems to suggest that the programme is not what it set out to be. Zaobao’s China Desk examines the China Initiative and what it has achieved — or not.

How China became Cambodia's important ally and largest donor

While Cambodia is aware that its close relations with China may leave it vulnerable in many ways, it seems to think that this is still the better bet in light of shaky relations with the US and a historical distrust of Vietnam.

Deepening US-Vietnam ties: Less geopolitics, more human security

Discussions about the bilateral relationship between Vietnam and the US typically centre on the geopolitical aspects. A more meaningful way of developing the relationship is actually in the field of human security.

Vietnam is balancing China-US rivalry with deft statecraft, but for how long?

Vietnam-US relations have continued to flourish even as China continues to express its displeasure and concerns. How has Vietnam maintained the balance between its ideological cohesiveness with China and pragmatic ties with the US? Is Hanoi taking a big risk by developing a deeper relationship with Washington while antagonising its giant neighbour?

Russia and China in Southeast Asia: Pragmatic cooperation against US primacy

Russia-China relations are at a historic high due to mutual concerns over US primacy, economic synergies and strong interpersonal ties between their national leaders. However, despite deepening military cooperation and closer diplomatic coordination, a formal alliance between Russia and China is not likely as this would constrain their strategic autonomy and undercut key foreign policy narratives. The South China Sea dispute is the most complex issue and a potential fault line in Russia-China relations in Southeast Asia. While Moscow has been broadly supportive of China’s position, Beijing’s jurisdictional claims threaten Russia’s lucrative energy interests in Southeast Asia.

Serious consequences if Washington allows renaming of Taiwan’s US office

The US is reportedly considering a request from Taiwan to change the name of its mission in Washington from “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” to “Taiwan Representative Office”. What are the implications, and is it likely to happen? Political scientist Zhu Zhiqun examines the situation.

Chinese academic: It’s time to make the US safe for the world

The US has said that withdrawing from Afghanistan will give it more bandwidth to deal with Russia and its “serious competitor” China. The latter in particular, has become a key target. Chinese academic Wang Zhengxu asserts that the US should learn from its Afghanistan experience that the military option should only be used in self-defence. If it gets involved in China’s core concerns and insists on building an anti-China alliance, China will bristle and regional instability can only increase.

China's growing north-south gap: Can the north catch up?

Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan notes the growing gap between northern and southern China in terms of economic and population growth, as businesses and people become more concentrated in the south. How will the central government tackle this imbalance?

Yasukuni Shrine visits: A mirror reflecting Sino-Japanese relations

Some Japanese politicians have the practice of marking the anniversary of the end of WWII for Japan by visiting the Yasukuni Shrine to pay tribute to the war dead. Even after more than 75 years, emotions run deep especially in China, which has registered its unhappiness at these visits. Japanese academic Shin Kawashima examines how Yasukuni Shrine visits can be used to gauge the state of Japan-China relations.

A zero-Covid strategy has worked in China, but will it work elsewhere?

Despite various waves of the coronavirus resurfacing in different parts of China, the authorities have effectively implemented a zero-Covid policy to control the spread of infections, including the more transmissible Delta variant. Academic Gu Qingyang notes that while the policy has largely worked and helped to keep China’s economy humming, it is specific to China's conditions and may not be replicable elsewhere.

Guinea coup: Why did non-interventionist China speak up?

Many were caught off-guard when China made forceful statements against the military coup in Guinea. Hasn't China always been circumspect and asked countries to resolve their internal issues well in past such cases? Perhaps Guinea being China’s leading source of bauxite for its aluminum industry is a key motivation. Or perhaps it is a case of finally feeling the need to step up to a greater international role? Zaobao’s China Desk examines the issue.

[Comic] The little big dreams of a Chinese youth

Young Chinese comic artist Bai Yi depicts the life of a typical young person living in one of China's big cities, and ponders their frustrations living seemingly comfortable but uninspiring lives. Is there an alternative and what will it take for one to achieve it?

Taiwanese art historian: What colour is the scent of autumn?

Strolling in the autumn light, Taiwanese art historian Chiang Hsun remembers that his mother always requested for fabrics in the colour of “autumn’s scent”. If fragrance sets a mood, and that mood can be captured in a mood board, what would that scent look like? Perhaps at the very least, it’d be a rich, mellow shade of dust settling on the seasons.