Chen Hongbin

Researcher and writer

Chen Hongbin writes and contributes to numerous newspapers and websites in China, as well as Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao. Before his retirement, he was an associate researcher at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies where he focused on Japan politics and diplomacy. He was also a visiting fellow at Japan's Institute of Developing Economies and Keio University.

Workers repair the roads after Lingshi county, Jinzhong city, Shanxi province, China, was badly hit by floods, 12 October 2021. (CNS)

China's mammoth task of upgrading its transport system

Chen Hongbin notes that roads, highways and expressways have mushroomed in China and the country’s overall road connectivity has improved tremendously. What were once far-flung villages now enjoy relatively easy accessibility. That said, more can be done to improve the road systems so that every citizen can have a convenient means of transport. What has China done to improve connectivity in its counties, villages and cities?
This file photo taken on 24 May 2021 shows people walking past the temporarily closed of 300 metre SEG Plaza (centre) in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Why China is bringing super skyscrapers down to earth

In the last few years, China has implemented policies to ban or impose strict restrictions on building supertall buildings. The government is acutely aware that provincial competition to outbuild each other may hurt the country’s overall economy. Not only that, high investment costs aside, the finished buildings may end up as energy-guzzling white elephants.
A woman and baby inside a room of a greenhouse at a village on the outskirts of Shanghai, China, 3 June 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China is far from being affluent

Despite slogans and sayings about how China has progressed and become “amazing” or “self-sufficient”, making strides in eradicating absolute poverty does not equate to rising affluence on the whole. Looking at GDP per capita figures, China still has some way to go, says researcher Chen Hongbin. He notes that the Chinese people should not get caught up in their own rhetoric, but keep a clear head and be aware of the actual situation.
Chinese President Xi Jinping waves above a giant portrait of late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong at the end of the event marking the 100th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of China, on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, 1 July 2021. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Chinese researcher: Is it appropriate to address Mao Zedong as 'the older generation' of leaders?

Researcher Chen Hongbin notes that the Chinese are very particular about generational hierarchy within the family, clan or society. How people address one another in China is a form of etiquette, and using the appropriate terms is a mark of respect, especially when it comes to major national events and honouring historical figures. He says it is no longer appropriate to address Mao Zedong and his generation of CCP revolutionaries as "the older generation" (老一辈), as they were born at least 60 years before the current generation of Chinese leaders.
People at a subway station in Shanghai, China, 11 May 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Shanghai can learn from Tokyo’s train service excellence

Shanghai and Tokyo both have train systems, but there is a big difference between them in terms of scale, convenience, and commuter behaviour. Researcher Chen Hongbin observes that Shanghai has much to learn from Tokyo, and by extension other cities.
China's food supply has come under question in recent years, with experts raising issues of sustainability. (iStock)

China's changing diet: Should the world be alarmed?

Given China’s huge population and limited agricultural land, the question “Who will feed China?” first gained prominence in the mid-1990s. Revisiting the issue today, Chinese academic Chen Hongbin notes that China has clear plans to maximise its comparative advantage in agricultural production and use a mix of measures to achieve overall self-sufficiency. However, some people outside of China are still alarmed. Chen examines the issue.
People visit the riverbank of the Yangtze River in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province on 2 February 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

China’s serious water woes

Water security is literally a question of life and death. And as one of the most populous nations in the world with a severe lack of water resources, China needs to ensure that its water sources are sustainable and usable. But as Chinese academic Chen Hongbin explains, this is not always easy, despite the country’s best efforts.
Joggers run along the Bund as the Lujiazui Financial District stands in the background in Shanghai, China, 10 April 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Chinese researcher: No one can reverse the shrinking economic gap between China and the US

Researcher Chen Hongbin notes that the economic gap between China and the US is closing. But the crux is not when China will overtake the US, but how the US will cope with the change. Its previous high-pressure tactics may have worked against the Soviet Union and Japan, but China will be a different kettle of fish.
Cranes unload imported iron ore from a cargo vessel at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China, 27 October 2019. (Stringer/File Photo/Reuters)

Will China have enough natural resources to sustain its growth?

It is no longer an unqualified truism that China is a vast land of abundant resources, says Chen Hongbin. While it is rich in minerals such as rare earths, it is one of the world’s largest importers of natural gas, oil and iron ore, and is paying through its nose in some cases to reach a level of sufficiency. How can China achieve greater energy security?