Chen Hongbin

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.

A picture of the Yangtze River taken on 20 October 2023. (CNS)

The challenge of alleviating Yangtze River’s shipping choke points

The Yangtze River is an important transportation route that has seen its freight volume exponentially grow over the years. Despite its importance in shipping key commodities such as coal and metal ores, challenges remain due to multiple factors. Academic Chen Hongbin notes that while the authorities have taken steps to rectify the issues around the coastlines, the structural limitations caused by bridges remain and will be hard to overcome.
The crested ibis is hailed as the “oriental gem”. (iStock)

Crested ibis diplomacy: How a nearly extinct bird brought China and Japan together

This year marks 20 years since the native-born Japanese crested ibis was declared extinct in Japan. Commentator Chen Hongbin looks at a dance item inspired by the crested ibis and examines a chapter of diplomacy between China and Japan, and how it brought them together in a common effort to preserve the rare bird.
Black Hawk helicopters prepare to land at Taoyuan International Airport as part of the annual Han Kuang military exercise in Taoyuan, Taiwan, 26 July 2023. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Can Japan stay neutral in a war over Taiwan?

Academic Chen Hongbin looks at the different scenarios of mainland China engaging in military reunification with Taiwan, and argues that Japan would do well to remain neutral in order to protect its land and people, rather than suffer serious consequences.
A view of the exterior of the north complex of the National Library of China, 2009. (Wikimedia)

The lack of public libraries in China is not a funding issue

Despite China’s strong cultural history and traditions, its efforts towards promoting reading and building public libraries remain wanting. Researcher Chen Hongbin presents some surprising statistics on the severe shortage of libraries in China, and looks into the contributing factors and possible solutions.
A farmer walks next to a harvester operating at a wheat field in Wei county of Handan, Hebei province, China, 11 June 2021. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

Chinese farmers struggling with excessive anti-epidemic measures

With China seeing virus outbreaks in various areas, local governments have been ramping up anti-epidemic measures. The farming sector has been hit hard, especially considering the spring planting season that needs all hands on deck. But despite recent notices from the authorities calling for smooth movement of agricultural supplies and labour, the implementation on the ground may not be easy.
A group of naval vessels from China and Russia sails during joint military drills in the Sea of Japan, in this still image taken from video released on 18 October 2021. Video released 18 October 2021. (Russian Defence Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

Would cross-strait reunification threaten Japan's maritime oil routes?

Researcher Chen Hongbin says that Japan's reason for opposing cross-strait reunification, that China could sever Japanese maritime oil routes by firing from eastern Taiwan, is unfounded. China already has the capability to attack Japan's oil tankers anyway, even without reunification; but most importantly, any maritime security issue in the vicinity would pose a greater threat to China.
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.