Ahead of the US Summit for Democracy this week to which it is not invited, China has been aggressively taking the floor to explain its own brand of democracy and ensure that it is not isolated from the conversation. It has released a white paper elaborating on China’s “whole-process people’s democracy” and a report on the state of democracy in the US. Underlying its proactive behaviour is a great anxiety that this is yet another means of containing China. Zaobao correspondents Edwin Ong and Chen Jing examine China's rhetoric on democracy and seek views from the experts.
With the pandemic showing no signs of abating, foreign companies in China are feeling the strain with difficulties of bringing in foreign employees and obtaining visas for their families amid changing Covid regulations. Meanwhile, China’s greater emphasis on “domestic circulation” is making foreign enterprises feel at an even greater disadvantage. Zaobao correspondent Chen Jing speaks to the American, European and Singaporean chambers of commerce to find out more.
More young Chinese job-seekers are looking for "iron rice bowls" within the government. It is even becoming increasingly common for PhD holders to apply for regular jobs. Nothing wrong in that per se, but for a nation seeking greater innovation and technological supremacy, would this be a stumbling block?
Below-the-line marketing tactics of high-end brand Prada sees a wet market in Shanghai wrapping its walls, stalls and vegetables — yes, even the edibles — in Prada packaging. Lucky shoppers also get to receive limited edition Prada paper bags. And it's not just in Shanghai; trendy markets that have cafes, reading areas, exhibition spaces and bars are popping up in first-tier cities all around China.
Despite Netflix not being in the China market, Chinese viewers have still managed to watch the global hit show Squid Game, prompting questions on whether China can come up with its own global hit. It is not so much a question of box office ticket sales or viewership revenue, but the gains of soft power and cultural diplomacy that can be reaped. What are China’s barriers to creating global hits?
The Chinese authorities are not just clamping down on celebrities for their excesses or “unhealthy’ fandoms, but setting the ground rules for media portrayals of gender norms of appearance and behaviour. In particular, the "effeminate aesthetics" of male celebrities and female influencers marketing themselves in Chinese temples have come under attack. But why are Chinese women feeling targeted? Are these necessary actions to moderate the internet economy or just signs of an over-the-top paternalistic bent?
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently said, “Think of the metaverse as an immersive virtual world where people can spend time together and hang out, much like you can do today with virtual reality, dialed up to 11.” Stocks of companies working on constructing the said metaverse have been on the rise. China, with its huge video game market, should have a head start in this realm, but authorities are sounding words of caution. They fear the metaverse will be as ephemeral as it seems and worse, even harder to regulate. How will it get a piece of the pie in its own way?
China's top infectious diseases expert Dr Zhang Wenhong was recently embroiled in an alleged academic fraud case but investigations have cleared his name later on. The investigation came after he put forward the view of "living with the virus", which is at odds with the official stance for achieving zero-Covid. Who protected Dr Zhang from punishment? Was it public opinion, the city of Shanghai or Dr Zhang's impeccable moral standards? Will this deter professionals from speaking the truth in the future?
The world seems divided on whether to aim for zero Covid-19 infections, or to treat it as endemic and live with it. Zaobao’s Shanghai correspondent Chen Jing notes that amid a resurgence of infections, experts believe that China is well-placed to aim for zero cases, albeit with some trade-offs.