Culture

Travel is one way to build critical thinking and identity, says cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai. (iStock)

Woman traveller of the Qing dynasty Qian Shan Shili: Education is the bedrock of a nation

The little-known Qian Shan Shili had the opportunity to travel in the days of upheaval at the end of the Qing dynasty and at the dawn of a new republic. She was the first woman to record her thoughts in two travelogues and felt strongly that China’s new education system paled in comparison with that of other countries such as Japan. She concluded that education should have the aim of building critical-thinking men and women rather than just nurturing a crop of scholars with exceptional talent. After all, she notes, without citizens, how can there be talents? And without citizens, there can certainly be no society. These are wise words, says cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai, that remain relevant even today.
A humble plate of scallion pancake with chive sauce. (Facebook/蔣勳)

The simple beauty of Taiwan in a heavenly scallion pancake with chive sauce 

Chiang Hsun marvels at the way a chive sauce made with Taiwan-grown produce brings out the flavours of a street stall scallion pancake so well. No question about it — this dish would win hands down against any Michelin-starred restaurant’s version. When will we learn to appreciate the natural and the down-to-earth, and eschew the shiny bright lights of the material and the shallow?
Chiang Kai-shek and Soong Mei-ling in a boat on Sun Moon Lake. (Internet)

Chiang Kai-shek and the ‘President’s Fish’ at Sun Moon Lake

Visitors to Taiwan’s Sun Moon Lake are often awed by the hulking mountains and pristine waters. But notice a tiny pavilion on the water’s edge and you’d be reminded of the immense history this lake holds as a quiet retreat for the colourful leader Chiang Kai-shek — both to ponder the weighty political affairs and to reminisce about his hometown in mainland China’s Jiangnan region.
Architecture designs of Mok Wei Wei (left) and Chang Yung Ho.

Architects Mok Wei Wei and Chang Yung Ho: Imagining and building a humane city

Singaporean architect Mok Wei Wei and Chinese architect Chang Yung Ho are both well-respected professionals who have made contributions to the architectural heritage of their countries. Looking at architecture from the perspective of cultural infrastructure to be embedded into the contemporary urban fabric and to be left behind for future generations, both architects have worked hard to design the buildings that will satisfy these needs, and to convey the modern architectural language of their time and place. Lianhe Zaobao correspondent Lim Fong Wei speaks to the architects as part of a series of fireside chats put together to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China.
People wearing face masks on the Bund along the Huangpu River look at the light show seen in the Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai on 2 November 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

In the digital age, how is humanity to save its own heart?

Plucking the hairs off pork belly skins teaches patience, perseverance and taking pride in one’s work. In the modern frenetic lives we live, how many of us are willing to slow down to learn those lessons?
A man eats Lanzhou-style noodles at a restaurant that once served workers of the now decommissioned Liancheng coal-fired power plant in Heqiao village, Yongdeng county, Gansu province, China, 16 September 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

The power of food memories in shaping who we are

Food memories form part of our intangible cultural heritage. To lose them is to lose part of our culture, says cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai. The ancients certainly knew a thing or two when they laid down the golden rules of healthy eating. But they’re not the only bastions of wisdom. Every region, every village with its own terroir, has a unique food culture to pass down for generations to come — if only we’d let them.
Fashion creations of Ji Wenbo (first and second from left) and Andrew Gn.

A dialogue with Andrew Gn and Ji Wenbo: Fashion is an attitude to life

What is fashion to Singaporean fashion designer Andrew Gn and Chinese fashion designer Ji Wenbo? How do they stay true to themselves in an ever-changing fashion world? Though each designer has different styles, each is adept at stitching together a fabric of different influences. As their creations are sashayed down the catwalks of Paris and Milan, we see glimmers of East and West, the traditional and modern, the classic and the avant-garde — all in one place. Chinese Media Group correspondent Ng Yimin speaks to fashion designers Gn and Ji as part of a series of fireside chats put together to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China.
Two works by fine art photographers John Clang (L) and Zhou Yang. (Courtesy of John Clang and Zhou Yang)

A dialogue with John Clang and Zhou Yang: Human relations, memories and the compassionate photographer

What do creatives have in common and how differently do they interpret and make sense of the world around them? A chat with Singaporean photographer John Clang and Chinese photographer Zhou Yang gives a glimpse of that exploration. Each photographer has his own approach: Clang takes an almost anthropological perspective by drawing inspiration from those around him, be they friends or complete strangers; Zhou delves into the camera of the mind — the memory — and uses it to tell larger stories about the past and present. Lianhe Zaobao journalist Wang Yiming speaks to the photographers in the first of several fireside chats put together to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China.
The tall and unassuming tree in the wilderness. (Facebook/蔣勳)

A tree can be like Buddha

Art historian Chiang Hsun stays awhile with a comforting big tree in the wilderness. He admires its steadfastness, its sturdiness, its generosity. He takes heart as his unassuming friend shows us that we all have it in us, whatever our beliefs, to be the bigger person, to give shade, to give rest to those around us.