Culture

My family reunion dinner at Fengnan, Tangshan, Hebei Province. (Photo: Wei Shuang)

[Chinese New Year Special] Food changes, and so does the world

There was a time when “fatty” and “oily” were signs of prosperity. Young academic Wei Shuang reminisces that gone are the days of fighting over the last meatball as the post-80s and post-90s generation Chinese become more wealthy. But with material abundance comes emptiness. Is it harder to be happy? The realities of Chinese life hit home as the Spring Festival draws near.
Teo Soon Kim (right) with only son Peter Wang, taken in March 1950. The photo was vandalised during the Cultural Revolution.

Singapore’s first female barrister and the cultural revolution: Her happiest moments were spent here

Lost love, tumultuous times. Teo Soon Kim, Singapore’s first female lawyer and daughter of rubber magnate and revolutionary Teo Eng Hock, may have had the most beautiful wedding in Singapore during the 1920s, but she passed away in her staff quarters in China that was just 15sqm in size. In the end, her ashes were laid to rest in Singapore's Choa Chu Kang Christian Columbarium. Chia Yei Yei, senior correspondent of Zaobao, talks to family members and pieces together this poignant story.
Pictured in my house when I was 19 or 20. The big fat cappuccino sofa is behind me.

Brigitte Lin: My heart and soul belongs to Taipei

Recalling her days in Taiwan, Brigitte goes on a vivid journey down memory lane that’s as winding as the streets and alleys she dreams about.
Fairgoers blowing bubbles at the Confucius Temple lantern display. The floating bubbles lend an air of fantasy to the scene.

[Chinese New Year Special] A bygone era: Chinese New Year celebrations during the time of the Republic of China

The Chinese calendar, based on observations of sun and moon, was chiefly used to mark agrarian time. With the dawn of the Republic of China in 1912, official calendars were reset to the Gregorian system. No matter that the start of the year was now 1 January, people’s lives were still much tied to the land. They welcomed the Spring Festival and Chinese New Year with relish, celebrating their well-earned rest from toil. Photo collector Hsu Chung-mao shares his precious images of celebrations in Beijing and Nanjing from a bygone era.
Instant-boiled mutton: fresh, tasty, and heartwarming. (Internet)

Beijing’s instant-boiled mutton and sweet memories of childhood days in Taiwan

With a bowl of Beijing’s signature mutton hotpot in front of him, Cheng Pei-kai falls into a reverie about heavy things like poor sheep sent for the slaughter. But not for long as he tucks in with gusto, lost in the food memories of his childhood.
West Lake in autumn. (iStock)

Autumn musings by the West Lake

Many an intellectual has been inspired by the legendary West Lake in Hangzhou. Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai is no exception. He reflects on the passage of time as he strolls through the beautiful landscape of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and Emperor Naruhito (C) during the Emperor's enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Note Mr Abe's tailcoat and the Emperor's robe. (AFP)

Perfect harmony: The Japanese emperor’s yellow robe and the prime minister’s tailcoat

​Japan is able to seamlessly meld tradition with modernity, Hong Kong political commentator Leung Man-tao observes. How do the Japanese decide what are the things to treasure and what are the things to cast off? How is it that China has not been able to do the same as well as Japan? Leung shares his thoughts after reading writer Lo Fung’s book, Geopolitical Japan.
Hong Kongers should be effectively bilingual, but the majority of university students are failing English, consistently getting the ‘D' and ‘E’ grades. What has become of university education in Hong Kong? (iStock)

Lost in translation: What has become of university education in Hong Kong?

When cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai is tasked to use the English language to teach Chinese literature to Hong Kong students, he questions if it is all a ploy to help students improve their standard of English. Such a shame it is then, how gems of China’s precious literary and cultural heritage are withered away in every nuance lost in translation.
Giuseppe Castiglione, Emperor Qianlong Inspecting Troops (《乾隆皇帝大阅图》), The Palace Museum. (Internet)

Suzhou’s way to the Emperor’s heart

Refined and steeped in natural flavours, it’s no wonder that Emperor Qianlong had a soft spot for Suzhou cuisine. Cheng Pei-kai shares the menu.