Jessie Tan

Former journalist

Jessie is a stay-at-home mother of two adorable (but occasionally annoying) kids in Beijing. When she is not busy breaking up fights and changing diapers, she enjoys reading a mix of fiction and non-fiction books or watching a good show with a cup of bubble tea. She is curious about the world and loves to ask questions, sometimes silly ones. 

A playground in a zoo with an admission fee of 10 RMB per child.

A Singaporean in China: Don't take free playgrounds for granted

Former journalist Jessie Tan shares her observations as a mother in China as she looks at the outdoor spaces where Chinese children can play, learn and grow. While the options are plenty, the costs to entertain children cannot be avoided, posing a challenge to lower-income families.
A health worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) is seen at a makeshift testing site outside a museum along a street in Beijing, China, on 4 May 2022. (Jade Gao/AFP)

A Singaporean in China: How Covid brings out the worst in people

A spate of news of pet “cullings” and cruel acts against people amid Covid-19 lockdowns in China have captured widespread public attention. While it may be easy to classify the instigators of such acts as heartless, former journalist Jessie Tan believes that those actions may not be borne out of an individual’s ill nature or will, but a reaction to the complex forces amid the Covid-19 lockdown.
A worker in personal protective equipment facilitates a round of Covid-19 testing during a lockdown in Shanghai, China, on 7 April 2022. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

A Singaporean in China: Contact tracing lays bare the lives of ordinary Chinese

Through contact tracing records of Covid-19 positive patients, people are getting a glimpse of how their fellow Chinese live their lives. While the detailed records bring up the question of privacy, they have helped to highlight the issue of inequality in big cities and the lives of those who are toiling away and struggling to make ends meet. Beijing-based Singaporean Jessie Tan shares the stories that have gripped the attention of Chinese netizens.
A woman rests on the steps of an underpass in Beijing, China, on 28 February 2022. (Noel Celis/AFP)

A Singaporean in China: Can there be justice for trafficked women sold as wives?

Former journalist Jessie Tan has generally felt safe living and moving around Beijing in the last one and a half years. However, the recent news of human trafficking in China’s rural counties has shed light on a parallel world that puts women’s safety at risk. The case of the Feng county chained mother of eight has led to some actions from the authorities. However, more can be done and the Chinese public wants harsher punishments for perpetrators and more resources allocated to help prevent such crimes from happening again.
A street in Beijing with just a few lanterns as CNY decorations. (Photo: Jessie Tan)

A Singaporean in China: Why I miss Chinese New Year in Singapore

Former journalist Jessie Tan now based in Beijing observes that compared to Singapore’s Chinatown din, nianwei (the Chinese New Year atmosphere) in Beijing seems rather low-key. Like many people living away from home, her identity becomes clearer the further she’s away. She goes in search of some nianwei Singapore-style, even if she wasn’t much of a Chinese New Year fan back home. Perhaps it’s what they say about only missing something when they’re gone?
Commuters ride on a subway in Beijing, China, on 16 October 2021. (Noel Celis/AFP)

A Singaporean in China: Bumping into kind souls on buses and trains

On her frequent explorations of the city with her son in tow, former journalist Jessie Tan now based in Beijing is grateful for the little kindnesses shown to her by fellow commuters. She did not know what to expect when she first arrived in the city, and truth be told, there were some preconceived notions, but a year’s worth of help from strangers has her convinced that she walks the streets of a civilised city.
Delivery motorcycles parked by a road.

A Singaporean in China: Going green is a hard thing to do in Beijing

With many apps in China to choose from to make quick and affordable purchases, Jessie Tan finds that her previous environmentally conscious self who used to forgo plastic takeout containers and seek out pre-loved goods has succumbed somewhat to easy consumerism. A guilty conscience pricks at her, but the conveniences of daily life in China are hard to give up. Even as China commits to carbon emission reductions, aspirations for a better, easier life has continued to rise. How can China enable people to have a life of comfort without leaving a negative impact on the environment?
A two-year-old boy pointing a toy rifle at my son, wanting to play with him.

A Singaporean mother in China: The war games Chinese kids play

A Singaporean mum living in Beijing observes that the theme of war and violence is surprisingly pervasive in daily life. School kids know war-themed rhymes by heart and chant them in playgrounds as they play at war. Realistic-looking toy guns and ammunition dot corner shops and even the children’s section in bookshops has reading material on guns. Add to that the plethora of war-themed dramas on screens and it seems that the Chinese are taking the manly mantra to the extreme. Or is it an unconscious “making ready” for real war amid international tensions? Whichever the case, hopefully, the kids skipping off happily will never know war beyond their playground games.