Ma Haotian

Ma Haotian


Ma Haotian is a consultant living in Beijing.

Screenshot of a video showing the argument between British pianist Brendan Kavanagh and a Chinese TV group, with the police entering the scene. (YouTube)

When culture differences create trouble: How to be an 'outsider' in a foreign society

Consultant Ma Haotian takes a look at two recent incidents showing conflict between groups of people from different cultures, one between China and the West, and another between Chinese societies of different places. While Chinese culture is indeed vastly different from British culture, different Chinese communities around the world also live under different political systems and social environments, and have different ways of thinking and behavioural patterns.
People visit a business street during the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing on 25 January 2023. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

Can China become a more relaxed society?

Consultant Ma Haotian notes that recent and past cases of celebrities getting banned for various transgressions show that morality in China can be taken to the extreme to exert control over people. He urges moderation and adjusting the so-called rules and standards of behaviour according to the times, so that people can act with more freedom and autonomy.
People hold white sheets of paper in protest over Covid-19 restrictions after a vigil for the victims of a fire in Urumqi, as outbreaks of Covid-19 continue, in Beijing, China, 28 November 2022. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Covid protests: A repressed China needs an outlet to return to equilibrium

Chinese commentator Ma Haotian points out that when segments of the population feel the pain of China’s strict Covid controls, discontent boils over in search of an outlet. As China knows from its history, it is impossible to achieve outcomes that tick every box. It will have to learn to be flexible and accept trade-offs if the country and its people are to move forward from the yoke of zero-Covid.
Workers wearing personal protective gear at an area placed under lockdown due to Covid-19 in Beijing, China, on 12 October 2022. (Bloomberg)

Where will the zero-Covid policy and Xi’s third term lead China?

China’s strict zero-Covid policy has led to lockdowns and other extreme measures in various cities, as local officials follow directions from the top. However, the people are pushing back, as their daily life is impacted in all sorts of ways. Chinese commentator Ma Haotian believes that the decision makers are caught between a rock and a hard place as either maintaining or easing the strict zero-Covid measures comes with painful consequences.