Society

The current issue regarding the learning of English in mainland China is not whether to remove English as a core subject. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

How to solve the Chinese headache of learning English

Wu Guo asserts that the current piecemeal way of learning English, focusing on exam questions and answers, will not help the Chinese get very far in mastering the English language. Will they be willing to take the longer but likely more rewarding path of appreciating the language in its entirety?
A protester holds up a sign of detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi as they take part in a demonstration outside the Chinese Embassy against the military coup in Yangon on 13 February 2021. (STR/AFP)

From Yangon to Hong Kong: Why locals attack mainland Chinese companies during political unrest

Zaobao journalist Tai Hing Shing notes that mainland Chinese companies in Hong Kong, Yangon and elsewhere often find themselves targets of attack. Why are they so unpopular in the very communities they seek to bring greater economic activity to? Perhaps they are expanding too much, too soon and too fast, giving little opportunities for locals to adapt. But their work cultures probably also play a big role. 
People walk in a public park under blue skies in Beijing on 16 March 2021. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

When even blue skies are political in China

Chinese academic Ma Liang says it may be more worth it for the Chinese government to focus on long-term improvement of China’s air quality, rather than spending money and effort on clearing its skies only when there are major events. The government seems to be hoisting in this rationale, judging by the naturally grey skies during the Two Sessions this year. Can blue skies every day be a reality for Beijing in the near future?
Local natives of Hong Kong participate in a flash mob march to show solidarity with the 47 pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong who were charged for state subversion due to them organizing and taking part in a primary election, in Santa Monica, California on 7 March 2021. (Ringo Chiu/AFP)

Chinese culture at odds with freedom and democracy, shows fate of Ming dynasty's opposition party Donglin

Hong Kong commentator Chip Tsao looks back at the Donglin movement during the Ming dynasty, concluding that its rise and fall shows that freedom and democracy have a history of clashing with China’s cultural background and DNA.
People walk in the Montorgueil street in Paris, France, 25 February 2021. (Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters)

French cultural and academic institutions alarmed by China's influence

Recent incidents in France’s academic and cultural arenas are making the French take notice of what they perceive as China’s attempts to exert its influence, and there are growing calls for institutions and individuals to maintain independence. France-based journalist Justin Zhang explores the issue.
A picture of Chinese President Xi Jinping overlooks a street ahead of the National People's Congress (NPC), in Shanghai, China, 1 March 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Why Southeast Asia has a love-hate relationship with China

The State of Southeast Asia: 2021 Survey Report shows that many acknowledge yet fear China’s economic dominance. What is behind this enigma of a Southeast Asia that welcomes yet worries about China? Lee Huay Leng assesses that it is a confluence of factors, both external and internal to China. A change in tone, mindset and behaviour is in order if China is to be truly understood by the people it seeks to influence.
Villas in Huaxi Village, once known as the "richest village in China", 2008. (SPH)

Huaxi Village: The rise and fall of the "richest village in China"

Huaxi Village was once known as the “richest village in China”, with stories of prosperity and luxury. But a recent video of people queuing in the rain to reclaim and cash out their investments seems to point to a very different reality. Zaobao correspondent Chen Jing finds out more.
A road along Qidaoliang village located in a deep valley in Hebei province, China, 2014. (SPH)

Chinese villages' failed toilet revolution, clogged ponds and dangerous roads

Professor Zhang Rui takes stock of the government’s high-priority rural revitalisation project in villages, warning of cases of resource misallocation and misplaced priorities. He says while much manpower and resources have been mobilised to build new infrastructure, Chinese villages continue to be afflicted by poor sanitary facilities, lousy roads and a lack of clean water. The problem cannot be solved by simply building more of the same. 
A pro-democracy demonstrator holds a yellow umbrella outside the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts during a hearing for 47 opposition activists charged with violating the city’s national security law in Hong Kong, China, 2 March 2021. (Lam Yik/Bloomberg)

Eight months after national security law: What's become of Hong Kong?

The Hong Kong national security law was implemented in June last year, not least to quell the wave of protests that had taken hold of the city. And indeed, it is clear that the new law has worked to restore order. But Zaobao journalist Tai Hing Shing notes that the peaceful situation may not extend below the surface and more needs to be done to tackle deep-seated issues.