Society

A gay pride parade in Taiwan, 2018. (Wikimedia)

Taiwan allowing cross-strait same-sex unions: A bargaining chip in the reunification tussle?

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has announced proposed amendments to the “Cross-Strait Act” to allow same-sex unions between partners from Taiwan and mainland China. Is this a bid by Taiwan to woo the gay community in mainland China ahead of reunification, as some netizens speculate? And will mainland China adopt an even more conservative position given that room to discuss LGBT issues has shrunk amid recent clampdowns? Zaobao’s China Desk delves into the topic.
People leave a Canada Goose store in Beijing, China, 2 December 2021. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

Unfair treatment of Chinese consumers? Canadian luxury winter apparel brand draws flak in China

Canada Goose, a Canadian luxury winter apparel brand that has been in the Chinese market for three years, drew bad press recently for having no or an ambiguous returns policy. Sensitive netizens wondered whether this meant the brand was discriminating against Chinese customers as they do have a returns policy in other locations. Despite the hoo-ha, sales of Canada Goose apparel as the weather turns wintry has still been brisk. A case of pragmatism overriding nationalistic grouses?
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?
People dressed in Hanfu, or Han clothing, walk at a theme park on Chinese National Costume Day in Changsha, Hunan province, China, 26 March 2020. (CNS photo via Reuters)

Was the Tang dynasty the golden era of women's rights in China?

Just as women in China today, especially rural women, have to contend with male favouritism and diminished rights, women in the Tang dynasty were also restricted by rules and social practices, even if the era in which female emperor Wu Zetian ruled was thought to be the golden era of women’s rights.
A couple with a child ride on a scooter in Shanghai, China, on 7 September 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

‘Leftover men’ in the Chinese countryside and ‘leftover women’ in Chinese cities

Perhaps the theory of the survival of the fittest can help to explain the opposite gender imbalance in rural-urban China. Aspirant males and females head to cities in search of better prospects; the latter, with the added aim of better marriage prospects, invariably outnumber the men. Of the males that stay or return, there is the heavy bride price to pay to win the hand of a lady among the smaller pool of women left in the rural areas. This modern malaise is something no provincial policy can easily solve, says economist Li Jingkui.
Compared with its opening, passenger flow to Shibati has reduced. (Photo: Edwin Ong)

Preservation of Chongqing’s oldest central business district: Success or failure?

Reviews have been mixed after Shibati, Chongqing’s oldest central business district, reopened to great fanfare recently. Some were glad that the former messy, dilapidated quarter has been refreshed, while others feel that it has been turned into another “ancient street”, devoid of a sense of its rich history and heritage. Where should the fine balance be, in the preservation of tangible heritage, when multiple stakeholders and business interests are involved?
Macau gambling junket tycoon Alvin Chau. (Internet/SPH)

Macau's 'junket mogul' and his unnerving name list of Chinese gamblers

Macau's police have arrested Alvin Chau, the chairman of the city's biggest casino junket operator, on allegations of illegally operating casinos and money laundering. Given that there are 80,000 customers of Chau’s network within mainland China, the bigger implication is that this group might include civil servants and employees of state-owned enterprises, who might end up being traced, given China’s crackdown on vice activities.
Divers swim above a bed of dead corals off Malaysia's Tioman island in the South China Sea, 4 May 2008. (David Loh/File Photo/Reuters)

Marine science collaborations can help defuse tensions in the South China Sea

With environmental security shaping a new South China Sea conversation about ecological challenges, science cooperation represents a litmus test to link the impact of environmental change to both national and international security, and can offer a means to defuse tensions, says James Borton. His new book, Dispatches from the South China Sea: Navigating to Common Ground, will be released soon.
People walk along the riverside in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh on 19 November 2021. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Is Chinese support the main reason for Cambodia's success with pandemic control?

Cambodia, a lower-middle-income country, has enjoyed relative success in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. Approximately 88% of the entire Cambodian population has been vaccinated, which makes it ranked 6th globally and only behind Singapore in ASEAN. Some have credited Cambodia’s success as a result of Chinese support, but academic Bradley Murg thinks that many other reasons are just as important.