Society

The male contestants in the third season of Youth With You (青春有你). (Internet)

Working 'mothers' are the biggest spenders of fan economy in China

The fan economy is a huge business in China, driven mostly by young women in their 20s. But while these fans are willing to spend money on their idols, some chalk up mountains of debt to feed their passion. Given that the idols are endlessly trotted out on a conveyor belt and few escape the cookie cutter, how long can the fan economy last?
Elementary school students in Wuhan decked out in their performance outfits.

I found no trace of the pandemic in Wuhan, but is that how the China story should be told?

On an organised visit to Wuhan with other journalists and business representatives, Lianhe Zaobao’s Shanghai correspondent Chen Jing sees a city that appears to be humming away as if the Covid-19 disaster was nothing but a bad dream. Nevertheless, she gets an inkling that many stories of the pandemic are still waiting to be told. She resolves to tell them, all in good time.
The Giant Buddha overlooks the waters and Leshan city. (iStock)

Giant Buddha and sponge cities: Combating floods where three rivers meet

The recent floods in Sichuan were serious enough to wet the feet of the Leshan Giant Buddha, which sits on a platform at 362 metres above sea level at the confluence of the Dadu, Qingyi, and Min rivers. Academic Zhang Tiankan explains that while the Giant Buddha represents the ancient Chinese's wisdom in combating floods, modern-day Chinese will need to step up the building of “sponge cities” to prevent floods.
A vendor holding up a Donald Trump latex mask that she sells.

Who will win the US election? Chinese vendors at ‘the world’s supermarket’ think they have the answer

Four years ago, when most political pundits put their money on Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump, vendors in the Yiwu International Trade Market in Zhejiang province already knew that Trump would win. Orders of presidential election merchandise gave them the clue. Termed “the world’s supermarket”, Yiwu is the world’s biggest wholesale market of small commodities. How is it seeking to reinvent itself in the pandemic downturn, and what does this year’s orders list tell them about the likely outcome of the 2020 US presidential election?
Demonstrators, holding signs with Mongolian script, protest against China's changes to school curriculums that remove Mongolian language from core subjects, outside the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 31 August 2020. (Anand Tumurtogoo/Reuters)

Inner Mongolia's new language policy: Will it endanger Mongolian culture and language?

Inner Mongolian students were told that they will be taught in Mandarin instead of the Mongolian language using national textbooks. This policy seems to be for the greater good of fostering national unity in China, but the implementation methods can certainly be better refined. Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong examines the issue. 
A vendor sells newspapers along a highway in Jakarta, Indonesia, 10 June 2020. (Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/REUTERS)

Rising China: Indonesia's Chinese-language newspapers avoid taking sides

All six Chinese-language newspapers in Indonesia support closer economic co-operation with Beijing, and all are pro-Beijing when reporting on Taiwan and Hong Kong issues, except for one. Chinese-language newspapers also face other issues such as insufficient readership and advertisement revenue, and a dearth of journalists. ISEAS academic Leo Suryadinata takes a closer look at the papers' predicaments with a rising China on one hand, and a diminishing pool of local readers on the other.
Fishermen pull in their fishing nets as the sun rises over the Mekong river in Phnom Penh on 9 June 2020. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Major powers react to rising Chinese influence in Mekong

In recent years, the Mekong subregion has seen a renewed engagement of external powers, particularly the US, Japan, and South Korea, mainly due to the China factor. This re-enmeshment signifies an intense power competition in Southeast Asia, in light of China’s increasing economic and political clout. Thai academic Pongphisoot Busbarat cautions that Southeast Asian states need to send a clear signal to external powers that increasing cooperation with them does not equate to choosing sides.
Steve Bannon and Guo Wengui (also known as Miles Kwok) appear at a news conference in New York, New York, 20 November 2018. (Carlo Allegri/REUTERS)

The ‘business’ between Steve Bannon and Guo Wengui

What exactly is the relationship between former Trump right-hand man Steve Bannon, and fugitive China businessman Guo Wengui? What do their dealings show about the scaremongering tactics and half-truths that can be used in any society? Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong examines Bannon’s recent arrest and how Guo fits in.
TV series Nothing but Thirty (《三十而已》) revolves around the lives of three females living in Shanghai. (Internet)

Portrayal of women in Chinese dramas getting more westernised?

Hit Chinese television series Nothing but Thirty has struck a chord with scores of working women in China, says young academic Lorna Wei. Unlike one-dimensional portrayals of women in previous dramas, this one seeks to give women in China a voice as she copes with trials in work and in love. If this is art imitating life, it seems that Chinese society is becoming more like any other modern, in fact, westernised, society we see today. Only entrenched attitudes about their roles in society can keep women back as they seek a better future for themselves.