Society

A man wearing a face mask crosses a road in Wuhan. China has not handled the Covid-19 epidemic well, and its shortcomings are showing. (Reuters)

Covid-19 epidemic exposes China’s shortcomings

Researcher and commentator Wei Da says the recent coronavirus situation serves to remind China that self-reflection and finding the right balance between four key variables — democracy, scientific thinking, rule of law and religion — are greatly needed.
Wuhan Yangtze River Tunnel is blocked with a barrier during the lockdown on Wuhan. (Reuters)

Is the lockdown airtight? Infected Wuhan former prisoner's entry into Beijing sparks concern

The case of a former Wuhan prison inmate who tested positive for Covid-19 after travelling to Beijing has sparked debate about loopholes in China’s lockdown measures. Coupled with signs that new cases are on the rise again in Beijing, fears are renewed. Lianhe Zaobao’s Beijing correspondent Yang Danxu gets to the heart of the matter.
A security guard in a mask looks out from the Jingshan park overlooking the Forbidden city (center) after a snowfall in Beijing, February 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

Who should apologise for the term 'sick man of Asia'?

Amid the furore over The Wall Street Journal’s controversial “sick man of Asia” headline, Hu Hao points out that going back to history, the term may have first been coined by a Chinese thinker seeking to galvanise change in society. Instead of physical attributes, it referred to the apathetic, backward, and foolish mindsets of Chinese who were passive and indifferent towards the authoritarian regime they were living under. He asks if the China of today is indeed no longer the "sick man"? And if the Wall Street Journal should indeed apologise as the Chinese government has demanded?
As the world’s second largest economy, China should have gained enough confidence to not be affected by terms like "sick man of Asia". In this photo taken on 25 February 2020, a woman wearing a protective face mask walks on an overpass in Shanghai. (Noel Celis/AFP)

From ‘sick man’ to ‘sleeping lion’: Have the Chinese overreacted?

Yu Shiyu observes that China could be reading too much into terms such as “sick man” and should by now, have the self-confidence to let such comments roll off their backs.
Why should we shave the heads of female medical staff? (Weibo)

How women are used as a propaganda tool in the Covid-19 epidemic

A nurse who just had a miscarriage was praised for returning to the medical front line; the word “period” (menstruation) was omitted from broadcast subtitles and in newspaper reports; while nurses sat in tears as their heads were shaved. Closet feminist Wei Shuang can’t help but blow her cover with recent portrayals of women in the media glorifying gender stereotypes. She seconds the view that women need respect, not empty praise. 
This handout picture released by Myanmar News Agency (MNA) shows Chinese President Xi Jinping (L), Myanmar President Win Myint (2nd L) and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (2nd R), attending a ceremony marking Myanmar and China's 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations in Naypyidaw, January 2020. (Handout/AFP)

Sinophobia in Myanmar and the Belt and Road Initiative

Uncertainty over the Myitsone Dam project and the influx of Chinese into Myanmar have not gone down well with the people of Myanmar. ISEAS academic Nyi Nyi Kyaw examines the rise of sinophobia in Myanmar, and the factors behind it.
Examples of "I am from Taiwan" stickers sold on PChome eBay Co. Ltd., a Taiwanese online shopping platform. (PChome eBay Co. Ltd/Internet)

Rising sense of Taiwanese identity amid Covid-19 epidemic

Ng Soon Kiat finds that the “I am from Taiwan” stickers that have popped up recently are not only a utilitarian guard against sinophobia, but possibly a political badge asserting Taiwan’s separate identity.
Jiangshan Jiao (right) and Hongqi Man, the short-lived virtual idols of the Chinese Communist Youth League. (Internet)

The short life of patriotic idol Jiangshan Jiao

In sensitive Covid-19 times, any hint of propaganda elicits a potentially virulent backlash, Chinese authorities learn.
This picture taken on 15 January 2020 shows a butcher selling a yak's head to a customer at a market in Beijing. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

Why it is hard to keep game meat off the table

A wild peacock can easily cost up to 10,000 RMB, and is a way to show off new wealth, while regulating the sale of wildlife is also a thankless labour, and may not help Chinese officials gain merits and advancements. Medical researcher Hayson Wang examines the Chinese’s gastronomic, medicinal and economic appetites for exotic wildlife and the reasons why it is so difficult to regulate and stop wildlife trading in China.