Society

A worker in a protective suit collects a swab from a resident at a residential compound under lockdown, in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China, 14 March 2022. (CNS photo via Reuters)

Shenzhen's balancing act in fighting the pandemic

The dire pandemic situation in Hong Kong has trickled into Shenzhen through legal and illegal border crossings. However, the city has been trying its best to implement anti-epidemic measures without significantly impacting people’s daily lives. Chinese commentator Chen Bing notes Shenzhen's transparency and openness in tackling the pandemic situation, and how its policy differs from the one-size-fits-all measures of some Chinese local governments.
A policeman (centre) wearing protective clothing reacts in an area where barriers are being placed to close off streets around a locked down neighbourhood after the detection of new Covid-19 cases in Shanghai, China, on 15 March 2022. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

As the virus spreads, can China calm its people and contain the outbreaks?

This month China has seen its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic two years ago. Shanghai, once seen as a role model for fighting the virus, is succumbing under the weight of increasing infections. As such, the “Shanghai model” which allows for a balance of anti-epidemic measures and economic activity has been pushed into the spotlight. Can the Shanghai model still be emulated by other regions of China? Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu looks at the various issues discouraging China from easing its anti-epidemic measures and policy.
Motorists refill their vehicles with petrol at a gas station in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 3 March 2022. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Kidnapped and abducted, Chinese nationals are falling victim to cross-border crimes in Cambodia

The case of Li Yayuanlun, a Chinese national who was kidnapped and forced to work as a “blood slave” by a gang of online scammers in Cambodia, sent shock waves through China. While the Cambodian police have questioned the veracity of Li's story, this incident nonetheless reflects the transnational illegal activities and violent crimes involving Chinese nationals in Cambodia.
This file photo taken on 25 April 2021 shows a medical staff member taking care of a newborn baby in the paediatric ward of a hospital in Fuyang in China's eastern Anhui province. (AFP)

China wants to reverse its high abortion rate with pro-birth policies, and young women are not happy

As a result of the country’s now-abolished one-child policy and other factors, abortion has gained wide acceptance among women in China. A recent work plan by the national family planning unit stated its intention to “intervene” in abortions for unmarried women has sparked backlash that women would lose their reproductive autonomy. Zaobao correspondent Wong Siew Fong speaks with researchers and Chinese women to understand the policy implications on women’s rights and how the issue will impact China’s shrinking birth rate.
A farmer tends to his rice field in the village of Yangchao in Liping County, Guizhou province, China, 11 June 2021. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Governing modern Chinese villages is a big challenge

Chinese academic Hu Ying notes that rural governance in China is facing new and diverse sets of challenges. While traditional rural governance looks after people's need for money, food and to protect their livelihoods, current rural issues could include the provision of public services, targeted poverty alleviation, land management and ecological protection. Not only that, traditional value systems are now a thing of the past as villagers gain an increased awareness of individual rights. The authorities would need different skills, and to be supported by new social structures in order to do their job well.
A woman rests on the steps of an underpass in Beijing, China, on 28 February 2022. (Noel Celis/AFP)

A Singaporean in China: Can there be justice for trafficked women sold as wives?

Former journalist Jessie Tan has generally felt safe living and moving around Beijing in the last one and a half years. However, the recent news of human trafficking in China’s rural counties has shed light on a parallel world that puts women’s safety at risk. The case of the Feng county chained mother of eight has led to some actions from the authorities. However, more can be done and the Chinese public wants harsher punishments for perpetrators and more resources allocated to help prevent such crimes from happening again.
A man wearing a mask as a prevention against Covid-19 rides a bicycle on a crossroad, ahead of the annual National People's Congress (NPC), in Shanghai, China, 25 February 2022. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Is China ready to live with the virus?

More than half a year after an infectious diseases expert was shot down for proposing living with the virus, Chinese epidemiologist Zeng Guang has cautiously signalled that perhaps it is time for China to transition away from its dynamic zero-Covid policy. Zaobao correspondent Chen Jing reports that Chinese netizens are showing their support for this, voicing their frustration with the prolonged restrictions, while official statistics show a struggling recovery in domestic consumption. Will the benefits of China’s dynamic zero-Covid continue to outweigh its costs?
A man wearing a face mask walks past an advertisement to support medical professionals, following the Covid-19 outbreak, in Hong Kong, China, 24 February 2022. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

The helpless fate of seven million Hong Kongers fighting the pandemic

While the “dynamic zero-Covid” policy may be effective in mainland China, the recent surge in cases in Hong Kong shows that the policy has its limitations, and it does not help that pandemic measures are being politicised. With more than 55,000 new cases reported on 2 March and panic buying amid the possibility of a lockdown, veteran Hong Kong commentator Chip Tsao discusses how Hong Kong is caught in a tricky place between Beijing and the rest of the world in terms of which strategy to take.
Children play with an ice sculpture of three astronauts in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China, on 28 December 2021. (AFP)

Why extended maternity leave will not encourage childbirth in China

Li Jingkui explains that having children is very much an economic decision with hard choices involved, particularly for women. Research has shown that women’s chances of gaining employment after bearing their first child fall by 6.6%, and by another 9.3% after the second child. The government believes that an extended maternity leave policy will aid women and increase the nation’s fertility rate, but the reality may be much to the contrary.