Society

Internet celebrities flocked to Wuzhong Market over the Golden Week holiday to pose for pictures with vegetables wrapped in Prada packaging. (Xiaohongshu/@超赞小姐姐 (left); Xiaohongshu/@周小晨Kiki)

Chic and trendy wet markets are the in-thing in China

Below-the-line marketing tactics of high-end brand Prada sees a wet market in Shanghai wrapping its walls, stalls and vegetables — yes, even the edibles — in Prada packaging. Lucky shoppers also get to receive limited edition Prada paper bags. And it's not just in Shanghai; trendy markets that have cafes, reading areas, exhibition spaces and bars are popping up in first-tier cities all around China.
A woman guides a boy learning to cycle below power lines in Beijing, China, on 13 October 2021. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Why China will continue to experience power cuts

Erik Baark takes a bird’s eye view of the structure of energy supply and demand in China, analysing how macro issues led to the September 2021 rash of power cuts across China. He notes that China's continued development needs energy, and a shift from heavy industries to services or high-tech fields does not mean that the country's energy needs will decrease. The Chinese government is looking to new and renewable energy resources to take the place of the old, but transitioning to new energy sources is not an easy process, especially when different actors are trying to protect their own terrain and a mindset change is necessary. It will be a tall order for the Chinese government to get local governments, old power grid corporations and the public to align with new policies and thinking. All this means that power cuts will not be going away anytime soon.
This handout image courtesy of Netflix shows a scene from season one of South Korea's Squid Game. (Youngkyu Park/Netflix/AFP)

Does China need its own Squid Game?

Despite Netflix not being in the China market, Chinese viewers have still managed to watch the global hit show Squid Game, prompting questions on whether China can come up with its own global hit. It is not so much a question of box office ticket sales or viewership revenue, but the gains of soft power and cultural diplomacy that can be reaped. What are China’s barriers to creating global hits?
People look at publicity posters of The Battle at Lake Changjin at a cinema in Fuzhou, Fujian province, China, on 7 October 2021. (CNS)

Can the Chinese criticise their patriotic movies?

The movie The Battle at Lake Changjin has broken all sorts of box office records in China. This patriotic drama portrays Chinese volunteer troops fighting in the Korean War against the US, and is highly rated by the authorities and the public. However, certain comments have been criticised for being disrespectful to the people and times in the movie, and the police have detained Chinese financial media personality Luo Changping for his allegedly disparaging comments against the country's volunteer fighters. Zaobao’s China Desk examines the issue.
People dine at a restaurant in Beijing, China, 13 August 2021. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

Chinese economics professor: If you like salty and spicy food, your ancestors might have been poorer folk

The Big Mac index as an informal gauge of the economic standards and consumption capacities of countries is well known. But actually, there’s also the pickle index, the lipstick index, and the ultimate indicator from everyday life — the regional food flavours index. What do the saltier, bold-flavoured food in regions like Hunan, Jiangxi and Shandong, and the clean, light flavours of Jiangsu say about the relative states of their regional economies?
Students attend a flag-raising ceremony during the first day of the new semester in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, on 1 September 2021. (STR/AFP)

Parents and teachers brace themselves for China's new school year under the 'double reduction' policy

Since September, primary and secondary schools across China have started to implement the “double reduction” policy. Among other measures, primary one and two students no longer have written homework or paper-based exams, while primary three to six students will have their written homework load significantly reduced. These measures are changing up the education ecosystem with students, parents, tutoring companies, teachers and schools all having to adjust. At the back of everyone’s minds is the thought that the rules have changed but competition has not gone away. What are some of their concerns and how will they cope?
People walk past a China Energy coal-fired power plant in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China, 29 September 2021. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

The conspiracy theories behind China's power cuts

Last year, Western media attributed the cause of China's power shortages to the latter's unofficial ban on Australian coal. This year, Chinese netizens and we-media are claiming that power cuts are necessary and a result of “an invisible exchange of swordplay in big country economic competition”. Leveraging nationalism and big power competition to garner attention and support is indeed the order of the day. Zaobao journalist Liu Liu explains why Chinese authorities and state media are debunking these conspiracy theories and refusing to ride on the patriotism wave.
A woman walks past a store of German fashion house Hugo Boss in Beijing, China, 27 March 2021. (Thomas Peter/File Photo/Reuters)

China's crackdown on pretty boys and temple temptresses: Why are Chinese women feeling targeted?

The Chinese authorities are not just clamping down on celebrities for their excesses or “unhealthy’ fandoms, but setting the ground rules for media portrayals of gender norms of appearance and behaviour. In particular, the "effeminate aesthetics" of male celebrities and female influencers marketing themselves in Chinese temples have come under attack. But why are Chinese women feeling targeted? Are these necessary actions to moderate the internet economy or just signs of an over-the-top paternalistic bent?
Electricity transmission towers are pictured in Beijing, China, 28 September 2021. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

China's power outages: Are local governments' energy conservation efforts going overboard?

Amid a widespread power shortage across China, the authorities have implemented power cuts in several regions. But what is the underlying cause for the power crunch, and will the current measures be effective and sustainable? Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu tells us more.