Society

 A couple plays with their two children on the outskirts of Shanghai, China, 3 June 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China’s demographic crisis: The farmers should have a say

Han Dongping points out that the views of the rural population in China should be taken into account in the three-child policy or other population policies. They were the most affected group when the the one-child policy was implemented decades ago. The government made the mistake of not consulting them then, alienating their stronghold of support in the process. They should not make the mistake again.
A girl reacts and laughs as she loses a game of rock-paper-scissors with her father (left) on a street outside the Forbidden City in Beijing, China on 1 May 2021. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

China stories: Let’s not always focus on the negatives

Andrew Delios, vice dean of the Master of Science Programmes Office at the National University of Singapore, observes that media reports have often cast a suspicious eye on China’s actions, even those that deserve to be celebrated such as the development of the Sinovac vaccine. Imbalanced and agenda-driven reports will only lead to greater distrust and suspicion among countries, just when the world needs to work together on constructive solutions.
Students arrive at a school to take the National College Entrance Examination known as 'gaokao' in Wuhan, Hubei province on 7 June 2021. (STR/AFP)

China's university entrance exam: Do Beijingers get a sweeter deal?

With China’s annual gaokao or university entrance exams ending yesterday, Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu looks at the furore caused by a Beijing student who had left his test centre early and seemingly breezed through the exam. Netizens were quick to point out that regional differences in resources, administration and test papers have led to unfair advantages. In the face of serious concerns, is it time to look this perennial issue squarely in the face?
This picture taken during a government organised media tour shows women growing rice in Nanniwan, some 60 km from Yan'an, the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party from 1936 to 1947, in Shaanxi province on 11 May 2021, ahead of the 100th year of the party's founding in July. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

An apple tree in Shaanxi tells a story: China’s quest to eradicate rural poverty

Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu journeys to Yan’an, northern Shaanxi — the old base of the Chinese Communist Party — ahead of the latter’s 100th anniversary on 1 July. She finds that Shaanxi speaks of the wins and woes of China’s development in recent years. Despite impressive economic growth, China is grappling with complicated problems such as urban-rural gaps and pockets of poverty in its vast hinterland.
Wang Xiaofei and Barbie Hsu participated as a couple in the Chinese reality show Happiness Trio (幸福三重奏) in 2018. (Internet)

What does a celebrity’s divorce rumours tell us about cross-strait relations?

Social media went into overdrive when news that Taiwanese actress Barbie Hsu and mainland Chinese hotelier Wang Xiaofei were headed for divorce surfaced. It appears that a difference in views on cross-strait issues could have been the cause. Whether the news is just a smokescreen or a reality, the prickly views expressed are symptomatic of declining relations between Taiwan and the mainland.
In this picture taken on 11 January 2021, young gymnasts train at the Li Xiaoshuang Gymnastics School in Xiantao, Hubei province, China. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

A Chinese education: Why are Chinese parents and kids going to extremes?

As children cram for their studies, their parents are cramming along with them, believing that they should be good role models. Is all this hyper-learning normal or good? Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui will let others be the judge, but he says that economically speaking, this is a sign that social mobility is shrinking; everyone feels compelled to grasp the last inch of rope that will airlift them to a better life.
Elementary school students play on International Children's Day in Hai'an in China's eastern Jiangsu province on 1 June 2021, a day after China announced it would allow couples to have three children. (STR/AFP)

Faster, higher, stronger: China's kids pushed to breaking point

In China, the term involution (内卷, neijuan) has been used to refer to various forms of inward spiral, regression or stagnation. Applied to education, it is the vicious cycle of kids being primed and plumbed for their potential. Cram-style preschool education, intense competition for places in elite schools, crazy property prices in school districts... the list goes on. If no one steps off the wheel, is there no end in sight?
People walk near the Bund, in front of Lujiazui financial district in Pudong, Shanghai, China, 10 May 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China's top infectious diseases expert Zhang Wenhong: Division stands in the way of defeating the pandemic

Zhang Wenhong, director of the infectious diseases department at Huashan Hospital in Shanghai, delivered a commencement speech in English at New York University Shanghai on 26 May. He observed that in China's fight against Covid-19, a consideration for others in the community helped people follow mask-wearing and social distancing protocol in the early stages. Writ large, a globalised problem can only be solved through human solidarity. The world, especially the young of the future, need to a find a way to work together.
People at a subway station in Shanghai, China, 11 May 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Shanghai can learn from Tokyo’s train service excellence

Shanghai and Tokyo both have train systems, but there is a big difference between them in terms of scale, convenience, and commuter behaviour. Researcher Chen Hongbin observes that Shanghai has much to learn from Tokyo, and by extension other cities.