Society

Local natives of Hong Kong participate in a flash mob march to show solidarity with the 47 pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong who were charged for state subversion due to them organizing and taking part in a primary election, in Santa Monica, California on 7 March 2021. (Ringo Chiu/AFP)

Chinese culture at odds with freedom and democracy, shows fate of Ming dynasty's opposition party Donglin

Hong Kong commentator Chip Tsao looks back at the Donglin movement during the Ming dynasty, concluding that its rise and fall shows that freedom and democracy have a history of clashing with China’s cultural background and DNA.
People walk in the Montorgueil street in Paris, France, 25 February 2021. (Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters)

French cultural and academic institutions alarmed by China's influence

Recent incidents in France’s academic and cultural arenas are making the French take notice of what they perceive as China’s attempts to exert its influence, and there are growing calls for institutions and individuals to maintain independence. France-based journalist Justin Zhang explores the issue.
A picture of Chinese President Xi Jinping overlooks a street ahead of the National People's Congress (NPC), in Shanghai, China, 1 March 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Why Southeast Asia has a love-hate relationship with China

The State of Southeast Asia: 2021 Survey Report shows that many acknowledge yet fear China’s economic dominance. What is behind this enigma of a Southeast Asia that welcomes yet worries about China? Lee Huay Leng assesses that it is a confluence of factors, both external and internal to China. A change in tone, mindset and behaviour is in order if China is to be truly understood by the people it seeks to influence.
Villas in Huaxi Village, once known as the "richest village in China", 2008. (SPH)

Huaxi Village: The rise and fall of the "richest village in China"

Huaxi Village was once known as the “richest village in China”, with stories of prosperity and luxury. But a recent video of people queuing in the rain to reclaim and cash out their investments seems to point to a very different reality. Zaobao correspondent Chen Jing finds out more.
A road along Qidaoliang village located in a deep valley in Hebei province, China, 2014. (SPH)

Chinese villages' failed toilet revolution, clogged ponds and dangerous roads

Professor Zhang Rui takes stock of the government’s high-priority rural revitalisation project in villages, warning of cases of resource misallocation and misplaced priorities. He says while much manpower and resources have been mobilised to build new infrastructure, Chinese villages continue to be afflicted by poor sanitary facilities, lousy roads and a lack of clean water. The problem cannot be solved by simply building more of the same. 
A pro-democracy demonstrator holds a yellow umbrella outside the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts during a hearing for 47 opposition activists charged with violating the city’s national security law in Hong Kong, China, 2 March 2021. (Lam Yik/Bloomberg)

Eight months after national security law: What's become of Hong Kong?

The Hong Kong national security law was implemented in June last year, not least to quell the wave of protests that had taken hold of the city. And indeed, it is clear that the new law has worked to restore order. But Zaobao journalist Tai Hing Shing notes that the peaceful situation may not extend below the surface and more needs to be done to tackle deep-seated issues.
Bicycle and car commuters are seen crossing a busy intersection at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Germany, on 7 December 2020. (Odd Andersen/AFP)

Will the EU be setting global standards in a post-pandemic world? 

US-based researcher Yu Shiyu notes that the EU seems to have gained greater unity and internal coherence from the stress test of Covid-19. In contrast, the US seems to be more divided and has not found its way around the pandemic as well as its many other domestic issues. What has the EU done right to be able to be a standard setter in the post-pandemic era?
In this file photo taken on 6 January 2021 Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Alex Edelman/AFP)

US colleges rethink purpose of higher education after Capitol siege

The storming of the US Capitol on 6 January prompted a spate of statements, essays, and other reflections, particularly by US college presidents. What is the purpose of education, and what is the role of colleges in imparting higher ideals such as civic awareness and a respect for minority rights? US-based academic Wu Guo analyses the situation.
Vendors wearing protective masks serve their customers inside a stall selling decorations, ahead of the Lunar New Year, following the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, at a shopping mall in Jakarta, Indonesia, 11 February 2021. (Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters)

Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year or “China’s New Year”? The rise of (China’s) identity politics

ISEAS academic Leo Suryadinata observes that in multi-ethnic Southeast Asia, the term “Lunar New Year” is more befitting than “Chinese New Year”, as the traditional celebration has always transcended ethnicity and national identity.