Society

People walk along a street in Wuhan, Hubei, China on 29 September 2020. (STR/AFP)

Why modernising China is so difficult

Wei Da calls out China’s modus operandi of seeking modernisation yet fighting it at the same time. He says China’s road to modernisation faces the classic dilemmas of setting its priorities right and establishing new paradigms that will liberate it from the shackles of the past. Only then, can China imagine a future that will bring it on par with advanced civilisations. 
People climb the Great Wall, illuminated to mark the first day of Mid-Autumn Festival and the Chinese National Day, in Beijing, China, 1 October 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Wang Gungwu: The high road to pluralist sinology

Professor Wang Gungwu, eminent historian and university professor of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore, was awarded the 2020 Tang Prize in Sinology earlier this year. At the 2020 Tang Prize Masters’ Forums — Sinology held last month, Professor Wang traced the evolution of sinology in the West and East, observing that today, a “pluralist sinology” is emerging alongside a rising China. This allows for the term “sinologist” to be applied to a much larger group of scholars, and for the bringing together of various knowledge traditions and academic disciplines in the study of China. While there is much to be cheered by this, Professor Wang also urged his fellow scholars to be ready to “douse the fires that others had fanned”, as knowledge gathered by pluralist sinology could be used as a weapon amid intense rivalry between the US and China. This is the transcript of his speech. 
People walk in the tourist area surrounding Houhai Lake during Chinese National Day holidays in Beijing, China, 2 October 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

The China story is not just about politics, Confucius and mooncakes

For China to spread its culture abroad successfully, the China story needs to be modernised, says Wu Guo. Ancient Chinese history and literature may be too daunting, while mooncakes and fan dances may be too superficial. People want to know what the Chinese man on the street thinks about, and what his culture of today is. Contemporary cultural products such as idol dramas and pop groups may do the trick, but so would down-to-earth insight into the lives of Chinese people. Often, just a peek into the everyday is enough to know we’re all not so different after all.
An attendee holds Taiwan flags during National Day celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, 10 October 2020. (I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg)

Why Taiwanese are pro-Japan but anti-China

Deng Qingbo observes that despite sharing the same language and ethnicity as the mainland Chinese, the Taiwanese have been quicker to imbibe Japanese culture than Chinese culture per se. He sees that mainland China has a lot of catching up to do if it is to win the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese and reclaim some of the admiration it once enjoyed in areas such as civilisational development, culture, and literature.
A man uses his phone outside Beijing Railway Station in Beijing on 19 August 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Can the Great Firewall of China ever be overcome?

A Chinese app called Tuber barely had time to take root before it was yanked out of existence. It apparently gave Chinese netizens a way across the Great Firewall of China to foreign websites. In practice, those who jumped to try the app noted that it was not as revolutionary as touted to be, yet this could be a glimmer of things to come. With netizens becoming more discerning and information flows increasingly hard to stem anyway, Yang Danxu muses that a lighter touch may be the way to go.
This aerial file photo taken on 21 June 2020 shows graves in the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Brazil. (Michael Dantas/AFP)

How can we survive this catastrophe?

If more than a million coronavirus deaths around the world have yet to humble us, maybe the unassuming turtle dove can teach us a thing or two.
People wearing face masks walk past a flower display dedicated to frontline healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic in celebration of the upcoming National Day of the People's Republic of China, in Beijing on 29 September 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

China’s public healthcare system: Robust enough for 1.4 billion people?

David Ng goes over several key indicators in China’s healthcare system to see how China’s public healthcare system holds up. With medical advances driving up healthcare expenditure and a fast-ageing people, the most populous nation of the world has got its work cut out.
People work in a rice field of Runguo Agriculture Development Company during a media tour organised by the local government in Zhenjiang, in China's eastern Jiangsu province on 13 October 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

Pandemic, floods, locusts and shrinking farming population: Will China suffer a food crisis?

China feeds about 20% of the global population, but its overall self-sufficiency in food seems to be dropping. Even though it is self-sufficient in some staples such as wheat, rice and corn, it is less so in others. In fact, it is the largest importer of food in the world. Recent calls by President Xi Jinping to cut food wastage has people thinking that political reasons aside, China’s food supply is at risk. This risk could yet be amplified by changes in land policies, rural-urban migration and more.
People pass an electronic stock board at The SGX Centre on 12 March, 2020. (SPH)

Singapore vs Hong Kong: Who will benefit more with greater legal market opportunities from US-China competition?

In the context of China-US competition, US-listed China concept stocks companies may find it advantageous to get secondary listings on the Hong Kong or Singapore stock exchange. US companies may also veer towards Singapore and Hong Kong when it comes to international arbitration cases. In the final analysis, will Singapore or Hong Kong have the edge?