Society

Pedestrians walk down Nanjing Road in Shanghai, China, on 12 February 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Pandemic nationalism rages among Chinese youths

The Covid-19 pandemic swept China and the world from late 2019. Amid tough battles with the pandemic and subsequent turning points, nationalism and patriotism is on the rise in China. The younger generation of Chinese born after the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s seem to have reaffirmed their belief in the Chinese system and some of them have even had their beautiful image of the West shattered. Will this make the new generation of Chinese more inward-looking and isolated from the outside world? Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu interviews Chinese youths and academics to find out.
People walk under traditional Chinese lanterns along an alley in Beijing on 9 February 2021, ahead the biggest holiday of the year, the Lunar New Year, which ushers in the Year of the Ox on 12 February. (Noel Celis/AFP)

China's massive north-south gap in the cultural and economic realms

Audience ratings of the CCTV New Year’s Gala give quite an accurate reflection of north-south divides, which judging by the latest economic information, are still very relevant in China today. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu casts a keen eye on the data.
A woman wearing a face mask following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak walks past a residential compound in Beijing, China, 11 August 2020. (Tingshu Wang/REUTERS)

The Chinese property bubble that just won't burst

While the Chinese government has implemented cooling measures including reminding people that property is “not for speculation”, it seems that people are not taking it seriously and still believe that property is a guaranteed investment. Zaobao correspondent Chen Jing takes the temperature of the Chinese property market.
In this picture taken on 15 January 2021, a picture of Chinese President Xi Jinping with a face mask is displayed as people visit an exhibition about China’s fight against the Covid-19 coronavirus at a convention centre that was previously used as a makeshift hospital for patients in Wuhan. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

Chinese academic: Why China's 'harsh' counter-pandemic measures are valid

Putting ideology and biases aside, there was no unlawful coercion in China’s Covid-19 measures and no ethical redlines were breached, says Deng Xize. Based on contract theory, people give up some of their rights in exchange for benefits. It is thus expected that people would accept strict measures under the threat of the pandemic. In fact, most of the Chinese population adhered to the measures, with some going overboard in certain cases.
The curator of the refreshed Wan Qing Yuan gallery showing the decal of the size of a pair of bound feet, a new feature at the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, Singapore, 12 January 2021. A new interactive element shows just how small the ideal Chinese woman’s feet were at a time when foot-binding reflected a family’s virtue and class. (SPH)

Foot-binding in ancient China: When women fought against their genes to be beautiful

A mischievous saying goes that there are no ugly women, only lazy women. The care one puts into one’s beauty regime determines the beauty standards she can attain. But in the days of ancient China, such effort went to extremes: young girls were forced to have their feet bound. After tremendous pain in pursuit of mignon dainty feet, they attained short yet ironically bulbous “golden lotuses”. Are such unreasonable demands of beauty foisted on women by men, or a shackle that women put on themselves? If it seems unimaginable that foot-binding continued in China for a thousand years, just think of the pain some go through in modern cosmetic surgery.
Data room operators work at the headquarters of online shopping platform JD.com during the Singles' Day shopping festival in Beijing on 11 November 2020. (Greg Baker/AFP)

72-hour workweek in China's tech companies: Driving innovation or destroying workers?

News of young employees dying from overwork at major Chinese tech companies are not unheard of. Last December, a 22-year-old female employee at e-commerce giant Pinduoduo died after working long hours past midnight. China's intense efforts at increasing national competences in new and advanced technologies have seen it moving up the value chain from a low-cost manufacturer to an innovator in science and technology. But is the “996 culture” of working from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week, feasible and sustainable?
People stand at a vaccination site after receiving a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, in Shanghai, China, 19 January 2021. (Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters)

War of words over efficacy and safety of vaccines: Will China win?

A media war is underway between the state media in China and the media in the US and Europe over vaccine development, distribution and reception. With loud hailer tactics used all round, it’s not the truth but what people perceive to be true that counts most. Whose voice will be the loudest to drown out the din and shape the vaccine narrative?
A worker plants an American flag along the National Mall in Washington, DC, US, on 18 January 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg)

The poor in the US and China live different lives

With the Biden administration in place, some fear that the generous social welfare policies Democrat governments tend to implement will further deplete the US’s dwindling coffers. Even as some Americans have a knee-jerk reaction to what they perceive to be socialism, can the Chinese example offer any learning points for the Americans? How were they able to industrialise so quickly and move towards poverty alleviation?
A Nothing but Thirty poster depicting labels plastered on the three female protagonists. (Internet)

Chinese women in the 21st century: Finding happiness and meaning in life

Nothing but Thirty, a Chinese television series that hit the sweet spot among a largely female audience last year, seeks to dispel stereotypes about women. Rather than having to fulfil all her obligations by 30, a woman is just embarking on her life’s adventure. How freeing, this thought. However, in a society trapped by deep-seated expectations of women as a wife and mother, such dramas provide but a moment’s respite from the perpetual stereotypes of being a woman in China.