The tech sector has seen a massive shift since the introduction of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November last year. The AI wave has brought much trepidation for its potential in advancing education, innovation and more; but along with it comes new challenges, especially those that raise copyright infringement issues or break the law. Lianhe Zaobao’s China Desk looks into how AI has been misused in China and the responses.
When the arts is more than politics: Reflections on the 50th anniversary of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s China tour
Learning of a recent performance in the US by Suzhou musicians, SPH Chinese Media Group editor-in-chief Lee Huay Leng muses on the role that the Philadelphia Orchestra’s visit to Beijing had played in US-China relations in the 1970s. While no substitute for hard diplomacy, cultural exchanges can sow seeds of friendship among different peoples, and help the world reap something beautiful in the future.
"People from northeastern China are like African Americans or Osakans. We have a history of wandering, irrational optimism and a sense of righteous clannishness. In our veins runs comic talent, along with being governed and discriminated against. Under all the snow and ice lie warm poems and folk songs, while the wild fires, steel and concrete encase a helpless rebelliousness. We understand everything, we know everything, but we choose to be kind. We are forced to leave our homes to seek a place that will accept us. We will say nothing. Our leather coats and dark glasses will never come off. We will tell you: 'This is nothing to us.'" - Bai Yi, comic artist
In the first of four articles, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai shares his impressions of the Moscow he knew from a decade ago. He notes that in bleak and cold surroundings, facing an autocratic regime, a nation’s people found a way to survive. And whether it was against Napoleon or Hitler, the heavens always stood on the side of lumbering Russia as it waited out its opponents.
Former journalist Lim Jen Erh reflects on two boxes of old books he chanced upon, containing dance manuals and guqin scores. Before the advent of technology, these old volumes were the only way to pass on such knowledge and instructions, which makes them invaluable today.
Lee Huay Leng was touched by the live broadcast of a concert in the park put up by the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra with Singaporean conductor Wong Kah Chun at the helm and Singapore Chinese Orchestra musicians taking part. Chinese instruments found their place in Wong’s arrangement of 19th century Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”. In the aftermath of Covid and an international milieu where politics meddles even in the arts, the young Wong had found a way to stay composed and build a bridge with music. Can countries learn to do the same?
In Pu’er, Yunnan, if you get the chance to meet the Lahu, Wa, Yi, Hani or the Dai people, you’d be blessed, as cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai was, with their down-to-earth hospitality. Their ties to the land and their traditions are captured beautifully in Can’t Bear to Part, a folk song that every Pu’er native knows.
Last month, Chinese pianist Li Yundi was arrested for hiring a prostitute, setting off a storm of controversy, including the loss of some titles and accolades, and various institutions distancing themselves from him. His arrest shows that Chinese laws are fair but does it also expose the immaturity of Chinese society?
Art colleges today may be missing the point by teaching students various forms of aesthetics without offering a true path to beauty. An affinity for beauty — to see, appreciate, and ultimately to create it — is best honed keeping close to nature, says art historian Chiang Hsun. Qing dynasty calligrapher and painter Zheng Banqiao would have approved. After all, didn't he ask, “If people really love birds, why not plant more trees?”