China was among the fastest in vaccine development, but its progress in actual vaccinations has not been satisfactory. In this “second season” coronavirus fight to recover economically and reopen borders, vaccinations will be key. Will China resort to the crude measures it used in the early stages of the pandemic fight to increase its vaccination rates? Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu reports.
After ten years of living in Shanghai and seeing the rapid changes to the city, Egyptian-American architect Hisham Youssef takes us on a nostalgic and personal photographic tour of the lanes and neighborhoods that, until very recently, stood in the city he now calls home.
Shivaji Das, author of travelogue “The ‘Other’ Shangri-la: Journeys through the Sino-Tibetan Frontier in Sichuan”, captures vignettes of life in the picturesque mountains of the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in western Sichuan. At the end of his journey, he asks: Would Shangri-La become indistinguishable from Disneyland? Would Han cultural hegemony obliterate every other peculiarity once a mesh of high-speed trains, all-weather roads, and Weibo accounts spread out in the region? Or would an environment of mutual trust, understanding, and accommodation be established?
Based on science, there is no firm understanding of the effectiveness of the vaccines or how long they last, so getting vaccinated does not mean immunity. Based on politics however, countries seem to be starting to use vaccine nationalism as a tool. Is it not enough to have two worlds split apart by different internets — now will we see a world divided into those who used the Chinese vaccine and those who used other vaccines? Viruses know no borders, but it’s looking like vaccinations will.
While China has soared ahead in other areas such as expressway construction and port development, it lags behind heavyweights like the US in railway development. A fundamental cause is relying on the government as its single investment channel. Plugging its railway gaps, literally and figuratively, would give China’s economic development a decided boost.
Cheng Pei-kai recalls the mellow, earthy appeal of aged pu-erh, where tea leaves are compressed into cakes and left to ferment for decades to develop a complex flavour. Recently, he also got the chance to taste a young pu-erh — made with tea leaves from a tree that Qing dynasty soldiers used to guard and which was sent to the emperor as “tribute tea”, no less.
Despite the challenges of Covid-19, China registered 2.3% growth in 2020, the only major economy to do so. A combination of able pandemic containment efforts, expansion in industrial production and fixed asset investment, as well as prompt measures to help micro, small and medium enterprises brought them to this point. If this positive trajectory continues, China looks set to continue its remarkable rebound in 2021.
Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai celebrates the free-spirited explorer Xu Xiake, who roamed the depths of China in the late Ming dynasty. Xu's journeys were hardly glorious forays that forged new paths or alliances. But for the quiet reminder they give to embrace one’s passions and explore the world, Xu will be fondly remembered.
The little-known Qian Shan Shili had the opportunity to travel in the days of upheaval at the end of the Qing dynasty and at the dawn of a new republic. She was the first woman to record her thoughts in two travelogues and felt strongly that China’s new education system paled in comparison with that of other countries such as Japan. She concluded that education should have the aim of building critical-thinking men and women rather than just nurturing a crop of scholars with exceptional talent. After all, she notes, without citizens, how can there be talents? And without citizens, there can certainly be no society. These are wise words, says cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai, that remain relevant even today.