Central vs local government

Members of the Hong Kong Police Honour Guard raise flags during a flag-raising ceremony marking China's National Day at Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong, China, 1 October 2020. (Lam Yik/File Photo/Reuters)

Hong Kong must be governed by 'patriots'. So who are the ‘patriots’?

Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office director Xia Baolong has said that Hong Kong should only be governed by “patriots”. Zaobao journalist Tai Hing Shing asks: How do we tell apart the patriots and the pseudo-patriots?
People practise social distancing as they line up for a second round of citywide nucleic acid testing at a residential compound, following new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, China, 12 January 2021. (China Daily via Reuters)

Chinese local governments are declaring a 'state of war' to fight the pandemic. Is this necessary?

Yu Zeyuan observes that local governments in China are racing to implement ever-tighter coronavirus measures in the face of an uptick in cases recently. Is this an overreaction and all too much of a show to demonstrate responsibility and preparedness at the citizens’ expense?
People are seen in silhouette on a street on a winter day in Beijing, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, China, 21 December 2020. (Tingshu Wang/REUTERS)

The great reshuffle: How China is changing up its provincial leaders ahead of the 20th Party Congress in 2022

Even though the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will only be held in 2022, already there have been changes made this year to the top leaders of several provinces in China. More are expected in the coming months, with hot seats in Jiangsu, Shandong, and Henan — the three major provinces with larger economies and population size — closely watched. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu looks at the implications of this exercise in bringing in new blood.
Pedestrians walk past market stalls along a street in Hong Kong on 24 November 2020. (Peter Parks/AFP)

Why Hong Kong is failing to stop the spread of Covid-19 again

During the SARS outbreak in 2003, the whole of Hong Kong came together to fight it. That unity is unfortunately gone now, says Tai Hing Shing. Without that spirit, even if the government bucks up and imposes even harsher measures, Hong Kong may need to brace itself for further waves of Covid-19.
Ke Huanzhang (left) and Liu Thai Ker are veteran urban planners in China and Singapore. (SPH)

Liu Thai Ker and Ke Huanzhang: Urban planners are servants of the city

How do urban planners go about their work and what contributions do they make to the building of liveable cities? Ke Huanzhang, former head of the Beijing Academy of Urban Planning and Design, is all for the seamless melding of a good ecological environment, living facilities, jobs and public services in a city. Liu Thai Ker, the former chief architect and CEO of Singapore’s Housing Development Board, says a good planner needs to have the heart of a humanist, the brain of a scientist, and the eye of an artist. Tan Ying Zhen speaks to the veteran urban planners as part of a series of fireside chats put together to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China.
A news report on Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech in the city of Shenzhen is shown on a public screen in Hong Kong, 14 October 2020. (Roy Liu/Bloomberg)

Xi's five-year plan for Shenzhen: A hard road ahead?

Shenzhen has grown rapidly over the past 40 years, such that its GDP reached a massive 2.7 trillion RMB in 2019. Just this month, the Chinese government released a five-year plan to make Shenzhen a “pilot demonstration area for socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Amid plans for reforms and new initiatives, EAI academic Yu Hong asks: How much autonomy will Shenzhen have, and what challenges will it face?
Yi women dressed in their traditional costumes are seen busying their hands with embroidery at the communal square of the Chengbei Thanksgiving Community. The government-built flats they have relocated to are seen in the background.

Lifting 'the poorest of the poor' out of poverty in Sichuan: Does poverty alleviation mean uprooting people from their homes?

As China’s poverty alleviation efforts continue apace, Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong visits a community deep in Sichuan’s Daliang mountains. He finds out more about how the Yi people, once mountain dwellers, are taking to their new lives after relocating to government-built flats. Here, residents need only pay a one-time security deposit of 10,000 RMB to stay in their apartments for a lifetime. They have access to modern facilities, jobs and even dividends from shares. Is this truly utopia on earth?
People wearing face masks walk in front of the entrance of the Forbidden City, while the closing of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference takes place in Beijing, 27 May 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Modernise China’s governance? Get rid of deities and emperors

China has put a lot of effort into modernising its governance system over the decades, but it still seems to miss the mark or to have even regressed in some areas. EAI academic Lance Gore puts this down to a muddled understanding of what true modernisation entails. Cult of personality, formalism, and conformity still permeate the system to a large degree, such that decision-makers live in a bubble thinking that all is well.
A man under a bridge of the Yangtze river in Wuhan, 15 April 2020. (Aly Song/REUTERS)

When the only option is fraud: How institutional faults led to the spread of the coronavirus in Wuhan

Chen Kang attributes the blindspots in China’s handling of the Covid-19 outbreak to the tendency of officials to withhold information and put up appearances for their own interests. As such, decision-making could be impaired by the asymmetry of information and misaligned interests between superiors and subordinates, especially at the local level. Results then vary based on how well one navigates the minefields of groupthink, collusion and that seemingly innocuous aim of not rocking the boat. Using the prism of formalism, or what is prizing form over substance, Chen points out the weakness of a centralised system.