Education

A person holds up a sign during a "Stop Asian Hate" rally at Discovery Green in Houston, Texas, US, on 20 March 2021. (Mark Felix/AFP)

Anti-Asian hate crimes: Chinese Americans' weak and disparate voice in US society

Associate Professor Wu Guo analyses reactions from the Chinese American community to the recent spike in anti-Asian hate crime. He sees a clear distinction between those who see these acts as racially motivated, and those who feel that they should be taken as crimes against public safety and leave it to the police. Interestingly, the debates show that the Chinese themselves may hold certain prejudices against other ethnic groups in the US. Amid the increasing complexity of ethnic relations in the US, what steps can the Asian community take to protect their rights?
The current issue regarding the learning of English in mainland China is not whether to remove English as a core subject. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

How to solve the Chinese headache of learning English

Wu Guo asserts that the current piecemeal way of learning English, focusing on exam questions and answers, will not help the Chinese get very far in mastering the English language. Will they be willing to take the longer but likely more rewarding path of appreciating the language in its entirety?
People wait at a traffic light on a street in Phnom Penh on 11 January 2021. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Confucius Institutes accepted in SEA and embraced by Cambodia, unlike in the West

China’s Confucius Institutes have been vilified in the West, but they have gained much traction in Cambodia. This is not surprising, given that Cambodia is one of China's closest allies in Southeast Asia. ISEAS visiting fellow Vannarith Chheang explains why.
In this file photo taken on 6 January 2021 Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Alex Edelman/AFP)

US colleges rethink purpose of higher education after Capitol siege

The storming of the US Capitol on 6 January prompted a spate of statements, essays, and other reflections, particularly by US college presidents. What is the purpose of education, and what is the role of colleges in imparting higher ideals such as civic awareness and a respect for minority rights? US-based academic Wu Guo analyses the situation.
Young Tibetan Danzeng Duoji (right) has no plans to go back to the farm.

Poverty alleviation in Tibet: For young Tibetans, material wealth and city life beckon

Following the Chinese government’s poverty alleviation policies, Tibetans seem to be leaving their traditional livelihoods behind and carving out new lives. How is rapid modernisation affecting Tibetan traditions and culture? Are the two mutually exclusive and a choice that the Tibetans can make for themselves? How do Beijing’s Tibet policies fare, and what criticisms do they face? Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu joins a government-organised press tour of Tibet to find out.
Travel is one way to build critical thinking and identity, says cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai. (iStock)

Woman traveller of the Qing dynasty Qian Shan Shili: Education is the bedrock of a nation

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.
"The passionate declarations and slogans..."

Final battle: Chinese youths' hard fight with gaokao

There is a term that every young student in China knows well and probably dreads: the gaokao, or university entrance exam. The intense competition and pressure is enough to strain any person to breaking point, given the high stakes — real or perceived. Comic artist Bai Yi presents the all-too-familiar struggle to meet expectations.
A supporter of US President Donald Trump carries a teddy bear and a semi-automatic rifle at a "Stop the Steal" protest after the 2020 US presidential election was called for Democratic candidate Joe Biden, at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC), in Phoenix, Arizona, US, 9 November 2020. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

Globalisation and the American blue-collar workers who voted for Trump

US-based academic Wu Guo observes that white Americans without a university education are still the group in the country most vulnerable to the ill-effects of globalisation. With manufacturing moving overseas to countries such as China, many of these Americans doing “hands-on jobs” as blue-collar workers lost their jobs and had their middle-class dreams shattered. At the same time, they are not able to leapfrog to hi-tech manufacturing that calls for specialised skills. How can this serious issue be tackled? Would bringing back manufacturing jobs from China help?
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.