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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
Looking back on politician Shinzō Abe’s career, academic Toh Lam Seng asserts that the greatest driving force of Abe, the “pampered princeling”, was his maternal grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. When Abe became prime minister for the first time in 2006, he was preoccupied with changing Japan’s peace constitution and establishing a new take on Japan’s war history that his grandfather was a large part of. Several hawkish policies followed but his single-minded pursuit and unpopular Cabinet soon led to his departure.
When the coronavirus swept in like a tornado, we thought life would never be the same again. But beneath our masks, we are still who we are. Life's petty quarrels will surface again. Parents won't stop worrying about us; we won't stop hoping not to disappoint them. And... the people we're closest to are still those we reserve our sharpest barbs for. In her first comic strip for ThinkChina, budding artist Bai Yi tells the story of a young Chinese living in Singapore as he copes with life away from home amid the pandemic.
US academic Zhu Zhiqun opines that conditions in the US are becoming increasingly unfavourable for Chinese and Asian Americans. In particular, the current toxic environment and pressure on US institutions to clamp down on Chinese students are undoing decades of goodwill generated from people-to-people exchanges. Will the authorities realise that soon enough and make a U-turn?