Cultural revolution

Supporters of former US President Donald Trump hold flags and signs near Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, US, on 20 January 2021. (Saul Martinez/Bloomberg)

US Capitol siege: Lessons for China in a post-reality, post-truth era

Deep divisions in the US highlighted by the US presidential election and storming of the Capitol show that we are entering a post-reality, post-truth era. In such a world, closely cocooned online groups perpetuate a self-confirming bias and take fiction for fact. When strident positions are taken offline and “reality” and reality go head to head, is it a tragedy akin to China’s Cultural Revolution waiting to happen?
People wearing protective masks ride past Lama Temple in Beijing, China, 19 June 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

What is China's biggest challenge?

In the great China-US contest, overcoming weaknesses, more than capitalising on strengths, will be the deciding factor in determining who emerges the victor, says Wei Da. Any country is only as good as its weakest link, and the sooner the both of them realise that and look their shortcomings in the eye, the better. Wei Da identifies China's biggest challenge and its weaknesses in this article.
In this file photo former Chinese communist leader Chairman Mao Zedong (L) welcomes former US President Richard Nixon at his house in the Forbidden City in Beijing on 22 February 1972. (Handout/AFP)

Was Nixon’s policy of engaging China a failure?

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo made a key speech on China at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum recently. The venue could not have been more symbolic, given former President Nixon’s role in the US’s rapprochement with China in the 1970s, and the current Trump administration’s belief that a new approach to China is necessary as the US’s engagement strategy “has not brought the kind of change inside China that President Nixon hoped to induce”. Analyst and writer Zheng Weibin weighs up the costs and benefits of this new approach.
Paramilitary police officers stand guard in front of a poster of late communist leader Mao Zedong on a street south of the Great Hall of the People during the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing on May 22, 2020.  (Greg Baker/AFP)

Tackling ills of bureaucracy? China can pick up a few tips from Singapore

From Mao to Deng to Xi, generations of Chinese leaders have made great and consistent efforts to tackle bureaucracy in the Chinese system. The ills of functional bureaucratisation include rigidness, imprudence and over-staffing, among others, while the ills of structural bureaucratisation lead to unchecked power and its abuse. It is important that one recognises the type of bureaucratisation that one is dealing with and provide the right remedy, says Chen Kang, but the real solution lies in building a system that is predicated on empowerment by the people. In that regard, China can pick up a few tips from observing how the Singapore system works. 
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.
Seeking spirituality is a universal human need. In this photo taken on 25 January 2020, people wearing face masks visit Wong Tai Sin temple on the first day of the Lunar New Year of the Rat in Hong Kong, as a preventative measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus. (Dale De La Rey/AFP)

Chinese spirituality [Part one]: Reawakening of the heart after trauma

Spirituality helps individuals cope with severe trauma and aids their growth and psychological well-being in the aftermath of a crisis. Such ballast is something humanity badly needs in the face of a pandemic. Dr Chang Weining, visiting psychologist of the Institute of Mental Health, ponders China’s search for spirituality in times of distress. In part one of her article, she recalls her visits to China in 1984 and 2008 — both different periods in China’s reform and opening up — where she got a sense of China’s budding need and search for spirituality.
Teo Soon Kim (right) with only son Peter Wang, taken in March 1950. The photo was vandalised during the Cultural Revolution.

Singapore’s first female barrister and the cultural revolution: Her happiest moments were spent here

Lost love, tumultuous times. Teo Soon Kim, Singapore’s first female lawyer and daughter of rubber magnate and revolutionary Teo Eng Hock, may have had the most beautiful wedding in Singapore during the 1920s, but she passed away in her staff quarters in China that was just 15sqm in size. In the end, her ashes were laid to rest in Singapore's Choa Chu Kang Christian Columbarium. Chia Yei Yei, senior correspondent of Zaobao, talks to family members and pieces together this poignant story.
Zhao Ziyang (left) and Yin Haiguang were visionaries ahead of their time.

Zhao Ziyang and Yin Haiguang: A common vision, a common fate

Two men, both patriots with a vision for China. They worked hard for their country and spoke up against what they saw was going wrong - they tried to change the system and put things right. But in the end, their efforts were not rewarded in their lifetime. This is their story.
In 1974, Qiu Yaotian (second from left) was given a recommendation to study Chinese at the Shuangyashan Normal School, the most important turning point in his life. (Photo: Qiu Yaotian)

Ordinary people, extraordinary life (Part II): Qiu Yaotian

(Video and text) At 20, Qiu Yaotian became a zhiqing and was part of the border support exodus. He endured harsh living conditions, his university dream was shattered. Yet, he pulled through and is enjoying his twilight years, busy with things he had no chance to do in his younger days. What then, is his last concern?