Middle-class

A worker plants an American flag along the National Mall in Washington, DC, US, on 18 January 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg)

The poor in the US and China live different lives

With the Biden administration in place, some fear that the generous social welfare policies Democrat governments tend to implement will further deplete the US’s dwindling coffers. Even as some Americans have a knee-jerk reaction to what they perceive to be socialism, can the Chinese example offer any learning points for the Americans? How were they able to industrialise so quickly and move towards poverty alleviation?
People wearing face masks attend a New Year's countdown in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, on 31 December 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Shaping rules of the future: The goal for China's third opening up

Even if it might be a unilateral move, China should embark on its third phase of opening up, says Zheng Yongnian. The first phase of China’s opening up took place after the Opium War while the second was led by Deng Xiaoping’s reforms. Now, in the face of unprecedented challenges of the new century, China must undertake a higher-order opening up, and work towards setting global standards and formulating rules at the international level. These endeavours begin at home, with the domestic standardisation of rules in different regions and localities.
A sign welcoming US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is placed near the US Capitol days after supporters of US President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol in Washington, US, 10 January 2021. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Can America find its way under Biden?

His divisive ways had earned President Donald Trump the moniker “Trump who builds our nation” amongst Chinese netizens. When President-elect Biden assumes power, will he be straitjacketed by the radical left in his party and be turned unwittingly into another “Biden who builds our nation” to the Chinese? Will America's troubles translate to opportunities for China?
Military personnel walk past a banner promoting the ASEAN summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, 11 November 2020. (Kham/Reuters)

Former Chinese Vice-Minister He Yafei: Singapore and ASEAN have important roles to play in a multipolar world

Professor He Yafei, a former vice-minister at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, delivered the keynote address at the Lianhe Zaobao Singapore-China Forum on 3 December. He touched on the imperatives of a new multipolar world, highlighting that being economically close to China, but relying on the US for security protection, is not going to work for the Southeast Asian region. He also spoke about Singapore and China working together bilaterally, for instance in terms of China’s new dual circulation economy, as well in the regional and international arena. Below is the edited transcript of his speech and QnA.
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 Qianmen area in Beijing, China, 4 October 2020. A significant rebound in domestic travel over the Golden Week holiday is fueling optimism that consumers are starting to spend again after the pandemic-induced slump. (Yan Cong/Bloomberg)

Socialism and Nazism: Branches of the same tree?

While Nazism and socialism fall on opposite ends of the spectrum, they are more alike than they seem. Hong Kong commentator Chip Tsao points out that both ideologies began with similar intentions, but took divergent paths to meet their objectives and garnered different reactions from the West.
A man smokes at a stall selling frozen wonton near a hutong neighborhood in Beijing, 5 June 2020. (Tingshu Wang/REUTERS)

Persistent poverty and a weak middle class: China's fundamental challenge

Zheng Yongnian says China must not get ahead of itself. Recent statistics prove that 600 million people indeed earn a monthly income of just 1,000 RMB. China’s earlier reforms had led to equitable growth, but income disparity has increased with rapid economic development since it joined the WTO. As it stands, the bottom strata of Chinese society remain huge while China’s relatively small middle class continues to suffer in an inadequate social system. Rather than sweep these issues aside in a bid to glorify the country’s achievements but downplay its shortcomings, China must take a hard look at itself and focus on pursuing equitable growth.
A woman cycles past a screen showing a news conference by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang after the closing session of the National People's Congress, in Beijing, China, on 28 May 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

600 million Chinese earn 1,000 RMB a month — so are the Chinese rich or poor?

Zaobao's Beijing correspondent Yang Danxu often marvels at the spending power of Chinese white-collar workers around her, and she too was surprised when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang remarked that China has 600 million people with a monthly income of 1,000 RMB. That is more than 40% of the Chinese population, and the figures portray a reality that is starkly different from common perception. Are Chinese people moving up the income ladder and are their lives becoming better as is the common refrain? Yang examines the facts.
People with face masks are seen at a square near residential buildings under construction in Xianning, Hubei, China, on 25 March 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Property now a liability for China’s middle class

With salary cuts, housing loans on their backs and little means of generating cash flow, middle-class workers across China’s cities are walking the tightrope of trying to maintain their living standards while keeping up with their mortgage payments. The recently-announced stimulus plan may not solve their housing woes either.