Middle class

China's piano industry is on the decline after more than a decade of rapid growth. (iStock)

China’s middle-class families are giving up their pianos

The poor performance of the piano industry has revealed a dying trend of learning how to play the piano in China’s middle class. No longer seen as a gateway into a higher social status, the piano has become a burden given the tough economic situation and the officials’ de-emphasis on piano talent in national examinations. Lianhe Zaobao’s China desk tells us more.
The logo of e-commerce app Pinduoduo is displayed next to mobile phones displaying the app, in this illustration picture taken on 25 October 2023. (Florence Lo/Reuters)

Pinduoduo's popularity a sign of Chinese consumption downgrading wave

Popular Chinese online shopping app Pinduoduo has done well in terms of profits, outdoing competitors such as Alibaba and JD.com. While a major factor is due to revenue from Pinduoduo's multinational e-commerce platform Temu, it may also be a sign that consumers in China are changing their spending habits and going for cost-effectiveness and value for money.
Liu Yuan and her son, Jackson.

[Video] China's young families sending kids to international schools in Thailand

Given the intense competition and rigidity in China’s education system, an increasing number of Chinese middle-class families are moving to Thailand and putting their children in international schools there. Zaobao journalist Liu Liu speaks to families and academics to find out more about the factors behind this trend.
"Doctors scour mountains and the sea to exterminate every single virus."

[Comic] Dystopia or 'a beautiful new world'?

Comic artist Bai Yi's artwork gives a glimpse into a dystopian world where individual lives are considered insignificant before the all-powerful and all-important state machine, and where herculean efforts are needed to uphold the dignity of human lives.
Chinese paramilitary policemen keep watch while people visit Yu Garden in Shanghai, China, on 15 February 2022. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

China needs to work towards a new socialism

China is tottering between capitalism and old socialism in its pursuit of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, says Lance Gore. Instead of further entrenching a system that feeds nationalism in the name of socialism, it would do well to update to a new socialism in which the concept of employment, wealth and happiness are redefined to better take advantage of the new technological revolution. But is China ready?
People walk through an alley decorated with traditional lanterns near Houhai lake in Beijing, China, on 2 February 2022. (Noel Celis/AFP)

US academic: Equality is a myth, whether in the US or China

Wu Guo notes that equality is very much a mirage, whether in the socialist or liberal democracy conception of the term. The sum total of one’s head start in life is often tied to his or her family background. And often, no amount of levelling up can change that. But this does not mean that equality is of no relevance or should not be aspired to. Adopting an attitude of equality can help ensure that people’s rights are protected, even if the ideal of equality may never be achieved.
China's pet economy is taking off, driven by the one-child generation born in the 1980s and 1990s. (Internet/SPH)

China’s pet industry booms as the post-90s generation seeks to fill a void

The pet economy is thriving in China, driven mostly by the one-child generation who crave an emotional connection and young job seekers taking up “animal communication” gigs during the pandemic. Analysts are optimistic about this sector, where middle class households are more than willing to spend more on the physical and emotional well-being of their furkids. Zaobao correspondent Wong Siew Fong speaks to pet owners and business owners to uncover more about this emerging industry.
Internet celebrities flocked to Wuzhong Market over the Golden Week holiday to pose for pictures with vegetables wrapped in Prada packaging. (Xiaohongshu/@超赞小姐姐 (left); Xiaohongshu/@周小晨Kiki)

Chic and trendy wet markets are the in-thing in China

Below-the-line marketing tactics of high-end brand Prada sees a wet market in Shanghai wrapping its walls, stalls and vegetables — yes, even the edibles — in Prada packaging. Lucky shoppers also get to receive limited edition Prada paper bags. And it's not just in Shanghai; trendy markets that have cafes, reading areas, exhibition spaces and bars are popping up in first-tier cities all around China.
A commuter rides his bicycle through an older neighborhood in Shanghai, China, on 30 August 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Every individual counts: China should go for ‘common development’ rather than ‘common prosperity’

Rather than wealth redistribution per se, the deeper issue lies in achieving social justice and equal opportunities for all. Going by the US example, it might not be wise or even feasible to curtail the riches of the wealthy or to straitjacket their business environment. Instead, they and other members of the community can be encouraged to help bring about equitable access to education and a better life.