Two Singaporean businessmen reflect on their years spent working in China, and consider the Chinese approaches and attitudes that Singapore can do well to learn from. With the right bold strategic moves, more targeted incentives to specific sectors and also to civil servants, as well as an openness to adapt some of the lessons from countries like China, Singapore can remain globally relevant in these very uncertain times.
What is fashion to Singaporean fashion designer Andrew Gn and Chinese fashion designer Ji Wenbo? How do they stay true to themselves in an ever-changing fashion world? Though each designer has different styles, each is adept at stitching together a fabric of different influences. As their creations are sashayed down the catwalks of Paris and Milan, we see glimmers of East and West, the traditional and modern, the classic and the avant-garde — all in one place. Chinese Media Group correspondent Ng Yimin speaks to fashion designers Gn and Ji as part of a series of fireside chats put together to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China.
The Chinese need to do better to counter misleading tweets from US President Trump’s Twitter propaganda machine, say China academics Li Yongning and Wen Jiandong. As controversial a figure as he is, Trump commands a Twitter following of more than 80 million. Some of his questionable tweets have likely contributed to the deterioration of people-to-people relations between the US and China.
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.
Deng Qingbo observes that despite sharing the same language and ethnicity as the mainland Chinese, the Taiwanese have been quicker to imbibe Japanese culture than Chinese culture per se. He sees that mainland China has a lot of catching up to do if it is to win the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese and reclaim some of the admiration it once enjoyed in areas such as civilisational development, culture, and literature.
Heroes in Harm's Way, a Chinese television series based on the Covid-19 pandemic, has drawn flak for inaccurate portrayals and gender discrimination. While the depiction of such a catastrophic event would have touched many a raw nerve in any case, the drama’s lack of finesse in telling China’s story has offended not only those outside China, but those within China as well, especially the young. Writ large, those running China’s inability to frame a credible narrative will only see them lose their cachet at home and abroad.
Companies like Disney hoping to capture the huge Chinese market must buck up and understand the cultural and political sensitivities involved even more. Otherwise, in an age of increased tension between China and the West, they might find themselves tripping up over landmines from both sides.
The fan economy is a huge business in China, driven mostly by young women in their 20s. But while these fans are willing to spend money on their idols, some chalk up mountains of debt to feed their passion. Given that the idols are endlessly trotted out on a conveyor belt and few escape the cookie cutter, how long can the fan economy last?
A television series about Wu Zetian, the only female emperor in Chinese history, has Cheng Pei-kai reflecting about the semantics (read: politics) involved in the title bestowed on this charismatic figure. Did she live up to her many labels, or even more powerfully yet, was she really a character that defied any labels? History refuses to make a definite call.