Government intervention

The Chinese government has made efforts to curb the number of white elephant projects in China. In this photo, workers balance on scaffolding at a construction site in Beijing on 14 April 2021. (Photo by Noel Celis / AFP)

Why Chinese local governments indulge in wasteful infrastructure projects

Even as China embarks on various infrastructure projects, how many of these projects are actually useful, or bring real benefits to the people they are supposed to serve? Are all of these projects truly worth the money and effort invested? Commentator David Ng takes a closer look at a "white elephant" tram system in the Greater Bay Area and considers the issues involved.
A mother and her baby play on a slide at Wukesong shopping district in Beijing, China on 11 May 2021. (Noel Celis/AFP)

China’s rising property prices have serious social consequences

Han Heyuan asserts that rising property prices in China are not just the “biggest grey rhino” in terms of financial risks as some policymakers have said, but also a catalyst for a slew of development and social issues such as the lack of entrepreneurs, negative attitudes to work, and falling birth rates.
Children play a jump rope game in a park in Beijing on 9 February 2021. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Is China facing a demographic crisis?

China’s latest population census was completed late last year, but the results will only be announced on 11 May, pushed back from early April. Some speculate that the delay is due to sensitive findings such as the severity of the declining birth rate. Is China facing a demographic crisis and how will the government seek to balance population challenges and economic growth? Yu Zeyuan throws up some possibilities.
People on a bridge in a village in a Miao minority autonomous region in Liuzhou city, Guangxi, 30 January 2021. (Xinhua)

Chinese researcher: This is how China gets rid of poverty

China has made huge strides in poverty alleviation over the last few decades, especially in rural areas. As of the end of 2020, 592 counties, 128,000 villages, and 98.99 million people are no longer tagged as poor. Chinese academic Yao Shujie takes a closer look at the strategies that have gotten China to this point, including relying on big data, mobilising the whole community, and identifying poor individuals. However, he also admits that there are rising challenges in poverty alleviation.
Jack Ma, billionaire founder of Alibaba Group, arrives at the "Tech for Good" Summit in Paris, France, 15 May 2019. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

What the Chinese government wants to tell Alibaba and China's tech giants [Part II]

Alibaba was fined a record 18.2 billion RMB after an anti-monopoly probe. Commentator Yuan Guobao observes that Alibaba is not the only tech giant in China accused of monopolistic practices; for that matter, the “big four” companies in the US have also come under the spotlight. All this suggests that on a global level, tech companies must be prepared to adhere to a strict regulatory environment, even as they break new ground.
An Alibaba sign is seen outside the company's office in Beijing, China, on 13 April 2021. (Greg Baker/AFP)

Is Alibaba doomed? [Part I]

Alibaba was recently slapped with a 18.2 billion RMB fine and has acquiesced to state authorities’ demands for “rectification''. Commentator Yuan Guobao asserts that Alibaba’s “choose one out of two” policy of tying online merchants down to exclusive deals was already sounding alarm bells. Jack Ma’s politically incorrect speech at the Shanghai Bund Summit may have been a fire starter, but the tech giant’s troubles have been brewing for quite some time.
Vietnamese military new recruits at a ceremony before leaving for military service, in Hanoi, Vietnam, 27 February 2021. (Thanh Hue/Reuters)

Rising tensions in the South China Sea: Rising power of Vietnamese army

The Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) appears to be gaining leverage in Vietnam’s political system. This increasing influence reflects the security concerns of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) over growing tensions in the South China Sea, and its political position has also benefited from the growing importance of the defence industry and the commercial success of military-run businesses. How would such a development affect Vietnam's political, economic and foreign policy outlook?
A man walks past an Alibaba sign outside the company's office in Beijing, China on 13 April 2021. (Greg Baker/AFP)

Can private Chinese enterprises truly ‘develop boldly and with confidence’?

Amid punishments meted out to Chinese private enterprises such as Alibaba, President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to various private enterprises was seen as a way for the Chinese government to assure companies that the state would still be supporting them. However, the status of private enterprises has always been a little fuzzy in China. Companies feel that they are at a disadvantage when competing with state-owned enterprises and may be reined in when they grow too large. Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong looks for a way out.   
A man stands at a crossroads in Lujiazui financial district in Pudong, Shanghai, China, 5 March 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Lesson for Jack Ma's Ant: Finance is finance and technology is technology

Chinese author and fintech researcher Yang Jun says that while the fintech industry has been booming over the past few years, not everybody seems to know that it is really about using technology to complement finance, which remains the foundation. Knowing this distinction will help one better understand the current push to impose regulations on the sector.