Government intervention

A man uses his phone outside Beijing Railway Station in Beijing on 19 August 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Can the Great Firewall of China ever be overcome?

A Chinese app called Tuber barely had time to take root before it was yanked out of existence. It apparently gave Chinese netizens a way across the Great Firewall of China to foreign websites. In practice, those who jumped to try the app noted that it was not as revolutionary as touted to be, yet this could be a glimmer of things to come. With netizens becoming more discerning and information flows increasingly hard to stem anyway, Yang Danxu muses that a lighter touch may be the way to go.
A general view shows a market in Phnom Penh on 2 October 2020. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Cambodia: Hard landing for China’s soft power?

Since the early 2000s, there has been an influx of Chinese nationals, investment, and development assistance as part of China’s projection of its soft power in Cambodia, most prominently in Sihanoukville. All this has led to resentment among Cambodians, amid China's seeming efforts to turn Sihanoukville into Cambodia's Shenzhen.
A mining/crushing supervisor at MP Materials displays crushed ore before it is sent to the mill at the MP Materials rare earth mine in Mountain Pass, California, 30 January 2020. (Steve Marcus/File Photo/Reuters)

How to break China's monopoly on rare earths

Much attention has been focused on the burgeoning US-China tech war and the US’s suppression of Chinese companies. But less is known about China’s firm hold on the rare earths supply chain, which has the potential to derail the world’s production of products from the humble smartphone to F-35 aircraft and guided missile systems. In response, the US and its allies, including the EU, Japan and Australia, are actively coalescing around new rare earths strategies. But private investment alone will not be enough to challenge China’s global monopoly in rare earths. Can new international public-private partnerships be the answer?
Yi women dressed in their traditional costumes are seen busying their hands with embroidery at the communal square of the Chengbei Thanksgiving Community. The government-built flats they have relocated to are seen in the background.

Lifting 'the poorest of the poor' out of poverty in Sichuan: Does poverty alleviation mean uprooting people from their homes?

As China’s poverty alleviation efforts continue apace, Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong visits a community deep in Sichuan’s Daliang mountains. He finds out more about how the Yi people, once mountain dwellers, are taking to their new lives after relocating to government-built flats. Here, residents need only pay a one-time security deposit of 10,000 RMB to stay in their apartments for a lifetime. They have access to modern facilities, jobs and even dividends from shares. Is this truly utopia on earth?
Heroes in Harm's Way publicity poster. (Weibo/CCTV电视剧)

China's first drama on fighting Covid-19 hits roadblock

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.
US President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport in Minneapolis, Minnesota on 30 September 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

Chinese socialism against American capitalism: The final showdown?

The Soviet Union and China have both previously tried and failed to overtake the US in various aspects. However, China's rise in the past few decades and the new Cold War has given China renewed impetus to duel the US for supremacy. Have they got enough firepower now with a government-led economic model that has a fair component of a market economy? Economics professor Zhu Ying looks at who might win.
The TikTok app icon sits displayed on a smartphone in front of the national flags of China and the US in this arranged photograph in London, 3 August 2020. (Hollie Adams/Bloomberg)

Chinese companies going global? Take heed of TikTok's crisis

With its “China DNA” and despite its popularity, TikTok may end up being blocked in the US and eventually elsewhere in the world. Will its discussions with Microsoft work out? Or will it have to pull out of the US? And beyond TikTok, what does this episode mean for Chinese companies in the process of internationalising their businesses?
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. 
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.