Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam recently gave her 2021 policy address, in which plans were laid out for a 20-year project to develop a Northern Metropolis. Commentator David Ng affirms the need to increase land and housing supply to resolve Hong Kong’s residential challenges such as subdivided units, while pointing out that the long timeline could mean challenges in following through on the project.
Chen Hongbin notes that roads, highways and expressways have mushroomed in China and the country’s overall road connectivity has improved tremendously. What were once far-flung villages now enjoy relatively easy accessibility. That said, more can be done to improve the road systems so that every citizen can have a convenient means of transport. What has China done to improve connectivity in its counties, villages and cities?
Zaobao’s Beijing correspondent Yang Danxu experienced a 14-day home quarantine for being in the vicinity of Covid-19 patients while in Gansu. From her first-hand experience, she observes that people at large have gotten used to and even expect sudden but orderly disruptions when outbreaks erupt and are stamped out under a zero-Covid regime. But as borders start opening around the world, will China be forced to open up to new mindsets of living with the virus?
Some analyses have sounded the alarm of China lurching to the left in a marked return to Maoism. On closer examination, says Loro Horta, China’s recent clampdowns on capital are rational and not exactly ideologically driven. Issues facing China, such as the need to tackle rising inequality, affect the ruling party’s legitimacy and longevity. These concerns may have a strong push effect on the authorities. In fact, rather than a reversion to Maoism, the Xi government seems to be embracing Confucianism as a basis to enforce social order and norms, just as it derides “evil fan culture” as a means to keep a tight rein on social control.
Policymakers have imposed a series of measures to limit rampant borrowing by developers and tighten standards for mortgage lending since Chinese President Xi Jinping declared in 2017 that “houses are for living in, not for speculation”. Following this, developers are experiencing a sharp drop in home sales, which adds to their financial burdens. In spite of this, industry experts opine that Beijing’s determination to reduce dependence on real estate investment will not change easily.
The Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or LOCPG has been busy engaging with Hong Kongers at the grassroots level, in order to connect with the ground. Officials of the Hong Kong government and the pro-Beijing camp have followed suit. Zaobao journalist Tai Hing Shing speaks to ordinary Hong Kongers and academics to get a sense of whether this strategy will help to further the Chinese Communist Party’s people-centred governance ideal in Hong Kong society.
Erik Baark takes a bird’s eye view of the structure of energy supply and demand in China, analysing how macro issues led to the September 2021 rash of power cuts across China. He notes that China's continued development needs energy, and a shift from heavy industries to services or high-tech fields does not mean that the country's energy needs will decrease. The Chinese government is looking to new and renewable energy resources to take the place of the old, but transitioning to new energy sources is not an easy process, especially when different actors are trying to protect their own terrain and a mindset change is necessary. It will be a tall order for the Chinese government to get local governments, old power grid corporations and the public to align with new policies and thinking. All this means that power cuts will not be going away anytime soon.
Technology specialist Yin Ruizhi says that many users of platforms like Douyin, Kuaishou and WeChat spend hours each day scrolling aimlessly for interesting content, and the art of directing these potential consumers to their products through content creators is complicated. To facilitate this process, it is necessary to ensure fair competition for all participants. This is where anti-monopoly rules can play a part, and with a growing cyberspace, it will be an ever more complex task.
Despite Netflix not being in the China market, Chinese viewers have still managed to watch the global hit show Squid Game, prompting questions on whether China can come up with its own global hit. It is not so much a question of box office ticket sales or viewership revenue, but the gains of soft power and cultural diplomacy that can be reaped. What are China’s barriers to creating global hits?