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.
The voting mechanism for elimination variety shows in China nowadays demands fans to put their money where their mouth is — pushing their favourites up the ranks with “support” that can be bought in cash. Clever marketing tactics by sponsors or a slippery slope bordering on exploitation?
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.
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.
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.
Water security is literally a question of life and death. And as one of the most populous nations in the world with a severe lack of water resources, China needs to ensure that its water sources are sustainable and usable. But as Chinese academic Chen Hongbin explains, this is not always easy, despite the country’s best efforts.
Little interaction with Chinese people and double standards in US news reports have led to Americans having a jaundiced view of China. Immersed in stories on foreign policy, politics or human rights, they rarely have the chance to realise that the Chinese are made up of individuals and families who are living their lives the best way they can, just like the average American. Better education through the media and universities is greatly needed.
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.
Researcher Chen Hongbin notes that the economic gap between China and the US is closing. But the crux is not when China will overtake the US, but how the US will cope with the change. Its previous high-pressure tactics may have worked against the Soviet Union and Japan, but China will be a different kettle of fish.