Liu Bin left a career in technology to start a life in a rural village. (Courtesy of Liu Bin)

[Big read] Are rural areas a paradise for China’s youths?

Battered by the pressure of urban living and the difficulties of landing a job as economic growth slows, heading to the countryside in pursuit of a slower pace of life is gaining traction among Chinese youths. However, most of the country’s rural areas still lack vitality and employment opportunities are in short supply there. Is a return to the villages really a better way out for Chinese youths, or are they doing so because they have no other choice?
An aerial photo taken on 17 September 2023 shows residential buildings under construction in Ningbo, in China’s eastern Zhejiang province. (AFP)

Empty properties in China does not simply point to oversupply

China’s property market is not in the best shape at the moment, and the complex rules and laws involved in owning and selling property and land are perhaps adding to the problem, particularly in the difficulties rural farmers might face in liquidating their assets when they need cash. So, while it seems that there is plenty of unsold housing in Chinese cities, the real issue might not be that simple.
Workers are seen at the construction site of a newly-built shopping centre in Beijing, China, on 30 May 2023. (Jade Gao/AFP)

Time is running out for China to take care of its ageing migrant workers

China’s first-generation of migrant workers who joined the labour force in the 1980s and 1990s will reach their sixties over the next decade. Despite the number of working years under their belt, they could be left financially worse for wear once they reach retirement. How should the officials ensure this generation of workers have enough to support themselves when the time comes? Lianhe Zaobao’s China Desk tells us more.
This picture taken on 11 March 2023 shows people riding in a trishaw in George Town, Penang, Malaysia. (Mohd Rasfan/AFP)

From Borneo to Penang: Preserving our culture and language for future generations

If languages and cultural practices are disappearing fast in the indigenous communities of Borneo to the Chinese community in Penang and elsewhere, can digital technology and AI play a bigger role to document pieces of our identity that can be preserved beyond time and space?
Action on the court at a Village BA match. (CNS)

‘Village BA’: ‘NBA’ with Chinese characteristics is taking China by storm

Nearly every sports fan would know of the NBA in the US, but few would be familiar with the “Village BA” in China, a four-day event in a rural village in Guizhou. By most accounts, this China-version basketball tourney would give the NBA a run for its money as it gains popularity and expands.
A newly wed couple pose for pictures on Valentine's Day at a marriage registration office in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, 14 February 2023. (China Daily via Reuters)

China is cracking down on exorbitant bride price rates to save marriages

While a bride price or dowry is a marriage custom in China, the monetary value of the bride price has been getting out of hand in many places. At the top of the list is Jiangxi province, where bride prices can go as high as US$116,000. Zaobao’s China Desk examines the phenomenon and what is being done about it.
This photo taken on 7 January 2023 shows a man guiding goats in a rural area in Tai'an, China's eastern Shandong province. (Noel Celis/AFP)

The complex economics behind gifting in rural China

A common practice in rural China is to give monetary gifts during important occasions, be it weddings or funerals. These gifts can drain a sizeable part of a person’s income, and deciding on the amount to give is an art in itself. Economics professor Zhang Rui tells us more about this longstanding tradition.
People at the market in Zhangjiajie, 8 January 2023.

How a rural village of elderly residents is coping with Covid-19 during CNY

With Chinese New Year around the corner, the wave of human movement during the period could trigger a fresh wave of Covid-19 in China, not least in the rural areas with its villages and less than readily available healthcare. Zaobao correspondent Wong Siew Fong recounts her visit to a rural area in Zhangjiajie to find out if the rural villages are prepared to handle a surge in Covid-19 cases.
Two women and their babies pose for photographs in front of the giant portrait of late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong on the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, China, 2 November 2015. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo/Reuters)

From Mao ideals to the American dream: What China's 'sent down youths' sacrificed to chase a better tomorrow

The post-50s Chinese generation of intellectuals who were heavily influenced by Mao had the practice of leaving their children behind as they single-mindedly sought to achieve success abroad. US academic Wu Guo remarks that this generation of people who had been sent down to the rural areas, travelled abroad, and finally gained a foothold and settled down in the US, have always been motivated by a religious zeal for chasing a dream.