Rural

A woman holds her child outside a shopping mall in Beijing, China, on 1 June 2021. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

Why Chinese women are unwilling to give birth

Respect. Lorna Wei says the nub of the issue in the low fertility rate in China lies in that one word. Growing up in a patriarchal society, daughters in China have for years been looked upon as second to sons. When they become wives, mothers and daughters-in-law, they shoulder the bulk of familial duties while trying to keep their jobs. Any fertility policy should first address greater equality between the sexes. Only when parents are assured that their burdens will be shared can they look forward to having more children.
 A couple plays with their two children on the outskirts of Shanghai, China, 3 June 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China’s demographic crisis: The farmers should have a say

Han Dongping points out that the views of the rural population in China should be taken into account in the three-child policy or other population policies. They were the most affected group when the the one-child policy was implemented decades ago. The government made the mistake of not consulting them then, alienating their stronghold of support in the process. They should not make the mistake again.
People attend a vigil commemorating the 32nd anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen square pro-democracy protests and crackdown outside of the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles, California on 4 June 2021. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP)

A question of human rights: Is China an aggressor and oppressor?

Chinese academic Li Yuehua takes a look at reports on China’s human rights record, and analyses whether it really deserves its negative reputation. Hasn’t China tried to improve the lives of its people, and isn’t the right to survival and development a major part of human rights? He believes that painting China as an aggressor and oppressor only fulfils the interests of a few politicians to the detriment of people-to-people relations between China and the West.
This picture taken during a government organised media tour shows women growing rice in Nanniwan, some 60 km from Yan'an, the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party from 1936 to 1947, in Shaanxi province on 11 May 2021, ahead of the 100th year of the party's founding in July. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

An apple tree in Shaanxi tells a story: China’s quest to eradicate rural poverty

Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu journeys to Yan’an, northern Shaanxi — the old base of the Chinese Communist Party — ahead of the latter’s 100th anniversary on 1 July. She finds that Shaanxi speaks of the wins and woes of China’s development in recent years. Despite impressive economic growth, China is grappling with complicated problems such as urban-rural gaps and pockets of poverty in its vast hinterland.
In this picture taken on 11 January 2021, young gymnasts train at the Li Xiaoshuang Gymnastics School in Xiantao, Hubei province, China. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

A Chinese education: Why are Chinese parents and kids going to extremes?

As children cram for their studies, their parents are cramming along with them, believing that they should be good role models. Is all this hyper-learning normal or good? Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui will let others be the judge, but he says that economically speaking, this is a sign that social mobility is shrinking; everyone feels compelled to grasp the last inch of rope that will airlift them to a better life.
Why must gifts be reciprocated? (iStock)

Chinese economics professor: Why we exchange gifts, from ancient China to the present

Have you ever received a gift that you did not like? Economics professor Li Jingkui notes that when there is a mismatch between the gift and its recipient, the giver and receiver suffer a "deadweight loss". But still, many of us continue to exchange gifts. After much thought and research, Li found the answer for such persistent human behaviour in a Maori myth — you give a part of yourself along with your gift, which is something more valuable than the gift itself. 
Xishan, Jiangsu in China (left) and Modica, Sicily in Italy (right).

Egyptian-American architect: I see China in rural Italy

In this photo series, Hisham Youssef captures unexpected parallels between the countryside in China and Italy. Different cultures and many miles apart, the similarities are uncanny.
This photo taken on 24 April 2021 shows a farmer walking along terraced rice paddy fields in Congjiang, Guizhou province, China. (STR/AFP)

Chinese economics professor: My grandmother and the kind, gentle souls of rural China

Li Jingkui remembers his grandmother and her generation of kind, gentle souls who survived through wars, famines and heartache. The indomitable spirit of the rural folk is the secret of China’s meteoric progress. As new generations today overlook these unsung heroes and economists tinker with models and facts, never forget the kind, gentle souls of the countryside, he says, for their sacrifice is the country’s moral compass.
A glimpse of some of China's vanishing trades.

An Egyptian-American architect's photographs of China's vanishing trades

In his travels across China, Hisham Youssef trains his street photographer’s eye on some of the vanishing arts and trades that have endured for long but are now under threat of disappearing as China modernises.