In part 2 of his reflections on the Chinese countryside, Egyptian-American architect Hisham Youssef asserts that local communities must be involved in the nation’s drive for rural rejuvenation. These can be projects that promote local culture and craft, rather than tourism per se. Perhaps through such efforts, the soul of these communities can be preserved and these rural gems can truly live on for generations to come.
Reflecting on the background of Chinese diving Olympic champion Quan Hongchan, David Ng makes some observations about the urban-rural divide in China. He notes that after years of China’s rapid development, rural folk are still playing catch up economically, but they have not ruled themselves out of achieving success. Their own motivation will get them far, sometimes even as far as achieving Olympic glory.
Based in Shanghai, Egyptian-American architect Hisham Youssef has travelled to many off-the-beaten-track locations across China. He shares his observations about the impact of organised mass tourism on the countryside. With transport links improving and tourists arriving in droves, will tangible heritage be eroded and undiscovered gems become a thing of the past?
Despite slogans and sayings about how China has progressed and become “amazing” or “self-sufficient”, making strides in eradicating absolute poverty does not equate to rising affluence on the whole. Looking at GDP per capita figures, China still has some way to go, says researcher Chen Hongbin. He notes that the Chinese people should not get caught up in their own rhetoric, but keep a clear head and be aware of the actual situation.
In our periods of isolation, even desolation through the pandemic, one can become cautious about forming bonds. A stray cat Chiang Hsun befriends reminds him that humans can’t help but care about one another, even when they pretend not to care. Yet they’re also guilty of caring too much, cocooning themselves to protect what they have. Will we ever learn to let go and have a good rest, defenceless?
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.
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.
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.
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.