Both Hamas and Israel have framed their war over Palestinian national independence as religious and civilisational, says academic Ma Haiyun. This seems to fit into Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilisations” theory, even though to define Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a cultural fault line war is historically, religiously and intellectually untrue. Such rhetoric is dangerous, especially when talk of religious wars is turning into reality, and the US’s “Israel first” policy is undermining US diplomacy, soft power, reputation, and most importantly, international institutions such as the UN that the US has sustained after World War II.
Lianhe Zaobao journalist Daryl Lim dives into a new trend among Chinese youths: volunteering at Buddhist temples. This new wave of young volunteers do not have a religious purpose in helping at temples but are seeking a different way of life, or even an escape from the pains of the current social and economic realities.
Coming to the end of his second term, Indonesian President Jokowi is still enjoying influence in Indonesian politics, with analysts believing that whoever he endorses will end up the winner in the presidential election in February 2024. How critical will the Chinese Indonesian vote be? ISEAS academic Leo Suryadinata explains.
Since the relaxation of anti-epidemic measures in China, officials have been ramping up efforts to promote tourism in Tibet. However, the dilemma between cultural preservation and developing the tourism industry, and that between security and economic development, are issues that could curb the autonomous region’s opening up to tourists. Lianhe Zaobao correspondent Wong Siew Fong shares findings from her media visit to Lhasa and Shannan.
Given the "civilisational lens" through which Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim views Malaysia-China relations, Anwar probably agrees more with the pluralistic vision contained in China’s Global Civilizational Initiative than the binary vision of “democracy versus autocracy” popular in Washington today.
Attending a recent talk by veteran Singapore writer K C Low recently on the life of Japanese artist Kaii Higashiyama, Teo Han Wue hears about a series of temple murals Higashiyama painted in tribute to Jianzhen, a Tang dynasty monk who had spread Buddhist teachings and promoted the learning of Chinese culture in Japan.
As Chinese youths face pressures on all fronts, from education to job hunting and even finding love, they are finding some solace in prayers to gods. But a recent article from state media denouncing such behaviours has sparked uproar among the youths, claiming that the authorities are far removed from the problems young people face today.
Temple-goers are often the elderly and it is hard to associate temple culture with the younger generation. But some young people who grew up visiting temples and soaking in its symbols and atmosphere have taken up the mission of passing down this culture. Some of them “saved” temples that were forced to relocate, while others became craftsmen who work on restoring damaged or discarded idols. Yet others collect figurines like artworks. In their own way, each of them is continuing the heritage of temple culture.
Lianhe Zaobao associate editor Peter Ong looks into why Asian countries are facing a declining population, especially those that have witnessed successful economic transformation. What social conditions have led to the staggeringly low birth rates? And is migration a solution?