Inequality

A couple hug as they look out at a night view through a fence at the Central Television Tower in Beijing, China, on 26 August 2021. (Jade Gao/AFP)

Rape accusations in China: When wives protect their errant husbands

The alleged rape case involving a former Alibaba manager kept netizens riveted as charges were dropped as quickly as arrests were made. Unlike the #MeToo movement in the West where many of the victims rally around each other to seek justice against their oppressors, in China, the female victims — those preyed upon and the wives of the alleged perpetrators — seem to be fighting each other in the aftermath of tragedies. Why aren’t the males involved manning up and owning up?
A commuter rides his bicycle through an older neighborhood in Shanghai, China, on 30 August 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Every individual counts: China should go for ‘common development’ rather than ‘common prosperity’

Rather than wealth redistribution per se, the deeper issue lies in achieving social justice and equal opportunities for all. Going by the US example, it might not be wise or even feasible to curtail the riches of the wealthy or to straitjacket their business environment. Instead, they and other members of the community can be encouraged to help bring about equitable access to education and a better life.
Vendors sell vegetables at a stall in an older neighborhood in Shanghai, China, on 30 August 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

China's internet giants are shelling out money for 'common prosperity'. But is that enough?

Heightened gestures of corporate social responsibility and outright donations from major companies have been declared since the Chinese government’s recent push for “common prosperity”. Are these simply knee-jerk reactions to the government’s stance? Can companies be encouraged to be more socially responsible in the long term? China is all abuzz with talk on ways to achieve common prosperity.
Two men have their breakfast on the street in an older neighborhood in Shanghai, China on 30 August 2021. Chinese President Xi Jinping chaired a high-level meeting that “reviewed and approved” measures to fight monopolies, battle pollution and shore up strategic reserves, all areas that are crucial to his government’s push to improve the quality of life for the nation’s 1.4 billion people. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Can China succeed in income distribution reform and get rid of its celebrity economy?

The assets of the top eight tycoons in the world have a combined worth of half the global population, says EAI academic Lance Gore, and the Chinese Communist Party faces a choice: Will China go down the old path of Western advanced capitalism, especially Anglo-American capitalism, and make the same mistakes as them? China has shown resolve in reforming its income distribution issues in various sectors including the entertainment industry. But it is not an easy path as vested interests may still interfere and the people can only rely on the self-purification of the Chinese Communist Party to uphold the regime’s people-centred nature.
Pedestrians wearing protective masks walk down Nanjing East Road in Shanghai, China on 14 August 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Why China is embarking on the journey of 'common prosperity'

China has set itself the goal of achieving "common prosperity" in the coming years, after realising its goal of "building a moderately prosperous society in all respects". Chinese academic Luo Zhiheng describes this ideal society which is the opposite of a society plagued by a serious wealth gap — people should look forward to improving their quality of life and not worry about their basic needs; social safety nets should also provide basic livelihood protection for the disadvantaged groups. He outlines how China can realise this ideal by harnessing the strength of all who are able and who have "gotten rich first" during the reform and opening up process.
A general view shows residential buildings in Hong Kong on 21 August 2021 (Bertha Wang/AFP)

Can Hong Kong get rid of its atrocious subdivided flats anytime soon?

Hong Kongers face the perennial problem of housing shortage and high property prices. Some have no choice but to rent subdivided flats — residential flats further partitioned into smaller units — which are still not quite affordable and are rarely well maintained. Residents report physical and mental health issues, but amid land scarcity and a lack of supply, will they just have to keep making do?
Left to right: Chinese pop culture icon Gao Xiaosong (Internet), Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma (Bloomberg), and actress/producer Vicki Zhao (Weibo).

Celebrities scrubbed from the Chinese internet: Victims of China’s social revolution?

Personalities such as actress/producer Vicki Zhao and music multi-hyphenate Gao Xiaosong have recently been scrubbed from the Chinese internet. Curiously, among the “wrongs” they are thought to have committed, a common one between them is having strong links to big capital Alibaba. What are the authorities saying with this latest clampdown on well-connected pop culture icons? Is an engineered social revolution under way?
A public screen displays an advertisement for Stella Artois beer in Shanghai, China, on 18 August 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

China's forced drinking culture a submissive test for Chinese women

In a deeply misogynistic society, some men take agreeing to drink as consent for inappropriate behaviour or even sexual assault. Society compounds the problem by judging the victims and perpetuating their cycle of self-blame. It should instead focus resources on changing people’s attitudes about women. Equally important is educating men and women about consent — no really means no and only yes means yes.
People look at images of late chairman Mao Zedong of the Chinese Communist Party at the Museum of the Communist Party of China that was opened ahead of the 100th founding anniversary of the Party in Beijing, China, 25 June 2021. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

China idol: Mao Zedong makes a comeback among Chinese youth

China’s youth today are turning to Mao Zedong for inspiration amid a crushing sense of social immobility and injustice. But Wang Qingmin recalls the Mao era to be one of violent political struggles, anti-intellectualism, and cult of personality. Is a return to Mao really the answer?