Inequality

Delivery workers wearing face masks ride scooters in front of Lujiazui financial district, in Shanghai, China, 10 July 2020. (Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters)

Socialism and universal basic income: Creating happy societies in the age of the knowledge economy

Lance Gore analyses that the knowledge economy offers great potential for bettering the lives of people. But capitalism may not be the best route to take. Power in the hands of a few, income gaps, job losses and wage cuts in the digital age bear this out. Can China offer a third way as it seeks to marry socialism with a market economy? The West is already considering some proposals with a socialist bent such as the Universal Basic Income (UBI). Surely, proponents of socialism can think of even more revolutionary ideas?
People wait in line at a food bank at St. Bartholomew Church in the Elmhurst section of Queens, New York City, New York, US, on 15 May 2020. (Brendan McDermid/File Photo/Reuters)

America has itself to blame for its decline

US-based academic Han Dongping makes the observation that drug use is on the rise in American colleges, as is a widening wealth gap and problems in the public education system. These inadequacies are way more damaging to the Americans of tomorrow than anything China can do to America.
The Statue of Liberty is seen over a wind blown American flag scarf on Liberty Island on 20 July 2020 in New York City. (Jeenah Moon/Getty Images/AFP)

A 'failed state'? China must not misjudge the US

Some Americans have begun to regard the US under the Trump administration as a “failed state”. While many Chinese worry about Trump’s irrationality and unpredictability in playing the "China card", others are slighting the US, believing that now is the opportunity for China to displace the US on the global stage. But is the US a failed state? Political scientist Zheng Yongnian cautions that it may not be so, and China must not only read the US rationally and realistically, it also has to learn to coexist with the US under harsher conditions.
A man wearing a protective mask is reflected on a window in Chinatown during the Covid-19 outbreak in New York City, New York, US, on 17 May 2020. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

Why do Chinese and Indian Americans stay silent during the US anti-racism protests?

Nothing is black and white when it comes to race debates, says Yu Shiyu. What if you’re not black but ‘brown’ as some term it, that is, a minority nonetheless. Some Asian Americans of Chinese and Indian descent have been labelled model minorities for largely rising through the ranks though they face some forms of discrimination. Question is, if they don't see the current protests as their fight and stay out of the fray, are they equally culpable?
Demonstrators raise their fists as they gather on 2 June 2020 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to protest the death of George Floyd while in police custody. (Chandan Khanna/AFP)

A 'left-wing cultural revolution' has come to America?

There is little doubt that the US is in disarray at the moment. Hong Kong political commentator Chip Tsao does not hold back in giving his views on the current situation in the US, claiming that America’s move to the left after eight years under the Democratic Party have worsened the culture of political correctness and left little room for policies that motivate disadvantaged groups to keep their feet on the ground and contribute to society. The middle class is also made to shoulder growing societal and financial burdens. In that light, would the prospect of a change in the US government in five months time be a boon or bane?
A boy plays on a pile of garbage covering a drain at a slum area on World Environment Day in New Delhi, India, 5 June 2020. (Adnan Abidi/REUTERS)

China and India: When Western democracy fails and only utopia remains

Following the recent China-India border clash, Hong Kong columnist Chip Tsao takes a look at both countries and muses that even as some viewpoints converge, different systems and different national characteristics produce very different fates.
A boat arriving in Singapore with coolies, circa 1900. The coolies step out of the hold and stand on deck for a photograph taken by the German boat owner. This is a rare and valuable image because there are generally no photographs of early Chinese coolies. Coloured using modern image-processing technology, the photograph takes us right back to that boat deck a century ago, giving us a hint of how these coolies must have looked and felt upon arriving at their destination.

An album of rare photos: From Chinese coolies to Singaporeans

From the 19th century to the 1920s and 1930s, ships transporting hundreds of Chinese coolies ready to work hard and make their "fortune" in Nanyang often docked at Kallang River. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao recently obtained an album with rare photographs of such a ship bringing coolies from Xiamen in Fujian, China, to Singapore in the early 20th century. They are an authentic visual record of Chinese coolies in Singapore a century ago and a powerful throwback to that period.
Gou Jing and her friends, taken a day before she took the gaokao in 1997. (Weibo)

Stolen identities: Imposters rob poor Chinese youths of their university dreams

For years, poor Chinese peasants, especially girls, were led to believe that they had failed their college entrance exams. Little did they know that schemers had misappropriated their identities. With a greater number of cases coming to light, some justice is being done. But many more steps still need to be taken, says Han Yong Hong, to show that the rights of vulnerable groups in Chinese society cannot be trampled on.
A man smokes at a stall selling frozen wonton near a hutong neighborhood in Beijing, 5 June 2020. (Tingshu Wang/REUTERS)

Persistent poverty and a weak middle class: China's fundamental challenge

Zheng Yongnian says China must not get ahead of itself. Recent statistics prove that 600 million people indeed earn a monthly income of just 1,000 RMB. China’s earlier reforms had led to equitable growth, but income disparity has increased with rapid economic development since it joined the WTO. As it stands, the bottom strata of Chinese society remain huge while China’s relatively small middle class continues to suffer in an inadequate social system. Rather than sweep these issues aside in a bid to glorify the country’s achievements but downplay its shortcomings, China must take a hard look at itself and focus on pursuing equitable growth.