Inequality

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.
Bridgewater Associates Chairman Ray Dalio attends the China Development Forum in Beijing, China, on 23 March 2019. (Thomas Peter/File Photo/Reuters)

Ray Dalio at the China Development Forum: What can history tell us about the rise of China?

Ray Dalio, founder, co-chief investment officer and co-chairman of Bridgewater Associates, spoke with Lu Mai, vice chairman of the China Development Research Foundation and secretary general of the China Development Forum (CDF), on 8 June 2020. Drawing from patterns and cycles that he observed from history, his talk focused on global economic trends and how the pandemic would shape the world. He also gave his opinions on China-US cooperation and competition, and gave suggestions as to how the two great powers can work together for the greater good of the world.
A woman cycles past a screen showing a news conference by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang after the closing session of the National People's Congress, in Beijing, China, on 28 May 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

600 million Chinese earn 1,000 RMB a month — so are the Chinese rich or poor?

Zaobao's Beijing correspondent Yang Danxu often marvels at the spending power of Chinese white-collar workers around her, and she too was surprised when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang remarked that China has 600 million people with a monthly income of 1,000 RMB. That is more than 40% of the Chinese population, and the figures portray a reality that is starkly different from common perception. Are Chinese people moving up the income ladder and are their lives becoming better as is the common refrain? Yang examines the facts.
A man wearing a face mask amid the Covid-19 pandemic drives his motorbike along a street in Wuhan, China, on 24 April 2020. (STR/AFP)

A fragmented Chinese society after the pandemic?

Lang Youxing observes that while the pandemic brought the Chinese people together to overcome an unprecedented crisis, it has also unearthed a serious state of polarisation within Chinese society. Conflicting views rule, and netizens in WeChat chat groups mourn the loss of friends with the phrase “Goodbye, my classmates!” after vociferous arguments about Covid-19 and China's position. Bidding farewell to classmates is one thing, but can one say goodbye to society?
A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken 10 April 2020. (Dado Ruvic/REUTERS)

Chinese, American and European vaccines — will we have the luxury of choice?

As the world races to find a vaccine for the coronavirus, politics has made it a strategic contest. But while everybody wants to be the first to develop a vaccine that works and put it out on the market, experts say that vaccines cannot be forced, and it is possible that one may not be found at all. Even if found, the vaccine has to be made available to everyone to ensure that the pandemic ends across the globe. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu speaks to scientists and experts to find out more.​
The skyline of the Beijing's Central Business District rises behind people crossing a street during evening rush hour, April 15, 2020. (Thomas Peter/REUTERS)

Without cash payouts, are China's Covid-19 economic measures enough?

Japanese academic Kai Kajitani examines the enormous impact that the coronavirus is having on the Chinese economy. Measures are in place to absorb the shocks — but unlike many countries, the country has so far gone with other routes apart from direct cash payouts. Will these efforts be enough? And are the voices of the underclass in society being heard?