Authoritarianism

"Doctors scour mountains and the sea to exterminate every single virus."

[Comic] Dystopia or 'a beautiful new world'?

Comic artist Bai Yi's artwork gives a glimpse into a dystopian world where individual lives are considered insignificant before the all-powerful and all-important state machine, and where herculean efforts are needed to uphold the dignity of human lives.
A woman uses her mobile phone as she rides an escalator past an advertising board at a business district in Beijing, China, on 16 May 2022. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

The dwindling space for public opinion in China

Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo, Bilibili and Douyin have announced measures to clean up the use of miswritten words and homonyms that could be related to sensitive terms, sparking backlash from netizens. Zaobao correspondent Wong Siew Fong tells us more.
The Texas state flag is flown at half-mast, in honor of the victims of the Uvalde school shooting, outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York, US, on 31 May 2022. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)

Competition between democracy and autocracy a political fallacy

The US has defined major global events such as the war in Ukraine and its competition with China under the ideological framework of a fight between democracy and autocracy. But is the 21st century world just black and white? Lim Jim Koon, former editor-in-chief of Chinese Media Group, SPH Media, suggests that before we criticise others and demand them to change, maybe we should start by examining ourselves.
A destroyed Russian T-72 tank is seen, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in the village of Dmytrivka in Ukraine, 1 April 2022. (Oleksandr Klymenko/Reuters)

Chinese academic: Ukraine war shows a corrupt Russia inside and out

Outdated military equipment, expired rations and the plundering of household appliances — these are the realities of Russia’s military fighting in Ukraine. Meanwhile, those at home face a leadership characterised by corruption and impunity. Economics professor Zhu Ying highlights the incidents that have been laid bare for the world to see and how they may lead to Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s downfall.
Theary Seng, a US-Cambodian lawyer and activist who is facing treason and incitement charges, poses in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court ahead of her hearing in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 3 May 2022. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Why Cambodia is leaning towards China and not the US

Sokvy Rim explains why Cambodia’s foreign policy options have been constrained by the leaders’ concerns of regime survival at various stages of its history. If this trajectory continues, it may be hard for it to conduct a hedging strategy in its relations between China and the US.
This picture taken on 1 April 2022 shows an aerial view of a giant sign being raised by protesters depicting Russia's President Vladimir Putin as an octopus with its arms wrapping around the countries of Georgia, Syria, Ukraine and the world globe during a demonstration in the city of Binnish in Syria's northwestern rebel-held Idlib province against Russia's invasion of Ukraine. (Omar Haj Kadour/AFP)

How Putin became trapped by his own authoritarianism

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s misjudgement of the Ukrainian situation, its people’s resilience and his own military forces have led to a prolonged war. Economics professor Zhu Ying notes that Putin has been misguided by his beliefs, and his dictatorship over Russia has struck fear even in his top officials, leading to a circle of "yes men" that have shielded him from the realities of the war. Cracks are showing in this inner circle. How long more will Putin stay trapped in his ideology?
Pro-Ukraine demonstrators hold a placard during a demonstration in front of the Russian embassy in Berlin, Germany, on 22 February 2022. (John Macdougall/AFP)

Russia-Ukraine crisis: Can Russian aggression bring back the former glory of the Soviet Union?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it clear that he considers Russia, Ukraine and Belarus one people, and its recent actions concerning Ukraine are unsettling. Some in China support the strong and aggressive style of Putin and are glad that Russia has created a buffer to divert the West’s attention away from China. Nevertheless, Russia’s aggressive stance has resulted in 40 years of suffering and failure. US-based academic Zhou Nongjian looks into Russia's intentions with Ukraine and why it is adamant on restoring the former glory of the Soviet Union.
People walk over the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan in New York City, US on 19 August 2021. (Angela Weiss/AFP)

China-US competition: Letting the enemy self-destruct

Based on the experience of the Cold War, the US can see merit in letting the enemy undo itself in its strategy against China. For the Soviet Union, it was the ills of Stalinist socialism and the failure of the command economy. For China, will its inherent contradictions lead to its own unravelling?
Dr Zhang Wenhong, China’s top infectious diseases expert and head of the Center for Infectious Disease at Huashan Hospital. (Internet)

Who saved Dr Zhang Wenhong from punishment for questioning China's Covid-19 policy?

China's top infectious diseases expert Dr Zhang Wenhong was recently embroiled in an alleged academic fraud case but investigations have cleared his name later on. The investigation came after he put forward the view of "living with the virus", which is at odds with the official stance for achieving zero-Covid. Who protected Dr Zhang from punishment? Was it public opinion, the city of Shanghai or Dr Zhang's impeccable moral standards? Will this deter professionals from speaking the truth in the future?