Science

A paramilitary policeman gestures under a pole with security cameras, U.S. and China's flags, near the Forbidden City, ahead of a visit by U.S. President Donald Trump to Beijing, 8 November 2017. (Damir Sagolj/REUTERS)

An eye for an eye: Souring China-US relations at point of no return?

With the abrupt order by the US Department of State for China to close its consulate in Houston, and China's retaliation for the US to close its consulate in Chengdu, US-China relations looks set to continue in its downward spiral. Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong says, rather than a tug-of-war of espionage, the current situation suggests that the US is countering and striking at China in a battle of scientific research, taking strong action to block Chinese military researchers from entering the US. She wonders how this latest salvo directed at China will end. Will China and the US sever diplomatic relations?
People (foreground) swim in the swollen Yangtze River as the roof of an inundated pavilion is seen above floodwaters in Wuhan, Hubei, on 8 July 2020. (STR/AFP)

Floods in China: Can the Three Gorges Dam weather ‘once-in-a-century massive floods in the Yangtze River’?

Close to 20 million people across 26 provinces and cities in the areas spanning China’s southwestern region to the midstream and downstream areas of the Yangtze River have been displaced due to severe flooding over the past few weeks. The Three Gorges Dam has long been held up as a bulwark against such massive floods in the area, but recent signs that it is literally buckling under the pressure cast doubts on its ability to be an effective flood control mechanism.
Traditional Chinese medicine has its believers and detractors. (Hedy Khoo/SPH)

Western medicine or Chinese medicine? China's TCM regulations spark debate

TCM treatment is said to have played a role in the fight against Covid-19 in China. The Beijing authorities recently sought public views on a set of proposed regulations on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which includes articles that mention punishments for those who “defame and slander” TCM. A furore ensued as the public worried about the expansiveness of the proposed law. Oxford University visiting researcher Hayson Wang thinks hard about what lies at the nub of the issue and what TCM proponents must do to bring TCM practice into the mainstream.
A woman wearing a protective mask looks at blossoms in a park in Beijing on 21 March 2020. (Thomas Peter/File Photo/Reuters)

The world has become greener because of Covid-19, but will it last?

The world has become greener and cleaner because of a drastic drop in human activity brought about by the pandemic. Professor Koh Lian Pin opines that these effects may be only temporary but the fact remains that the world needs to direct more attention to climate change. He sees China playing a bigger role in implementing nature-based solutions for climate and sustainable development. With its experience and immense investments in scientific research and development, it could even lend a hand to countries in the Asian region.
A Mirimus Inc lab scientist holds Covid-19 samples from recovered patients on 10 April 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Misha Friedman/Getty Images/AFP)

Did Chinese spies steal US technology? US thinks so and is taking action

Convinced that China has been stealing information and know-how through people insurgents at all levels, the US is making haste to withdraw opportunities for Chinese to tap on US innovation in any way. Thus far, experts of Chinese descent who work in particularly sensitive fields in the US are facing the brunt of increased scrutiny. Does this signal the end of long-held American generosity and openness in sharing knowledge, at least as it applies to the Chinese?
The Statue of Liberty in Paris, during a winter flood. Humans have always struggled to master nature. (iStock)

From humility to arrogance: A fight with nature is a fight with ourselves

Zoonotic viruses will continue to plague humankind if man continues recklessly destroying the environment and natural habitats in the name of development. If there is any lesson to be learnt from the Covid-19 outbreak, Zheng Yongnian says, it is that humans, both in the East and West, need to learn how to be at one with nature, rather than seek to subdue or triumph over nature for their own ends.
A test tube with the coronavirus label is seen in this illustration taken on 29 January 2020. (Dado Ruvic/File Photo/Reuters)

Covid-19 highlights controversies of the Chinese research system

Researchers possibly withholding information about human-to-human transmission, or publishing papers using someone else's research data... These are just a few of the controversies of the Chinese research system highlighted by the Covid-19 outbreak. How can the scientific community break out of the cycle of alleged unscholarly conduct?
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang wearing a mask and protective suit speaks to medical workers as he visits the Jinyintan hospital where the patients of the new coronavirus are being treated following the outbreak, in Wuhan, January 27, 2020. (Reuters)

Wuhan coronavirus: China needs less politics, more science

Political analyst Zheng Yongnian says adopting a scientific approach in their daily lives would help the Chinese better cope with tests such as the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. Refusing to take ownership, the people blame the system, as if it was omnipotent and infallible. He warns that if individuals do not adopt the clear-eyed rationality of science, take a good hard look at themselves and chip in their own capacities, China will continue to lack the stoicism and initiative it needs from all quarters to cope with crises.