Science

People stand at a vaccination site after receiving a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, in Shanghai, China, 19 January 2021. (Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters)

War of words over efficacy and safety of vaccines: Will China win?

A media war is underway between the state media in China and the media in the US and Europe over vaccine development, distribution and reception. With loud hailer tactics used all round, it’s not the truth but what people perceive to be true that counts most. Whose voice will be the loudest to drown out the din and shape the vaccine narrative?
In this file photo taken on 20 October 2019, people walk in front of a screen at the World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China. (Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters)

Beijing's tech conundrum in 2021: How to bolster tech sector while reining in the digital giants

Amid greater efforts at achieving greater self-sufficiency in developing core technologies, China will turn to an erstwhile resource it has depended on — the state — to move forward. But will state-controlled venture capital funds be nimble enough to catch the next wave of tech innovations? And judging by the regulatory clampdown on Ant Group and others in recent months, a key preoccupation of 2021 will remain growing the digital economy while trying to rein in digital giants.
Staff members examine the return module of China's Chang'e-5 lunar probe in Siziwang Banner, in northern China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on 17 December 2020. (STR/AFP)

China’s strides in technology good for US and the world

Adherence to IP protection and the rule of law are common and valid concerns of US and Western practitioners doing business in China. Commentator Deng Qingbo says that in that light, China’s recent stated focus on technological innovation should be cheered, as science, rational thinking, abiding by the rules, and even democracy often go together. At the same time, the Chinese need to better communicate their desire to share the fruits of their technological advancements with the rest of the world.
Protesters against US President Donald Trump rally outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, US, 21 September 2020. (Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)

Science & Tech: Can the ‘whole-of-nation’ approach save the US?

Motivated by its rivalry with the Soviet Union, the US focused its resources on becoming a science and technology giant after World War II. Now, in competition with China, can the US muster a "whole-of-nation" approach to regain a clear dominance in science and technology?
A worker performs a quality check in the packaging facility of Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech, developing an experimental Covid-19 vaccine, during a government-organised media tour in Beijing, China, 24 September 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Chinese city offers trial coronavirus vaccine and people are queueing for it

A community hospital in Yiwu, Zhejiang, is offering coronavirus vaccinations to the public, as long as they make online bookings and offer proof of work or study in Yiwu. But how reliable are these proofs, and how effective is the vaccine? Zaobao correspondent Chen Jing finds out more.
A sign encouraging voter turnout is seen at a campaign yard sign distribution site in Madison, Wisconsin, US, 17 October 2020. (Bing Guan/File Photo/Reuters)

Intellectuals and accountability: Should scientists sway public opinion on politics?

Zhang Tiankan chastises renowned journals The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine, Science and Nature, for veering off their professional domains and making prescriptive statements about which US presidential candidate to vote for. Such behaviour is irresponsible and unbecoming, to say the least. He asks: Shouldn't intellectuals be accountable for their views and positions?
People climb the Great Wall, illuminated to mark the first day of Mid-Autumn Festival and the Chinese National Day, in Beijing, China, 1 October 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Wang Gungwu: The high road to pluralist sinology

Professor Wang Gungwu, eminent historian and university professor of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore, was awarded the 2020 Tang Prize in Sinology earlier this year. At the 2020 Tang Prize Masters’ Forums — Sinology held last month, Professor Wang traced the evolution of sinology in the West and East, observing that today, a “pluralist sinology” is emerging alongside a rising China. This allows for the term “sinologist” to be applied to a much larger group of scholars, and for the bringing together of various knowledge traditions and academic disciplines in the study of China. While there is much to be cheered by this, Professor Wang also urged his fellow scholars to be ready to “douse the fires that others had fanned”, as knowledge gathered by pluralist sinology could be used as a weapon amid intense rivalry between the US and China. This is the transcript of his speech. 
Would you rather have a Michelin-starred molecular gastronomy extravaganza or a traditional Hakka feast? (iStock)

Above Michelin: These professors would rather have Hakka pork belly with preserved mustard

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai did not enjoy his taste of molecular gastronomy too much on a recent visit to a high-end restaurant. The experience taught him that there is little point hankering after what everyone supposedly wants. One is better off staying true to himself and savouring something that truly tickles his taste buds.
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?