China’s sudden opening up has taken many by surprise, and it seems that it was not just the people who were unprepared — the government itself appeared not to have planned for the aftermath of lifting all measures, leading to a shortage of medicine and vaccines, and a squeeze on healthcare resources. If anything, the three years of Covid-19 have highlighted the shortcomings of China’s political system. Chinese college student Anthony Shen shares his thoughts.
JD.com founder Richard Liu has been in the news lately following an announcement that the company is set to improve social benefits for rank-and-file employees, while cutting salaries for senior management. While it seems to kill many birds with one stone, is this a long term solution for private firms?
Zaobao correspondent Chen Jing observes that while the lockdown in Shanghai has been lifted, people are still nervous that the sporadic Covid-19 cases could trigger another lockdown. Regulations remain strict and prohibitive, so people are hesitant to say that things have returned back to normal. Furthermore, with the 20th Party Congress coming up, Shanghai’s situation will be a bellwether for the country’s economic recovery.
With its dogged implementation of the zero-Covid policy, China has painted itself into a corner and is now saddled with four shackles that prevent it from changing course. Lu Xi explains the factors involved and suggests how China may slowly begin to extricate itself from its predicament.
The US’s recently enacted Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act prohibits the import of Xinjiang-produced goods, leaving US companies in a bind. In response, Walmart and Tesla have taken different approaches. While Sam’s Club under Walmart removed Xinjiang products, drawing the ire of Chinese consumers, Tesla gained cheers for opening a new showroom in Urumqi. Will US companies be forced to choose sides? Zaobao correspondent Chen Jing looks into the matter.
As the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wished, the four-question referendum held in Taiwan on 18 December — regarding the building of a third LNG plant near an algal reef, the restarting of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, pork imports, and timing of referendums — was not passed. However, they should not be too happy yet, says Chen I-hsin. Recent exposés on party members, not least on President Tsai Ing-wen herself, are draining support from the party. And though the KMT did not achieve enough “yes” votes in the referendums, if they learn from it, they could still make gains in upcoming elections.
Commentator Chip Tsao notes that even as Chinese consumers are unhappy about perceived differential treatment by Western high-end brands in terms of returns and refunds, this is due in some part to their penchant for buying items and then easily changing their minds, or returning them after only using them once, perhaps just for selfies for social media. Not to mention the possibility of consumers’ irrational nationalism kicking in and the high costs of processing returns, it’s no wonder that brands are thinking twice before offering returns.
In the face of surveillance camera footage showing pet dogs biting an 80-year-old lady, it should have been an open-and-shut case. But one such “dog-bites-man” incident in Anyang dragged on for more than two months. The pet owner was believed to be a person of power, and only increasing attention on the case led to an eventual apology. Why did it take so long for someone to do the right thing?
China has introduced a wave of strong regulatory moves on various industries over the past months, alarming international observers and causing jitters in the financial market. However, says academic Gu Qingyang, these moves could be necessary and might just set China in the right direction to face future challenges better.