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.
People often compare Taiwan and mainland China, and even the Taiwanese knock themselves for lagging behind, especially in terms of economy and business. One frequent comment is that Taiwan is content with “small blessings”. Social entrepreneur and columnist Jack Huang disagrees, saying that the youth in Taiwan are channelling their energy into worthy causes and working hard towards building an inclusive society and a better world for everyone.
Shanghai and Tokyo both have train systems, but there is a big difference between them in terms of scale, convenience, and commuter behaviour. Researcher Chen Hongbin observes that Shanghai has much to learn from Tokyo, and by extension other cities.
Hong Kong commentator Chip Tsao says that while the US wants China to do more to reduce global carbon emissions, surely it can expect China to prioritise its own development trajectory or to seek leverage in other areas. They should not forget that two can play at that game.
At last year’s WEF, Prince Charles and other leaders proposed the “Great Reset” — a global effort to rebuild the global economic structure. However, as appealing as this may sound, Hong Kong commentator Chip Tsao points out that the current slate of world leaders and international organisations are probably unable to rein in private juggernauts and get a handle on the Chinese wild card.