Morals

Commuters ride on a subway in Beijing, China, on 16 October 2021. (Noel Celis/AFP)

A Singaporean in China: Bumping into kind souls on buses and trains

On her frequent explorations of the city with her son in tow, former journalist Jessie Tan now based in Beijing is grateful for the little kindnesses shown to her by fellow commuters. She did not know what to expect when she first arrived in the city, and truth be told, there were some preconceived notions, but a year’s worth of help from strangers has her convinced that she walks the streets of a civilised city.
A barber cuts a man's hair along a road in Beijing, China, on 7 December 2021. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

How being a good Samaritan can ‘spoil the market’

While some businessmen have good intentions in offering goods and services at lower prices, they could also be “spoiling the market” and making it harder for others to make a living. Such actions may invite backlash, whether in village scuffles, or writ large, protests and anti-dumping measures between countries. China, the world’s factory, has borne the brunt of such pushback. Industries in other countries are affected, as capital moves freely between borders but labour stays in place. Those who feel they are losing out may hold grudges and end up dealing a big blow to society.
Students attend a lesson at a school in Qingyuan county, Lishui city, Zhejiang province, China, on 9 December 2021. (AFP)

Students snitching on teachers in Chinese classrooms: Return of Cultural Revolution?

Another internet furore has erupted, this time over a Shanghai college lecturer who was ratted out by her student and accused of being “spiritually Japanese” for questioning the death toll of the Nanjing Massacre. Are fears of a Cultural Revolution returning justified as people feel emboldened to tell on others without much thought?
Chinese pianist Li Yundi was arrested for hiring a prostitute. (Internet/SPH)

Li Yundi's case shows the immaturity of Chinese society?

Last month, Chinese pianist Li Yundi was arrested for hiring a prostitute, setting off a storm of controversy, including the loss of some titles and accolades, and various institutions distancing themselves from him. His arrest shows that Chinese laws are fair but does it also expose the immaturity of Chinese society?
This photo taken on 6 September 2021 shows residents looking at a flooded area after heavy rainfalls in Quxian county, Dazhou city, Sichuan province, China. (STR/AFP)

Chinese economics professor: The making of a moral society

How can one encourage a society where people do things that benefit not just themselves but also others? How can we eliminate bad behaviours and encourage better ones by institutionalising various means of rewarding good behaviour? Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui looks at examples from Chinese modern life and history to find the answers.
Is there life after death? In this photo, people walk past a picture of Mao Zedong in Beijing on 14 December 2019. (Noel Celis/AFP)

A matter of life and death in the US, China and Japan

Views on the afterlife interestingly shed light on one’s approach to life, says Gordon Mathews of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He and his team find out what American, Chinese and Japanese views on death say about their lives. As the Covid-19 epidemic rages across the world, an understanding of different countries' philosophies on mortality may even be more apt.
Although one might not have the experience of seeing a twenty feet tall black ghost that flies, one could have in mind all the concepts that could construct such an image. (iStock)

The Chinese ghost stories we tell ourselves

The word "ghost" (gui) is commonly found in the Chinese lexicon. Professor Poo Mu-chou draws links between history, culture and one’s personal experience to interpret the way humans conjure ghosts up in their own image and likeness in a bid to understand the inexplicable.