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Feng Chia Night Market, Taiwan's biggest and most popular night market. (iStock)

Cultural historian: How I fled for my life in Taiwan’s Feng Chia Night Market

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai visited Taiwan’s famed Feng Chia Night Market during pre-pandemic days on hearing that it is a must-go attraction with cheap and delicious street food. He did find it teeming with food stalls and activity; the array was so dizzying in fact that he got a bit dizzy...
People pose for photos in front of a statue of American actress Marilyn Monroe Universal Studios Beijing, China, 21 September 2021. (CNS)

Universal Studios Beijing: With 5,000 years of culture, can China create its own theme park?

Universal Studios Beijing opened to much publicity, with tickets being snapped up in just one minute. But some detractors question if this is exactly the sort of imperialism that China has grown out of and it should be developing its own mega attractions with Chinese elements. Would doing so simply entail rejecting Western influences? How can it develop a concept that truly reflects a flavour of China or its popular culture?
A hillside village in Songyang, Zhejiang province, pristine in appearance, has been “discovered”, and is increasingly becoming overwhelmed by luxury boutique hospitality projects.

Towards responsible rural tourism in China: Getting local communities involved

In part 2 of his reflections on the Chinese countryside, Egyptian-American architect Hisham Youssef asserts that local communities must be involved in the nation’s drive for rural rejuvenation. These can be projects that promote local culture and craft, rather than tourism per se. Perhaps through such efforts, the soul of these communities can be preserved and these rural gems can truly live on for generations to come.
The silver grey skies of Chishang.

Taiwanese art historian: 'Severing all ties’ in a pandemic

Cloistered in Chishang township in Taiwan’s Huadong Valley for the past four months, Chiang Hsun has no choice but to face himself in all its foibles. At peace with himself, he is at peace with the world. He revels in beautiful sights, as if he’s the only one let in on nature’s little secret. Just as he readies to leave, tourists trickle back into Chishang, bringing a bit of a bustle with them. May their hearts be still, says Chiang, to see the beauty that lies before them.
Drying bamboo sticks for various uses including chopsticks, near Anji (安吉), Zhejiang.

Egyptian-American architect: Is China's countryside losing its identity and rustic charm to mass tourism?

Based in Shanghai, Egyptian-American architect Hisham Youssef has travelled to many off-the-beaten-track locations across China. He shares his observations about the impact of organised mass tourism on the countryside. With transport links improving and tourists arriving in droves, will tangible heritage be eroded and undiscovered gems become a thing of the past?
A girl holding a national flag watches as her family chats, outside the Forbidden City during the Labour Day holiday in Beijing, China on 1 May 2021. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

Not just a tech war: What China can do to better compete with the US and create a better world

An admirer of Chinese culture and of China’s warm and people-centred way of life, US academic Wu Guo says that China need not seek to win over the US in every field, not least in the high-tech domain. It actually has a powerful advantage that has been underutilised — a rich culture that goes back thousands of years and a way of life that nurtures bonds of community, kindness and civility. If those outside China see this softer side of China, surely they will be less hasty to cast the first stone?
This picture taken during a government organised media tour shows women growing rice in Nanniwan, some 60 km from Yan'an, the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party from 1936 to 1947, in Shaanxi province on 11 May 2021, ahead of the 100th year of the party's founding in July. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

An apple tree in Shaanxi tells a story: China’s quest to eradicate rural poverty

Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu journeys to Yan’an, northern Shaanxi — the old base of the Chinese Communist Party — ahead of the latter’s 100th anniversary on 1 July. She finds that Shaanxi speaks of the wins and woes of China’s development in recent years. Despite impressive economic growth, China is grappling with complicated problems such as urban-rural gaps and pockets of poverty in its vast hinterland.
The Larung Gar, a community in Sertar County of the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in Sichuan, China.

The ‘other’ Shangri-La: A journey through western Sichuan

Shivaji Das, author of travelogue “The ‘Other’ Shangri-la: Journeys through the Sino-Tibetan Frontier in Sichuan”, captures vignettes of life in the picturesque mountains of the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in western Sichuan. At the end of his journey, he asks: Would Shangri-La become indistinguishable from Disneyland? Would Han cultural hegemony obliterate every other peculiarity once a mesh of high-speed trains, all-weather roads, and Weibo accounts spread out in the region? Or would an environment of mutual trust, understanding, and accommodation be established? 
This photo taken on 21 March 2021 shows people waiting to receive the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a hospital in Huai'an, Jiangsu province, China. (STR/AFP)

Vaccine politics: Can one take a US-made vaccine after taking a China-made one?

Based on science, there is no firm understanding of the effectiveness of the vaccines or how long they last, so getting vaccinated does not mean immunity. Based on politics however, countries seem to be starting to use vaccine nationalism as a tool. Is it not enough to have two worlds split apart by different internets — now will we see a world divided into those who used the Chinese vaccine and those who used other vaccines? Viruses know no borders, but it’s looking like vaccinations will.