Family

Children stand at the entrance of the Forbidden City in Beijing on 12 June 2021. (Noel Celis/AFP)

China to impose strict measures on tuition centres to allay anxiety over education

In recent years, Chinese children have been sacrificing their playtime to shuttle through various tuition centres after school and during the holidays so that they can become more powerful “examination machines”. Now, China has released a set of guidelines that aims at easing such anxiety over education. It details requirements in reducing homework and improving the quality of education and after-class services provided by schools. It will also impose unprecedented strict measures on tuition centres and their activities. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan discusses the impetus behind these measures and the challenges of its implementation.
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?
People walk on the historic Doyers Street in Chinatown that has been painted over by Chilean-born street artist Dasic Fernandez, 24 June 2021 in New York City, US. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

Price of the American dream: Do immigrants have to forget their past?

Wu Guo, a US academic and first-generation immigrant finds that second- and third-generation immigrants, whether Asian Americans or otherwise, are more keen to trace their roots the more their parents and grandparents try to shield them from certain memories. Maybe more oral history projects and open discussion of the past will build stronger American identities?
A man stands next to Houhai Lake during the sunset in Beijing, China on 16 May 2021. (Jade Gao/AFP)

Chinese economics professor: How I fell for a scam

After a good laugh over falling for a phone app scam, Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui says seriously that the scammers’ tactics involved simple economics and he should have caught on to it sooner. But perhaps he was just being human and some knowledge of psychology would have been more helpful in this case?
A woman holds her child outside a shopping mall in Beijing, China, on 1 June 2021. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

Why Chinese women are unwilling to give birth

Respect. Lorna Wei says the nub of the issue in the low fertility rate in China lies in that one word. Growing up in a patriarchal society, daughters in China have for years been looked upon as second to sons. When they become wives, mothers and daughters-in-law, they shoulder the bulk of familial duties while trying to keep their jobs. Any fertility policy should first address greater equality between the sexes. Only when parents are assured that their burdens will be shared can they look forward to having more children.
In this picture taken on 11 January 2021, young gymnasts train at the Li Xiaoshuang Gymnastics School in Xiantao, Hubei province, China. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

A Chinese education: Why are Chinese parents and kids going to extremes?

As children cram for their studies, their parents are cramming along with them, believing that they should be good role models. Is all this hyper-learning normal or good? Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui will let others be the judge, but he says that economically speaking, this is a sign that social mobility is shrinking; everyone feels compelled to grasp the last inch of rope that will airlift them to a better life.
Elementary school students play on International Children's Day in Hai'an in China's eastern Jiangsu province on 1 June 2021, a day after China announced it would allow couples to have three children. (STR/AFP)

Faster, higher, stronger: China's kids pushed to breaking point

In China, the term involution (内卷, neijuan) has been used to refer to various forms of inward spiral, regression or stagnation. Applied to education, it is the vicious cycle of kids being primed and plumbed for their potential. Cram-style preschool education, intense competition for places in elite schools, crazy property prices in school districts... the list goes on. If no one steps off the wheel, is there no end in sight?
A couple use their mobile phones while sharing a bench at a park in Beijing on 21 April 2021. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

A burning issue among Chinese youths: How to escape the rat race?

The terms “involution” (内卷) and “lying flat” (躺平) are trending these days among young people in China who are speaking out against the intense competition and pressures they face. But how many are actually doing something about it? Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan digs deeper into the social phenomenon.
Why must gifts be reciprocated? (iStock)

Chinese economics professor: Why we exchange gifts, from ancient China to the present

Have you ever received a gift that you did not like? Economics professor Li Jingkui notes that when there is a mismatch between the gift and its recipient, the giver and receiver suffer a "deadweight loss". But still, many of us continue to exchange gifts. After much thought and research, Li found the answer for such persistent human behaviour in a Maori myth — you give a part of yourself along with your gift, which is something more valuable than the gift itself.