Tradition

This photo taken on 26 June 2020 shows a performer at the opening ceremony of the 2020 Music and Food Festival of Grassland in Hohhot. (Bei He/Xinhua)

The psychology of facial aesthetics: A cultural perspective

Hayson Wang, who specialises in plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery, shares some insights into the way facial beauty is defined by science and in different cultures.
Traditional Chinese medicine has its believers and detractors. (Hedy Khoo/SPH)

Western medicine or Chinese medicine? China's TCM regulations spark debate

TCM treatment is said to have played a role in the fight against Covid-19 in China. The Beijing authorities recently sought public views on a set of proposed regulations on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which includes articles that mention punishments for those who “defame and slander” TCM. A furore ensued as the public worried about the expansiveness of the proposed law. Oxford University visiting researcher Hayson Wang thinks hard about what lies at the nub of the issue and what TCM proponents must do to bring TCM practice into the mainstream.
Emperor Qianlong writing (《乾隆帝写字像》), The Palace Museum. (Internet)

Chiang Hsun: How great a mark of rebellion it is to hold an ink brush

Empress Wu Zetian (624-705 CE, China's only female emperor who ruled during the Tang dynasty) used 1000 copies of the Diamond Sutra and 1000 copies of the Lotus Sutra to pray for her mother when the latter passed away. In part four of his series of articles on calligraphy, Taiwanese art historian Chiang Hsun looks back at history and is grateful for the tool he has in hand to deliberate, act and to act deliberately. But what is it about holding an ink brush that makes it a rebellious act?
A couple poses for a wedding photographer as they postponed their marriage due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in Wuhan, China, on 14 April 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

Chinese couples queuing up for divorce: Blame it on the coronavirus?

Appointments for divorce are fully booked on Shenzhen Civil Affairs Bureau’s marriage registry system. The next slot will only be available after mid-June. Divorce rates are on the rise in China, presumably due to increased frictions between couples brought about by extensive lockdowns. But a complicated web of social policies tied to one’s marital status, be it buying a house or getting a loan, may be the hidden lever tipping decisions towards divorce.
A couple wearing face masks cuddles along a park at the Yangtze river in Wuhan, Hubei, on 12 April 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Death of a Peking University girl: Virginity matters in modern China

Baoli, a student at Peking University, committed suicide because of her boyfriend and died this early April. Young academic Lorna Wei examines the case and bemoans the sad situation of both men and women holding parochial attitudes in China towards a woman’s virginity. In extreme cases, the vulnerable may fall prey to grave self-harm, even death.
Traditional agricultural markets in China, like the Longdong Market pictured in the photo, are coming under the spotlight amid efforts to stamp out illegal wildlife trading.

The end of wet markets in Guangzhou?

The first few cases of Covid-19 were believed to have been linked to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, where some live wild animals were available for sale. As the virus comes under control in China, traditional agricultural markets in China are coming under the spotlight amid efforts to stamp out illegal wildlife trading. While these markets in the main never had exotic wildlife for sale, the overhaul taking place is threatening the old way of life for many shopkeepers and market-goers. Zeng Shi takes a look at a microcosm of that phenomenon in Guangzhou.
In this photo taken on 3 April, a poster encouraging people to use serving chopsticks and sit apart is seen as two diners wait for their food to be served in a restaurant in Saybag District, Ürümqi, Xinjiang, China. (CNS)

No more sharing of communal dishes: A revolution of Chinese dining habits?

From serving meals in individual portions, to using serving spoons and advocating BYO (bring your own) — not booze but cutlery — experts in Beijing are setting new dining conventions that will upend the convivial culture of Chinese dining as we know it.
Chiang Hsun practising calligraphy. (Facebook/蔣勳)

Picking up an ink brush amid the pandemic, what do I write?

Chiang Hsun shares his memories learning calligraphy from his father, and muses that brush strokes on a page are more than beautiful reproductions of text — it is a living art form that, like a play or a film, has the power to move and even heal an audience.
A statue of Confucius at the Imperial Academy in Beijing. (iStock)

China’s Confucianist path to soft power

Pang Ruizhi argues that apart from making reforms to its political and government systems, China needs to find strength in its good cultures and traditions. He feels that a revival and remake of Confucianism — a key tenet of Chinese philosophy and thoughts — will be a key booster shot to building a new Chinese culture and strengthen China’s soft power on the international stage.