Tradition

How does a cup of HK$68 milk tea taste? (iStock)

Song dynasty emperor's brewing secrets in a cup of HK milk tea

As far as a passion for tea goes, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai meets his match in a tea shop owner in Sham Tseng. The tea connoisseur is an alchemist almost as he varies the ingredients and brewing methods to concoct the most memorable teas.
The late theatre pioneer Kuo Pao Kun, whose plays and teachings have shaped a generation of theatre makers in Singapore. (The Theatre Practice)

True gems: Singapore’s pioneers of the arts deserve more credit

Teo Han Wue laments that we are not doing enough to remember the remarkable contributions that Singapore’s pioneers of the arts have made. Singapore’s early artists and theatre practitioners were the avant-garde who went beyond the tried and tested in China or elsewhere. If we don’t remember our past achievements, how can we be inspired to produce greater things in the future?
Couples attend a group wedding ceremony at a marriage registry in Donghai, Jiangsu province, China, on 22 February 2022, a palindrome day written as "22-2-22". (AFP)

Monogamy or polygamy: An economic choice?

One may be tempted to assume that monogamy is the ideal that humans aspire to, but this is not the case, says Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui. He explains why different marriage systems were devised to maximise economic benefits.
Jonathan Spence (1936-2021), master storyteller of Chinese history. (WeChat/玉茗堂前)

Jonathan Spence: A Western historian's search for modern China

Professor Jonathan Spence (1936-2021) was a prolific historian who deepened Western readers’ understanding of China’s history and culture through his artful mastery of narrative history grounded in rigorous research. From the inner world of Emperor Kangxi to Jesuit missionaries' voyage to China, to the plight of Chinese intellectuals and literati and the arduous mission of reform and opening up, Spence’s unique writing style brought to life the complex historical figures and events of China. Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai, one of his earliest students, and translation academic Jackie Yan pay tribute to Spence and his contribution to the study of Chinese history through this preface to a collection of Spence's translated works published by the Guangxi Normal University Press.
Supporters of Yoon Seok-youl, presidential candidate from the main opposition People Power Party, attend a campaign rally in Seoul, South Korea, on 15 February 2022. (SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)

How will anti-China sentiment impact South Korea’s presidential election?

South Korean angst directed towards China during the Winter Olympics suggests that anti-China sentiment in South Korea has not completely subsided from the time of China's reprisals against South Korea for the THAAD missile system deployment some years ago. In such a climate, bilateral relations could get rockier if Yoon Seok-youl of the conservative People Power Party makes it to the finish line in South Korea's March presidential election.
A couple (front, left) wear traditional hanbok dress as they walk across a road in Seoul, South Korea, on 7 January 2022. (Anthony Wallace/AFP)

When neighbours disagree: Did China 'steal' South Korea’s culture and historical memory?

When the Chinese featured a lady wearing a hanbok — what to the Koreans is their national costume — at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony, it was as if the band-aid on rising China-South Korean tensions was peeled off. Soon after, cries of foul play and the Chinese “snatching” medals from the South Koreans followed. Are greater squabbles on the horizon for these Northeast Asian neighbours?
A reunion dinner spread with wishes for all things in the new year to be yuan yuan man man (圆圆满满, good and well). (iStock)

Full Circle: Ruminating on the round in Chinese New Year dining

As Chinese around the world celebrate the Lunar New Year, it is almost taken for granted that the round is auspicious and preferred. What is this fascination with the perfect circle, and how does it present itself in the dining traditions and dishes of the season? For ThinkChina's Charlene Chow, the circular jogs the memory of the beautiful things in life.
People walk through an alley decorated with traditional lanterns near Houhai lake in Beijing, China, on 2 February 2022. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Covid-19 best excuse for Chinese youths who dread returning home during CNY

With strict pandemic measures in place, young Chinese have the perfect excuse not to return to their hometowns during the Spring Festival. If they did make the trip home, they would have faced a barrage of questions about their lives and burned a large hole in their pockets trying to show that they’ve made it. As it gets harder to make a living in their adopted cities, shoring up their finances and getting a head start in the working world is what matters most.
A street in Beijing with just a few lanterns as CNY decorations. (Photo: Jessie Tan)

A Singaporean in China: Why I miss Chinese New Year in Singapore

Former journalist Jessie Tan now based in Beijing observes that compared to Singapore’s Chinatown din, nianwei (the Chinese New Year atmosphere) in Beijing seems rather low-key. Like many people living away from home, her identity becomes clearer the further she’s away. She goes in search of some nianwei Singapore-style, even if she wasn’t much of a Chinese New Year fan back home. Perhaps it’s what they say about only missing something when they’re gone?