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A boy plays on a pile of garbage covering a drain at a slum area on World Environment Day in New Delhi, India, 5 June 2020. (Adnan Abidi/REUTERS)

China and India: When Western democracy fails and only utopia remains

Following the recent China-India border clash, Hong Kong columnist Chip Tsao takes a look at both countries and muses that even as some viewpoints converge, different systems and different national characteristics produce very different fates.
A boat arriving in Singapore with coolies, circa 1900. The coolies step out of the hold and stand on deck for a photograph taken by the German boat owner. This is a rare and valuable image because there are generally no photographs of early Chinese coolies. Coloured using modern image-processing technology, the photograph takes us right back to that boat deck a century ago, giving us a hint of how these coolies must have looked and felt upon arriving at their destination.

An album of rare photos: From Chinese coolies to Singaporeans

From the 19th century to the 1920s and 1930s, ships transporting hundreds of Chinese coolies ready to work hard and make their "fortune" in Nanyang often docked at Kallang River. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao recently obtained an album with rare photographs of such a ship bringing coolies from Xiamen in Fujian, China, to Singapore in the early 20th century. They are an authentic visual record of Chinese coolies in Singapore a century ago and a powerful throwback to that period.
A Chinese ethnic woman at her shop in Chinatown in Jakarta, 7 May 2020. (Bay Ismoyo/AFP)

Indonesians welcome Chinese investment but fear influx of new Chinese migrants

There has been an influx of new mainland Chinese migrants arriving in Indonesia since the BRI was launched in 2013. Chinese businesses have flourished and people who are bilingual in both the Indonesian and Chinese languages are in huge demand. However, ISEAS academic Leo Suryadinata notes that newcomers may create tensions, as they negotiate trust issues with the indigenous community as well as Chinese Indonesians who have made Indonesia their home for several generations.