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Passengers use their mobile phones on the subway in Beijing, 12 May 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Weibo punished: Should public opinion be controlled by money or the state?

It is no secret that China’s social media and public opinion is not what it seems: clicks, top searches, and hot topics can all be bought with money. But this points to a bigger problem of whether the Chinese authorities are prepared to allow money, rather than the power of the state, drive public opinion. Zaobao assistant editor Han Yong Hong lays out the implications.
A man looks at a globe in a park in Wuhan, 8 April 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

What is China's next move? It has two alternatives

Economics professor Yu Zhi points out that the ball is in China’s court as to whether it will continue being plugged in to the international economic system and whether globalisation itself will continue on its path. In the medium- to long-term, he sees that it is in China’s interest to stay the course and scenarios of decoupling between China and the West are much exaggerated. However, how China sees its strategic role in the world in the future is something its leaders and people have to give great thought to, not in the future, but right now.
Professor Wang Gungwu speaks on China, the coronavirus, and the prospect of a divided world. (SPH)

Wang Gungwu: Even if the West has lost its way, China may not be heir apparent

In a wide-ranging email interview with ThinkChina editor Chow Yian Ping, sinologist Wang Gungwu shares his thoughts on how China and the world have changed because of the pandemic. He keenly observes that Chinese leaders have sought greater control over the population in recent years, and the situation will worsen as the pandemic deepens their insecurities. On the international stage, an intense clash of interests among the major powers looks set to keep nations divided. On the micro-level however, he takes heart that a “globalisation from below” is taking place; the fact that the virus knows no borders has brought people closer together, with opportunities for reset.
The fearless girl statue and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) are pictured on 20 April 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. (Johannes Eisele/AFP)

Will the pandemic undermine the long-term leadership capability of the US?

With the coronavirus rampaging through the West, especially the US, some people think that this might signal the start of a decline in the leadership status of the US, with China ready to step up in its place. Chinese professor Yu Zhi does not agree.
The Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egypt is pictured on 1 March 2020 with the Chinese flag projected on it in solidarity with the Chinese people amid the Covid-19 pandemic. (AFP)

‘Wolf-warrior diplomacy’: China's new normal?

Taking an aggressive stance will do Chinese diplomats little good in their efforts to control the narrative, says Zhu Zhiqun. In fact, such behaviour offends the very people they hope to persuade. However, is wolf-warrior diplomacy becoming the new normal?
A man wears a protective face mask amid the Covid-19 pandemic, as he walks past the Jingshan park overlooking the Forbidden City in Beijing on 25 January 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

Will Covid-19 be the catastrophe that ends China's good fortune?

China has faced reversals of fortune numerous times in history, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. After enjoying decades of upward ascent since its economic reform and opening up, some says China’s fate is about to be reversed again with the coronavirus pandemic, a mammoth disruption that kicked off the 2020s. Lance Gore argues that such massive shock to its political and economic system exposes chinks in its armour but does not necessarily unravel a big country with the world’s most comprehensive industrial structure.
Staff members keeping watch at a checkpoint in the border city of Suifenhe, in China's northeastern Heilongjiang province, April 21, 2020. (STR/AFP)

Did China win the fight against the virus but lose the world?

With the US state of Missouri suing China over the coronavirus, and Western leaders coming together to demand greater transparency and accountability from China, Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong examines what went wrong with China's communications with the West during the pandemic. Is there anything China can do to improve its international image and diplomatic position?
This file photo taken on March 8, 2019 shows a general view of the second plenary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (Greg Baker/AFP)

China's 2020 National People’s Congress and challenges ahead

Postponed at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak, China’s annual legislative assembly is set to take place in the imminent future. The meeting of almost 3000 delegates will signal a return to normalcy and be a chance for the Chinese leadership to reinforce its message of victory over Covid-19. However, rhetoric aside, it will have to confront serious social and economic challenges after the pandemic.
Most of its citizens think that today’s China is a prosperous, harmonious, confident, stable, and responsible power. (iStock)

China’s soft power conundrum: The big divide

While the majority of Mainland Chinese believe that China is a prosperous, harmonious, confident, stable, and responsible power, many outsiders do not. What has China done to boost its soft power and international image? Have these efforts been effective?