Intellectuals

The cheers from the civilian Russians show that to Russia, there was no doubt of victory in the war. They called the Japanese “yellow monkeys”, and believed that Japan was too weak to dare to attack. They thought the Russian army had the absolute advantage and winning was just a matter of time.

[Photo story] Russo-Japanese War: A war fought on Chinese soil and its hard lessons

The Russo-Japanese War was in fact not fought in either Russia or Japan, but in China. It was the culmination of a fierce rivalry between a Eurasian power and an Asian country that showed it could hold its own against a much bigger opponent. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao takes us through a painful period in history that saw many Chinese lives taken.
A sign welcoming US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is placed near the US Capitol days after supporters of US President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol in Washington, US, 10 January 2021. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Can America find its way under Biden?

His divisive ways had earned President Donald Trump the moniker “Trump who builds our nation” amongst Chinese netizens. When President-elect Biden assumes power, will he be straitjacketed by the radical left in his party and be turned unwittingly into another “Biden who builds our nation” to the Chinese? Will America's troubles translate to opportunities for China?
A pedestrian walks past a mural from the "Heart of Cyberpunk" exhibition in Sham Shui Po district in Hong Kong on 24 October 2020. (Photo by May JAMES / May James / AFP)

'Transnational Chinese-language cyber intellectual enclaves': An emerging phenomenon

Wu Guo observes that with the prevalence of WeChat and other online platforms, “transnational Chinese-language cyber intellectual enclaves” are emerging. Such an avenue is freeing for some, as ethnic Chinese academics around the world who mainly use the Chinese language now have an avenue to share their views with other ethnic Chinese in or outside China. But for those keeping track of where the centre of gravity of China discourse is moving towards and who fear being left out of the conversation — should they be worried?   
A supporter of President-elect Joe Biden celebrate his victory in Wilmington, Delaware on 7 November 2020. (Jim Watson/AFP)

Chinese liberal intellectuals divided over Trump and the US elections

Liberal intellectuals in China are not a monolithic group. While the elites within the community once served to moderate divergent views, disagreements laid bare by the recent US elections shows that deeper schisms run deep, especially between those espousing conservative and liberal views.
Travel is one way to build critical thinking and identity, says cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai. (iStock)

Woman traveller of the Qing dynasty Qian Shan Shili: Education is the bedrock of a nation

The little-known Qian Shan Shili had the opportunity to travel in the days of upheaval at the end of the Qing dynasty and at the dawn of a new republic. She was the first woman to record her thoughts in two travelogues and felt strongly that China’s new education system paled in comparison with that of other countries such as Japan. She concluded that education should have the aim of building critical-thinking men and women rather than just nurturing a crop of scholars with exceptional talent. After all, she notes, without citizens, how can there be talents? And without citizens, there can certainly be no society. These are wise words, says cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai, that remain relevant even today.
A sign encouraging voter turnout is seen at a campaign yard sign distribution site in Madison, Wisconsin, US, 17 October 2020. (Bing Guan/File Photo/Reuters)

Intellectuals and accountability: Should scientists sway public opinion on politics?

Zhang Tiankan chastises renowned journals The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine, Science and Nature, for veering off their professional domains and making prescriptive statements about which US presidential candidate to vote for. Such behaviour is irresponsible and unbecoming, to say the least. He asks: Shouldn't intellectuals be accountable for their views and positions?
Two works by fine art photographers John Clang (L) and Zhou Yang. (Courtesy of John Clang and Zhou Yang)

A dialogue with John Clang and Zhou Yang: Human relations, memories and the compassionate photographer

What do creatives have in common and how differently do they interpret and make sense of the world around them? A chat with Singaporean photographer John Clang and Chinese photographer Zhou Yang gives a glimpse of that exploration. Each photographer has his own approach: Clang takes an almost anthropological perspective by drawing inspiration from those around him, be they friends or complete strangers; Zhou delves into the camera of the mind — the memory — and uses it to tell larger stories about the past and present. Lianhe Zaobao journalist Wang Yiming speaks to the photographers in the first of several fireside chats put together to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China.
An American flag is placed on a fence outside of the US Capitol building on 28 September 2020 in Washington, DC. (Al Drago/AFP)

Anti-intellectualism in US diplomacy: How worried should we be?

Intellectual elites in the US have traditionally played a key role in the way the country conducts international relations, and have guided the US government in shaping is foreign policy. However, the US's words and actions about China-US relations and the coronavirus seem to suggest that it has fallen prey to anti-intellectualism, with rationality and long-term vision thrown away. Japan-based academic Zhang Yun examines the issue and finds out if there is indeed cause for concern.
Students attend the 100th anniversary of the founding of Wuhan High School on the first day of the new semester in Wuhan, Hubei, China, on 1 September 2020. (STR/AFP)

Why intellectuals failed to flourish throughout 5000 years of China's history

Chip Tsao laments the dearth of independent thought in China, following a long history of strictures imposed on intellectualism. If the elements of the “scholar”, “intellectual” and “professional” can be combined and inculcated in the country’s elites, a new dynamism can be sparked off that can help China truly modernise.