History

Troops are seen at the main square where hundreds of people were protesting against the government, after authorities' decision to lift price caps on liquefied petroleum gas, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, 6 January 2022. (Mariya Gordeyeva/Reuters)

China and Russia’s shared interest in preventing a pro-US Kazakhstan

To help quell the current unrest in Kazakhstan, Russia sent troops while China gave only verbal support to Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Despite their different levels of commitment, Russia and China share a common desire not to see Kazakhstan developing closer ties with the US. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan analyses the situation.
Leaves lay on the ground as pedestrians and bicycle riders are seen in front of the Reichstag building housing the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, on 19 October 2021. (Ina Fassbender/AFP)

Germany between the US and China

With a new chancellor in place, how Germany will adjust its approach to China amid growing rivalry between the two superpowers is an issue that is closely watched by many countries around the world. US academic Zhu Zhiqun examines the possibilities.
China Customs officers raise a Chinese flag during a rehearsal for a flag-raising ceremony along the Bund past buildings in the Lujiazui Financial District at sunrise in Shanghai, China, on 4 January 2022. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

The Chinese ruling party needs a new pact with the people to forge a more humane and self-confident nation

Lance Gore notes the transitional nature of the third historical resolution passed by the Communist Party of China (CPC) recently. It kept Pandora’s box closed, leaving issues of history unresolved. Will the CPC use a fourth historical resolution to build a pact with the people to forge a vibrant, humane, self-confident nation on the world stage?
A colour music sheet, 19th century, titled "A Chinese Monkey Doodle".

[Photo story] A history of Western illustrations insulting the Chinese

For over 100 years, the Chinese have been the target of stereotypes and racism from Western countries. The way they look, work and talk have all been captured in images and illustrations by Western artists, and not at all in a friendly way. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao shows us some of these images.
A woman wearing a face mask works at a fish stall in a market in Taipei, Taiwan, 26 November 2021. (Annabelle Chih/Reuters)

My childhood days in Xiamen Street, Taiwan: Of invisible warriors, string puppets and spring pancakes

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai recalls with fondness Xiamen Street where he had stayed as a child, a thoroughfare with plenty to explore. Fishmongers deft with their knives, puppeteers recreating mammoth duels, pushcart hawkers with irresistible snacks, stationmasters holding fort at the train station — these characters made youngsters' lives outside the classroom full of colour and life.
Students attend a lesson at a school in Qingyuan county, Lishui city, Zhejiang province, China, on 9 December 2021. (AFP)

Students snitching on teachers in Chinese classrooms: Return of Cultural Revolution?

Another internet furore has erupted, this time over a Shanghai college lecturer who was ratted out by her student and accused of being “spiritually Japanese” for questioning the death toll of the Nanjing Massacre. Are fears of a Cultural Revolution returning justified as people feel emboldened to tell on others without much thought?
A woman walks past a tree on a street in Beijing on 23 November 2021. (Jade Gao/AFP)

Cultural historian: How the art of flattery in ancient China has endured the test of time

A young teacher is disillusioned by the instances of pai ma pi (lit. patting a horse’s butt) he sees at work. Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai, who has seen some of such behaviour in academia, commiserates with him, noting that the practice of flattery and fawning over higher-ups has a place in Chinese history. Generations of ancients indulged in such behaviour, sometimes for survival and sometimes to get ahead. Centuries of practice later, they became very good at it indeed.
Japanese people on a transport vessel take a last look at Manchuria, spring 1945. The Japanese government previously made many nice promises to encourage them to migrate to Manchuria, only for Japan to lose the war and dash the dream. Japan’s painful experience in Manchuria also became important material for Japanese literature and film after the war.

[Photo story] The fate of Japanese POWs and civilians in China after World War II

During the Japanese occupation of China in World War II, the Japanese government encouraged the people of Japan to migrate to China, where they were accorded many privileges as first-grade citizens. But when Japan eventually lost the war, these people found themselves cut adrift in an instant, neither belonging to China nor tied to Japan, especially the children born during the war. Many suffered and even lost their lives as the Soviet army put them into concentration camps and took retaliatory action. Some Japanese still remember the magnanimous policies of the Chiang Kai-Shek government, which arranged at the time for Japanese POWs and other Japanese to be repatriated back to Japan. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao presents photos of the period.
Compared with its opening, passenger flow to Shibati has reduced. (Photo: Edwin Ong)

Preservation of Chongqing’s oldest central business district: Success or failure?

Reviews have been mixed after Shibati, Chongqing’s oldest central business district, reopened to great fanfare recently. Some were glad that the former messy, dilapidated quarter has been refreshed, while others feel that it has been turned into another “ancient street”, devoid of a sense of its rich history and heritage. Where should the fine balance be, in the preservation of tangible heritage, when multiple stakeholders and business interests are involved?