History

Dragon dancers perform at a park on the first day of the Lunar New Year of the Dragon in Beijing on 10 February 2024. (Greg Baker/AFP)

‘Loong’ or dragon?

There has been a recently renewed debate over whether the Chinese 龙 should be translated into English as "dragon" as it is currently known now, or whether there should be a new translation: “loong”. While there is some historical evidence that “loong” was actually one early translation, perhaps today it might be difficult for it to catch on.
A pedestrian rides an escalator in Pudong's Lujiazui Financial District in Shanghai, China, on 29 January 2024. (Raul Ariano/Bloomberg)

Will following the US bring peace and prosperity to China?

Many in the Chinese world have unquestionably accepted the idea that friendly relations with the US will guarantee a country’s prosperity. However, academic Jianyong Yue notes that despite the honeymoon period between China and the US in the 1980s, China was still not endowed preferential treatment. Meanwhile, many countries have seen immense development even without the help of the US.
Shikumen houses in the Xintiandi area of Shanghai, before restoration work. (Photo: Kevin Sim Kwang Yang)

Shikumen houses: The first classrooms for the people of Shanghai

The TV series Blossoms Shanghai has revived interest in what life was like in Shanghai during the 1990s, in particular the lanes and shikumen houses unique to Shanghai that became a melting pot of people from different social statuses. Writer Shen Jialu takes us on a journey through old Shanghai.
The dragon in Singapore's Chinatown has four claws. (SPH Media)

Year of the Dragon: How to tell a 'real' dragon from a 'fake' one

Commentator Zhang Tiankan notes that the mythical Chinese dragon has gone through numerous iterations over a long history, and there is not one definitive version of it, much less one “correct” number of claws that it should have. As long as the general image is in line with its majestic and fantastical heritage, the number of claws is secondary.
Dr Yee Wai Seng wanted the plaque in the gallery’s collection as soon as he came to know of its existence.

Yuan Shikai's calligraphy on century-old plaque of old Singapore pharmacy

Yuan Shikai may be known as more of a military man and the second provisional president of the Republic of China, but he was also an accomplished calligrapher. One of his works is a plaque written for a store called Woi Fung Sheong Tim in Singapore, and after a century, it has been included in the collection of the Kwong Wai Siew Peck San Theng Heritage Gallery.
A woman walks past a mural in Chinatown in Singapore on 26 January 2024. (Photo by Roslan Rahman/AFP)

What language should one speak to be Singaporean?

Former journalist Goh Choon Kang notes the shift in perceptions of what is considered a mother tongue, and how becoming a monolingual English-speaking society would affect Singapore’s current multilingual advantage and international positioning.
The Lion Grove Garden in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, China. (Photo: Haryani Ismail)

Bai Juyi: This Tang dynasty poet enjoyed a good life

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai gives us a glimpse into the life of Tang dynasty poet Bai Juyi, whose later years were leisurely spent as a carefree and frivolous official often writing about the blazing heat of summer.
A woman poses for photographs in front of publicity posters for Blossoms Shanghai in front of Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai, China, on 11 January 2024. (CNS)

Wong Kar-wai's Blossoms Shanghai stirs up nostalgia for Shanghai of the 1990s

As the popular TV series Blossoms Shanghai shows the thriving Shanghai of the 1990s, the Shanghai of today is a far cry from the TV series. How can Shanghai find its rhythm again?
In 1998, US President Bill Clinton visited China and went to a private internet cafe in Shanghai to take a look at new developments in China. At that time, there were only 30 internet cafes in Shanghai, and the software was imported from the US, with no local internet technology companies.

[Photo story] Fifty years of China-US relations (Part 1)

In the first of a two-part feature, historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao takes a look at the ups and downs between the world’s two major powers over the past 50 years, and how China’s economy and survival have been tied to the US in various ways.