History

People walk along a shopping district during the Labour Day holidays, in Beijing, China, on 3 May 2021. (Noel Celis/AFP)

New breed of American China experts see China with a colder eye

Chinese academics have long admired the old guard of American sinologists who had a soft spot for China. But they must now discard any left-over sentimentality for these old heroes, says Wu Guo, and welcome the new generation of China hands that they will have to deal with. The post-70s and post-80s generation of China specialists dominate US President Biden’s China policy team, and will be the ones to watch in the analysis of US-China relations.
A woman holds her child outside a shopping mall in Beijing, China, on 1 June 2021. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

Why Chinese women are unwilling to give birth

Respect. Lorna Wei says the nub of the issue in the low fertility rate in China lies in that one word. Growing up in a patriarchal society, daughters in China have for years been looked upon as second to sons. When they become wives, mothers and daughters-in-law, they shoulder the bulk of familial duties while trying to keep their jobs. Any fertility policy should first address greater equality between the sexes. Only when parents are assured that their burdens will be shared can they look forward to having more children.
People walk along an alley in Zhenjiang Xijin Ferry site, said to be the birthplace of Zhenjiang ham jelly. (iStock)

A Chinese deity and a ham jelly with a 300-year-old history

With each bite of Zhenjiang ham jelly, a traditional dish of Jiangsu province, Cheng Pei-kai remembers local folklores and heroes. There was Zhang Guolao, an immortal who dared to try meat accidentally cured with saltpeter, and also national hero Shi Kefa, who defended Yangzhou with his last breath. What would they have thought of today's tourists, nonchalantly trying a slice of ham jelly or two?
This picture taken during a government organised media tour shows women growing rice in Nanniwan, some 60 km from Yan'an, the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party from 1936 to 1947, in Shaanxi province on 11 May 2021, ahead of the 100th year of the party's founding in July. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

An apple tree in Shaanxi tells a story: China’s quest to eradicate rural poverty

Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu journeys to Yan’an, northern Shaanxi — the old base of the Chinese Communist Party — ahead of the latter’s 100th anniversary on 1 July. She finds that Shaanxi speaks of the wins and woes of China’s development in recent years. Despite impressive economic growth, China is grappling with complicated problems such as urban-rural gaps and pockets of poverty in its vast hinterland.
People walk near the Bund, in front of Lujiazui financial district in Pudong, Shanghai, China, 10 May 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China's top infectious diseases expert Zhang Wenhong: Division stands in the way of defeating the pandemic

Zhang Wenhong, director of the infectious diseases department at Huashan Hospital in Shanghai, delivered a commencement speech in English at New York University Shanghai on 26 May. He observed that in China's fight against Covid-19, a consideration for others in the community helped people follow mask-wearing and social distancing protocol in the early stages. Writ large, a globalised problem can only be solved through human solidarity. The world, especially the young of the future, need to a find a way to work together.
People walk along Qianmen street in Beijing on 19 May 2021. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Americans should not oversimplify China into a few sensitive issues

US academic Wu Guo says that not only is the American media's reporting biased against China, college students often only have access to resources that present only one version of China. He feels it is important for Americans to realise that their understanding of China is often limited to a few sensitive issues. He suggests that with their feet anchored in two worlds, overseas Chinese or Asian academics can play a part in presenting a more balanced view of China.
Why must gifts be reciprocated? (iStock)

Chinese economics professor: Why we exchange gifts, from ancient China to the present

Have you ever received a gift that you did not like? Economics professor Li Jingkui notes that when there is a mismatch between the gift and its recipient, the giver and receiver suffer a "deadweight loss". But still, many of us continue to exchange gifts. After much thought and research, Li found the answer for such persistent human behaviour in a Maori myth — you give a part of yourself along with your gift, which is something more valuable than the gift itself. 
During the days of the Republic, Nanjing Road in Shanghai was one of the best-known commercial streets in the world. Stores and advertisements lined the streets; advertisement placards announcing sales and discounts were waved in the streets while tobacconists, pharmacies, watch shops and metal workshops vied for customers side by side.

[Photo story] The many faces of Shanghai over a hundred years

Over a century, the city of Shanghai saw it all. Westerners fell in love with Republican Shanghai, where commerce and culture flourished; Japanese invaders advanced and retreated; communism and capitalism vied for a stage. Despite these ups and downs, Shanghai has maintained a demeanour and style unto itself. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao traces Shanghai’s days of glamour and the front-row seat it had in war, revolution, and reform.  
People flock to pay their last respects to Yuan Longping at his memorial service in Changsha, Hunan, China on 24 May 2021. (CNS)

China mourns scientist Yuan Longping, the ‘father of hybrid rice’

Following the recent passing of scientist Yuan Longping, “the father of hybrid rice”, citizens in China called for the flag to be flown at half-mast as a mark of respect. Yu Zeyuan says that the authorities seem reluctant to do so for fear of setting a precedent. But for a man whose achievements speak for themselves, no pomp and pageantry is needed.