Lin Yutang: timeless wisdom

by Verena Nowotny

When my favorite magazine about China issues, The World of Chinese, brings a story about my favorite philosopher/writer/translator Lin Yutang, I have to share it...

China on the move

by Verena Nowotny

I am always happy to praise good journalism. The editors of the bi-monthly magazine "The World of Chinese" defnitely belong to this species. It is not a magazine for expats but wants to address all those who have a genuine interest what actually happens in China and what Chinese people say about it. The current edition dedicates quite some space to the topic of migration (pdf); the various motives and forms in which it takes place.

Analyzing China's Future

by Verena Nowotny

The Economist dedicates six pages to an in-depth analysis of China's current state; and as faithful Economist readers we are grateful again for the factual description of China's domestic struggles and its foreign policy ambivalence. I highly recommend this essay to everybody who wants a concise and compact update on what challenges China is facing at the moment.

New rules for instant messaging

by Verena Nowotny

Bad news for Tencent, with about 400 million monthly users China's Social Media giant: the government imposed new rules that aim at all instant messaging services, however, given Tencent's WeChat popularity it will hurt Tencent the most. The new regulation aims at curbing anonymous postings as well as unapproved political comments. Tencent remains rather relaxed in its official statement according to a report in the New York Times, although they are not quite sure how to enforce the new rules.

What a project: reforming the "Hukou" system

by Verena Nowotny

If China's leadership actually succeeds to tackle this issue, they deserve praise. The so-called "Hukou" system causes a lot of discontent and unrest as social security depends on this household registration system - excluding millions of Chinese from receiving social security benefits, such as migrant workers. On the other hand, any reform entails high costs for the cities that would need to cover the costs for social security benefits. It is a highly enthralling issue - read more about it in this New York Times article by Chris Buckley.

TAGS: China | Hukou | reform | urbanization |

BAT(man): The Chinese Internet Giants

by Verena Nowotny

Whereas everybody is looking at the Western Internet giants Amazon, Facebook and Google, their Chinese counterparts have established them as the predominant forces in that area. Baidu, the largest search engine in China, had a market share of 72 percent in 2013. Alibaba, the largest e-commerce provider in China, differs from Amazon as it only leases space to vendors without getting involved in sales, shipping, or after-sales support. Alibaba controls 80 percent of China's online retail market, equivalent to 5 percent of the country's total retail sales. Tencent, China's social media giant founded in 1998, has around 800 million users in China. Together, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are referred to as the BAT.

These and other interesting information about China's expanding cyberspace - in the West mainly reduced to hacking activities - can be learned from China expert Francois Godement in his recent briefing. An hour well spent.

Bad bad western politics

by Verena Nowotny

Mr Zhao Lin of the Institute of China Supervision could have used a more subtle approach, even borrowing from the Bible: "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone." However, his article on the website of the Chinese Communist Party’s top corruption investigation group, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, reminds of the rather blunt approach of a two-fisted spin doctor. Zhao uses the - in China highly popular - episodes of the Netflix production "House of Cards" to depict the U.S. and the Western world as the mother of all evil, and corruption in particular. Had he applied a more differentiated approach, as Bree Feng rightly states in his article in the New York Times, his observations would have less the smell of propaganda but of a valid assessment.

Pragmatism or corruption?

by Verena Nowotny

Stephen T. Asma, a philosophy professor in Chicago, wrote a very thoughtful article in the New York Times about intercultural (mis-)understandings between Americans and Chinese. He uses the example of the so-called "red envelopes" (hongbao), a Chinese tradition to give money not only on the occasion of family festivities but also to e.g. persuade a doctor to perform well when doing a surgery. Asma tackles the question whether this tradition that usually has a connotation of corruption in the Western world is an expression of pragmatism that once was popular in the U.S.


Cooperation Asian style?

by Verena Nowotny

Chandran Nair, founder of GIFT, and usually a provocative thinker, does not believe it is a given that the U.S. are the only intervening country on earth. In his article he pleads for a new form of cooperation among Asian states.


TAGS: Asia | China | foreign policy | USA |

China's urban dreams

by Verena Nowotny

The British magazine Economist as well as the related think tank Economist Intelligence Unit offer an in-depth analysis of the current urbanization plans - and dreams - of the Chinese leadership. A useful overview of the chances and risks as well as the regional realities.