(Don’t) fight the power

‘Just like a jigsaw puzzle, trying to find my place to be,’ belts out Xue Feng, lead singer of Beijing scream-punk band The Peppercorns. In a scruffy bar, tucked away in one of the city’s ancient alleyways, Xue and his ensemble – which includes a theremin, a Russian-invented electronic instrument dating from the early 20th century – pose the dilemma to a crowd of loyal, moody punk rockers. The band has an angsty energy; the crowd is muted and focused – perhaps they too are pondering the point t

Beijing's independent fashion designers are making a bold statement

For instance, hanfu, the traditional clothing style of the Han Chinese, is also enjoying a resurgence in fashion circles. In fact, Beijing Fashion Week opened with haute couture hanfu dresses from Chinese brand Xiannixiaozhu. Huang Chunyan, the brand’s spokesperson, told The Global Times that the hanfu display was about China’s “cultural confidence”, adding that “these glorious dresses will allow more Chinese to learn about our own style”. Small boutiques around the city, particularly in the ne

Singapore: an enthusiastic testbed for biometric payments

Convenience at the touch of a button is the mantra for services you can order through your phone. Whether it’s taxis or food delivery, there’s an app to bring it to your doorstep. Now the biometric payments sector is catching up. The world leader is Singapore where 61 per cent of financial companies have adopted or are in the process of adopting biometrics, according to a survey by identity data intelligence company GBG.

The long, slow, and painful death of HTC's smartphone business

In 2013, electronics company HTC splashed $1billion (£800 million) on a glitzy marketing stunt. The 'Here's to Change' advertising campaign, which featured a Huge Tinfoil Catamaran, a Hipster Troll Carwash, and a $12m (£9m) cameo from Avengers star Robert Downey Jr. At the time, the Taiwanese tech firm was trying to bounce back from the disappointing release of the HTC One smartphone, which won industry awards but sold fewer handsets than Samsung’s more lavishly promoted Galaxy S4. HTC hoped th

The Migrant Workers Behind China’s Economic Miracle Are Miserable

China’s government values the stability its economic miracle has delivered, but this is only one part of an evolving story. The party is aware that life satisfaction must become part of the equation, especially for migrants such as Liu who have yet to meaningfully feel the trickle-down of China’s economic success. President Xi Jinping has argued that the nation and its leaders must be concerned about more than economic growth. The basic needs of hundreds of millions of people have been met, but

State of Play: Internet Censorship in China

Last summer, Hua Yong’s sister tried to post him a picture frame. The painter was under house arrest, holed up with a friend in the mountainous region of Shangri-La. He was allowed to pass the time by painting, but needed frames to keep his work in good condition. Hua Yong repeatedly tried sending his address on WeChat – China’s ubiquitous messaging app – but it was never received. Only when he removed his name did the message deliver. Hua Yong couldn’t contact his sister because his name was b

The odd reality of life under China's Orwellian propaganda app

Labelling China Orwellian is often a blunt attack, one that misses the diversity and dissent of its 1.4 billion population. But when the state compels you to play video games designed by the government’s propaganda department, Orwellian is appropriate. China’s Study the Great Nation app, launched earlier this year, does what the name suggests: it helps you to study, via news articles, videos and quizzes, the People’s Republic of China. The app is more dystopian, though. Party cadres and student

How elderly, sickly farmers are quenching China's thirst for data

On a drizzly Saturday morning in rural Henan, a province in northern China, Mr Liu, 68, is in high spirits. The ruddy-skinned farmer has come to his village clinic for his second health examination of the year; he’s had his blood pressure checked, had an ECG, completed a urine test and given a blood sample. “[With these check-ups] I know more about my health, and I feel more secure,” he says ”It’s very good.” Despite suffering from high blood pressure and chronic leg pain, he has never been to

Could 'The Handmaid's Tale' Come True In China?

The echoes of The Handmaid’s Tale were startling and sinister. Last week, a Dutch ‘ethical hacker’ named Victor Gevers exposed a database of 1.8 million women, hosted on a server in China, that listed their personal details including age, marital status, ID numbers and addresses. The database also contained a ‘BreedReady’ category, which gave the Chinese women a binary score of one or zero, seemingly referring to their potential to have children.

Buyer beware: Chinese shoppers’ weapon to dodge cheap knock-offs

A man in his twenties sporting a shiny black suit and tie looks into the camera. Behind him a slideshow of purses imprinted with Louis Vuitton logos plays. “The second image shows the colour of the protective film on the zip. If it is authentic, it should be light blue,” he tells the viewer. The presenter is Yan Chuang and his videos have been viewed more than 100m times in China. In a country renowned for counterfeiting, Mr Chuang i

China and the US are locked in a crucial battle for space domination

Fifty years after the first moon landing, an American triumph that gripped the world, China marked the start of 2019 with its own lunar achievement. Chang’e-4, a Chinese probe, landed on the far side of the moon in early January, broadcasting – for the first time in human history – images of the cratered surface that faces away from Earth. Chang’e-4 has been billed as a friendly explorer, the latest step in humanity’s mission to better understand and exploit the universe around us. But space ex

Luckin Coffee: the Chinese chain looking to take down Starbucks

Chinese startup Luckin Coffee has a mission: “To defeat Starbucks in China,” according to chief operating officer Qian Zhiya. It’s already making good headway, last year opening its first 2,000 branches in China, while Starbucks has 3,600. The company has since announced plans to open a further 2,500 outlets in 2019. Luckin’s success lies in its innovative business model; most of its branches are take-away only, reducing operational costs, and customers order via a dedicated app rather than vis

The grey wall of China: inside the world's concrete superpower

In the suburbs south of Beijing, what could one day be the world’s busiest airport is rapidly taking shape. Nicknamed “the starfish” due to the striking design by Zaha Hadid Architects, the Beijing Daxing international airport is set to open in October, and could eventually handle more than 100 million passengers a year. While the 52,000-tonne steel exoskeleton covering the airport’s six concourses immediately catches the eye, what lies beneath is familiar to many Chinese mega-projects: concret

Chinese Censors Really Don’t Want You to Watch These Sex Ed Videos

Chinese Censors Really Don’t Want You to Watch These Sex Ed Videos Two doughnuts, one plain and one frosted with pink icing and sprinkles, are held up to the camera. The plain pastry, the chirpy host explains, represents a healthy cervix, while the colorful one represents cervical erosion. In another video, red-stained tampons pop out of wine bottles to show how the sanitary products work. Chang Mengran is fond of palatable metaphors. While she wields desserts in explanation, the 32-year-old’s

Making Leaps

In 2007, a young man name Liu Ting was awarded China’s highest honor for filial piety. Liu’s achievement had been to care for his ailing mother while he was a university student in Zhejiang, carrying her to and from hospital every day when his father left the family after a job loss. Seven years later, Liu made the headlines again when he came out as transgender, and revealed he had been trying on his mother’s lipstick and clothes since he was a child. “If he was a nobody, it wouldn’t have been

FEMINISTERNA SOM VÄLJER STRID FRAMFÖR TEBJUDNING

LI MAIZI studerade på universitetet i Xi’an, där hon fortsatte propagera å kvinnors och sexuella minoriteters vägnar. Hon har varit förgrundsfigur på många viktiga demonstrationer i Kina, som till exempel »bloody brides«- aktionen mot våld i nära relationer 2012, då hon och en annan aktivist gick igenom centrala Peking iklädda brudklänningar fläckade med fejkblod, och på »occupy men’s room«-aktionen samma år, där kvinnor i hela landet uppmanades att gå på herrtoaletter som en protest mot de lång
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