Elaine Yau

Elaine Yau

Senior reporter, Culture

Elaine Yau is a contributor to Inkstone. She covers culture for the South China Morning Post.

Location
Beijing
Language spoken
English, Mandarin, Cantonese
Areas of Expertise
Entertainment, health, travel
Takeout troubles for Chinese food delivery apps
For Mike Wong, the owner of a restaurant called Hong Kong Grassroots Canteen with two branches in Beijing, takeout service has long been something of a headache. In China, the delivery app Meituan Dianping and its rival Ele.me dominate meal delivery services. (Ele.me is owned by Alibaba Group, the parent company of Inkstone). Users log on to the apps and order from the restaurants listed. Wong says Meituan charges a minimum of 20% commission on each order – a significant amount for a small business. “My profit margin is only 10% to 15%. So for a takeaway order, all my profits have to be given to Meituan.” Wong says many people order takeout for items as simple as a cup of noodles or a glas
Seychelles may be grateful this man got stranded in the country
When Beijinger Rex Yang arrived in Seychelles in late January, he did not expect that a planned two-week family holiday would stretch to three months, with no end in sight. Little did he know, he would also become an accidental ambassador for the country’s tourism industry.  The Yang family is still stranded on the island of La Digue, the third-largest in the Seychelles archipelago in the Indian Ocean off East Africa.  The family’s stay was originally extended because Yang’s mother was unwell, and then further prolonged because Seychelles’ international airport was shut down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Before the virus crisis took hold, the 33-year-old, his mother, sister and n
The hard part of banning the consumption of wild animals? Defining them
Turtle soup, rice porridge with frog, snake soup, frog leg clay pot rice – could popular dishes in Chinese cuisine like these be off restaurant menus in China for good? That’s the worry of chefs, food critics and restaurant owners after the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top lawmaking body, banned the trade and consumption of wild animals in late February as part of measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak. The consumption of wild animals has drawn much government scrutiny, as both the current epidemic and the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) have been associated with markets in China selling meat from wild animals. The Sars virus o
Will ‘Parasite’ make it past China’s film censors?
Chinese film fans still don’t know if, or when, they will get to see Parasite, the South Korean film that made history by winning the 92nd Academy Award for best picture, along with three other Oscars. Some expressed doubts the film would be shown in China given its unflinching criticism of social inequality and extreme poverty, and its amoral storyline. It wouldn’t be the first Korean film to fall foul of Chinese censors. Korean directors have not been shy about depicting their country under dictatorship, and are likened to French filmmakers in their stylistic portrayal of sex and gore. Chinese censorship rules ban the explicit portrayal of sex, violence, sensitive political issues, practic
Rescuers are knocking down doors to save pets locked down and starving in Wuhan
Animal rescuers are racing against the clock to save thousands of pets left alone in the central city of Wuhan after a lockdown prevented their owners from returning to their homes. A vet working in Wuhan said his rescue group has saved more than 2,000 pets from around the city since January 23, when the city went into lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus outbreak that has killed about 500 people worldwide. “The pets were found in homes with no food and water,” said the member of Wuhan Pet Life Online, who prefers to remain anonymous. “Their owners left their houses last month not expecting that they would not be able to return home. Pets are beginning to starve to death or die
Chinese animation is having something of a renaissance
The world is in the throes of an animation boom. Audiences can’t seem to get enough of animated TV shows and films. In 2019, they raked in an astounding $250 billion. Today, three countries dominate animated film and television production and consumption: the US, Japan and – a distant third – South Korea. But a fourth player is making itself heard. China has developed an appetite for cartoons. According to the Global and China Animation Industry Report, the value of China’s animation industry grew from $12.8 billion in 2013 to $25.2 billion in 2018. It is expected to reach $50 billion by 2025. Until very recently, Chinese consumers and producers viewed cartoons as exclusively for children.
This woman uses wacky dresses to help change the world
Most people choose what they wear to flatter their bodies.  For Chinese artist Kong Ning, fashion is a soapbox she can employ to call people’s attention to some of the most pressing issues affecting the world. And when she uses that soapbox, Kong goes all out. In 2015, she wore an outfit dotted with hundreds of anti-pollution breathing masks and sauntered around smog-choked Beijing.  In 2013, she stitched 999 respirators onto a wedding dress. She titled it “Marry the Blue Sky” and wore it at the Beijing Exhibition Center. In 2016, she wore a wedding dress – made of 100 inflatable white doves – at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. She attached plastic models of Notre
Cancer patients suffer brunt of new experimental drug law in China
After Wu Xianfa was diagnosed with lung cancer last year, he had surgery to remove part of his lower left lung. When his doctor recommended chemotherapy to wipe out any remaining cancer cells, Wu refused. Colleagues who had also had lung cancer had died after getting chemotherapy straight after surgery. Following a friend’s recommendation, the 50-year-old from Shanghai started taking an experimental drug. He signed an agreement with Shanghai Spark Pharmaceutical in April last year to join its trial – and says it has been a boon to his health. “I get no other treatments besides the drug,” Wu says. “I get regular checks at hospitals and send the reports about my cancer index and other medical
China bans sales of black T-shirts to Hong Kong amid unrest
The Chinese government is cracking down on sales of black clothing to Hong Kong. Black T-shirts, jeans and face masks have been a signature look of the anti-government protesters taking to the streets of Hong Kong week after week since June. The blocking of shipments of protest outfits highlights the Chinese authorities’ efforts to undermine the increasingly violent protest movement, which demands greater accountability and electoral reform. According to a July notice issued by the Guangdong courier company PHXBUY, mainland Chinese customs ordered a halt in delivery of a list of products including black T-shirts, masks, gloves and yellow umbrellas. A subsequent notice posted in late Septembe
See the Great Wall and the Forbidden City in Lego form
A Lego artist has used thousands of bricks to re-create some of China’s most famous landmarks. From the Great Wall to the Forbidden City to the terracotta warriors, the works were created by Andy Hung, China’s first so-called Lego Certified Professional, and his team, for the “Dynasty of Brick – Lego Chinese Culture Exhibition.” “We want to showcase Chinese culture through the exhibition,” says Hung, chief designer of the touring show, which will run in Beijing until mid-October. “While some works have shown before in other exhibitions, there are 18 new designs including Beijing courtyard houses, Fujian tulou or earth roundhouses, and the Tangyue Memorial Archway in Anhui province,” he says