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
Chinese New Year delights with a vegan twist
While Chinese New Year may be a more subdued affair this year, food will still play a central role – even for vegans.  For non-meat-lovers, the menu options to celebrate the Year of the Ox have become more interesting than ever, as chefs aim to create delicious and healthy vegetarian alternatives.  From festival casseroles and vegan poon choi to cakes and pastries, restaurants and food retailers have created an array of culinary delights.  Here’s the Inkstone rundown of some of the best offerings available for vegans. Traditional festive cakes Hong-Kong based retail grocery chain Green Common has developed three vegan Chinese New Year cakes, including turmeric and oat milk and chestnut ca
A furniture heiress is becoming a champion of the Chinese art scene
Che Xuanqiao isn’t like other multi-millionaire heiresses. At least that’s what she’d have you believe. Sitting in a coffee shop sporting a simple t-shirt, her clothes and make-up free appearance belie her position as one of China’s rich millennials. And one who is shaking up the Chinese art market. China now boasts as many young collectors as it does young artists. With money to burn, these wealthy second-generation young adults like Che are turning their purchases into exhibitions, joining a proliferation of private museums and exhibition spaces springing up in Hong Kong. Che’s love of art has led to an exhibition-sized art collection, which will soon be showcased in a new art space she h
‘A Little Red Flower’ blossoms in China
One may think that a global pandemic would turn people off of films about illness, but in China, the recent box office darling explores the toll that severe illness takes on the human psyche.  The movie, titled A Little Red Flower, is a love story about a couple with cancer and the stress it puts on their families.  The movie stars Jackson Yee, whose performance in Better Days (2019) brought much critical acclaim, and Liu Haocun, who plays his girlfriend who also has cancer. Released on December 31, the movie has grossed more US$155 million in ticket sales in China as of January 11. By comparison, Hollywood blockbuster Wonder Woman 1984 has made around US$25 million despite being released o
5 celebrities that can join Meryl Streep and wow with Chinese language skills
Lauded for her acting, Meryl Streep has revealed another talent – speaking Chinese. Appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, earlier this month, the Hollywood legend was coaxed to recite the famous Chinese poem, “The Deer Range”, which she learned in 2011. While the 71-year-old did not get the tone of some of the characters correct, her recitation led to widespread praise from social media users in China who were shocked she remembered it.  Many applauded her ability to master what is not an easy language. “I went with [cellist] Yo-Yo Ma to Beijing for a cultural exchange concert in the Bird’s Nest stadium,” Streep explained to the host. “I was going to [recite] it first in English,
Pandemic fuels an RV boom in China
2020 is the year many Chinese people rediscovered the plethora of travel opportunities within their borders.  The global coronavirus pandemic created strict border controls in China, but the ability of the country to contain the virus has allowed people within China to live a reasonably normal life for the past six months.  And as Chinese people look toward domestic tourism to scratch that travel fix, a small but growing number has been taking the road less traveled, and RVs are suddenly a popular transportation mode. “We took in the Great Wall, Miaofeng Mountain and the Fragrant Hills,” says Zhou Ziyan who, for around US$140 a day, booked an RV in October. The Beijinger and her boyfriend s
Virtual idols are the next internet trend in China
During a marathon live-stream on popular Chinese video platform Bilibili last month, Hiseki Erio performed for nine hours straight to 90,000 online viewers, of whom more than 3,000 were premium subscribers to her channel.  What makes the Japanese-speaking Erio stand out from other stars is that she is also a virtual idol. Unlike Vocaloids (digital avatars manipulated and run by computer programs), virtual idols are something of a digital-analog hybrid: avatars in the form of an animation or hologram but with real human voices, and with movements and facial expressions based on those of a real person. Virtual idols first appeared in Japan in the 1990s. They have, in recent years, caught the
These scientists hope to find the future of medicine in frozen bodies
The Shandong Yinfeng Life Science Research Institute provides a service straight out of science fiction: cryonic suspension, or preserving bodies at extremely low temperatures with the hope of one day “reviving” them.  It is the only cryonics research center in China and one of only four such institutes in the world. But Yinfeng’s research goes further than the rest and may eventually revolutionize organ transplant, body-part reattachment and other medical treatments. Cryonics in China started in 2015. Du Hong, an author from Chongqing and an editor of Liu Cixin’s world-renowned science-fiction title The Three-Body Problem, which revolves around cryonics, became the first person from China
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