Phoebe Zhang

Phoebe Zhang

Reporter, China

Phoebe Zhang is a contributor to Inkstone. She is a Shenzhen-based society reporter with the South China Morning Post.

Location
Shenzhen
Language spoken
English, Mandarin
Areas of Expertise
Social issues
Buddha Trump popular for making Chinese companies great again
Donald Trump may have lost the presidential race in the United States but he is still the king of business – in China. Just months after leaving the Oval Office in Washington, “the orange one” is finding new fame as a star of e-commerce. A caricature of the former president dressed in a robe and sitting cross-legged in a Zen pose carrying the logo, “Make Your Company Great Again,” has become the latest hot-seller on China’s largest e-commerce platform, Taobao. Shoppers are snapping up the statue, which sells for as much as US$153 in several online shops. “Does it really work if I place it at home?” one potential buyer asked in a post on one e-shop’s website. Some shops described the statue
China LGBT: court says homosexuality can be called a ‘mental disorder’
A young woman lost a court appeal last week against a publisher in China that called homosexuality a “mental disorder” in a textbook that is still used in Chinese universities. Handing down its decision last week, the Suyu District Intermediate Court, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, said the textbook description was simply an academic view and not a factual error. The decision has disappointed the Chinese LGBT community and the 24-year-old social worker who filed the lawsuit, who is gay. They said the court’s decision to uphold the ruling was “random and baseless.” In 2016, while studying at the South China Agricultural University at Guangzhou, in China’s eastern Guangdong province, Ou
Chinese work culture tries to find its Zen
China’s grueling 72-hour work week has become a defining feature of its rise into a modern tech powerhouse. But now, young entrepreneurs are hoping an older tradition can provide a guiding light. Known as “Buddhist entrepreneurs,” they are thumbing their noses at China’s controversial “996” work culture – which stands for working 9am to 9pm six days a week. Among those embracing the philosophy are Su Hua, the CEO of TikTok-like short video app Kuaishou, and Chen Rui, the chairman of one of China’s most popular video platforms Bilibili. They espouse a more chilled-out approach when it comes to work, choosing when, where and how many hours they work. But many entrepreneurs and investors are s
Chinese woman receives payment for housework in divorce ruling
Dividing housework can be one of the most divisive disagreements in a marriage, and one woman in China managed to get paid for the chores she performed during a 5-year-long marriage.  The legal judgment, the first of its kind in China, has sparked heated debate about putting a monetary value on unpaid work – still mostly done by women – at home.  During a divorce proceeding starting in 2020, the court awarded the ex-wife, surnamed Wang, a US$7,700 one time payment for housework she had done during the marriage.  Wang said her husband, named Chen, had not taken part in housework or childcare when they were together. She also accused Chen of having an affair. Zhong Wen, a divorce lawyer based
Squad of women fight discrimination in Chinese work culture
There’s a dark side for women seeking employment in China – blatant gender discrimination. During job interviews, many women routinely face questions of whether they are single or married, while others are forced to sign contracts that state they won’t get pregnant for three years. “We’ve come across (job) ads that say ‘women under 30’,” said a women’s rights campaigner who goes by the alias Hepburn. She added that others state bluntly: “men preferred.” Hepburn is a member of the “Inspection Squad for Workplace Gender Discrimination,” a 70-person strong movement taking on China’s corporations in the fight for equality. But, she admits, it’s a difficult battle, particularly as Chinese Presid
China ranks the world's worst offender in biometric data collection, study finds
Facial recognition is used to shame jaywalkers, prevent toilet paper theft in public restrooms. Fingerprints are scanned to pay bills or enter buildings while some companies have even developed “smart cushions” to monitor staff’s vital signs and others scan employees’ brain waves for productivity while they work. In China, these are just how some biometric data is used every day and shows no signs of slowing down with artificial intelligence and its many applications, constituting a major component of its national plan to become a world leader in AI innovation by 2030. The state council, China’s cabinet, issued in 2017 the “Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan,” calling f
China’s new divorce law sends couples rushing to file divorce
China’s divorce lawyers couldn’t be busier dealing with couples filing divorce as a new law designed to slow the divorce process took effect. Experts say the law disadvantages women, especially those without income.  The central government’s controversial new law took effect on January 1 and requires couples to “cool off” for 30 days after applying to dissolve a marriage in case they changed their minds. Officials believed the new legislation would slow down China’s rapidly soaring divorce rates and prevent “impulsive divorces” among young people with the coronavirus lockdown spurring a spike in the country’s divorce rate. In 2019, 4.7 million couples said “I don’t” – up from 1.3 million in
Li Ziqi is the queen of China influencers
She grew famous for portraying an idyllic rural lifestyle in China, she courted controversy by cooking “kimchi,” and now she has been crowned the undisputed queen of Chinese-language YouTube.  Li Ziqi has set a record for “Most subscribers for a Chinese- language channel on YouTube,” Guinness World Records announced on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service on Tuesday night. Li had 14.2 million followers on YouTube as of early February. She launched her YouTube channel in 2017, with a video on making a dress out of grape skins.  “The poetic and idyllic lifestyle and the exquisite traditional Chinese culture shown in Li’s videos have attracted fans from all over the world, with many YouTubers co
Alleged criminal gang busted for piracy of foreign films and television
Shanghai police have busted an alleged criminal gang suspected of illegally supplying more than 20,000 Chinese and foreign television shows and films to its eight million online users. The gang of 14 alleged criminals worked with Renren Yingshi, a company that operates China’s largest subtitling site YYeTs.com and has millions of followers around the world. China’s official mouthpiece, People’s Daily, reported the bust on its website on Wednesday, following a three-month investigation. “Investigations showed that the suspects set up several companies engaging in the distribution, operation and maintenance of the Renren Yingshi mobile app and a related web portal by setting up or leasing ser
China wants to bring machismo back to schools
Chinese education officials plan to “cultivate masculinity” in young men by introducing more gym classes and adding more male teachers in schools.  But it’s a move that could have devastating consequences for Chinese society, say experts. On Thursday, China’s Ministry of Education told schools and local governments they would be required to implement physical fitness classes in schools while introducing new teaching methods that make boys more masculine.  The aim was to improve schoolboys’ mental and physical health while the ministry conducted further research, the plan revealed. The government made the announcement after a top political advisor, Si Zefu, blamed mothers, grandmothers and f