Phoebe Zhang

Phoebe Zhang

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

China reports spike in coronavirus infections. Some cases remain buried
Retired Wuhan factory worker Wei Junlan had always been in good health, but around two weeks after developing the first signs of a cough and fever, the 63-year-old was dead from what doctors suspect was the new coronavirus. But her death on January 21 will not show up in official statistics about the outbreak – her death certificate listed the cause only as “heavy pneumonia.” Her nephew Jerry Shang said that Wei had not been tested for the disease, but that the doctor said her symptoms – including a lung infection, fever and increasing weakness – closely matched those of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. By the end, she was unable to walk, and the last the family saw of her was when
China reports spike in coronavirus infections. Some cases remain buried
5 million people who left Wuhan are now outcasts in their own land
Everything was normal when Wuhan resident Jason flew out of the epicenter of the deadly coronavirus for a holiday on January 22. He wasn’t wearing a mask, and there weren’t extra security checks. But by the time he checked into a hotel in Macau, he was told to go to the local hospital, where he spent the next four days in quarantine. After testing negative for the virus, he was driven to neighboring Zhuhai, where he spent over a week locked in a hotel, not knowing when he could go home. “My friends told me the disease is quite serious and there’s no way I can go back now,” Jason, who wished to use only his first name, said. The morning after Jason was quarantined, on January 23, Wuhan went i
5 million people who left Wuhan are now outcasts in their own land
Murder of doctor highlights tensions over China healthcare
The murder of a doctor in Beijing has overshadowed the passage of a law designed to improve basic health care services in China, and has put a spotlight on the problems the law is trying to fix.  The fatal stabbing was the latest in a string of attacks on medical staff by angry patients and their relatives. Tensions are being fueled by a lack of resources and limited services at many medical facilities. In the latest incident, the doctor Yang Wen was stabbed in the neck on Christmas Eve following a row with the relatives of a 95-year-old stroke victim at the Civil Aviation General Hospital in Beijing. She died the following day. Doctors said the patient’s family had dismissed repeated sugge
Murder of doctor highlights tensions over China healthcare
‘There are values higher than money’: German soccer club scraps China deal
German soccer club FC Cologne has pulled out of a $2 million deal to run a football academy in northeast China, as a member of the club council said they should not support “such a totalitarian and brutal dictatorship.” Cologne’s president, Werner Wolf, told the local paper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger on Wednesday that the Bundesliga club had decided not to proceed with the project. Stefan Müller-Römer, a member of the club council, told the paper: “I understand that the Federal Republic of Germany cannot get past the economic power of China completely and so there is an exchange. But we don’t need China in sports.” He also said that human rights in China were being massively disregarded and a su
‘There are values higher than money’: German soccer club scraps China deal
Charity for girls comes under fire for funding boys
A Chinese government-run charity aimed at helping poverty-stricken girls finish their schooling has prompted an online outcry after it was found to be funding boys’ education as well.  Despite a growing awareness of gender equality in urban China, girls, especially those in rural areas, still lag behind in their access to education due to long-held favoritism toward sons. To help provide education for poor girls, the state-run China Children and Teenagers’ Fund launched the Spring Bud Project in 1989.  The project’s promotional materials have almost entirely featured women, and China’s first lady, Peng Liyuan, is the charity’s special ambassador. But social media users found this week that a
Charity for girls comes under fire for funding boys
Huawei faces backlash in China over detention of ex-employee
The lengthy detention of a former Huawei employee has triggered public outrage in China towards the tech giant as well as the country’s justice system.  Li Hongyuan, who worked at Huawei for 12 years, was detained for 251 days from December 2018, after the company apparently accused him of extortion. He was eventually released, he said, because prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to press charges against him.  The case became one of the most discussed topics on Chinese social media over the past week since legal documents about Li began circulating, sparking an online debate about the power of big corporations. Li later confirmed in multiple interviews that the documents were genuine. I
Huawei faces backlash in China over detention of ex-employee
Will China legalize same-sex marriage? These people hope so
Nearly 200,000 people have appealed to the Chinese authorities to recognize same-sex marriage, in a month-long push sparked by a review of the country’s civil law provisions. The country’s LGBT community and its supporters have been writing to legislators and leaving comments in favor of a change to China’s marriage laws during a public comment period which ended on Friday with more than 190,000 people responding. Among them is Ling Gu, a lesbian from Wuhan in the central Chinese province of Hubei. All she wants is a marriage certificate. Ling and her partner have had their wedding photos taken and together run a real estate business. In all but the eyes of the law, they are a married couple
Will China legalize same-sex marriage? These people hope so
Make it rain: Chinese entrepreneurs turn snow into hot commodity
As temperatures plunge in China’s north this week, enterprising people have gone online to monetize blankets of snow covering their neighborhoods. For a price, you can ask someone to write a message in the snow and send you a photo or video of it.  On the e-commerce platform Taobao – owned by Alibaba, which also owns Inkstone – customers can order messages for about 5 yuan (71 cents) for six words. A heart or an image costs extra. Demand for this unusual service has the south to thank.  A Taobao shop owner in the northern province of Heilongjiang said most of the 100 orders she received in the last few days came from people from southern China who had never seen snow.  To beat the competiti
Make it rain: Chinese entrepreneurs turn snow into hot commodity
Halloween in China: it’s complicated
When Wang Guyue’s five-year-old boy stepped into his English-language class this week, he was greeted by a room full of princesses, ghosts and pumpkins. Every year, this extracurricular training school in Shanghai turns Halloween-themed. All the children don costumes and make-up, and trick-or-treating activities are held. “My son is afraid of ghosts, so I dressed him up as a Chinese swordsman,” Wang said. She thinks it’s a good idea to celebrate Western holidays so that the children can learn the culture as well as the language.  For many young Chinese, October is filled with Halloween celebrations even as anti-Western holiday rhetoric crops up every year, with some saying dressing up as gho
Halloween in China: it’s complicated
‘Let’s find somewhere private’: Single, retired and looking for love in Beijing
For Beijing’s elderly people, Changpuhe Park, next to Tiananmen Square, has long been a popular spot for lonely hearts to meet and find a match for their twilight years, but the search for a companion is complicated, particularly for those without a sizeable pension and other assets. Zhang Daisheng, a 65-year-old widower, wants to find a shrewd woman and, on one of his few trips to the park, met someone just like that. After chatting with him a few times she told him, “If you think we are a good match, then let's find somewhere private to talk, let's not talk here.” Zhang said he realized the woman wanted to catch her fish, but was afraid of being bested by someone else. “That’s quite smart,
‘Let’s find somewhere private’: Single, retired and looking for love in Beijing