Phoebe Zhang

Phoebe Zhang

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

Chinese-made coronavirus tests ditched in Spain over inaccuracy
Madrid, the capital city of Spain, has stopped using a rapid Covid-19 test kit made by a Chinese company after research suggested it was not accurate enough. Doubts over the kits’ reliability emerged as the number of confirmed cases in Spain rose sharply on Thursday to 57,786, with 4,365 deaths. Worldwide, the disease has now infected more than 540,000 people and killed over 24,000. The Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology (SEIMC), one of Spain’s leading research institutes, said on its website it had found that nose swabs developed by Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology had an accuracy rate of less than 30%. Spanish newspaper El País reported that the Madrid city gov
Chinese city drafts ‘white list’ of 9 edible animals. Dogs are out
The southern Chinese city of Shenzhen has proposed a regulation that would prohibit the eating of cats and dogs as part of a nationwide drive to implement a “total ban” on the wildlife trade following the Covid-19 outbreak. The city has drafted a “white list” of nine farm animals deemed fit for consumption – pigs, cattle, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese and pigeons.  While the list is not exhaustive, the city said in a notice it was seeking to make a “stringent” law to promote “civilized eating habits.” Eaters of forbidden species would be fined between 2,000 yuan to 20,000 yuan ($280 to $2,800), according to the proposal. The animals’ breeders and sellers would be punished w
Chinese internet rejects Communist virtual idols named after Mao poems
Two new “virtual idols” representing the youth wing of China’s Communist Party failed spectacularly, in large part because they were released as China still struggles to grapple with the coronavirus outbreak.  The Communist Youth League posted on the Twitter-like Weibo on Monday that it would release two new animated cartoon characters.  “Let’s meet two new friends, the league’s virtual idols Hongqiman and Jiangshanjiao,” the Communist Youth League said to its 12 million followers.  The two characters’ names, which mean “abundant red flags” and “lovely land,” were both derived from poems by late Chairman Mao Zedong.  The project is the party’s latest attempt to win the hearts of China’s you
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
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
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
‘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
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
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
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