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
A teacher came out as gay in China, and paid a price
It took years – and a move to New Zealand – before Cui Le felt ready to tell his story. Cui was working as a linguistics lecturer at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in the southern Chinese province of Guangzhou when he publicly identified as gay in 2015. In August of that year a student named Qiubai, at Sun Yat-sen University, sued the Chinese education ministry over textbooks that described homosexuality as a “disease.” The school counselor informed Qiubai’s parents of her sexuality and they, in turn, took her to the hospital for an examination. Cui, along with the rest of the country’s LGBT community, was outraged. Until that moment he had remained silent, fearful that being g
Unmarried women might get a win for gender equality in China
Women’s rights advocates have applauded a proposal to China’s top advisory body to expand access to assisted reproductive technology. This includes technologies such as in vitro fertilization and egg freezing – medical practices that are difficult to access for unmarried women in China. Under the country’s existing laws, unmarried women and couples who do not “comply with the population and birth-planning regulations” are banned from using those services at Chinese hospitals and agencies. Peng Jing, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body, submitted the proposal to the advisory body, which if adopted would give unmarried women the right to use ass
‘The public is still fearful of the virus’: Wuhan faces long road to recovery
When Kang Wei landed a job with the local government in Wuhan last month, he believed his luck had finally turned. “I thought it was under a government bureau and would last until the end of the year,” he said. The migrant worker in his thirties had left his home in Huanggang in the central Chinese province of Hubei last year, heading to the provincial capital Wuhan to look for work. He then spent two months under lockdown as the city fought the Covid-19 outbreak, before joining the long lines outside businesses in the city looking for work before landing a job patrolling farms and villages to look for illegal structures. But as it turned out, the job lasted only a week before it fell victim
China to pay farmers to move away from wild animals
A Chinese province has become the first to say wild animal farmers will be paid compensation if they cease operations and start raising other animals instead. The move comes as the country tries to end a multibillion-dollar industry blamed for endangering public health while also attempting to appease the millions of workers whose livelihoods depend on the trade. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed at least 318,000 people worldwide, has been linked to wild animals carrying a coronavirus that jumped to humans. Under pressure to contain a worsening outbreak in February, the central government said it would ban the trade and consumption of wild animals. China has not publicized the progres
Chinese activists detained after posting censored Covid-19 news
Three Chinese activists who helped publish censored articles about the coronavirus outbreak have been detained by police in China.  The trio – Cai Wei, Chen Mei and Cai’s girlfriend (a woman identified as Tang) – were contributors to a crowd-sourced project known as Terminus2049, hosted on the popular software collaboration site GitHub. Started in 2018 and named after a remote planet in Isaac Asimov’s science fiction novels, the project has been collecting articles that had been removed from mainstream media outlets and social media in China. Terminus2049 is hosted on Microsoft-owned GitHub, one of the world’s largest depositories for code that has remained largely uncensored in China. Widel
Ritual gives way to precautions as China mourns Covid-19 victims
Kyle Hui never got to see his mother one last time. He had planned to travel from Shanghai back to Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported, for the Lunar New Year holiday, a time for family reunions. But his mother fell ill before he arrived. She had symptoms of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, but test kits were not readily available at the time. Hui’s older brother saw the last glimpse of their mother through a glass door as she was being wheeled into an isolation ward on January 11. A few days later, she was wheeled out wrapped in a yellow body bag that the family was forbidden to open because of infection concerns. Her burial
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