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
China Trends: Man exonerated after 27 years in jail, and a rural student’s archaeology dream
Every Tuesday and Thursday, China Trends takes the pulse of the Chinese social media to keep you in the loop of what the world’s biggest internet population is talking about. Man wrongly jailed for 27 years A Chinese man was exonerated and freed after spending nearly 27 years in jail for murder, sparking widespread sympathy and anger online.  Zhang Yuhuan, now 53, was accused of killing two children in 1993. He was given a suspended death sentence in 1995, despite telling the court that police had tortured him into admitting he was the perpetrator. Zhang had no defense lawyer at the trial.  His multiple appeals to higher-level courts failed, but Zhang continued sending appealing letters to a
Flooding in China’s porcelain capital: ‘Misfortune is piling up on us’
The floodwaters arrived so quickly in China’s “porcelain capital” Jingdezhen that Yu Ciqiong had just hours to save her business. As soon as she heard the city might be inundated, Yu dashed to the factory while her husband rushed to their shop to shore up its defenses. The couple and their staff worked all day, moving plates, teapots, cups and other exquisite items to higher shelves and floors.  But, when the water came – via a tributary of the swollen Yangtze River running through the city in the eastern province of Jiangxi – it washed over the levees and into hundreds of workshops, factories and shops, including Yu’s, before receding a day later. When she returned to her shop and factory
Floods hit 34 million people and keep China’s dike watchers up at night
Wu Shengsong was on his fifth night in a row patroling the banks of the Xi River, in east China’s Jiangxi province, when lightning lit up the sky and he feared that worse was yet to come. “I’m a little worried,” he said on Saturday. “The forecast is for several days of rain.” Wu works as an official in the village of Wanli, close to Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake. By Sunday morning, after a heavy downpour and a release of floodwater from the Yangtze River upstream, the lake’s water level had risen to an all-time high of more than to 74 feet, putting many of the towns and villages that lie beyond the dike that surrounds it at risk. Wanli is just one of many villages to be hit b
Salmon scare grips Beijing amid coronavirus outbreak
China has halted imports from European salmon suppliers after state-run newspapers reported that chopping boards used for the fish contained traces of coronavirus, although experts say the fish itself is unlikely to carry the disease. Beijing is currently trying to contain an outbreak centered on the Xinfadi market that has so far infected 137 people. The reports prompted major supermarkets in Beijing to remove salmon from their shelves. “We have stopped all sales to China and are waiting for the situation to be clarified,” said Stein Martinsen, head of sales and marketing at Norway Royal Salmon. Mike Ryan, the head of the World Health Organization’s emergency program, said the claim that t
Chinese dog meat feast going strong despite pressure to end trade
Dog meat lovers are returning in full force for a season of feasting in the southern Chinese city of Yulin despite pressure rising across the country to end the trade after the Covid-19 pandemic focused attention on China’s meat consumption. “The scale of the dog meat trade in Yulin is pretty much the same compared to previous years,” said animal welfare advocate Yu Dezhi. Yu surveyed the city, in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, in May. The central government has banned the wildlife trade to curb the transmission of animal diseases to humans after the new coronavirus was suspected to have originated in bats and then jumped to people through an intermediary animal. The southern cities o
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