Sarah Zheng

Sarah Zheng

Reporter, China

Sarah is a contributor to Inkstone. She is a China reporter covering diplomacy and society news at the South China Morning Post.

Location
Beijing
Language spoken
English, Mandarin
Areas of Expertise
China-US relations, international relations of East Asia, Asian security issues
China’s richest millennials boost their wealth to a combined US$223 billion
As the pandemic took hold this year, thousands of entrepreneurs watched helplessly as their fortunes vanished overnight – but not China’s hottest live-streaming star, Viya.  Instead, her popularity and net worth of some US$30 million continued to skyrocket.  The 35-year-old is among China’s wealthiest millennials who increased their wealth in 2020 to a combined US$223 billion.  According to the latest wealth rankings from the respected Hurun Report, the country had 60 billionaires aged under 40 this year.  From young tech entrepreneurs and real estate tycoons to celebrities and athletes, we take a look at the country’s wealthiest millionaires and billionaires and reveal how they became part
How to navigate a Covid Christmas and stay safe
Amid rising coronavirus cases in Hong Kong, a reporter asked a leading health official an ominous question during a press conference: “Are we going to have a normal Christmas?” Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, the head of Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection communicable disease branch, responded, “With how long this might take, I really don’t know.”  Much of the world already knows the answer to this question: It will not be a typical Christmas in 2020.  The famous “Winter Wonders” Christmas market in Brussels, complete with a skating rink and more than 200 chalets, has been canceled.  In Poland, the government has said families can only spend Christmas with their immediate family members.  The Ma
Hot Tibetan herdsman and Xinjiang horseback riding beauty are leading a regional tourism push
Local provinces in China are trying to cash in on attractive online influencers as a new way to boost local tourism. They hope to replicate the experience of Zhaxi Dingzhen, a 20-year-old Tibetan herdsman from Sichuan who became an internet sensation over a viral video showcasing what fans described as his “pure smile” and rugged appearance.  Regional governments are now scouring their populations for local ambassadors to help promote more remote areas of China to the rest of the country.  It is similar to a previous phenomenon of farmers in China earning acclaim by live-streaming their rural lifestyles. The most famous example is Li Ziqi, who presents an idyllic rural lifestyle to her milli
‘As if you don’t exist’: facing anti-blackness in Hong Kong and China
For Marie-Louisa Awolaja, a British-Nigerian, life in Hong Kong often means she is highly visible as a Black woman, yet simultaneously invisible. “I was surprised at how invisible I was, in a way,” she said. “I expect to be stared at on this side of the world. People don’t necessarily, especially locals, they just carry on – most of the stares you get are from mainland [Chinese] tourists. But when it comes to service, it becomes more evident. They sometimes just don’t acknowledge you. It’s as if you don’t exist.” Her voice is one of many shared on HomeGrown, a new podcast she co-created with fellow British-Nigerian Folahan Sowole as a guide to the Black expat experience in Hong Kong.  It in
Death of ‘soccer god’ sparks nostalgia among Chinese fans
When Diego Maradona died on Wednesday, it was a moment of nostalgia for many soccer fans in China, who were reminded of childhood memories of watching the World Cup with their parents. Maradona is often mentioned as the greatest soccer player in the history of the sport. While he retired from professional-level soccer in 1997, millennials remember watching him as kids, when he played for the Argentinian national team in the 1980s and 1990s.  “When I was younger, most of my memories with my dad were sitting there watching football while my dad talked about the miraculous plays by Maradona,” a 24-year-old woman from northeastern China’s Jinlin, who wanted to be identified by her surname
BTS among other celebrities who dared to anger China
There has been mounting pressure on celebrities to avoid angering Beijing and Chinese netizens, and risk losing access to China’s lucrative market, with a growing number falling afoul of Chinese fans and regulators for remarks deemed politically incorrect in the past year. BTS K-pop sensation BTS was the latest to spark boycott calls in China, after the group’s leader Kim Nam-joon, known as RM, delivered a speech last month about remembering the “history of pain” and “sacrifices” by the US and South Korea during the Korean war. The comments drew backlash from Chinese netizens, who took to social media to complain that BTS had not acknowledged Chinese suffering during the war. The Korean war,
Next time you fly, don't forget your Covid passport
Traveling may not look the same for years after the coronavirus pandemic, starting with the need to get a “Covid-19 passport” to fly in the future. There are several forms of digital health passes in development, the latest of which is a Travel Pass from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association based in Canada. The pass would serve as a “digital passport” with testing or vaccination certification for passengers.  The IATA app – which will likely include a global registry of health requirements for travel as well as testing and vaccination centers – is expected to launch at the beginning of next year, the latest effort to ensure safe travel during a global pande
Fed up with facial recognition technology? Here is how to outsmart it
Face masks can help protect against the coronavirus, but they may not be enough to hide from increasingly prevalent and powerful facial recognition technology. The global pandemic has seen governments deploy monitoring systems to help detect coronavirus, enforce quarantines and monitor social distancing. One controversial new tool has been facial recognition technology, with some companies advertising that masks are no barrier to their surveillance. It has also been used by police to keep an eye on protest movements worldwide. But some have sought to subvert this technology, armed with anti-surveillance masks, make-up, clothing and even lasers. Mark Andrejevic, an expert in surveillance and
A fugitive tycoon is accused of a US presidential election misinformation campaign
In the run-up to the US presidential election, Chinese fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui is being accused of helping to promote unverified claims linking Democratic candidate Joe Biden to China.  Guo is most famous for making incendiary accusations against Beijing, fleeing China and finding sanctuary in the US.  The amplification of stories about Biden’s son Hunter and his alleged business ties to China was part of coordinated and sophisticated attempts to interfere with Tuesday’s US election, according to John Pan, a former collaborator with Guo, who is based in Australia. “Guo’s intention is to interfere with the US election,” Pan told the South China Morning Post in an interview. “He may not be
‘Shy Trump voters' may prove decisive in 2020
US President Donald Trump stirred controversy on Sunday when he tweeted out a video of a fleet of trucks, flying Trump flags, apparently harassing a campaign bus for the campaign of candidate Joe Biden.  This political brashness has manifested itself in the US with Trump boat parties, sales of memorabilia far outstripping Biden gear and political rallies that are attended by thousands despite the country being the global center of the coronavirus pandemic.  But these people are unlikely to worry Biden supporters. They have already been “priced in” as the core of Trump’s base.  The unknowable potential voter block is the “shy Trump supporter”: those who are traditionally apolitical but have f