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
Hong Kong
Language spoken
English, Mandarin
Areas of Expertise
China-US relations, international relations of East Asia, Asian security issues
China is contentious topic for US Senate and Congress candidates
In the 2020 US election, China has become an issue not just in the presidential race but also at the state and local levels. As President Donald Trump and former vice-president Joe Biden have sparred over who would be tougher against Beijing, candidates up and down the ballot have campaigned on concerns about China and Chinese influence. From Trump strongholds Montana and Georgia to swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania, candidates have sought to one-up their opponents with talking points such as Beijing’s culpability in the coronavirus pandemic, the US trade imbalance with China, and Chinese influence and interference in the United States. Montana In Montana, one issue is just how stro
China joins global vaccine program spurned by Trump
China has joined a WHO-linked program seeking to ensure a fair global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. The move could bolster the struggling vaccine project, called Covax, which aims to make and deliver 2 billion doses of the vaccines to people most at risk by the end of 2021. China is the world’s biggest economy to have pledged support for the program, after the US opted out, citing the involvement of the World Health Organization. Covax, co-led by the vaccine alliance Gavi, pools resources from wealthier countries to allow an equitable distribution of approved vaccines to poorer nations, but it has so far struggled to obtain enough funding. The Chinese foreign ministry said it signed an
China, US trade barbs at UN General Assembly
Tensions between the US and China overshadowed a high-profile United Nations meeting after Beijing hit back at US President Donald Trump’s fierce accusations over China’s coronavirus response and environmental record. Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador to the UN, said on Wednesday the US had abused the organization’s platform to spread “groundless accusations.” The comments were a response to Trump’s address at the General Assembly calling for accountability after China “unleashed this plague onto the world” and slamming the World Health Organization (WHO) as being “virtually controlled by China.” Zhang said China held an “open, transparent and responsible attitude” during the outbreak, while the
Australian and Chinese journalists find themselves caught in diplomatic storm
Chinese state media has claimed that Australian intelligence agents raided the homes of Chinese journalists based in Australia as the escalating diplomatic spat between Beijing and Canberra widened into the media sphere.  The reports about the alleged June 24 searches were published hours after China’s foreign ministry confirmed that Cheng Lei, an Australian journalist working for Chinese state broadcaster CGTN, was detained on suspicion of “endangering China’s national security.” Cheng has been detained since August 14. Two other Australian journalists – Bill Birtles from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Michael Smith from the Australian Financial Review (AFR) – fled China
Rise of authoritarianism and what to do about it: a Q&A with Timothy Snyder
Do not obey in advance. Defend institutions. Believe in truth. These are some of the lessons that Yale University historian Timothy Snyder detailed in his book, “On Tyranny,” a guide to surviving America’s turn toward authoritarianism based on the events of 20th-century Europe. The lessons Snyder laid out in the 2017 book have found an eager audience also in Hong Kong and elsewhere. It became a best-seller during the protests that broke out in the city last summer, calling for greater autonomy from Beijing and freer elections. One of the most popular slogans centered its scrutiny on tyranny itself: “There are no rioters, only tyranny.” As Hong Kong’s freedoms face new threats from a sweeping
Winning the Razzies of local government and controversy over a boozy slap
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. Awarded for failure Not all honors are honorable. Two government departments in eastern China’s Zhejiang province were awarded the Snail Award in August for working too slowly – the bureaucratic equivalent of the Golden Raspberry Awards, or Razzies, bestowed on the worst film of the year. The awards are the invention of the Jinyun county government in Zhejiang with the intention of naming and shaming projects that are moving too slowly. Besides Jinyun, other counties in China have similar awards, including in Taizhou in
News or propaganda? Not all media outlets in China are created equal
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. In response to growing worries in the US over foreign meddling in elections, American social media companies have taken upon themselves to identify accounts run by foreign governments. YouTube in 2018 began adding labels to state-owned media. Facebook followed suit several months before the 2020 presidential elections, while Twitter has taken the extra step of limiting the spread of posts made by outlets and people affiliated with a foreign government. But blanket labeling of Chinese media as “state-affiliated,” as Twitter does, glosses over the important
From Belarus to Thailand: Hong Kong’s protest playbook is spreading everywhere
Black-clad protesters with colorful umbrellas. Yellow helmets and plumes of tear gas. Leaderless crowds standing off against police. These protest scenes around the world – in places as different as Thailand, Belarus, Lebanon and the United States – have been striking in their likeness to the anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year. Social media has been central to helping protesters in Hong Kong draw global attention to their calls for freer elections and greater autonomy from Beijing. The loosely coordinated campaign in Hong Kong has also spread protest savvy, leading to a global wave of demonstrations more resistant to conventional law enforcement tactics and forming unlikely alli
China Trends: Starbucks rejects coins, and an end to two-child policy?
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. Coins for coffee China’s digital payment revolution may have gone too far for some. Starbucks China was forced to apologize over the weekend after a viral video showed an employee refusing to accept coins as payment. The footage, which was shot at an unspecified location in China, sparked a backlash on social media from users who pointed out that it was illegal to reject coins or cash under Chinese law. In China, mobile payments have largely replaced cash as the norm for anything from dining at restaurants to paying tax
China’s closure of US consulate in Chengdu ‘lost 35 years of exchanges’
Tzu-i Chuang, the wife of the US consul general in Chengdu, said 35 years of exchanges between Beijing and Washington had been consigned to history following China’s closure of the American consulate in the southwestern city. The Taiwanese food writer, who is married to Jim Mullinax, the US consul general in Chengdu, wrote a Facebook post describing her sadness at the closure, which was in retaliation for the US ordering the shuttering of the Chinese consulate in Houston over alleged espionage activities. Chuang – who posts regularly to more than 605,000 followers on Weibo and nearly 70,000 on Facebook – described the impact on the mission’s 100-plus local staff, and on the 23 US diplomats a