Viola Zhou

Viola Zhou

Viola is a multimedia producer at Inkstone. She covered Chinese politics for the South China Morning Post.

Covid-19 is decimating the restaurant business
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Index features a single, illuminating number that helps you make sense of China. 32.8%: the decline in Chinese people’s spending on food and drinks in the first half of 2020.  Retail sales of consumer goods in China have dropped by 11.4% during the first half of 2020, according to the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics.  Most consumer goods industries have been hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreaks, as people cut back social activities and travel plans. Restaurants had the worst time, with their revenue falling by 32.8% compared with the same period last year. Jewelry sales dropped by 23.6%, and clothing and textiles saw a 19.6% decline.  The pandemic ha
The #MilkTeaAlliance that connects Asian protesters
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. An unusual alliance is forming between democracy advocates in Southeast Asia and East Asia.  On the 31st anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, some Thai students joined their Hong Kong counterparts in mourning demonstrators killed in central Beijing. Anti-government protesters in Hong Kong have backed Thai activists' call for democracy in the kingdom. And both were joined by Taiwanese critics of Beijing in lambasting its assertive moves against the self-ruled island. This union is called the Milk Tea Alliance, a nod to the ubiquitous drink i
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
Millions of phones in China are now connected to 5G
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Index features a single, illuminating number that helps you make sense of China. 66 million: the number of mobile phones in China connected to 5G networks as of June. About 66 million phones in China were connected to 5G networks by June, according to the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.  The number of 5G users had been growing in China and more than 400,000 5G base stations have been built, a ministry official said at a press conference in July.  China has become a leader in commercial applications of the next-generation networks, with state telecoms companies rolling out 5G phone services in November 2019.  And Chinese consumer
China Trends: wife of US consul general under attack, and a female cosplayer’s ‘indecent pose’
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. Caught in US-China consulate clash The food writer wife of the US consul general in Chengdu has come under fire on Chinese social media as the consulate dispute between Beijing and Washington caused another spike of anti-US sentiment in China.  Tze-i Chuang, a Taiwanese food writer and wife of US diplomat Jim Mullinax, has been posting about her cooking, her love for Sichuan food and personal life in Chinese on Weibo.  Her page, usually popular among food enthusiasts, has been filled with anti-America comments since Bei
Deaths of wives prompt outrage over violence against women
A series of cases in which husbands reportedly killed their wives in China have prompted online outrage over persistent domestic violence and the lack of legal protection for women. Domestic violence has been a persistent problem in China, and a new generation of feminists are pushing back against what they say is structural gender inequality that leads to women’s vulnerability to spousal violence.  More women are reporting domestic violence incidents and expressing outrage over a new law that mandates a 30-day cooling-off period for couples seeking a divorce. They argue that the rule would make it harder for women to escape abusive marriages.  The recent string of murders has only galvanize
Who are the 92 million Chinese Communist Party members?
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. US media outlets have reported that the White House was considering no longer granting visas to Chinese Communist Party members and their families. The nearly 92 million members of the party are often blamed for supporting the suppressive policies of its leadership. Now they are increasingly caught up in the tensions between Beijing and other governments.  Who are the Communist Party’s members? The Communist Party of China had 91.9 million members by the end of 2019, accounting for 6% of China’s population. (If the party were a country, it would be the 1
Timeline: What happened in the US-China consulate dispute
The Chinese government ordered the closure of the US consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu on Friday, a retaliation against Washington’s order to close the Chinese consulate in Houston.  The controversy surrounding Washington’s decision to shut the Houston consulate, which was the first Chinese consulate opened after the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1979, is the latest flashpoint in the two countries’ spiraling relationship.  Since the start of the 2018 trade war, China and the US have been at odds over issues of trade deficits, intellectual property theft and corporate espionage. But the coronavirus pandemic has added a degree of rancour to the dispute, with Was
China Trends: University rape case controversy, and shock for TV viewer
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. University under fire for not expelling sex offender A prestigious university in China is facing an online backlash over its decision not to expel a student who was convicted of rape.  The male student at Zhejiang University in the eastern city of Hangzhou was in April given a suspended sentence of 1.5 years in jail.  Last month, the university said it had put the student “under observation” for 12 months as punishment, partly on the basis that he turned himself in.  The decision prompted outrage online after screenshot
What is Moutai, the spirit of China?
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Moutai, or Maotai, is the most prominent Chinese liquor brand. The drink is a popular choice as a luxury gift – the price for a bottle starts from about $150, and a good vintage can go as high as $30,000. It’s what Chinese President Xi Jinping served in 2018 when he threw a state banquet for North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. Over the years, the drink’s steadily rising value has made it an attractive investment. Some people stockpile bottles of it as a hedge against inflation. Investors have also poured money into Moutai’s stocks, giving the distiller a hi