Opinion

Opinion

Why we can’t think straight about the coronavirus (and what to do about it)
The ongoing novel coronavirus crisis is an opportunity to reflect on how we respond to risk and uncertainty, as well as how governments should communicate risks, in an environment of uncertainty and incomplete and imperfect information. Behavioral scientists have long contended that people often find it very difficult to think in statistical or probabilistic terms, so have highlighted a number of ways in which people’s responses and behaviors depart from what rational choice models predict. Consider this thought experiment, which is sometimes known as the “Linda problem.” Linda is single, outspoken, and deeply engaged with social issues. Which is more likely: A) Linda is a bank manager; or
Why we can’t think straight about the coronavirus (and what to do about it)
‘No Mandarin allowed’: dining in ‘Hongkongers-only’ restaurants
A restaurant in Hong Kong posted this on Facebook: “From now on, we will only serve Hongkongers. Only Cantonese and English are allowed when placing orders. We do not serve Mandarin speakers.” An edited version of the post later said, “Update: Taiwanese people are allowed.” When I was standing in front of the restaurant with my friend, both of us from mainland China, we were anxious and a bit embarrassed. “Let’s order in Cantonese, and then we can speak Mandarin with each other,” I said, in Cantonese. She agreed. The coronavirus outbreak, which started in mainland China and has spread to Hong Kong, has become the latest fuel in the anti-mainland sentiment in the former British colony. The g
‘No Mandarin allowed’: dining in ‘Hongkongers-only’ restaurants
Why don’t Chinese women want more babies? It’s not just about money
It is often presumed that government policies are the main factors determining birth patterns in China. This may not be the case anymore. By the end of 2015, China ended the controversial one-child policy, allowing couples to have two children. A baby boom was expected. But it hasn’t materialized and it is very unlikely that it will. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the birth rate in 2019 fell to 1.048, the lowest on record since the founding of the People’s Republic, except in 1961 when millions lost their lives in a widespread famine. After the Chinese Communist Party took power in 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong foolishly encouraged women to produce more children, believing that
Why don’t Chinese women want more babies? It’s not just about money
Outbreak brings out the awesome power of China’s model – and its devastating ills
China is effectively in a lockdown. From big cities to little villages, almost every community is under quarantine to a varying degree, or at least faces some travel restrictions.  There is little information on how long this will last. One thing for sure is that the government is willing to keep the country in lockdown until the virus outbreak comes under control. A government mobilization on this scale is unprecedented. This shows the awesome power of the China model. With government power at the center of everything, it can mould society in a way not possible in any other large or even mid-sized country. It has grass-roots party cells to implement quarantine policies in every urban compou
Outbreak brings out the awesome power of China’s model – and its devastating ills
No need to wear masks in Canada, but consider this before you mock people who do
In early 2003, my soon-to-be wife and I developed a routine when we came home. We would take off our N95 face masks and drop them in a bin by the door. We would strip off in the entranceway in a thoroughly unromantic fashion and throw our clothes in the washing machine with a hearty slosh of Dettol. We then showered immediately, and retired to consider the unusual and frightening existence that was Hong Kong at the height of the Sars epidemic. Which is why current and former Hongkongers like ourselves find nothing particularly funny about the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. Yet some Canadians make sport of the face masks being worn with increasing regularity in places with big east Asian popula
No need to wear masks in Canada, but consider this before you mock people who do
How the world can benefit from US-China tech war
The phase one trade deal between China and the US, signed on January 15, signaled a truce in the trade war. This is a welcome development, not only for the two countries but also for the rest of the world. It is expected to usher in a period of relative calm and reduced uncertainty, which should increase both investment and consumption globally.  However, it is not a net win for either country, even though they are both better off with the truce. They have both suffered economic losses from the mutual tariffs. In fact, China’s estimated loss in gross domestic product is higher than that of the United States, in both absolute and relative terms. Unfortunately, the conclusion of the phase one
How the world can benefit from US-China tech war
Most of the Western world is still ignorant of Asian cooking
It’s a slow week night and I find myself vegetating in front of the TV, watching another season of MasterChef. As usual, feisty judge Gordon Ramsay is ripping into another contestant for his poor job of cooking a piece of meat and Joe Bastianich is shooting daggers at another for sloppy plating. As an Asian viewer, though, what’s been gnawing at me over so many seasons is how little Asian cuisine they actually feature. As people discover food from Asia, this geographic region has undeniably had the most profound culinary effect of any continent in the last 20 years. If you watch MasterChef, you’d think Asian food is still just rice, more rice and sweet and sour pork. This applies to many oth
Most of the Western world is still ignorant of Asian cooking
Qasem Soleimani killing shows China on the sidelines in the Middle East
The killing on Friday of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani by the United States was very bad news for China.  Tehran’s inevitable response will further deteriorate the geopolitical situation in the Persian Gulf region, which serves much of Chinese oil needs and is an essential element of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative. Beijing said the US drone strike against the Iranian general, who headed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force and was responsible for Iran’s overseas military and intelligence operations, was a form of abuse. In a phone call with his Iranian counterpart over the weekend, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out that China would continue
Qasem Soleimani killing shows China on the sidelines in the Middle East
The US-China rivalry will lead to an epic arms race
The defining character of the relationship between China and the United States has, for decades, been based on a gradual transition of power. Beijing recognized this early on, but a lot of powerful people in Washington did not realize what was happening until relatively recently. They had believed that the bilateral relationship was primarily about commerce. Now that it is apparent what the relationship really is about – the slow devolution of power from Washington towards Beijing – it is having a profound impact on how the two nations interact and compete. As China continues to grow stronger, it will become increasingly less inclined to compromise on issues it views as important to Chinese
The US-China rivalry will lead to an epic arms race
The man who brought the NBA to China
David Stern liked to tell the story of travelling China in 1990 when a local guide in Xian revealed her favorite team. “You know, I am a great fan of the team of the red oxen,” she told Stern and his wife, Dianne.  Cue confusion then smiles on realizing it was the Chinese translation for the Chicago Bulls. Nowadays, the whole of China knows the Zhijiage Gongniu, as they are known in Mandarin, and Stern is as more to credit for that than anyone – even their star player. “Without David Stern, the NBA would not be what it is today,” Michael Jordan, the six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls and talisman of that 1990 team, said after Stern’s death at the age of 77 on New Year’s Day. “He gu
The man who brought the NBA to China