China’s security law in Hong Kong: What you need to know
A controversial national security law concerning Hong Kong is expected to be on the agenda as China’s rubber-stamp legislative body, the National People’s Congress, began its most important annual meeting on Friday.  The law would ban all seditious activities aimed at toppling the central government and external interference in the city’s affairs, as well as target terrorist acts in Hong Kong. Beijing’s plan to make the law was announced less than a year after a proposal to allow extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China sparked months of street unrest. Chinese officials have blamed foreign interference for fueling the protests. Critics of the expected legislation, including Hong Kong’s
The best (and worst) cities in Asia to live and work abroad
Living abroad can be a life of romance, personal growth and exciting opportunities. Or it can be a nightmare of expensive rent, culture shock and loneliness.  But if you are to take the plunge, Asian cities could be your best bets, according to a recent survey. Four of the top five of the world’s best cities for expatriates to live are in Asia, according to the survey of more than 20,000 expatriates. Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, topped the chart for the second year in a row. Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, came in second while Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam was third. Singapore was ranked as the fourth-best city for expatriates while Montréal rounded out the top five as the only non-A
I just moved to Beijing. This is my experience with mobile payments
“You might not have to make that trip to the bank after all,” Rob, a friend, messaged me over WeChat the other day. He attached a press release saying Alipay had launched an international version of its mobile payments platform for visitors to China. Named “Tour Pass,” the app can be used for up to 90 days and could prove handy for me, as I had moved from Hong Kong to Beijing for three months just over a month ago. The last time I lived in Beijing, five years ago while studying at Peking University, cash was still currency, shared bikes did not exist and people did not have their morning Starbucks delivered via an app. Since then China has transformed into an almost cashless society at an ex
Beijing motorists use fake marriages to be able to drive
Beijing motorists desperate to use their cars are resorting to sham marriages to get around strict license plate rules. The rules are designed to limit the number of vehicles allowed on the city’s congested roads. Some drivers were willing to pay the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars to marry someone with one of the prized plates, according to CCTV. They then have the license transferred to their name before getting a divorce. Specialist agencies charge over $20,000 to help clients use this method to obtain a license for a gasoline-driven car. It costs over $15,000 for an electric-powered one, according to the report. The scam is a strategy to get around a license lottery first int
How Chinese state media downplayed Hong Kong election results
The Chinese government has tried to brush aside a historic election win by Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp by downplaying the results in news reports and preventing internet users from talking about it.  Pro-Beijing politicians suffered a bitter defeat in Sunday’s district council elections, losing most of the seats they previously held to rivals who campaigned on their support for the monthslong anti-government protests. About 57% of the voters backed pro-democracy candidates, most of whom openly support protesters’ demands, which include an investigation into police conduct and democratic reforms.  The stunning win by the pro-democracy camp has made international headlines. It is seen as
Chinese pet detective reunites lost furry friends with owners
If your beloved furry friend goes missing in China, hiring a pet detective is now a way to increase your chances of a happy reunion. Equipped with hi-tech investigative tools, Shanghai-based private sleuth Sun Jinrong is handling cases across the country.  In about seven years of pet detecting, he has found about 1,000 wayward animals and claims a success rate of 60-70%.
Facebook vows to ‘protect’ Taiwan’s election from fake news
Facebook said on Tuesday that it would step up efforts to counter disinformation and state-backed influence operations ahead of the Taiwanese presidential election in January. While it does not control the self-ruled island, Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has sought its return to the mainland fold.  Taiwan’s authorities have reported an average of 30 million cross-border cyberattacks each month this year, with a sizeable number from the Chinese mainland suspected of trying to affect the result of the upcoming election. Facebook said its 35,000 worldwide staff will step up their efforts to check content and beef up security starting in mid-November, when the island’s presi
Beijing expats mourn closure of beloved cafe and bookstore
For Beijing’s bookish English-speaking expatriate population, the Bookworm was more than a humble cafe full of reading material. It was a cultural destination, a place for live performances and a home away from home. But after being in business for nearly 20 years, its managers announced on Tuesday that the bookstore would close next week – to the shock of its current patrons and legions of former Beijingers around the world. “Despite our best efforts, we appear to have fallen prey to the ongoing cleanup of ‘illegal structures,’ and we have not been able to secure an extension of our lease,” said a statement on the Bookworm’s official WeChat account. “This is particularly disappointing give